Monday, March 31, 2008

An interesting article In Honour of Arthur C. Clarke.

This a neat list of the most prophetic sci-fi films ever made. A couple of these I haven't seen.

2001: a Space Odyssey rates #1 as it should. It's a great film but so slow moving as to be almost boring. It's one of those films I had never seen that I was waiting for a chance to see on the big screen. We tried to show it at Western Film ages ago but the print was one of the worst I have ever seen, most of the first sequence was missing!
Unfortunately we studied it in one of my film courses so I had to watch it, at least it was projected on a screen by a fairly good video projector.

R.I.P. Arthur C. Clarke.

My favorite author died not too long ago. Arthur C. Clarke wrote some of the most famous sci-fi novels of the last century. He also wrote the short story 2001: A Space Odyssey was based on and co-wrote the full novel. I really liked his novels, they were full of interesting ideas, exciting and fun to read. They were also written in a way that was easy to understand. He wasn't one of those writers who writes in an abstract matter just to seem intellectual. Issac Asimov is one of those.
One thing I always was disappointed about was so little of his work was filmed. There was 2001 and it's sequel 2010.

My favorite book of his is Rendezvous with Rama about a huge interstellar spaceship that swings through our solar system and the astronauts that explore it. I must have read the book about 10 times. It's finally being made into a movie that's supposed to come out in 2009. It stars Morgan Freeman and is being directed by one of my favorite directors David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac). I'll be there opening night.

I came across this short film made by a film student in 2001 which is kind of a fake trailer for a film version. I hope the makers of the film hire this guy to work on the real film. He captures the feel of the book amazingly well. Seeing this in a theatre as a trailer would give me goosebumps.

Clark's later work wasn't as good as his early stuff, especially when he started working more with other writers. I think in many cases he just came up with the idea and helped, the other person did most of the writing. The later books lacked the simplicity I loved about his early stuff. He was a unique person who was not only a great writer but a scientist and mathematician as well. He was the first person to come up with the idea of telecommunications satellites in geosynchronous orbit although he envisioned them as manned space stations. He also popularized the concept of the Space Elevator, basically an elevator between the ground and a space station. He built at least one book around it. I tried to read one of non-fiction books about it once, he had the math all worked out. It could be built but not until we have the proper technology and building materials.

Arthur C. Clarke was one of the most important people of the 20th Century and he will be sorely missed.

Friday, March 28, 2008

No Children under 6? I like this theatre.

I was reading the website of an interesting theatre chain in the southern US called the Alamo Roadhouse. It's one of the new theatres that serves food and drink while you are watching the film. That's not practical for Western Film but I did like a couple of their policies.

They strive to create an adult atmosphere. Anyone under 18 has to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

There are no children under 6 allowed except for special shows such as actual kid's films. I love this idea. Sometimes we get families that bring very young children to movies that are way not appropriate, not only should the children not be seeing the film but they wouldn't understand it so get bored and start talking or wandering around. There's also the endless potty breaks.

I realize some people may not be able to afford a babysitter but bringing several small children to a screening of The Kingdom isn't fair to the other patrons. The funny thing is they often expect the really small children to get in for free?!

I'm going to explore the idea of implementing a similar policy at Western Film except for the rare occasions when we play actual kid's films, usually only during the summer.

Cool Slideshow of 30 Most Interesting posters for 2008 movies.

I found this on the CTV website. I haven't heard of a lot of the films so I assume they are coming out later in the year.

I got in a couple of the Indiana Jones posters. I don't think I'll be able to bring myself to put pins in them. I'll probably put them in some large plastic poster bags we have. We can them put the pins in the bag and not affect the poster. This is one poster that will be making it into my personal collection after we play the film.

Question? / Comments? / Complaints?

I put up a 'blank' post every so often so if anyone any of the above they can leave it as a comment without it getting buried in an unrelated posting. I'll answer any comments that are left.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Next Week's Films

Next week had one of the largest numbers of available films but the choice wasn't too hard. I had already booked There Will Be Blood in and I only had to decide if there would be a late show. Because of the running length of Blood the late show would have to be at 10:15, really late for us.

These were available.

Jumper- bad movie I wouldn't have played anyway plus it was from Fox so they wanted all shows.

Doomsday- This was a fun movie that was better than I expected but not a film that would work at Western Film.

Definitely Maybe- I am going to play this film but I didn't want to play it as a late show. I'm planning to play it the following week unless Juno is available.

Semi-Pro- this was the only movie out of this group I thought could work as a late show. However I was iffy on playing it at all. I checked back on how Wil Ferrell's previous films had done at Western Film and it wasn't all that great and those films were hits! I decided not to play it at all.

So in the end I decided to play just one show of There Will Be Blood at 7pm.

The booker said Juno was close to coming off so it may play the following week.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Poster of the week - Quantum of Solace.

The title of the next James Bond movie is interesting if a bit unwieldy. The poster I think is one of the best I've seen. It's very simple with little text. I'm willing to bet most people would know it's a James Bond poster even without seeing the title.

Changing the movie seasons?

From IMDB: "The head of the National Association of Theater Owners charged Tuesday that both the owners and the studios could be earning a lot more money if the studios did not rely on an outmoded release schedule. John Fithian chastised the studios for failing to provide attractive movies throughout the year, noting that April and September are "virtually empty," because studios save their prime product for summer or the winter seasons. "They look at their calendar and wait for May and say, 'OK, now we can open our tent-pole movie.'" He said that if the studios hadn't tried to release the latest Spider-Man, Shrek, and Pirates of the Caribbean sequels all within three weeks of one another, the exhibitors "could have done at least another $50 or $60 million" -- particularly if the studios had decided to open at least some of them in April. "A good movie will be successful no matter when it is released," Fithian said"

I agree with this in most part. It is a bit silly to have three of the biggest movies of the year open within three weeks of each other. Despite what the studios may think most people don't see every movie they want to because of time, money etc. By releasing them so close together many people would have to choose between them.
There are however seasonal considerations. Obviously kid's films will likely do better when the kids aren't in school. The weather affects movie-going a lot, people tend not to go out as much when it's cold.
On the other hand, Cloverfield and 300 last year showed that a good movie played off season can do big business.
I remember when the redone versions of the first 3 Stars Wars movies were released in 1997. Theatres were very happy since George Lucas released them in February I think it was. It brought in a ton of business in what is normally a quiet time.

Some of this is irrelevant to Western Film. Between being 2nd run and subject to the student cycle we often get big movies at slow times for other theatres. However we also run into problems. Certain times of the year attendance drops no matter what's playing because the students are busy with school work. There's also things like Juno, at the rate it's going I might not be able to play it until well into exams. Last year I didn't get 300 until the last few days of exams. Most of the students had already left.

Friday, March 21, 2008

An interesting study that states the obvious about concession prices v.s. ticket prices.

Without the high price of popcorn at the concession counter, the price of tickets would be a lot higher, according to a study by the University of California Santa Cruz and Stanford University. Today's (Wednesday) San Jose Mercury News reported that the researchers studied data from 43 multiplex theaters in 30 cities over a five-year period and determined that the concession stand in effect subsidizes relatively low ticket prices and that without it, the ticket prices would rise 25 percent.

This is especially true in cases of cheaper theatres that have a more price sensitive audience.

It's really important for Western Film. A 10% provincial Entertainment tax would kick in if we raised our ticket price even a penny. We would have to go straight from $4.20 to about $5.00 but only make about 25 cents extra ourselves.

With the minimum wage going up significantly we might have to raise concession prices. I'm hoping not.

Movie Review - Doomsday.

The ads for this made it look like a standard scf-fi apocalypse thriller. The movie seemed to be composed of equal parts Mad Max and Escape From New York with a female lead. The Mad Max influence was so obvious and blatant the director must be a fan of the series. Normally I would assume he was a hack director but also did the movie The Descent, one of the genuinely scary flicks I've seen in a while.

Overall it was a fun action movie with occasional horror thrown in. It was better than I expected. The lead actresses Rhona Mitra probably has quite a future as an action heroine.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Questions about 3-D.

A convention for movie theatres called Showest just ended in the US. There was a lot of talk about 3-D being the saviour of the theatre since it can't be duplicated at home. A few questions occurred to me.

Some of the films are supposed to be coming out exclusively in 3-D. The Hannah Montana film was like that and so is the upcoming Journey to the Center of the Earth. I wonder how long the exclusive part will last? There are still a lot of places that don't have a 3-D theatre. 3-D is expensive both to put in and maintain. For example the small city St. Thomas south of London isn't likely to have a 3-D screen any time soon. Are they willing to forsake all places like it in order to play exclusively in 3-D?

There's also the matter of second run and independent theatres. Western Film won't have 3-D any time soon either so does that mean we won't be able to play James Cameron's Avatar when it comes out next year?

The 3-D thing also messes up the normal pattern in a multiplex. Normally a film opens in one of the larger screens then gradually moves into smaller screens as the run progresses. Unless they all have 3-D this won't be able to happen.

For example,the Silver City at Masonville converted their largest screen (#2) to play digital and 3-D. They are playing the Hannah Montana film but since none of the other screens can play it they will have to drop it right off the big screen.

Hannah is a bit of a special case but imagine this. Let's say Shrek 4 opens in 3-D only on May 1, then Spiderman 4 opens May 7 in 3-D only. The Silver City would have to either drop Shrek completely after one week or not play Spider-man. Not a choice I would want to have to make.

I predict a similar situation to when Stars Wars: The Phantom Menace opened. Initially Lucas insisted it could only open on screens with digital sound. There was a huge uproar since so many places didn't have digital sound and that requirement fell by the wayside. The 3-D movies will all or at least most have 2-D versions available as well.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Next Week's Movies.

The choice this week was pretty easy. These were the choices.

Alvin and The Chipmunks- I wouldn't have played it anyway but even less so since Fox wouldn't have let us split it.

Spyderwick Chronicles- Apparently good but a kid's movie. I might have played it during the summer.

There will be Blood- I guess the Hyland dropped it since it was offered to us.

No Country for Old Men- finally.

The booking office had actually already booked There Will Be Blood in but I said I would rather have No Country since it's out on DVD plus we've been waiting for it for so long. I decided to play it for both shows. There wasn't anything good available for a late show and I expect it to do well.

I went ahead and booked There will be Blood for the following playweek. By booking it now I can start advertising it. I figured I was safe to book it now. The only title I would rather play than Blood would be Juno but I don't see that coming off yet. There may or may not be a late show the week that Blood plays. I'll see what's available on Monday.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro together in a cop film?

There's a bit of buzz about this film as it features two heavyweight actors. The new trailer is below. It looks interesting but nothing special. Hopefully I'm wrong.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Ten Moviegoing Commandments.

This has got to be one of the funniest things I've read lately.

I think I'll post these in the slide show that runs before the films. Should be good for a laugh and hopefully some educational value.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Movie Review - 10,000 BC.

The first I heard about this film was when I checked into what films actor Steven Strait had coming up. I liked him in The Covenent. 10,000 BC sounded interesting and Roland Emmerich was directing. Emmerich has had a spotty career with both good and bad films, I think Independence day is one of the best popcorn movies ever made. Popcorn movies tends to mean big budget, special effects driven spectaculars. His movies tend to be big and loud without a lot of substance but usually exciting. I was expecting something similar from 10,000 BC.

It was fairly obvious Warner Bros was hoping for a hit similar to 300 from last year, same release date, same genre, similar marketing.

Unfortunately the movie sucked. It was almost boring, only had a couple big action sequences which were obviously computer generated, didn't make sense and even stole a couple scenes right out of 300!? Steven Strait did a fine job with what he was given to work with, he looked pretty good shirtless for most of the movie.

I'd love to see the outtakes from this, the dialogue was so corny I bet they had a lot of takes where the actors couldn't keep from laughing.

I don't think this will play at Western Film. Not just because I didn't like it but for a couple reasons.

-it's getting negative buzz

-these kind of action films don't tend to do great at Western Film even when they are hits and considered good.

I might play it if I have an opening in the schedule.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Next Week's Movies

I was a little disappointed this week, I really wanted to get No Country For Old Men since it comes out on DVD. However it was still doing well enough that at least one first run theatre held it. We have played films (Walk The Line , Brokeback Mountain) after they were on DVD before and if it's something people want to see they will still come. No Country is a film that should be seen on the big screen. It will still play, hopefully the week after, I don't think I can not play it at this point with who knows how many people have been waiting for us to get it.

I was told on Friday that 27 Dresses would be available. Fox puts time between first and second run so I often know early when their films will be available. Unfortunately they wouldn't let me split it so it has to be both shows.

The current week I choose to play Atonement over There Will Be Blood, planning to play Blood next week if No Country wasn't available. Paramount Vantage decided to give the Hyland There Will Be Blood which I have no problem with. I had decided to play 27 Dresses over Blood for reasons similar to why I choose Atonement this week. Blood will still play but I'm not sure when.

One decision I didn't have to make was what to play for a late show if No Country had been available. I could have played two shows of No Country or kept Atonement for a late show. It would have been a tough call.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Why the Hannah Montana Concert Film won't be playing at Western Film.

I'd never heard of Hannah Montana until a couple months ago when word of this movie came out. She's a bit of a sensation, the weekend the movie opened it was #1 with $20 million on only 683 screens, most wide release movies open on at least 2000 screens.

However the reason it only opened on that many screens is because it's in 3-D and there are a limited number of screens with 3-D capability. It was supposed to be a one week only engagement but naturally was held over with that kind of money involved.

A couple of local theatres are opening it next week which means they must be installing Digital Projectors with 3-D since no theatre in London could show 3-D before.

There is no 2-D 35 mm film version so Western Film can't play it. I'm not sure if we would anyway, she's most popular with pre-teen girls and there ain't a lot of them on campus.

Poster of the Week: Religulous

I think Bill Maher is one of the funniest people around. He uses his humour to get across a political message I usually agree with. I hope this movie plays in Canada, his TV series on HBO doesn't and that pisses me off.

The movie comes out later in the year. I'd say it's fairly easy to tell from the poster and title what the subject matter is.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A movie I want to see: Wanted.

I'm a sucker for action adventure films, especially those based on comic books or graphic novels. The first trailer for Wanted with Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy didn't wow me but the new one looks like a movie I really want to see. I guess Angelina has actually been working, it seemed like she spends so much time in the tabloids she wouldn't have time to do anything else.
I've always found her interesting. She has such a extreme look, she's beautiful but in a weird way. I'm curious to see how she ages.

Wanted Exclusive Trailer

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Watching movies twice.

As far as I know few people see as many movies as I do, at least one a week, usually two. I bet there are even fewer people who see as many movies twice!
I go see a lot of films in first run release before they come to Western Film for a few reasons. Seeing the films myself gives me a good idea how they will work at Western Film, I get to keep up on what's happening at the other theatres and I can really relax because I'm not in charge.

One of the staff always watches the first showing of any film at Western Film, usually Friday. We do this to watch for technical problems such as splicing errors or sound problems. It's usually the projectionist that watches the film but on nights that person doesn't want to watch the film I often will. It works out that the usual Friday projectionist Chris and I have different taste in films. If he doesn't want to watch the film I usually will and vice-versa. I do occasionally pull managerial prerogative and make him watch a movie I really don't want to watch. Some movies are good once but not a second time or just plain sucked the first time.

Sometimes I watch a film again just because I want to.

So as a result I often end up seeing films twice. It's an interesting experience. I can watch the film more closely and see how shots were set up, notice things I didn't the first time etc. I sat and watched Cloverfield again last night. This is the best kind of film to watch twice. It's full of so many small things that can be missed the first time. The fast action is also more interesting to watch as I can get a better idea what I'm seeing. I can also watch for stuff I read or heard after I saw the film the first time. I read there is a image of something large falling into the ocean in Cloverfield which I missed the first time. The second time I was watching for it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Next Week's Movies.

When I initially got in to the office I was told There will be Blood was available for sure and a couple others were still being checked on, I decided to wait until I found out about the others. While I was waiting I tried to decide what to do about a late show if I booked in There will Be Blood. It's very long so a late show would have to be at 10pm, pretty late for us. My original plan was to play Cloverfield as a late show after Blood but I ended up playing Cloverfield this week.

I decided to try a little experiment. I noticed we had a lot of students coming to Persepolis so I thought I would try it as a late show and see what happens. Generally the 'Art' shows only do well for the early show but I wondered how one a lot of students wanted to see would do.

It turned out Atonement was available so I booked it in instead of Blood for a couple reasons.

-it'll do better

-next playweek is one of the heaviest in terms of student workload. I figured more would come out for a two hour film than for a 3 hour really heavy film.

-I could play it for both shows, a late show of Atonement would do better than one of Persepolis.

My current plan is to play There Will Be Blood the following week followed by a late show of Atonement if it does as well as I think it will. This kinda depends on if No Country for Old Men is available. I hope I don't have to choose between No Country and Blood, it would be a tough call.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

R.I.P. New Line Cinema.

One of the more prominent smaller studios has been erased. New Line Cinema has been owned by Warner Bros for a while. Warner has decided to fold New Line into Warner's film division effectively leaving New Line a shell with a name. New Line is known as the House that Freddy built based on the fact that it's earliest successes were the Nightmare on Elm Street films. It has in recent years produced some classic films including the Lord of the Rings films. New Line had been having some bad times lately, except for Hairspray they hadn't had a hit in a while. They produced The Golden Compass which is getting a rep as one of the biggest bombs ever. I think there's more to it than that, probably a clash of personalities with the studio executives. All studios have bad times, movies are an inherently unpredictable business. New Line took one of the biggest gambles in movie history and won. The three Lord of the Rings films were all shot at the same time at a cost of some $300 million. If the first weekend of the first film has been a bust that would have resulted in a huge loss.

I read they were keeping New Line but it would no longer produce, distribute or market films. My first thought was 'what else does a studio do?'. After a little more thought I think they are keeping the name to attach to certain future films. For example if Warner makes the Hobbit films they will probably release them as New Line for legal or continuity reasons. New Line also has some films that haven't been released yet.

This could get interesting here in Canada. A company named Alliance is the biggest Canadian movie distributor. They tend to release a lot of the high profile award magnets (Atonement) as well as some lower films (Good Luck Chuck). They also release most Canadian films. New Line's films are distributed in Canada by Alliance and constitutes a large portion of Alliance's releases. Alliance will presumably release the New Line films that haven't come out yet but after that who knows?

Alliance was just bought by new owners including the Quebec government. Their investment may have just taken a turn for the worse.

There's an extensive posting on New Line at Cinematical. including a list of all their films. There's some real classics there.

What's with Movie Titles lately?

This isn't a new phenomenon but seems to be getting more common. Movie titles that seem to have no connection to or explanation from the film. Here's a few recent examples.

Cloverfield- There is a mention of the cloverfield in a title card but it's not really explained where it comes from.

Before The Devil Knows You're Dead- an apt title for the film but as far as I could tell was never referenced in the film.

Persepolis- A quick Google tells me that Persepolis is the name of a city in the Persian Empire and now in Iran. That's never explained in the movie, it is kinda a cool title though.

I Am Legend- Maybe it's the title of the book the Will Smith movie is based on but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Perhaps they are referring to the status of his character after the events of the film.