Thursday, August 28, 2008

Freaky Matrix - 9/11 coincidence or conspiracy?

I think the conspiracy nuts are having a field day with this one. If ones watches closely it turns out the expiration date on the passport Neo (Keanu Reeves) shows in The Matrix (1999) is Sep 11 2001.

It is kinda freaky.
While looking for the image of the passport I found this interesting article about other 9/11 references in various media. I think the Simpson's one is pushing it though.

RIP Huron Marketplace

A co-worker informed me today that the weekly Cineplex e-mail included mention that the Huron Marketplace theatres would be closed as of Sep 2. I don't think anyone will be surprised. That theatre has been in decline for a while. When it was first built it was state of the art and even had two concession stands, one of which is all walled in now. Now it's one of those outdated mall theatres that are closing all over North America. They tried running as a third run theatre for $3.00 admission for a while but I guess it didn't work. Part of the problem may have been the concession prices were that same as at the more expensive theatres. I would imagine people expected lower food prices along with the lower ticket price.

The area it's in is getting pretty scary which I imagine was keeping people away.

I was there last week to see a film and it was pretty nasty. I could smell urine about half the way down the lobby, I'm not sure if it was the bathrooms or if some yahoo had pissed in a corner.

I've never been sure what effect it was having on Western Film. When Rainbow went first run the Marketplace was the only other second run theatre left in town. With it closing that leaves Western Film as the only one.

Basically Huron Marketplace closing may not help Western Film but it can't hurt.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Offerings at Western Film - Ice Cream.

I got an Ice Cream freezer in early in the summer. It's another experiment, so far it seems to be working. We've been selling a fair amount, mostly Hageen-Daaz and Dibs. I figure Dibs are popular since they are individual pieces and easier to eat while watching a film. I'm curious to see how things go later. It won't be hot outside any more but there will be more customers around. I figure the two will balance each other out.

Really the biggest problem has been with Nestle itself. They have a $200 minimum order. The last order I got didn't all fit in the ice cream freezer, we had to put about half of it in the freezer we make ice in. Even then we had to tape the door shut to keep it all in. I ended up throwing out some product that had gotten crushed.

We'll see if it sticks around.

How Stuff Works: movie projection

I found this interesting page on a website called It gives a pretty good explanation of how movie projectors work for those who are interested.

I should get my projectionists to read it. It's best to know how everything works in order to troubleshoot. I think I have trained them well but every so often there's a 'shouldn't you know that' moment.

One part of the job I hate.

One of my least favorite parts of the job is changing the xenon lamp in the projector. It's under extremely high pressure and can explode. I've never seen it happen in person but I've heard about it. The manufacturer says to use protective gear when installing it. I can wear a face shield but it's pretty much impossible to wear any kind of gloves, the spaces involved are too small.

Below is a video of what can happen.

Lucky me, I get to change the bulb in the next few days. The current one is starting to have trouble igniting which means it's time to replace it. Too bad they are $800 each.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Next Week's Films

Next week is an important week for Western Film as it comprises most of Orientation (Frosh) week. We try to get the new students to check out the theatre and let them know we are here. We give away popcorn where all the students pick up their bus passes as a promotion.

Therefore it good to have good movies that week. I was hoping for Mamma Mia and Dark Knight but that wasn't likely to happen, especially Knight. I thought Step Brothers would come off but it didn't.

There were three movies available.

Journey to the Center of The Earth: too child oriented and really meant to be shown in 3D only.

Swing State: this film might do okay but not during Frosh Week, too serious and not well known enough. I might play it later.

Wall:E : I plan to play this but not next week. It's not a good fit for Frosh Week and this is a bad weekend to run matinees. Anyone who doesn't have to go near the campus generally doesn't due to the semi-controlled chaos up here.

Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: I booked this in as the 7:00 show. It got some bad buzz but was a fun movie, it's a good fun diversion for the new students. The only problem is losing some customers that would have come to see it but will avoid the campus. Other weekends I probably would have played matinees for it.

The question was what to play with it since there were no other new films I wanted to play. I considered keeping Hancock, bringing back Wanted or Indy 4 and even, briefly, bringing back Sex and The City. I decided to bring back Get Smart. It did surprisingly well the first time we played it. It's also a fun movie that appeals to both guys and girls for Frosh Week. Also, since it wasn't a monster hit I figure the odds are better more students won't have seen it already than something like Hancock.

Frosh week is generally really busy so I added extra time between shows.

So Wall:E will be playing the week after for the early show and matinees. What will play with it I won't know until Next Tuesday since Monday is a holiday.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mini - Movie Review - Death Race.

I was looking forward to this film because I tend to like mindless action films and Jason Statham. I was somewhat disappointed. Jason was Jason as usual. However, I was sitting there trying to keep myself from looking at my watch. I couldn't figure out how a movie with so much action could be almost boring. It's basically one big race with lots of explosions and car wrecks and the occasional dialogue scene. Joan Allen is pretty good but does seem a bit out of place, she also needs to see a better plastic surgeon, it's becoming obvious. I liked the movie okay but was hoping for more. I thought it might be just me but Roger Ebert gave it a half star. I can't remember the last time I saw him do that.

Death Race wouldn't have played at Western Film anyway, it's a kind of film we don't do well with, even if it was better.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Death Race

The movie Death Race opens this weekend. I want to see it as it looks fun and stars Jason Statham. However I'm not impressed with it being called a remake of the cult film from 1975. It has little to do with it except for it's a race. The fun of the 1975 one was aspects such as getting points for hitting pedestrians. The drivers were basically nasty Nascar drivers rather than prisoners trying to win their freedom as in the new one. The orig is also a cross country race. The new one looks like it may all take place in the prison.

The new film has more in common with The Running Man than the original Death race.

Below is a clip of the part of the original that made the most impression on me. It cuts off a little too quick. If I remember correctly he gets fewer points for his little surprise than he would have if done what was expected.

Next Week's Films

There was only one film available this week, Hancock. That was fine with me since I wanted to play it. I decided to run a 7pm and late show as I think enough people will come see it to justify both. I might have run matinees but we have the Bollywood film Singh is Kinng on Sunday. I considered Saturday only matinees of Hancock but normally the Sunday matinees are busiest and I didn't want to confuse people who might assume the mats are both days. If it had been Wall-E or something really matinee friendly I would have done just the Sat matinee.

The only other film the Booker was checking on was Mummy 3 which wasn't available. She also said Stepbrothers might come off.

The following week includes most of Frosh Week which is a very important week in terms of getting the new students into the theatre. I was hoping for a big movie like Mamma Mia but it looks like might end up being a combination of Hancock and/or Stepbrothers and Mummy 3.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Next Week's Films

Next week was easy to book. There were only two films available, Wanted and Hellboy 2 and I had planned to play both. I only had two decisions to make, one easy and one harder. I had to decide which order to put them in which was pretty easy. Wanted has broader appeal and was a bigger hit, I think. Hellboy has a more niche market and is the kind of film that can do well on a late show.

I also had to decide whether to play matinees. I decided not to as neither film seemed very matinee friendly. I was basing this both on my own instinct and on how Hulk did for last week's matinees (i.e: not good).

I'm pretty sure Wanted will do well. I'm a little nervous about Hellboy, it might be one of those films that only some want to see and they have already seen it. On the other hand it's such a active and visually rich film I can see some people watching it more than once.

The only other title the booker was checking on was Hancock so that may be available the following week.

Bad Marketing for new Dane Cook film?

There's an interesting post over at Cinematical about the disparity between the poster for the upcoming Dane Cook / Kate Hudson film My Best Friend's Girl and the trailer. The poster makes it look like a fairly generic romantic comedy while the trailer makes it look like a funny but very adult film. Even Dane Cook doesn't like the poster. Some people really dislike Dane Cook but I like him, I guess I find him funny, most of the time. He can get a bit over the top.

So watch the trailer and let me know if you think you would be surprised if you went to see the film based on the poster.

Note: The trailer is a red-band trailer which means it contains naughty words and is NSFW.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Questions / Comments/ Complaints?

Every so often I put up a generic post for readers to use the comments function for feedback. Please post anything and I'll respond either in the comments in this post or do a seperate post.

The Volume of the movie.

This post is also in response to a previous comment placed about the volume level at Western Film being too high recently. I also received an e-mail about it today. I figure the odds are good it was the same person.

The volume level is one of those things that can never be quite right, there will always be some people who think it's too loud or too quiet. My boss is always telling me to keep the volume high.

We set the volume the first show through on Friday. Each movie is different so the volume setting varies. We also adjust it depending on how many people are in the theatre. People absorb sound so if it's busy we turn the volume up some. It also depends on the type of film. A big action film is supposed to be loud, it's how loud that's the question.

A complaint once in a while is often just a personal preference of that person which I can't do much about. However I have had a few complaints over the last few weeks about it so cumulatively that suggests we aren't doing something right.

The hard part is often the sound mix of the movies themselves. It often seems if you turn it up to a level where the dialogue can be heard then the fights, explosions or whatnot are too loud.

I know there was one night recently we did screw up on the volume. It was the late show of a film that had already played at 7pm. We had set the volume level by the first showing which was way busier than the late showing. As a result the volume was really loud for the late showing. No one said anything until the movie was over so we weren't aware of the problem.

I'll be keeping a close eye (ear?) on the situation and in general keep the volume lower. If anyone has any feedback feel free to e-mail me or let us know at the theatre.

Bollywood Films

This post is in response to a comment asking about Western Film playing a Bollywood (Indian) film called Singh is Kiing. There is someone interested in renting Western Film to play that film. I'm not sure of the details yet.

Pretty much all of the Bollywood movies that have ever played at Western Film were other groups or people renting the theatre, we basically just showed the film and sold some concessions.

I tried running a few Bollywood movies myself a couple years ago but it didn't work. I wasn't able to promote it properly, largely because I wasn't sure how to reach them.

When I first started running Western Film there was a student who used to rent Western Film about once a month. She was able to pretty much fill the theatre every time. However that was a while ago and the piracy issue was nowhere near as bad as it is now.

If Hollywood think it has piracy problems they should be happy they aren't Bollywood. Once I was dropping tickets off at one of the Indian food stores for a showing in a couple weeks. The guy running the store rented out a VHS pirated copy of the film for $1.00 while I was there.

The main issue for playing Bollywood at Western Film is timing. It's best to be able to promote a specific date that's as close to the Toronto opening as possible. However there are only a few prints of each movie and they play Toronto first. Much as with the Hollywood product we have to wait until the prints finish in TO before we can play them. The Indian theatres in TO decide each Monday what they will keep so it's hard to set a date for a London showing.

I'm hoping this is one of the situations that will be fixed by a digital projector in a few years. They should be able to make as many copies as they want so we could probably open the same time as TO.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

New Offerings at Western Film - Nachos

I brought in Nachos a couple months ago, they have been selling pretty good. There's three parts, the trays, the chips and the cheese. I like our chips, they aren't too salty. The cheese comes in small packets like big ketchup packets. One packet fills the cheese portion of the tray. I kinda wish the packets of Cheese were bigger, they are 3 Oz's and to me doesn't look like enough. Maybe I just tend to put a lot of cheese on each chip when I have them myself. We prepare several trays of chips in advance as it takes some time to fill a tray properly. The trays are then put into the warmer pictured. I've told my staff to fill each tray as full as possible using complete chips, pieces are only to be used to fill in any empty spaces.

People who buy Nachos have a choice of cheese or salsa. Most take cheese, the salsa is cheaper so I tell the staff to give them a lot. A second portion of cheese can be bought for $.75 or extra Salsa for $.50. Some people think the cost of the extra cheese is too high but it's actually about what Western Film pays for each packet.

We've actually tried selling Nachos at Western Film before. We had a dispenser with a large bag of cheese inside instead of the small packets. I liked the system better. It was faster and extra cheese could be added easy. However the we didn't sell enough nachos to go through the cheese fast enough and it would go bad. (Hint: if your nacho cheese ever tastes like butterscotch it's too old). Since the cheese is the most expensive part we had to stop selling them.

When I heard about the packets I decided to try them again. Also with the permanent concession stand I had more space for them.

So far we've had good sales so I don't see them going away again.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Next Week's Films.

I'm glad I had a couple movies left over from previous weeks as this was all that was available.

Meet Dave: Fox Studios so it had to be all shows, not bloody likely.

Space Chimps: Fox Studios so it also had to be all shows, c'mon Fox you have to be bleepin' kidding!

I booked in Get Smart for the early show and Hulk for the late show.

I'm trying one new variation. We've had good luck with the matinees, Kung Fu Panda did really well. Neither Get Smart or Hulk justified 2 matinees or even really one on it's own. However I figured if I run Get Smart at 2:00 and Hulk at 4:15 the I can sorta split the difference and between the two of them should do well. Get Smart appeals to a younger crowd that tend to come to matinees. I think people will come to see Hulk for the matinee that wouldn't come to the late night show far various reasons.

The booker was checking on Wanted and Hellboy 2 but neither was available. The odds are good one or both will be available the following week.

Friday, August 01, 2008

New offerings at Western Film- Slush Puppie

And by offerings I'm not speaking of the sacrificial kind but more of new products. Until Oct 2007 Western Film's snack bar was on carts and rolled out and put away each night. It was a major pain. However when the USC renovated The Wave restaurant beside Western Film they built us a shiny new concession stand.
Being permanent has allowed me to add new products for a couple reasons. We have more space and the equipment is stable. Something as top-heavy and delicate as a Slush machine would never have survived being rolled around on the carts.

We installed the Slush machine in May and it has been very popular. As usual Western Film always seem to run different from everyone else. The guy who installed it said Blue was the most popular flavour but we seem to sell mostly Red and Green.

Until I asked about getting one I never knew how a slush machine worked. It's a neat idea. We buy the base from Slush Puppie. It's basically flavoured liquid sugar. We mix a certain amount of base with water and put it into the machine. The machine has a refrigeration unit that drops the temperature of the tubs below the freezing level of water. However the freezing temp of the base is lower because of the sugar so it doesn't freeze. As the water freezes the rotors stir the mixture to keep the frozen water crystals from forming a solid chunk of ice.

I'm curious to see how it sells during the school year, it won't be as warm outside but there will be more students around.

Funny Canadian Film Fest posters.

I discovered these posters through one of my favorite movie blogs Cinematical. Never heard of the festival but they make funny posters. My favorite one is thumb nailed here.

Marriage Proposals at Western Film.

A guy rented Western Film today for a private showing of Sex and The City just for him and his girlfriend. I'm not sure why but it reminded me of a couple previous rentals. Twice Western Film has been the site of a marriage proposal. The first time, I don't remember the movie, they watched the movie and then he asked her after it was over. I was still in the projection booth, I had just stopped the movie and didn't want to disturb them. He had told me in advance what he planned to do. She looked very happy, crying and the whole bit. I thought it was a neat idea to propose in a theatre, it'll be more memorable and make a better story than the usual restaurant or whatever.

The next guy used the theatre but didn't actually watch the movie. As far as she knew they were there to watch a regular matinee. I had loaned him a copy of our PowerPoint slide show. He amended it by adding his own stuff at the end. Pictures of them together culminating with a 'will you marry me' slide. It was quite touching. I'm pretty sure she said yes.