Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I don't understand some theatres.

We played a Bollywood ( Indian ) film called Drona on the weekend. One of the theatres that had previously played the film did something that makes no sense to me. Bollywood films are almost always long, 2 1/2 to 3 hours and have an intermission about half way through. The intermission is built into the film, the word intermission, or sometimes interval, comes up on the screen.
Every Bollywood film I've played has had an intermission, even one that was only about 2 hours long. So Bollywood audiences expect to have an intermission so they can go to the bathroom etc.
From a theatre's point of view an intermission is great for food sales. We made 75% of our food sales this weekend during the intermission.
So if you are still with me, the audiences expect an intermission and the theatre makes money, everybody's happy.
So why did a previous theatre cut off the section of film that says intermission?! From a film standpoint the only practical reason to do this would be to be able to splice the film altogether into one long movie without an intermission. Why would anyone do that? The only thing I can think of is to save the time of the intermission in order to run more showings of the film per day. Personally I would hate to be sitting watching the film waiting for the intermission to go to the bathroom and it never comes.

It made things a little awkward for us this weekend. A Bollywood film I showed a few months ago had a similar situation. I spliced the intermission titling back into the film. This weekend however one of my projectionists made up the film and didn't know to do that. By the time I found out it was too late to fix it. I knew where the intermission was supposed to be but to the audience it was probably somewhat jarring as the film just stopped without any text warning. Luckily they tend to put the intermissions at either cliffhanger moments or just after pivotal events so it's somewhat predictable. For Drona the intermission came right after the transformation of the regular guy into the Super guy.

Next Week's Films Oct 31 - Nov 6

I had already booked Burn After Reading in so I knew what the early show would be. The question was what the late show would be. It ended up being one of those annoying weeks with tough choices to make. There were some good films available but I didn't think they would make good late shows. Movies that appeal to adults as well as students usually need to be the early show. For the most part only students come to the late shows.

Religulous- I decided this should be a early show so I put it off a week and booked it to start Nov 7. I booked it in so I could start advertising it.

The Duchess.- Another film that needs to be an early show. I've tentatively slotted this into the week after Religulous. I didn't book it in in case something more interesting comes available.

I still needed to make a choice for the late show. There were two possibles.
My Best Friend's Girl- I've been changing my mind about whether to play this or not. It's kinda a cross between a romantic and a raunchy comedy. I usually have a reading on how I think any film will do and this one I'm getting nuthin'. I decided to try it and see what happens. It's playing at 9:00. My guess is it will do somewhere between 'okay' and 'bad' but it would be a nice surprise if it does 'good' or better.
Lakeview Terrace - I normally wouldn't play this kind of mid-range thriller but it did okay and stars Samuel L. Jackson. It's tentatively slotted into the late show after Religulous but I won't cry if something better comes available.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Advance Screenings

One thing I really like doing is advance screenings, especially when it's a film I know won't suck. We've done three so far this year. Warner did Fool's Gold in February. That went really well, was very busy, it got a little complicated as they were selling the tickets for charity rather than giving them away. It also had to be on a Tuesday which got interesting since I had to cancel whatever else would have played that night on our discount night.

Maple AKA Lionsgate did The Bank Job in March. It went quite well for a relatively small movie, at a busy time of year for the students, about 100 people.

During the summer I wrote to the woman at Maple and asked her if she wanted to do any more. I was interested in Religulous but it turned out that was being distributed by TVA in Canada.

We did decide to do one for Oliver Stone's W. which was last week. Considering the timing right after Thanksgiving I was expecting about 100 people. We ended up with just over 200 so I was quite happy. They also bought a lot of popcorn.

W. had trailers for The Spirit and Transporter 3 in front of it. Hopefully Maple will want to do advance screenings for those.

Toy Story meets The Dark Knight.

This is a great fan-made mash.

It occurred to me that something like this would make a great study subject for a film class. It shows just how easily the meaning of images or sound can be manipulated for a desired response.

An odd decision I had to make.

I got an odd phone call on Monday. Alliance called at about 4pm and asked if we wanted to do a advance showing of Zack and Miri Make A Porno. Doing so would be really cool except they wanted to do it on Thursday, as in 4 days later, replacing a movie that had been advertised all week and was doing well (Mamma Mia). I had to say no even though I wanted to do it. Mamma Mia is doing quite well and I didn't think cancelling the last 7pm show of it was a good idea. I'd never be able to let everyone know in advance it had been cancelled which would lead to some pissed off customers.

I wonder if a premiere somewhere else got cancelled and they were looking for some place else to play it. The woman seemed almost insulted/surprised when I said no.

Hopefully they call back and want to do some more advance shows with a little more notice.

It's too bad they didn't call last week. I only had the 7pm showing of Dark Knight so I could probably have done the screening afterwards at about 10pm.

It occurred to me later I could have done the Zack and Miri screening as a midnight show but I don't know how well that would have worked or whether Alliance would have gone for that.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Next Week's Films.

I think I may have missed a week with Thanksgiving and all. Mamma Mia is currently playing and doing quite well. I've decided to keep it for a second week as the late show. If there were any stronger titles available I might have dropped it but there weren't.
The only new movies available for next week are:

Appaloosa: This Western is apparently an okay movie but doesn't have enough awareness to play at Western Film.

Nights in Rodanthe: This film didn't make a big splash or do huge business but it's the kind of film I think will do well at Western Film. It's primarily aimed at women which is a genre that always does well at Western Film. It's got a couple fairly big stars (Richard Gere, Diane Lane), based on a popular book and while it didn't make a huge splash it didn't get a lot of negative buzz either. I booked it in for the 7pm show.

Burn After Reading finished its' first run but Alliance wants to put week between it's first and second runs. It will probably play starting Oct 31.

There's a few other films that have come available that I'll stick in where available. There's no films out right now that I think will do huge business. There's a few I think will do well which we should get in the next few weeks, Eagle Eye, Religulous, maybe W.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Next Week's Movie.

I'd basically already decided what to do about next week before I even knew what was available. The playweek includes Thanksgiving weekend, so many students go home this place becomes pretty much a ghost town. I didn't want to play a good movie and 'waste' it. Last year we played Stardust over the holiday and not only did it not do well but I got a lot of e-mails from people asking if it would be playing later because they weren't going to be here.

We also have the preview screening of W. on Wednesday night so the regular movie won't play that night.

I decided to play one show of Dark Knight at 7pm and no late show. Dark Knight is still doing well enough to keep for a third week and it's a good place holder to 'kill' the week. Just doing one show reduces expenses and gives those of us that are still here working something more similar to a holiday.

There were several movies available.

Mamma Mia- finally, this is one I definitely didn't want to play over the holiday. I booked it in for the week following, starting Oct 17.

My Best Friend's Girl- This came off really fast so it must have bombed worse than I thought. It goes into the reserve list but there are other things I'd rather play first.

Ghost Town- kinda funny but bombed, probably won't play it.

The Women- will probably play in a week or two, maybe.

Righteous Kill- another hard call, starred Pacino and De Niro but didn't do all that well. Might play as a late show later.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The end of Ambush Interveiw movies? / Religulous review

I went to see Religulous today. Bill Mahr's film about religion sorta combines Michael Moore's style of what are called ambush interviews with a bit of Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat type 'documentary'.

The film was quite funny and had more of a social commentary aspect to it than I expected. I would imagine most of the patrons will be people like me who already agree with his viewpoints on religion. I'd be interested in what a religious person thinks of the film.

I couldn't help but wonder why some of these people agreed to be interviewed by Mahr. Why didn't they realize he was going to make fun of them? A couple make statements that suggest they weren't told the actual idea of the film or possibly didn't even know who he was.

I know Moore has been having trouble making films because no one will talk to him any more. When it first was announced he was making Sicko most of the medical companies in the US ordered their employees not to talk to him.

I think Cohen has been having similar trouble making his latest film, people are recognizing him so it's harder for him to get people to make fools of themselves reacting to the characters he's playing.

I don't think these kind of films can go on much longer. People get wise to them after a while.

I would love to look at the actual footage shot for Religulous vs what was in the final cut. The wonderful thing about editing is you can make the footage say pretty much anything you want. A lot of the funny moments in Religulous may have been created by editing. The ones that stood out the most were the reaction shots of the interviewees right after they said something stupid or Mahr made one of his jokes.

I'm willing to bet at least some of those shots were at different places in the interview. On the other hand some of these people say pretty stupid things. One of the funniest is the reaction shot of the US Senator that says there's no IQ test needed to get into the Senate. The 'oh crap, what did I just say' look on his face is priceless.

Religulous will be playing at Western Film.

Digital Cinema deal done?

Below is a link to an article from the Hollywood Reporter about a major deal between 5 of the Studios and the three biggest cinema chains in the US. This should finally get the ball rolling on a major changeover to digital from 35mm film to digital projectors.

There are many reasons for conversion but the main one is the cost savings of not having to make and ship millions of feet of film. I read the studios may save up to $1 Billion a year, that seems a bit much but it will be significant.

The basic issue has been the fact that the studios would be the ones to save most of the money but the cinemas didn't want to pay for the cost of the equipment which won't really make a difference most of the time. 99% of the time the audience wouldn't know whether it's watching film or digital. Converting a theatre can cost upwards of $100,000, more if 3D is involved.

They have finally agreed on what is called a Virtual Print Fee which is so obvious it should have been agreed upon earlier. Basically each time a digital print is used the studio will pay the theatre the amount it saved by not having to make a film print. Once the equipment is paid for the payments stop. Makes a lot of sense to me.

One issue that's been looming over this whole debate is what to do about smaller chains and independent theatres. The situation could be especially difficult with second run theatres that use the 'leftover' prints from the first run theatres. The studios won't want to pay us a VPF since they didn't save any money by not making a print.

I'm sure something will be worked out. For example I went to see a movie at the Hyland tonight and all the trailers were for movies from a smaller company called Mongrel Media. Mongrel tends to specialize in smaller Art type releases that rarely play in the big multiplexes. They mostly play in places like the Hyland and Western Film.

To me it would be in Mongrel's and other smaller distribs interests to work out some sort of VPF with the theatres that plays their films. Otherwise most of those theatres will close because they can't afford to convert to digital without help.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Mini Movie Review - Eagle Eye.

The only movie critic I normally read is Roger Ebert. I almost always agree with him. However this is one of those occasions where I didn't . He gave it two stars and a rather tepid review.

Basically Eagle Eye is a movie, it makes no sense, would never work in the real world, has way too many things happen just right at just the right time. In spite of all of that and maybe because of it's sheer audacity I found it very entertaining. Shia Lebouf and Michelle Monaghan are both good as the lead characters. It's is a bit predictable and movieish, when machinery has moving parts that it doesn't need you know someone is going to break them. There was a little bit of a tacked on ending that didn't quite work. Overall it was a fun little movie, and things get blown up real good.

This film will be playing at Western Film, probably as a late show.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Next Week's Films

Next week wasn't too hard to book. I knew on the first night it played I would be keeping Dark Knight. It did more Friday night than many movies do all week. By the end of the weekend it had done more than almost all movies do all week.

Initially I had planned to play Dark Knight for both shows again unless Mamma Mia was available. Mamma Mia wasn't available but Tropic Thunder was, to my mild surprise. In most cases I would have held off on Tropic for a week but the following week is Thanksgiving and I don't want to play anything good that week.

So I decided to play Tropic Thunder at 7:00. Dark Knight moves to 9:20.

The only other film available was House Bunny. I probably won't get to playing this, at this point I'd rather bring Pineapple Express back another week. Dark Knight might do well enough to play another week as well.

And sooner or later, Mamma Mia will be available...

Mini-Movie Review - My Best Friend's Girl

I did an earlier post on how the marketing for this film couldn't seem to decide if it was a romantic or raunchy comedy. Turns out it tries to be both and doesn't entirely fail. I enjoyed it well enough, it had some funny bits. I would recommend that anyone who doesn't like Dane Cook not see this film. He's playing an even more exaggerated version of the character he always plays. This will probably play at Western Film. It won't be my first choice but I think it will do alright.