Friday, January 30, 2009

Good and bad viral marketing.

Viral marketing seems to be a loose term for Internet based marketing that depends on people spreading the word amongst themselves as well as things like puzzle websites. There's good and bad.

Bad: Cloverfield: This was extremely effective as it brought a lot of publicity and created a huge opening weekend however it pissed a lot of people off including me. There was fake news footage and websites and various other stuff that raised one's curiosity about the film. What is the origin of the creature? What does the Japanese company have to do with it? etc etc. However the thing that pissed many people off, including me, is that very little of this stuff tied into the actual movie?! Almost none of the questions were answered. If I had been one of the people who spent a lot of time analyzing all this stuff I'd have been really pissed.

Good (so far): Watchmen. I haven't been paying a lot of attention to the marketing for Watchmen, partly because of the Cloverfield experience. However there have been some interesting little things. The video below popped up on youtube. To me this is good marketing. It's interesting for people who have read the graphic novel the movie is based on and also gives some info for people who haven't. It doesn't give away anything from the film but not seeing it won't leave questions unanswered. It's also pretty cool how well done it is. I'm curious how many of the comments that act as if it is real footage are planted by the studio and how many are real people playing along. Click through on the image to see the comments and there may be new videos. The page's owner thenewfrontiersman is something from the novel but I don't remember exactly what.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Next Week's Films Jan 30 - Feb 5

There was one new film available, Yes Man which I do plan to play but I thought I should play Seven Pounds as I'd been putting that off for two weeks. I could have played Yes Man as a late show after Seven Pounds but decided it would be better as an early show the following week.

Twilight did more in its' first two days than most films do all week so deciding to keep it for another week as the late show wasn't hard.

I expect something like Valkyrie will be available to play as a late show with Yes Man. Thankfully all the big Oscar films have finally opened in London First Run so they can start bouncing around for a month or so and hopefully we will get at least some before exams start.

Response to comment about Canadian Films

I'm not sure if anyone goes back and reads answers I leave to comments so I thought I would post this separate. This comment was left on the post I did about most of the Canadian Box Office money going to American films.

The only reason I had heard of Passchendaele is due to Paul Gross - he was interviewed everywhere on Canadian media. If marketing is so expensive, can't something be done on a grass roots level? More local film festivals, have articles in the local free newspapers, get the word out on blogs like this? Also, where can I find these movies? I doubt the cinema chains will play Canadian movies, so is the London public on dependent on Hyland to bring in these movies? It is a shame that Canadian films do not get the spotlight as the American films - I guess it all comes down to the money that can generated.

I have a few things to say about this.

Canadian films are in a bit of a vicious circle, they don't make a lot of money so they don't have a lot of money to spend on making or marketing them. There is something a bit pathetic that a horrible movie like Bride Wars makes many many millions more than any Canadian film.

The theatres, including Western Film, are in a similar vicious circle, we would like to play Canadian films but we have bills to pay so we end up playing mostly American stuff because that's what people will pay to see. The Hyland plays more than most as most Canadian films are of the kind of quality film the Hyland specializes in. I play Canadian when I can but few Canadian films get to the level of awareness needed for enough people to show up. I think the last Canadian film I played before Passchendaele was Trailer Park Boys. In its' first night at Western Film Twilight almost grossed as much as Passchendaele did all week.

There is hope, of a sort. I noticed today that a sequel to Trailer Park Boys is slated for the fall. That means a Canadian film did well enough to make a sequel?!

As for the marketing aspect referenced above. Part of the problem there is a perception. If people haven't seen commercials on TV for a film it somehow doesn't register as legit. TV happens to be one of the most expensive forms of advertising...

I think the change to Digital Projectors will help a lot. Prints will be cheaper and easier, making distributing Canadian films easier and cheaper. One of the best advertising things for films are trailers in front of other films. Trailers on film are also relatively expensive, when the trailers are all digital they will be played in front of more films. There's lots of good films I ask for trailers for but never get on film.

This reminds me of a situation that happened at a theatre I worked at that's always stick with me. I was out in the lobby and a woman was looking at a movie poster for some film that was coming soon. She said in a dismissive tone 'never heard of it'. I almost went up to her and said that was what the posters were for, to let people know about upcoming films. There has to be a first time one 'hears' of a film.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rant of the Day.

I went to see a film at the Silver City yesterday. It has stadium seating. I was sitting about halfway up. Several times near the beginning of the film someone down near the front pulled out some sort of digital device which had a lit up display about 4 inches square. The person was texting or something. It was incredibly distracting.

What is it with people being so inconsiderate as to not clue in that they are bothering the people around them? And why were they doing whatever they were doing at all? They had just paid $11.00 to see a film so one would think that would be their priority. The movie had just started so not enough had played for it to become apparent whether it was a bad movie or not yet.

If had been sitting closer I would have thrown some of my overpriced popcorn at them.

A first and harbringer of things to come.

A couple weeks when I tried to book FLOW, a documentary about water use and privatization, it wasn't available. There was only one 35mm print for the entire country and it was out West. For the first time the studio offered a DVD or Digital print of the movie. A Digital print is one that can be played on the very expensive digital video projector all theatres will be converting to over the next few years. 35mm film is going to get scarcer.
We do have the ability to show DVDs fairly nicely in the theatre but nowhere near as nice as the film presentation and I don't believe in charging for a lesser presentation. For a movie like FLOW it wouldn't have made a big difference since it didn't exactly need a big sound system or have a lot of special effects.
I'll be doing some more posts on digital in the near future.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hollywood Drives Canadian Box Office (duh!)

According to The Hollywood Reporter:

TORONTO -- Tinseltown continues to dominate the Canadian boxoffice. Total Canadian boxoffice in 2008 rose to CAN$920.4 million ($735.2 million), compared with CAN$904 million in 2007, according to the Motion Picture Theatre Associations of Canada, which represents domestic exhibitors. But Canadian films raked in just CAN$26 million ($20.7 million) in ticket receipts, down from CAN$28 million the year prior. About CAN$815 million ($651 million) of the 2008 total came from Hollywood, according to MPTAC, with another CAN$67.4 million ($53.9 million) coming from indie releases and CAN$12.1 million ($9.6 million) from French movies that played theatrically in Quebec. In a country that represents roughly 10% of the North American market, the biggest Canadian boxoffice draw last year was Warner Bros.' "The Dark Knight," with CAN$50.7 million ($40.5 million) in receipts, followed by Paramount's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" ($22.6 million) and "Iron Man" ($21.2 million). The market share for U.S. films in Canada last year was 89%, up from 87% in 2007. The slice of the pie for English-language Canadian films held steady at 0.9%, while the market share for French-language films from Quebec fell from 3.2% in 2007 to 2% last year. Alliance Films' "Passchendale," a homegrown war epic, at CAN$4.43 million ($3.5 million) in receipts, accounted for roughly half of the $8.88 million ($7.1 million) in boxoffice last year derived from 66 English-language films released domestically. French-language films from Quebec included Alliance Films' "Cruising Bar 2" with CAN$3.46 million ($2.7 million) in boxoffice, followed by Alliance Films' "Babine" with CAN$2.23 million ($1.78 million) in receipts.

I find it very disappointing that Canadian films gross so little. I've seen some great Canadian films so it's not that the movies aren't there. I think it's a combination of a couple things. Mostly it's marketing and awareness, it's hard to compete with Hollywood money for advertising. Marketing a movie is expensive. The marketing budget for an average Hollywood movie is about $50 million, quite a bit more than it cost to make Passchendaele, the most expensive Canadian film ever made. There's been several times Canadian films have shown up at The Hyland and I'd never heard of them. One that really comes to mind was called Three Needles, that was a great film but it completely vanished.
The other reason is Canadians' attitude towards their own films, for some reason the general public tends to view our films as inferior, which is why you often see some Canadian films try to disguise their Canadian origins. In fact I think it's the reverse, Canadian films tend to be better in the same artistic way that leads the horrible Bride Wars to out gross the much better Rachel Getting Married. Basically a good film requires a brain to watch.

It's kinda a shame that the highest grossing Canadian film last year happened to be one that wasn't very good. Passchendaele was an interesting idea but just wasn't executed well.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Director Ron Mann at Western Film this weekend.

The Film Studies Department contacted me a while ago about bringing in director Ron Mann and showing his 1999 film Grass. We agreed to show it, it's always cool to have a director on site. I wasn't sure how many people would come as Grass is about 10 years old and out on DVD. It ended up he has a new film called Know Your Mushrooms he was willing to show as well. That is even cooler, it plays at the Berlin and Victoria Film Festivals not long after it shows at Western Film.

There was a bit of hesitation about the combination of films as Grass is about the history of marijuana and Mushrooms has some content about 'magic' mushrooms. We didn't want it to appear as if we were promoting drug use.

So for any readers who actually live in London, Grass is playing at 2pm Saturday Jan 24th, there will be a Q&A with Ron Mann about 3:30 and Know Your Mushrooms will play at 4pm. Admission is Free.

Hope to see you there.

Next Week's Movie Jan 23 - 29

Twilight was finally available so I booked it in for the 7pm show initially. The only other new film available was Seven Pounds as a holdover from last week. I still don't want to play it as a late show so I put it off another week. The booker was checking on Valkyrie and Yes Man but neither was available. I would have put Valkyrie in as a late show, not sure about Yes Man, it probably needs to be the 7pm show. Quantum of Solace is doing well enough I could probably bring it back for another week but I decided to hold that as a reserve move.

Since I didn't have another new film to put in as a late show I decided to play Twilight for both shows. I think it's a pretty safe bet, the last time we had this many people ask when we were going to get a movie was Borat. It did huge business.

The following week will be Seven Pounds followed probably by either Valkyrie or another week of Quantum or Twilight depending on how it does. The only wrinkle with that plan also has to do with Borat. That was one of the weirdest films attendance wise. The first week it did about double what a 'hit' movie at Western Film does. Most movies do about 50% of their first week gross if I keep them a second week. Borat only did about 15%?! I was truly shocked, there wasn't any obvious reason like a holiday so I still have no explanation. So, the spector of Borat will linger over my head if Twilight does how much I think it will and I have to decide whether to keep it for another week.

Monday, January 19, 2009

You have got to be kidding?! Trailer for Crank 2.

I laughed all the way though this trailer and you know I'm gonna be first in line to see it. The sheer audacity of making a sequel to a film where the hero seem to pretty definitively die is enough, then they go and make the premise even more ridiculous than the first one.

Some people don't like him but one has to hand it to Jason Statham, not many actors could even come close to pulling this off.

Hard to Believe Mark Wahlberg used to be Marky Mark.

Came across this video on youtube, hard to believe the guy in it ended up winning an Oscar!?

It was kinda interesting watching the video when the magazine covers came up, I had copies of most of those mags back when I used to sell magazines by mail. The Interview mag always sold well.

One thing I only found one copy of was his autobiography (pictured) , it was kind of funny. He dedicated it to a certain part of his anatomy. I think I got quite a bit for it when I put it on ebay.

I like the song too.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Next Week's Films Jan 16 - 22

There were two films available for next week.

Quantum of Solace: I've been waiting for this one so I booked it in for the 7pm show.

Seven Pounds: I was actually quite surprised this one was available already. I decided to hold off on it for a week as I think it needs to play as a 7pm show.

Since I was playing Quantum I couldn't play Australia both because of its' length and Fox's no splitting rule.

That left the late show to fill. I tried the following:

FLOW: a documentary about water that a few people had asked about. I saw it at The Hyland and thought it would be a good thing to play here, Unfortunately there is only one print for the entire country and it's out west. It comes out on DVD next week so I probably won't play it at all.

SYNDOCHE N.Y. Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut, I've had a few requests for it and I think it could do okay here. It's currently playing at the Hyland and for some reason they wouldn't have known until Tuesday morning whether they were keeping it or not. I know they did well with it Friday night so I figured they would keep it and decided not to wait for an answer. I don't like to wait until Tuesday to make decisions unless I absolutely have to as we don't have a lot of time to get advertising going even when the decision is made on Monday.

I ended up booking in Zack and Miri Make a Porno for another week. The first week we played it was during exams so there are probably (hopefully) a lot of students who didn't have time to see it.

I think Twilight is another two weeks away so I'm not sure what I'll play with Seven Pounds the following week. Valkyrie may come off.

Update: As it turns out The Hyland did drop Syndoche N.Y. I might try again the following week but there may be no prints available. The Hyland also kept Australia which seems odd to me. I hope they aren't keeping it just to keep me from playing it.

Brilliant Idea?

Had a thought while I was cleaning up after the movie tonight. There was a bit of a problem with a talker during the show. You know how TV shows with audiences have the Applause sign that lights up when they want the audience to clap? It occurred it would be nice to have a sign beside the screen that lit up and said 'quiet please'. We could turn it on when someone talks.

We could even have one with graduated levels for various types of talkers. It would go something like this:

Quiet Please

No Talking.

Shut Up.

Shut the F^%k up.

Think it would work?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Annoying Customer.

I had a first time kind of complaint Friday night. There was a guy who came early for The Spirit. He went over and bought a large popcorn. We have these little yellow kiddie popcorn bags we leave at the seasoning cart which are usually used for people to take some extra seasoning in or split up a bag if people want different seasonings. This guy then proceeded to fill up a kiddie bag with popcorn, put seasoning on it, then put it into a plastic bag. He repeated this with the entire large bag then got it refilled. My staff member and I both thought it was kind of funny, if bending the rules some. I certainly hope he's not on a low salt diet, the seasonings are basically flavoured salt.

At the end of the film the projectionist told me people had been changing seats away from the guy because he was eating his popcorn so loudly it was really distracting. Part of it was the crackling of the little bags and I guess the rest was just plain loud chewing? The projectionist was sitting out in the theatre watching the film and moved into the booth for the same reason.

I don't like situations like this, noise and distractions are one of the reasons people cite for not going to theatres to watch films but it does seem a little petty to ask someone to chew softer?

If I had been in the theatre I probably would have said something, I wish my projectionist had.

I know what the guy looks like so I'll know him the next time he comes. I'll probably either say something to him when he buys his ticket or check on him inside and see if he makes as much noise again.

Maybe if I'm lucky he's one of the people that read this blog and he'll let me know he won't do it again.

A night of unusual occurences.

Tonight was one of 'those' nights where things seem to happen weirdly. I was projectionist tonight. I ran the first show (Boy in Striped Pajamas ) with no problems. I threaded up for the late show (The Spirit) and was about to go back out to the lobby when I realized I should check what time the late show hit credits so I'd be back in the booth to turn up the lights. Comparing what times the two movies hit credits I realized Spirit was longer than Boy. I happened to look at the films sitting on the platter on my way back out of the booth and realized something looked odd. As the films are in a circular pattern on the platter the longer films form bigger circles. The smaller film was threaded up. It turned out I had threaded up Boy again rather than threading up Spirit. I haven't done that in years.

And it's almost as if fate was telling me that I didn't need to bother threading up the Spirit, we had no one show up for the late show?! I wasn't completely surprised, we only had 7 people Sunday night and Monday is often, but not always, quieter than Sunday. We haven't had a no show in about two years.

So we waited 10 minutes in case anyone showed up late then packed up. I got to leave a couple hours early which was kinda nice.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Most Anticipated films of 2009 by Gender.

Interesting list courtesy of Fandango.

According to Men:
1. Star Trek 23%
2. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 17%
3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 14%
4. X-Men Origins: Wolverine 9%
5. Terminator Salvation 7%
6. Watchmen 7%
7. Angels & Demons 5%
8. Public Enemies 3%
9. G.I. Joe 3%
10. New Moon 3%

According to Women:
1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 25%
2. New Moon 15%
3. Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen 11%
4. Angels & Demons 9%
5. X-Men Origins: Wolverine 7%
6. Star Trek 6%
7. Public Enemies 5%
8. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian 4%
9. The Lovely Bones 3%
10. Where the Wild Things Are 2%

Interesting differences. I'm surprised Star Trek is so high, looks like they may succeed in their goal of reaching out beyond just the established fan base. If this list is any indication Harry Potter will be the biggest film of the year.

I must be losing touch a bit, I had to look up Public Enemies.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

More Youtube brilliance- Gremlins mess with your DVR!

I saw Gremlins 2 in a theatre which had a fun little segment where the gremlins appeared to mess with the projector. When the film came out on VHS they changed it to a sequence where they appeared to mess with the tape. Apparently the DVD uses the theatrical version. Some huge Gremlins fan went ahead and made up this sequence that could be used on the DVR or VOD version. I think it's positively brilliant. It's amazing what creative minds are coming up with and putting on youtube.
I just hope no prick at Warner Bros decides this is a copyright issue. If anything this promotes the Gremlins movies and possibly helps with the long rumoured Gremlins 3. Click through on the image to read the creator's comments and there's a making of video also.

Next Week's Films Jan 9 -15

I expected next week to be easy to book but it turned out to be really hard. Usually there would be several films available that had been pushed out of the first run theatres by all the new films that open at Christmas. We have been closed for two weeks so that should have built up a bit of a backlog.

However it turns out that's not the case. The first run theatres seem to be holding onto product longer, usually putting films down to fewer shows per day and splitting screens among more than one film.

I expected either Quantum of Solace or Twilight would be available or alternatively Australia. It turns out Quantum is holding. Rainbow is bringing back Twilight which is an unusual move. The Hyland picked up Australia and is keeping it for a second week so I couldn't have it.

The only two new movies were the following.

Four Christmases: I don't plan to play this, it was a good size hit but apparently wasn't that good and Christmas movies after Christmas don't always work.

The Spirit: see below.

So I had to come up with something to play that I hadn't planned on playing. I decided to try playing The Boy in The Striped Pajamas and see how it does. Hopefully I'll get surprised like I did last year with Kite Runner. If that wasn't available I was going to ask about I've Loved You So Long.

The late show was a tough choice. I initially booked Changeling back in, figuring it did pretty well during the last week before Christmas when there were few students here so they may come to see it now. However later I decided that I might not be right and figured I would be better off with a new movie that we hadn't played yet. It's a bit of a risk/experiment but I decided to play The Spirit instead. The Spirit didn't open well and got bad reviews but was a fun movie from a sheer over-the-top point of view. Also since we got it so fast I figure there are still some people that want to see it but didn't get to it yet.

The projectionist tonight Chris had a good idea to bring back Zack and Miri Make a Porno. The first week we played it was the first week of exams and the students were a tad preoccupied. I decided to go with The Spirit for next week but will keep Zack and Miri in mind for a late show possibility for the next couple weeks.

One thing I'm wrestling a bit with is whether to play Australia. It's long and from Fox so it will have to play by itself. I'm not sure I can justify that unless there's absolutely nothing else. I didn't have a problem with playing it a few weeks but I've started to hear negative buzz about it and thinking it won't do as well as I thought. Part of the problem is I had it on the Will Be Playing section of the Status page on the website and told at least one person on the phone I would be playing it. I hate going back on things I said I would do.

First post of 2009

Western Film reopened tonight after being closed for the holidays. It's been a while since I did a posting, I've been a bad boy again. I plan to start posting daily again and try to stick to it. Feel free to comment or e-mail me if I stop. If I think someone is actually interested in what I'm writing I'm more likely to post.