Saturday, February 28, 2009

Next Week's Film Feb 27 - Mar 5

There wasn't too many to choose from for next week. The new ones were Doubt, Defiance and New in Town. We won't be playing New In Town. I booked in Doubt as the early show and Defiance as the late show. Doubt being the more arty type film had to be the early show. Defiance isn't exactly your typical action film but should work okay for the late show.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Warner must expect Watchmen to be big.

Warner is asking first run theatres for a three week, full shows, minimum. That's a week longer than most movies and many titles can be split the second week, especially movies that do no late night business such as kid's films.

So in order to book the film the theatre has to agree to play it for a minimum three weeks playing all shows on each screen. If it's the hit that everyone is expecting that would probably have happened anyway. However if it's one of those weird unexpected bombs those theatres will not be happy. A good example of this would be Speed Racer from last year. I was in England when it opened and it was playing on the main screen at one of the old movie palaces in Leicester Square. It was still playing there a couple weeks later but couldn't have been doing any business as that movie bombed so bad. I would imagine they had signed for a minimum run. I was quite annoyed because I was hoping Indiana Jones would open there. It was a much nicer theatre than the Odeon movie palace Indiana Jones opened in.

Minimum runs are one of the reasons single screen theatres are almost all gone. When I was in high school there was only one theatre with one screen in that city, the entire city! I always wondered why they would open a film and everyone would go the first week but they would keep playing it rather than something new. Some big movies get minimum runs of up to 4 weeks. This is one of the reasons I give to say it's a bad idea when anyone asks about making Western Film first run.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Next Week's Film Feb 13 - 19

Next week is one of the hardest weeks of the year to book. It's all during Slack Week so there are very few students around. Playing anything 'good' would mostly be wasting it. I usually try to book something more adult oriented since they are still around.

I had planned to book Australia in. It's adult oriented and since it's so long there would only be one show which would save on labour costs for the week.

However Rainbow downtown is finishing with Milk and it was offered to us. If I decided not to take it the print would have gone somewhere else and I might not have been able to get another one any time soon. So I booked in Milk. Revolutionary Road was also offered which I took since I was playing Milk instead of Australia. I may have had a similar print problem with it as well.

So I was left with two dilemmas, I've got two films booked in for a dead week that I know a lot of students want to see and both movies would work best as 7pm shows. There will be a lot of people who want to see both films but don't go to the late show for a variety of reasons.

I decided to do the following which should solve both problems. I've already booked both films in for the following week but I'm going to switch the order. That way both films play at 7pm at some point. The following week is only partly in Slack Week so the students will be here for most of it.

Now watch both films tank...

Marley and Me was also available but it's from Fox so can't be split. It will probably play starting March 27 unless something like Benjamin Button is available. Yes Man is also still waiting in the wings.

However it looks like circumstances are making a liar out of me. I don't think Western Film will be playing Australia. It comes out on DVD March 3. Which really sucks because I told people I would be playing it. However when I told people that there was no reason to suspect that it would more or less bomb in North America. Between it's running length and Fox not letting me split it I never had a full week open I could put in a movie I didn't think would do very well.

Predictable but not Really.

One thing I find fascinating is how snack bar sales are fairly predictable in a generalized way but completely unpredictable in terms of individual items.

Generally the snack bar sales are 1/3 to 1/2 the amount of ticket sales for the night. It varies mostly depending on the kind of film. More serious films have lower sales. More populist fun movies and most Hollywood Blockbusters are generally termed popcorn movies for a reason. The best sales are usually for kid's movies.

I calculate out how much each person spends at the snack bar on average each week. That varies in much the same way. The average for Twilight was about twice what Changeling did.

However, what exactly is sold to add up to the snack bar sales is almost completely unpredictable. I can almost never discern a pattern when I put the numbers in. We can sell 5 Combo #1 on one night and sell none on another night the same week with about the same number of patrons.

What prompted this post? Tonight we sold 20 small popcorns which may be a record for one night. It was busy but not overly so. However snack bar sales were just over half box office sales which is about normal.


Bollywood Update and response to comment.

I guess the guys that put on the last couple Bollywood films still want to do more. They called me to ask about a film called Billou Barber. It opens in Toronto Feb 13th. The booker will be able to tell me on Tuesday when we can play it. It depends on how it does, if it does really well we'll have to wait a little longer since they may still need the print in TO. That's good in a way though as it will likely be more popular here as well.

This comment was left on my last Bollywood post.

thanx for answering bak bout this !--personally- wenever they've shown a bollywood film its been on a single day and invariably i've already got sumthin happenin-- also wen its hosted by a club then sumtimes u dont wanna go coz it feels kinda odd that ur not part of the club--newez-- hopefully we'll get to see sum indian films in the near future ! =)

The shows aren't put on by any clubs, its generally done as a profit making enterprise (hopefully) by someone.

To be blunt, if one wants these shows to continue you may have to give up whatever is already happening and go to the Bollywood films if you want them to continue. There isn't enough demand for more than one or two shows. We can't play them in the evenings as that would require playing them all week and there isn't enough demand for that. A couple of the local multiplexes tried playing Bollywood films all week and it didn't work.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

How Dance has been edited.

I was watching the movie Step Up the other night and it reminded me of something I noticed earlier.

I went to see White Christmas at the Hyland during the Holidays. It was pretty cool to see it on film on the big screen. One thing that struck me was the musical numbers. They were shot pretty much live in only a few cuts. The actors had to actually be able to dance! Modern films have dance scenes edited out of dozens or more small segments. In general the new dances are more complicated but still, seems a bit of a cheat.

Here's a scene from White Christmas, notice how few cuts there are between camera shots.

Here's a scene from Step Up. Notice how often there are cuts even in the fairly simple moves at the beginning. It's kind of a shame, you can see from earlier parts of the film that Channing Tatum and the others are actually good dancers. I wonder if they could film a dance scene the same way as White Chrtistmas?

Next Week's Films Feb 6 - 12

To my mild surprise Frost/Nixon was available. Considering it's nominated for Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Editing and Actor I would have expected it to play first run longer. However it's not exactly the highest profile pic and not a subject matter the 'masses' would be interested in. I was also kinda surprised the Hyland hadn't booked it in, normally we would have had to wait for them as well. I booked it in for the 7pm show.

Valkyrie was also available. I booked it in for the late show. If you had asked me before it came out I would have said we would never play it. Every indication was it was going to bomb. However it turned out to be a really good film either because of, or in spite of, Tom Cruise depending on who you talk to. It's more because it has a great director, Bryan Singer. I'm a little leery about it as a late show since it was marketed largely to adults but I think enough students will want to see it.

I had planned to put Yes Man off until the following week but I realized that is a dead week. It's the first week of slack week. The place will be a ghost town. I'm planning to play Australia to 'kill' the week unless something else adult oriented like Doubt comes available.

We may actually get backlogged, Yes Man is available, we should be able to get Doubt and Rachel Getting Married as soon as the Hyland drops them and Benjamin Button was close to coming off. Twilight is still doing pretty good in it's second week that I might bring it back if I have a good late show spot open.

UPDATE: I found out the Hyland is playing Frost/Nixon the same week we are. I bet they aren't too happy. Universal seems to consider us in different zones as this isn't the first time we've both played the same film at the same time.

Requests about Bollywood films.

A couple of the comments lately have been requests for Bollywood (Indian ) films.

Any time in the last couple years Western Film has played a Bollywood film it's actually been someone renting the theatre to show the film and I've just been helping advertise it. There's been three groups try it in the last couple years.

The last group tried charging lower ticket prices in hopes of getting more people. They were also selling their own advertising on the tickets and their own slide show. The lower price worked and they had good turnout but they made a lot less per person than previous groups. I haven't heard from them for a couple months so I'm assuming they don't want to do it any more, or possibly are going to wait for just big hits. I think it was a lot of work on their part to try to market it.

I tried doing Bollywood films myself once but not being part of the Indian community I found I couldn't advertise them effectively.

Part of the problem is we have to wait for a couple weeks after release to play them. The 35mm film prints have to finish playing in Toronto before we can show them. During that time a lot of people have already watched pirated copies. It might be worth trying again in a few years when the conversion to Digital Cinema has occurred. Presumably we would be able to play a film when it's released everywhere else and not have to wait for an expensive 35mm film copy to be available.

Basically it boils down to rampant piracy of Bollywood films and people willing to watch them rather than support the producers of the film or the theatres that try to show them.