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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

And About That Revolutionary Day & Date Release…

Let’s see how they spin this…
And I don’t just mean at 2929 or Magnolia. The media outlets that have invested enormous space and support for Steven Soderbergh’s Bubble have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.
Klady estimates $72,300 on 32 screens or a $2260 per screen average. That is the worst per-screen of any of the ten new releases this weekend… by more than 50% in the closest case.
And I didn’t see 1/20th the media attention to Roving Mars or even Tristam Shandy.
The question that now has to be asked – ironic as hell – is why the investors wasted money releasing the film in theaters at all. The $40,000 in rentals could not have covered the print ads, much less anything else.
There is nothing wrong with a small movie or the notion of a direct-to-DVD qualiy, big name film. The only good reasons for Bubble to be in theaters this weekend were hype and ego.
But I am expecting a more clever response than that. Bring on that Pirates of The Caribbean 2 day and date release!!!!

56 Responses to “And About That Revolutionary Day & Date Release…”

  1. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Dave and John Fithian up a tree.. K-i-ss-i-n-g!
    The only reasons were hype and ego – huh? Don’t you think it was actually pretty smart of Kliot and Vicente to launch the scheme with a high profile title – one that would pull the coverage that was required to be noticed without spending millions . Also the p&a spend was split across three mediums – and their bottom line is neglible. BUBBLE was always going to be a very limited film, I saw it last year and thought it shouldn’t be going out (I’m waiting for JT Pettys doc from em) but I admired the amount of inches they garnered. Just goes to show you though – no amount of press can help a film if people don’t want a see it. Big or small budget.

  2. David Poland says:

    As long as you agree that this was a stunt and not a shift in the industry, I agree completely, JBD.

  3. jeffmcm says:

    The story isn’t over yet…don’t we need to see how many units of the DVD get sold/rented before we really understand the impact?

  4. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Dave, it depends on how much weight you put into the might brain giants at JPMorgan Chase who did the sums of this model for an industry shift and came out with the following: “The demand for DVDs would rise by as much as 78 percent and movie attendance would decline as much as 49 percent. Which means that the financial benefits of simultaneous release would more than outweigh studios losses from theatrical runs.”
    Then again, those eggheads have never left their couch to see a movie 😉

  5. David Poland says:

    Actually, no.
    And I say that is true even if the DVD burns and crashes.
    The notion is that people will make choices. And the answer here is, they defintely didn’t make the theatrical choice, inspite of relentless jerking off by the NYT, LAT, the wire services, Nightline, etc. If there is no theatrical choice, the people who are actually in the business of making 30% of their revenues in theaters are becoming acutely aware that no theatrical is not a good answer.
    Anything less than 100,000 combined DVD and PPV units this weekend sucks. And if it gets to that number, it is a good indication that outside of this one overhyped event, going direct to DVD for this film made more economic sense. That or a cash sale to HBO.

  6. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    I must front my bias here. I’m a purist at heart and live to see 35mm projected. However I’m also involved with HD filmmaking and the opportunities that Cuban has opened for indies to utilise Landmark with a set sum p&a vs # of screens is really something to cheer about. At the moment the distributor/filmmaker is usually forced to kneel down and blow the laemmle outa some schmuck and for what – midnights in Santa Monica!

  7. David Poland says:

    JBD, I have written about that silly analysis. It is based on what people say their behavior would be. It is also based on a survey-based increase in DVD prices. It is also based on the notion that theatrical would survive a 50% drop. (Answer: No exhibitor could survive it and the only possibility would be studios buying theaters again.)
    Actions speak louder than surveyed words.

  8. David Poland says:

    You prefer to blow Cuban?
    4-walling is nothing new, JBD. What The Bleep Do We Know did it 2 years ago and made more than $10 million theatrical.
    I think than Cuban’s goals for the arthouse are excellent. Expanding a tiny market can’t hurt. But the mania that suggests this is good business for the majors is deadly.

  9. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Don’t get BBM on me Dave. Cubans okay looking but after watching his reality show my interest waned. Of course 4-walling is nothing new – but the nationwide model is, as well as the flatsum spend and 100% return. Whether this all pans out is another thing. But the intention is worthy. Personally I don’t see what the fuss is, it ain’t gonna happen anyway.
    Two words. Cash flow.

  10. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    i meant in regards to studios playing the game.

  11. martin says:

    bubble was the perfect film to make day-and-date look like a horrible idea.

  12. Me says:

    Personally, Bubble seems like a rather bad film to base an industry shift on, as who knows what would have happened if there had actually been a star in it, or if anyone knew what it was about, or you know, if there was any marketing worth a damn. Put a Jim Carrey movie out there and let’s see what happens.

  13. moontrip says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading the discussions here for awhile now, but this is the first time I’ve been motivated to chime in…
    I think the arguments over whether or not the Bubble experiment is successful or not are really fruitless. Because quite simply, Bubble is the wrong kind of movie for this experiment, regardless of its quality.
    Low-budget, art-house movies with no movie stars have relatively small potential audiences to begin with. These types of modest movies, light on spectacle, that lose little in the translation from theater to home, are already suffering from competition from the home. And the size of the window between theatrical and DVD is almost irrelevant.
    The big test will be whether a big, blockbuster-type movie can be successful with this kind of a release. As David suggests, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN would be a perfect choice. Until that happens, it’s just speculation. (And those JP Morgan figures are hilarious…as if those guys can predict anything about the financial markets, let alone how people want to be entertained.)

  14. Me says:

    Also, it seems like every story that comes out about this idea has someone saying that it’ll kill theatrical. Well, if what we’re talking about is choice, and the widespread belief that quite a lot of people would choose not to go to the theaters, what’s wrong with going day and date?
    If the theaters can’t evolve and find a way to compete and survive – fuck ’em.
    I am sick of the movie snobs talking about the theater experience as such a great thing. If it is so great, force it to compete evenly with home video, and let the people decide which they prefer.

  15. Sanchez says:

    Why not go direct to dvd/video?
    Ego.

  16. moontrip says:

    As much as I love theatrical, I have to agree with Me. Forcing a window to “protect” the theatrical experience for the sake of it’s “magic” is foolish. I’m not saying whether or not eliminating the window is a good idea…but the decision on whether or not to do it should be motivated by the marketplace, and what makes sense for the health of the business as a whole. That’s what a free market is all about, right? Otherwise, it’s like those absurd government subsidies handed out to prop up cotton farmers who can’t compete with rest of the world.

  17. marychan says:

    Even a limited theatrical release can create awareness to trigger a variety of ancillary sales, from home video to international sales.
    Normally, a direct-to-DVD movie would sell much less DVD than a theatrical movie.
    Therefore, going direct to DVD for this film won’t make more economic sense.
    Finally, BUBBLE is only a $1.7-million production. It will easily become profitable.

  18. jeffmcm says:

    They spent $1.7m on that? Jeez. It looks more like something that could have been made for 100-200k.

  19. palmtree says:

    Let’s not forget that by 2009 almost everyone will probably change to HDTV. That means plunking down lots of money on a big screen. That means needing new content for said screen. That means…ahem, mainstream films that are made available to them on such a screen at a premium could be very profitable. I think you could almost compare it to Academy screeners. If you had one, would you still go pay to watch the movie in a theater?
    Don’t get me wrong…I love projected films. I love 35 mm (I still go to repertory houses to watch old films projected). The point is while Bubble was a stunt, the industry is overdue for a severe change. Digital projection, which would be more efficient and cost saving, is taking forever to standardize. The models for windows didn’t take into account that a lot of people now have lcd projectors or HDTVs at home with amazing speaker systems. It’s not a change in the industry yet, but don’t think it won’t happen.

  20. lindenen says:

    “Forcing a window to “protect” the theatrical experience for the sake of it’s “magic” is foolish.”
    What separates Hollywood films from made for tv movies? The prestige associated with being released in theatres. If the theatres are tossed in the garbage, then so’s Hollywood as all becomes essentially — just tv.

  21. lindenen says:

    If lots of people are willing to wait a couple months for movies to come out on dvd because it’s cheaper and more convenient, then what is there to stop people from waiting a couple months for such and such to be free on cable? Nothing.

  22. jeffmcm says:

    I don’t want to stir up trouble or anything, but has anyone else noticed that Movie City News is increasingly the “David Poland Explains Why Everyone Else Is Wrong” Movie News?
    I think he’s a smart guy who makes a lot of good points…seriously just wondering if I’m the only one. If you’re going to respond to me by saying “If you hate David Poland so much why come to his web site”…consider it said and move on.

  23. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    I must say that “Bubble” seemed like an odd movie to hand people’s thoughts on when talking about this subject. Like, really? An arty Steven Soderbergh movie with non-professional actors? I suppose it makes sense to try it first with a low-budget movie but, again, people’s willingness to see a movie such as “Bubble” was probably low as it was let alone when it is available on DVD. “Bubble” seems like a great example of “oh, I’ll wait for DVD”.

  24. Terence D says:

    A part of Dave’s job is to respond and comment on the industry. He wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t comment on this and stories like it and give his two cents. If he thinks something is wrong he has to say so. What don’t you get about that?

  25. bicycle bob says:

    i wouldn’t be so quick to say even at 1.7 mill it will become profitable. it has a lot of catch up to do. and what were the marketing costs? seems equal to the budget here.
    a part of me respect soderbergs making stuff like this. but the other part wishses he would concentrate on bigger films. like out of sight types. hes too good a director to waste his talent.

  26. EDouglas says:

    I completely fail to see what this thread has to do with Brokeback Mountain. :)
    (Sorry, couldn’t resist…)
    When I saw the movie at the NY Film Festival last year, knowing the planned intentions of distributing in this new way, I couldn’t figure out what they were thinking, as the movie looked like something which might play on cable, but not something you have to see in theatres. And the fact that it is coming out on DVD on Tuesday just makes it easier to just wait and rent it from Netflix.
    I’m sure the movie didn’t cost very much (no actors to pay… considering Soderbergh’s collaborators, that’s like $50 million off the top right there).. and I’m assuming HDNet showed it in a lot of Landmark Theatres (which is owned by Todd and Mark) and I’m guessing that it was shown digitally rather than transferring it to prints, etc. This is a new method of delivery and I would hope that they wouldn’t just give up because this movie didn’t work. Maybe Soderbergh’s next movie in the bunch will be better.

  27. Bruce says:

    You can’t beat a theatre experience but the shorter window will effect the box office. I know for a fact that many won’t waste their time or money to see a film in a theatre if they can get it at home, forever, for 10 bucks.

  28. jesse says:

    I actually went out to a Landmark to see the film this weekend (because I always see movies theatrically if they look even halfway decent), and I find the conventional wisdom about its presentation (namely, “it’s the kind of movie that would play better on DVD anyway”) pretty dispiriting, as well as flat-out incorrect. No, it’s not a big movie at all, or even a small-scale artistic masterpiece (though it is interesting and worth checking out), but, much like the recent Gus Van Sant movies (though not so radically plotless), BUBBLE has a vibe to it that I don’t think would benefit from home viewing at all. I could see myself watching it on TV or DVD and losing interest, because not a lot happens, but watching it on a big screen, it’s weirdly fascinating. Again, it’s not a rapturous experience or anything, but the film has its vibe (occasionally a bit like a David Gordon Green movie) and I was glad to be seeing this DV-shot, effects-free, 75-minute sliver on a big screen.
    I mean, those of you who have seen GERRY and liked it (heh, anyone?… maybe LAST DAYS would be a better example)… would you think it those films would play better at home? If the phone rang during one of those long, silent walking scenes, you’d probably answer it, wouldn’t you? But seeing it on the big screen, it has a chance to cast more of a spell (even if you hate it and want to walk out).
    I don’t object to this “home entertainment is the future!” stuff on the grounds that my preferred movie-watching method (theatrical) should be preserved for tradition. But on the flip side, I’m not going to stop thinking that people who prefer their flat-screen TVs and blind-buying DVDs are going about the wrong way.
    (And I know the theatrical experience is often sucky. And I’m very disappointed with all of these theater owners — disgruntled over something like BUBBLE — for making this the case.)

  29. EDouglas says:

    And this whole debate is rather moot when you read the news from Wagner/Cuban:
    http://comingsoon.net/news/indietopnews.php?id=12951
    Bubble is already profitable including DVD preorders so its theatrical screening is just a formality.

  30. DannyBoy says:

    I hope this doesn’t hurt BUBBLE’s reputation too much in the future. I remember when a great little film, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, came out theatrically and PPV on the same day, and everyone assumed it must be a dog, for the distributor to have handled it that way. The film never really got its due, due to that, I think.

  31. BluStealer says:

    When I hear a movie being released into theatres will be on dvd soon, it makes me just want to wait and see it at home. Better off. I have no interest in this movie anyway. I’ve never even seen an ad for it.

  32. Josh says:

    If they ever start doing day and date releases of big movies you will see theatre owners start declaring war. As it inches closer, it is inevitable. Their livlihood is at stake here. Too much money is in play for theatre owners not to fight back somehow.

  33. David Poland says:

    Ed… they send out 100,000 DVDs, none of which are sold yet. Reading a press release like news is a wild reach, rather shocking for someone as experienced as you.
    As for the idea that the theatrical window is about preserving magic… you’ve never read that from this writer. It’s not about magic. It’s about money. A LOT of money. And it is also about the marketing that drives DVD sales for the less than stellar titles.
    Have you noticed that even though there is a lot more money, long term, in razor blades, that Gillette & the rest don’t give away the Mach3? That’s because they make a lot of money on the razor too. And if they gave away the razor, there would be less of a need by the consumer to buy their blades because there was no investment in the razor itself.
    Theatrical is not pie in the sky. People didn’t stay away from the theaters in droves. People love convenience, but they also love going out.
    Wake up.
    And J-Mc… nothing has changed at MCN, except perhaps being less aggressive about other stories that are dead wrong. Looking at the front page – which you don’t seem to have bothered to do – offers just two headlines that question the story linked to… one on the LAT hyping and cursing Sundance swag and the other on this issue, about hyping DVD sell-thru as revolutionary when it is a decade old. Perhaps the change in MCN is that you can’t stop regurgitating your long standing biases… maybe?

  34. Rufus Masters says:

    I love going out and seeing something in a theatre. It’s an experience and a trip. Like going to a ball game. It’s expensive but it’s worth it. I have a feeling that this type of process will cut into that experience which is a shame.

  35. Me says:

    If there were day and date for every movie, I think people would still go out and see them in theaters, because people do like going out (especially teenage kids who are the backbone of the movies), but I do think it would take a major hit.

  36. Bruce says:

    It’s unfeasible for the industry. You would get some business. The big movies for sure. But everything else would take a huge hit.

  37. Me says:

    I can’t speak to the numbers of whether the industry would be better off or not (though I do think there is something to be said for not sharing the pie with the theater companies, reduced marketing as you’d only have to advertise once, more profit quicker, etc.), but honestly, I could care less. The industry would survive either way.
    I do know that it would make the product better for consumers by offering them their preference. And I care about the consumer a lot more than I do the industry.

  38. palmtree says:

    I like your razor analogy but I still think multiple delivery will eventually happen. People love to go out and those people will always be served by a theatrical release no question. But if it’s money you’re talking about, then why not make money by selling the film at a premium early on? This is also to help curb piracy…if consumers could get a high quality official version. iTunes proves that even with plenty of free downloading, people will pay a little extra to get the “official” version, have it be user friendly, and not have to feel guilty about it. The kinks will have to be worked out (maybe we have too many theaters in this country and need to scale back for more profits), but it does seem to be in the cards.

  39. Joe Leydon says:

    Multiple delivery is inevitable because, quite frankly, we live in an age when the entire concept of delayed gratification is considered antiquated, if not obsolete. People want what they want when they want it. Not when soemone else, be it a studio chief or a producer or even a film blogger, tells them they can have it. I’m not saying that is good, I’m not saying that is bad, I’m only saying that it is.

  40. marychan says:

    I think some people already pre-order the DVD. (My friend have pre-ordered the DVD at amazon.com)
    Variety said that “no DVDs have sold yet”…. It may be a mistake.

  41. marychan says:

    By the way, BUBBLE closed deals for distribution in France, Italy, Spain, Australia, Eastern Europe and Japan.
    So I believe BUBBLE is already profitable.

  42. jeffmcm says:

    DP: it’s not really worth debating, but my remark was based on looking at the front page (which has changed now) and seeing several stories that simply seemed to have somewhat cranky “here’s a story that’s all wrong” headlines attached to them.
    I’m curious to know what you think my ‘long-standing biases’ are, especially since I seem to have become an undesirable customer to you (and I even bought one of your t-shirts! sniff!)

  43. jeffmcm says:

    Oh, and does anyone else think that it’s insane to spend $1.7m on a film shot on HD, using non-pro actors, with no special effects and in natural locations, some of which were provided by the actors themselves? Talk about Hollywood bloat.

  44. DannyBoy says:

    They don’t release the hardback and the paperback of a book the same day. They (usually) don’t release the bare-bones DVD and the “Ultimate Edition” on the same day. By this logic, shouldn’t bubble be on free TV for those people who don’t want to pay for it but are willing to see it with commercials?
    The only good thing that could come from this, I think, is that it might make theater owners wake the F*** up about poor focus, poor framing (when I saw the last Harry Potter the top 4% of the image was cut off.), technical problems that seem to never get fixed, bleed-through from auditorium to auditorium… and maybe some ushers keeping idiots from taking on their cels for half the movie. (I almost got in a fist fight with someone who thought it was okay to talk to a friend on the phone for the first 10 minutes of “Sin City” last year.) It’s getting so bad, that sometimes I’m willing to wait the six months to see something just to avoid all that. My TV may only be 36 inches, but I know I won’t have the experience ruined for me in anyway…

  45. moontrip says:

    David, I’m sorry, but I think you’re fooling yourself when you say:
    “As for the idea that the theatrical window is about preserving magic… you’ve never read that from this writer. It’s not about magic. It’s about money. A LOT of money. And it is also about the marketing that drives DVD sales for the less than stellar titles.”
    I think whether you want to admit it or not, you ARE talking about preserving the magic and the romantic idea of what the movie theater is.
    If it’s really about the money, then let them try it. That’s the only way to know for sure. I mean, how do you know that collapsing windows means giving up money? What are worried about? Even if every theater in the world disapeared tomorrow, there would still be movies.
    And I don’t really understand your razor analogy. No one’s talking about giving movies away by collapsing distribution windows. (Actually, if anyone would like to give movies away, it would actually be the theaters. All they want to do is sell popcorn…)
    Believe me, I love the theatrical experience. But I’m realistic enough to keep my passion from influencing an objective look at the reality of today’s media and entertainment world.

  46. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Jesse, I don’t think people are saying that Bubble is a movie that works best on tv, but that when it comes to seeing movies theatrically there is a line and a dv movie with non pro actors not doing much doesn’t exactly rank up there with a lot of people’s ideas of a great day at the movies.
    I enjoyed my experiences with “Gerry” “Elephant” and “Last Days” at the cinema (“Elephant” much much moreso, a masterpiece, the others were intriguing oddities with some blessed moments) but they felt different to “Bubble”. Bubble just seems to be… there, with nothing distinguishing it other than its Steven Soderbergh in art mode.

  47. Cadavra says:

    “when I saw the last Harry Potter the top 4% of the image was cut off…”
    So why didn’t you go out and complain? That’s what I do when something’s wrong and it’s usually fixed in a minute or two.

  48. jesse says:

    Cadvra, you are a lucky one. I’ve gone out and complained at countless movies, and I’d say the screw-ups are fixed about 40% of the time, 50% tops. The framing problem is one of the worst, because particularly crappy employees can be told that the movie is framed wrong, look at it, and (based on how infrequently it’s fixed) conclude that nothing is wrong. And it (the framing problem — usually the top 5% being cut off) happens more and more often.
    I know it would probably be best to keep after them if it’s not fixed, but it comes to a point where if I’m invested in a movie, I don’t want to run out every 10-15 minutes to badger them about fixing the focus, the framing, etc.
    The only way I think anyone would really pay attention to these complaints is if money is involved, and in my (limited) experience with that, if you ask for your money back afterwards, they’ll say that if there was a problem you should’ve left and asked for your money back immediately (i.e., you “can’t” watch the whole movie and then complain about a presentation problem). And if I’ve already blocked out a bunch of hours from my day or night to see a particular movie, I don’t usually have the strength of character to walk out and demand my money back due to shit presentation.
    Honestly, most theater employees do not give a shit about fixing a presentation problem if only one or two people are complaining. And most moviegoers do not give a shit about presentation, because they’re busy text-messaging anyway. I *love* going *out* to the movies; I pay for more movie tickets than anyone else I know, don’t blind-buy DVDs, and tend to use my Netflix subscription for older movies that I didn’t have a chance to see (though I inevitably have to catch up with some new stuff, too). This is how faithful, enthusiastic moviegoers are rewarded, with a put-up-or-get-out mentality.

  49. DannyBoy says:

    My answer to Cadavra’s would be the same as Jesse’s. In fact, sometimes when tell them about a problem in projection, they make things WORSE in the adjustment. The framing was off at the top by 4%, now it’s off by 5% on the bottom.
    What I really want to say–and you’ll say I’m making this up, but it’s true–is that last night, irony of ironies, I went to see BUBBLE in the theater because I love Soderbergh. Hell, I’m one of the 25 people who saw SCHIZOPOLIS in the theatre. Right as it started I noticed that the title was off center and in fact, about half the “E” on the title credit, “Bubble” was cut off on the right by the wall. Afterwards, I asked the theatre manager, who I know vaguely and who is a nice and knowledgeable guy, and he said, basically, the screen in that particular auditorium isn’t quite wide enough for Scope films so they all end up being cropped when shown there. Apparently they try not to show scope in that auditorium (it’s a five screen multiplex) but sometimes scheduling makes it necessary. So, had I watched the dvd, the screen size would have been smaller but I would have seen BUBBLE, instead of BUBBL.
    By the way: I thought it was a GREAT little piece of work nonetheless.

  50. DannyBoy says:

    By the way, for whatever reason, my nine pm screening this Tues. of BUBBLE had about 12 people in the auditorium. Last Tues. I went to the late show of THE NEW WORLD and there were only four of us. hummm…

  51. jeffmcm says:

    How can you tell 4% of the image? That’s 1/25th?

  52. jesse says:

    Jeff, it’s just an estimate. You can “tell” because… a small but noticeable amount is cut off at the top. Maybe it’s more than 4%, but definitely not more than 10.
    I really don’t know how else to explain it. The second time I saw “Spiderman 2,” before they finally fixed it (after I bugged them THREE TIMES), the very top of the actors’ heads were cut off in EVERY medium-or-closer shot. Sometimes you can only tell in some of the shots (because many close-ups have the top of the actor’s head cut off a little anyway), but it’s definitely a recurring problem.

  53. DannyBoy says:

    Thanks for covering my back, Jesse, when I can’t check the HB. Jeff: Would it make you feel better if I wrote “a small but noticable amount” at the top and “a slightly larger amount on the bottom.” I guess I should try to be more exact, but sometimes we just write and press post, ya know?
    A lot of it is just having developed an instinctive knowledge of framing aesthetics. You just know that there’s too much leg room under people’s feet in the full shots, and not quite enough over their heads. In the close ups, the cut off is too close to the eyebrows of the actors. This happens often and I don’t want to have to miss 5 or 10 minutes of a movie to keep running out to the lobby to explain it to the single person who tends to be the: projectionist/popcorn seller/lobby mopper/assistant manager all at once.

  54. jesse says:

    I’ve actually watched framing mistakes happen — usually involving cutting off the top — trying to correct for leaving too much at the top (the kind of thing where, if it’s really bad, you could see a boom mike or something that’s supposed to be matted out). Which makes it even harder to explain to the people who work in the theaters but don’t really know anything about movies. During Spiderman 2, when they finally listened to me and started to correct it, they pulled it down just a *little* too much, leaving slightly too much at the top, and then immediately overcorrected by … basically putting it back the way it was (cut off at the top). Ugh!
    Man, I remember when I was 18 and trying to see the second Episode I trailer on the big screen with my friends, there was a manager we could actually *ask*, hey, which movies did you guys stick the Episode I trailer with? In New York, I’ve tried asking questions like that, even in the most simple terms possible (like calling a place and asking: which showtimes for [whatever movie] are on the biggest screen?) and they either don’t understand or sound downright annoyed that anyone would ask. Don’t ask me, I just work here.

  55. DannyBoy says:

    I brought this whole thing up because I do think one thing that could, and should happen, due to the competiton theaters now have with home entertainement systems is a real effort by theater owners to try to compete using their best card: a great image on a giant screen with great sound. When I saw THE NEW WORLD, to offer a positive example, the bulb in the projector was pefect for the depth of the theater, i.e. the “‘throw” wasn’t too far for the luminosity of the bulb. The print was flawless, in perfect focus, the seats were situated so that there wasn’t a big head in front of me blocking the screen, the seat wasn’t broken–everything was just perfect. That’s what we go to movies for. Trouble is, it seems like I get that now about 30% percent of the time at best.

  56. jesse says:

    DannyBoy, unsurprisingly, I agree completely. I have real disdain for the “just wait for DVD” sentiment, yet it’s SO HARD to defend the theatrical experience when I know in my heart how fucking lousy it can be. I think it’s actually gotten worse in just the past 5-10 years. I remember going to the movies as an annoying teenager, and we’d have to be careful about how chatty or annoying we were because, you know, ushers came down the aisles about three or four times during the movie. Maybe this still happens in smaller areas, but it *never* happens in NYC, where it’s often sorely needed.
    It doesn’t seem like it would be too hard, either. Have ushers actually, ya know, ush, so that moviegoers don’t have to decide whether or not to risk a fight with a teenager who refuses to turn off a cell phone (I had one kid straight-up laugh at me, like I had just asked him if he wanted to play tea party or something). And hire real projectionists. Hiring a real projectionist would free up time for the ushers to do their jobs.
    Sadly, theater-owners don’t think about making these simple changes. They’re open to “reserved seating” or gourmet snacks, or whatever — stuff where they can justify raising the admission prices more — but they don’t think about *practical* ways to make improvements *now*.
    Another unfortunate offshoot, while I’m ranting: the best-behaved and most movie-friendly crowds, and the most knowledgeable employees, tend to be at the art-house theaters with 4-6 screens, not the posh megaplexes with 10+ screens. But those arthouse theaters are often dumpy, with small screens and cramped seating… but people put up with it because it’s *not* a boorish multiplex. So basically, there’s hardly anywhere to turn for a well-behaved audience *and* a nice presentation.

Box Office

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“Well, actually, of that whole group that I call the post-60s anti-authority auteurs, a lot of them came from television. Peckinpah’s the only one whose television work represents his feature work. I mean, like the only one. Mark Rydell can direct a really good episode of ‘Gunsmoke’ and Michael Ritchie can direct a really good episode of ‘The Big Valley,’ but they don’t necessarily look like The Candidate. But Peckinpah’s stuff, even the scripts he wrote that he didn’t even direct, have a Peckinpah feel – the way I think there’s a Corbucci West – suggest a Peckinpah West. That even in his random episodes that he wrote for ‘Gunsmoke’ – it’s right there.”
~ Quentin Tarantino

“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima