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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar Voynar@moviecitynews.com

And Finally, Cinematical EIC Erik Davis Steps Down

I just received an email from Cinematical EIC Erik Davis this morning, announcing his resignation. Davis’s departure follows the earlier resignations of Peter Hall and Scott Weinberg after the HuffPo/AOL merger.

I feel sad about this … it’s pretty much the last nail in the coffin for Cinematical, I think. I look for what used to be Cinematical to be fully merged under Moviefone pretty quickly, without Davis at the helm fighting to keep the site a separate entity.

I’ve known Erik for years, initially through his previous blog, which is where I got to know his style of writing and liked it (and him) so much that I recommended we bring him on board Cinematical. And five years or so later, here we are. He’s a great guy, much respected by both his Cinematical writers and his other colleagues in the industry, and I know that whatever he does next will, as he said on the Twitter this morning, be “fucking epic.”

After the jump, with his permission, is the email Erik Davis sent to his team this morning letting them know he was stepping down.


Team,

Today I stepped down as the Editor-in-Chief of Cinematical, and as an editor and writer for Aol Moviefone.

This is such a weird email to write because I forgot what it’s like to not have Cinematical in my life. I’ve been writing for the site since August 2005, back when there weren’t many major movie blogs at all. My first post was on the casting of Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights and it was awful. Really awful. I thought it was awesome, though, and I printed that sucker out and slapped it up on the wall above my desk because I wanted to make sure I always remembered the first piece of writing that earned me a paycheck. Will Ferrell’s casting had made me a whole $4 richer and I was ecstatic. At the time I didn’t really know what this site was or wanted to become, but I was being paid to write about movies and that idea alone just floored me.

Since then I’ve been the site’s East Coast Editor, Managing Editor and, finally, its Editor-in-Chief. I’ve written thousands of posts, traveled the world, attended countless film festivals and film events, met some extraordinary people and watched a shit ton of movies. I’ve also been fortunate enough to work alongside some of the greatest film writers working today, like you all. We’re such a unique lot, and we’ve no doubt had as many ups as we’ve had downs, but it’s inspiring to see how much we’ve accomplished as a team. You’re a great group of people and I’m proud to call you my colleagues, and my friends.

There’s no real big splashy reason for why I’m leaving — I just felt like it was time for me to move on to new challenges, both personally and professionally. We’ve had an incredible run here at Cinematical, and I sincerely thank you for all of your hard work, dedication and loyalty over the years. I’m not sure what the future holds for Cinematical — whether it will stay, or go, or turn into something else. It’d be a shame to see them shut down all these great voices, and I exit hoping that won’t be the final outcome.

Good luck to all of you, and I’m positive our paths will cross again soon. Until then …

22 Responses to “And Finally, Cinematical EIC Erik Davis Steps Down”

  1. Erik and I started at Cinematical at pretty much the same time. His email this morning felt like the end of an era, so I’ve turned in my formal resignation there too, this afternoon. Not that I was writing much there these days anyway but I wanted to officially cut the cord. I’ll miss the glory days of Cinematical. Cue nostalgic music of your choice!

  2. Kim Voynar says:

    Jette, how about some Simple Minds, Don’t You (Forget About Me) …

  3. David Durrell says:

    From what I’ve heard (I do some movie web marketing)Erik Davis ran Cinematical into the ground and ruined its traffic position. It’s not surprising Moviefone decided to take it over completely.

  4. Kim Voynar says:

    David, as Cinematical’s former Managing Editor, and someone who was there almost from the beginning, I can assure you, you are greatly misinformed. And unless you can back up that assertion with actual fact, you’re bordering on libel.

    AOL/Moviefone intended from Day One to eventually merge Cinematical into Moviefone (and all the Weblogs, Inc properties into their AOL counterparts). I fought against it for almost four years before having enough of it. Erik stuck it out for much longer, trying to work with the Moviefone folks, and constantly buffering Cinematical’s writers from the worst of the corporate bullshit.

    Moviefone (and sister site TMZ) draw huge traffic numbers because they write about celebrity gossip and repurpose studio press releases and get access to top celebs for interviews that amount to little more than PR. Cinematical’s numbers never came close to theirs (at least not while I was there and tracking them) but the site always had steady growth and a very loyal and sizable base of regular readers.

    If Cinematical’s numbers tanked (and I have no evidence that they did) it was directly related to the continual merger of what used to be a unique, original site into the generic blandness and studio ass-kissing of Moviefone, which was totally AOL’s doing, NOT Erik’s.

    Don’t come on here spouting misinformed BS here, please. The demise of Cinematical is a sad thing, but it’s hardly Erik’s fault.

  5. Erik Davis says:

    Kim, thanks so much for the kind words — it’s much appreciated, and without you none of this would have happened. I am forever grateful to you for bringing me on to Cinematical back in 2005.

    David, I hate to break it to you but you’re completely wrong. The site stats on Cinematical dropped significantly in October because Moviefone folded the site into its own structure, making it technically a category of the Moviefone Blog, thus it became extremely difficult and complicated to track its traffic.

    In fact, our numbers more than quadrupled since I took the site over a few years ago, and we had our biggest months ever in December 2010 and January of this year.

    Moviefone didn’t decide to take it over completely — they already owned the site, and when they folded it in they kept me in charge. Even as I was leaving, they offered me a full time position, and when I turned that down they still asked me to reconsider to try to find me a place there.

    However, I did not agree with their editorial strategy moving forward. I didn’t want to take a job, only to watch them possibly let go of all the writers who’d been working for me. That, to me, is not the sort of situation I wanted to be in, so I stepped down.

    No one fired me because traffic dropped or anything, and anyone who suggests such a thing is ridiculously misinformed. Either that, or they’re just jealous and want to try to hurt me professionally for whatever reason (hey, assholes exist — we all know one). And that’s fine — take all the digs you want. Just don’t spread false rumors because it makes you look pretty silly.

  6. Senh says:

    I have the Alexa addon on Firefox that tracks traffic and can backup Kim and Erik regarding Cinematical’s traffic numbers.

    If you only look at traffic to the Cinematical.com domain, then it did dropped significantly since the latest redesign in October 2010 (you can see it on Alexa’s traffic charts). However, that’s not the site’s fault (or Erik’s). It’s because all of the blog entries from cinematical now goes to blog.moviefone.com rather than cinematical.com. Just click on any blog entry on Cinematical’s homepage, and you’ll see.

    Traffic didn’t drop for the site as a whole, most of it just got redirected to blogs.moviefone.com.

  7. Halo Override says:

    From what I’ve heard (I spend a lot of time on the internet) Erik Davis wrote the Garfield movies, cast Katie Holmes in Batman Begins, and passed on signing the Beatles to his record label in 1961. It’s not surprising nobody will talk to me at parties.

  8. Kim Voynar says:

    From what I heard (and I watch a LOT of movies, people!) Erik Davis is responsible for every M. Night Shyamalan movie since UNBREAKABLE. Also? He wrote JONAH HEX.

  9. David Cornelius says:

    From what I’ve heard (I do some hearing) Erik Davis once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

  10. Jette says:

    From what I’ve heard, Erik Davis is a pioneer in molecular gastronomy and deconstructive cuisine, working under the name of Chef Sivad Kire.

  11. While I’ve never met Erik in person, we’ve talked over Twitter movie website colleague-to-colleague and he’s never been anything but a nice fellow. And under his watch Cinematical was a fun place to read about movies, from writers with informed opinions.

    I don’t like the direction that movie news websites are headed, and I definitely don’t like the Arianna Huffington way of running a content site.

    To Erik: I wish you all the best. May brighter opportunities at happier destinations arrive in your Inbox soon.

  12. I heard Erik Davis doesn’t even like movies and enjoys kicking puppies.

    Also, even though it’s not true, I wouldn’t care if his traffic wasn’t great, because his content was. And he never was a whore, ever.

  13. WG says:

    Erik Davis doesn’t just talk during movies — he talks about other people talking during movies.

  14. Iris Heard says:

    Jokes aside, I’ve heard (first hand) that Erik Davis was pretty mean to some of his writers, particularly to a certain “geeky” (hint, hint) female writer whom he consistently talked down to, berated, and whom he summarily fired when she lost a tape recorder with a couple of interviews on it at Comic-Con.

    Certainly not everyone views him as the shining example of a man that the two or three colleagues above do.

  15. Erik Davis says:

    Hey Iris,

    That’s not the story at all, and I’d appreciate it if you don’t spread lies in a public forum without knowing what you’re talking about because you’re bordering on libel right now.

    I’m not going to get into the reasons why she stopped writing for Cinematical, but they were above and beyond some meaningless lost roundtable tapes that I could care less about.

    The writer in question was treated with respect and gratitude, just like every other writer who’s ever worked with Cinematical. I have a wife and a daughter, and to accuse me of “talking down” and “berating” a woman is extremely insulting. Cinematical hosted the voices of more female writers than any other movie blog, and I’m damn proud of that fact. That we had to part ways with certain writers along the way for various reasons is just the way it is for every business, but in no way were we malicious toward her at any time and I have several people to back that up.

    So, sorry you’re confusing your facts (and the rumors people have told you), but none of it is true. I wish her nothing but the best of luck in the future — she’s a great writer, and we had a blast during her time at Cinematical.

  16. Glenn Kenny says:

    You know, for a while I was really confused, and I thought this Erik Davis was an OTHER Erik Davis…you know, the one who’s actually a writer, and an intellectual and stuf, whose work I admired and respectedf. And I would wonder, “Why is Erik Davis at Cinematical, writing THIS kind of stuff all of a sudden?” And “Why is Erik Davis insulting me on Twitter?” And things like that. And now I finally put it together (which, I admit, doesn’t really speak all that well of ME, sharpest-knife-in-the-drawer-wise), and realize that this guy’s a completely different Erik Davis! Shit, suddenly the world makes SENSE again! Thank you, Jesus! And, I guess, good luck, Erik Davis who isn’t the author of the Led Zeppelin IV book in the 33 1/3 series.

  17. Glenn Kenny says:

    Oops, misplaced an “f” or two in there, sorry about the typos, but I think my “point” “stands.”

    That is all…except, it’s really hilarious to see people who clearly haven’t the slightest clue about actual legally actionable statements (and who also likely couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer in any event…come on, guys!) throwing around the term “bordering on libel.” The world really is a crazy place these days!

  18. Erik Davis says:

    You’re an odd duck Mr. Kenny, I will say that.

    And if I remember correctly, you’re the one who came after me on Twitter when all I did was send good vibes in the direction of a fellow colleague of yours at MSN. Odd.

    Anyway, thanks for the kind words and support, though. Appreciate it.

  19. Glenn Kenny says:

    Just remember my Twitter avatar, Erik. It’ll all make sense eventually.

  20. Kim Voynar says:

    Glenn, I feel like I dropped into the middle of a conversation for which I have no context … which I guess is my own fault for not being a Twitterholic.

    As for the bordering on libel thing, let’s be very upfront here: this issue with Elizabeth Rappe’s departure from Cinematical has been going on since Comic Con last year. There are accusations that have been (IMO) very unfairly made with the intent to impugn the reputations of both Erik Davis and Scott Weinberg, who are good friends and longtime colleagues of mine.

    I have strong suspicions about who “Iris Heard” is, though I don’t have proof or the time or desire to root it out. I left her comment there only because Erik dealt with it himself in his response.

    There’s legally actionable, and then there’s morally questionable. And frankly, alluding to people who you know are very recently out of their jobs not being able to “afford” a lawyer? Not nice, Glenn. And you are, in my personal experience, capable of being a nice guy, so don’t be mean on my playground please. Wheaton’s Law applies around this blog: Don’t be a dick.

    Frankly, one of the reasons I don’t live on Twitter is because of so much bullshit pissing-in-the-sandbox nonsense that goes on there between various people who dislike each other professionally or personally. It drives me crazy, and falls into the “morally questionable” category a lot of the time.

    Jesus, can’t people all just play nice and get along? I love you guys, but sometimes, honestly …

  21. Glenn Kenny says:

    Oh, please, Kim. I can’t “afford” that kind of legal representation myself, either. I’m just saying: the term “bordering on libel” is a very specific and potentially loaded one. You yourself say that there’s a difference between legally actionable and morally questionable. Defamation, which is what you’re actually talking about, is “morally questionable.” And genuinely to be deplored, I agree. On the other hand, when you tell someone that what they’re saying “borders on libel,” there’s an almost automatic implicit threat of legal action there. Or, to put in in the vernacular, and I’m sorry if I’m being a “dick:” using the term without any demonstrable means and/or genuine intention of following through on it sounds like a lot of the usual internet tough-guy bullshit. And it’s laughable in a way that just leaving it at moral indignation would not have been. That’s all.

  22. Habedashery says:

    Wow! Just wow! I just saw this thread, as I just heard that Cinematical was shut down. It’s weird to see this thread deteriorate like so many discussions on Cinematical did. It’s apropos somehow…

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