the time of year when the studios aim to show us that they are not all about big, noisy, mindless movies. Most Oscar nominees are released this time of year, presumably because the academy members have short memories
and can’t recall films that came out way back in the Spring. Whatever the
reason, it’s a full buffet for the discerning filmgoer who is emerging from the Summer season with a hunger for more
am I pissed! You think we’d be dining like kings and queens this time of
year. We do at first. But when you
go through the buffet line to sample a few items you missed the first time through, you discover that they have been replaced
with other tasty offerings. That little dish you were waiting all year to sample
is long gone.
number of films released to movie theaters continues to climb but the number of movie screens remains the same (or even lower
in some parts). During the Summer you have a 12 screen cineplex showing Transformers on 4 screens, Harry Potter on 3 and Spider-Man on another 4. That leaves one screen for what Hollywood
likes to call counter-programming, which is what many moviegoers refer to as decent films.
So, when Fall comes around and we’re ass deep in decent films that have little or no chance to build an audience
because new films are bombarding the same number of screens every Friday. The
bottom line is that it is virtually impossible to see all of the good stuff in theaters unless you are extremely devoted and
have no life outside of movies.
that I may have eliminated half of my readership with that last remark, but the normal among us have pesky little things like
jobs, children, a personal life and sleep that make living at the theater a non-option.
Sure, you can wait for DVD, but all the talk, buzz and analysis of films happens right when it opens in theaters. Most cineastes I know like to be in on those discussions and saying that you have
it in your Netflix queue just doesn’t cut it.
also eliminate one solution that you may be thinking about: building more movie
theaters. Just ask the current theater owners how things are going. They’ll
tell you that owning a movie theater is a good business if your intent is to earn little or no money.
Hollywood could do something about this problem by freeing up a few screens in the Summer. Instead of Pirates of the Caribbean every 15 minutes all day long, how about letting some prestige
drama have a go of it for those who don’t need to see Shrek 3 for the 8th
time? Instead, in the Fall, Universal releases its prestige drama at the same
time as those from UA, Sony, Fox et al. The result is lower box office for all
films, the message to the studios that these types of films don’t make any money and yet another big dumb Summer movie
gets the green light. Unless a film lights up the box office cash register the
first week, it’s pulled to make room for dozens of newcomers
we, as discriminating moviegoers, do about it? Not a damn thing, unless you’re
in line to be a studio executive. And a radical attitude towards letting all movies get a chance to reach their audience will
certainly land you on the unemployment line, albeit with a generous golden parachute to ease your bruised psyche.
I had answers for this vexing problem because I don’t expect the studios to change in our lifetime. We have a better chance of ending the Iraq war than seeing radical changes in film distribution. I just wanted you to know that I am suffering right along with you.
If I ever get a chance to drive an explosives-laden van into the executive offices of a studio when they are the only
ones at work (a remote, but still-possible scenario) I will sacrifice my life to make things better for you. Binge on movies from now until Spring, when food will once again be scarce.
Don’t worry about seeing too many films because that’s impossible.
Besides, the Summer fare will allow you to do plenty of purging.