Hollywood's New Thing: Front Loading

Chauncey_G

Second Unit
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Jun 2, 2001
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I've been working in movie theaters for the past 15 years, the past 5 or so in multi-plexes of 12 or more screens. I am able to puff my self up with pride and say, "I've been saying that for 5 years now."
One thing the article doesn't talk about is that there are so many theaters all over the place now that not only can everyone see a film on it's opening weekend, but all those people are spread out across many different movie houses. With the audience being so spread out, no ONE theater or theater chain makes any real money off the newest blockbuster. That being the case, they try to build more, bigger theaters to get a larger share of the audience. This just spreads it out more because the competition does the same, and now they're saddled with huge theaters with huge overhead costs. All the while, the same audience just keeps on getting spread thinner and thinner over all these theaters.
This, then, creates situations in which print quality can suffer because they don't have enough people to keep a close eye on things, which sends more and more people to HBO, Pay-per-View and DVD sales to get their movie fix.
 

Jack Briggs

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Remember how films used to be released on a limited "roadshow" engagement for their first few months--that's right, months--and then on a wide "showcase" run that, in some cases, could last for years?
Also, remember how, in those days, a popular film's ad would be bannered "34th week!" or somesuch?
This, of course, ended by the 1980s.
There have been a lot of stories appearing in the past three or four weeks about this whole phenomenon of going for the big opening weekend as a make-or-break situation.
Of course, many of the writers agree: If only Hollywood would put out better "product."
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Trenton McNeil

Second Unit
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Apr 30, 1998
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Makes it tough to justify spending money on the Home Theater when the dearth of good new movies is as it is.
blah.
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I wish I had a dollar for every time I spent a dollar, because then, yahoo!,
I'd have all my money back. -- Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handey
 

Michael Reuben

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Makes it tough to justify spending money on the Home Theater when the dearth of good new movies is as it is.
It's only a "dearth" if you limit yourself to the major studio films that open at 3000+ theaters. Once the list is broadened to include smaller films (call them "arthouse", "independent" or whatever), the summer's been pretty good. Among my personal highpoints:
Sexy Beast
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
The Deep End
Ghost World
Our Song
Session 9
Startup.com
These and other films discussed here.
M.
 

Jason Seaver

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Remember how films used to be released on a limited "roadshow" engagement for their first few months--that's right, months--and then on a wide "showcase" run that, in some cases, could last for years?
Also, remember how, in those days, a popular film's ad would be bannered "34th week!" or somesuch?
And remember how, if you lived in a small town, it might take months for a movie to reach you, if it did at all, because there were only a few theaters within a reasonable distance? And how if you ever had the chance to see something from outside the studio system (or, god forbid, outside the country), it would be on a beat-up 16mm print in a college auditorium? And how if you missed it, there was a good chance that you would never have a chance to see it again? Assuming, of course, you know it existed.
The "front loading" of movies is a direct result of the explosion in home theater/home video over the past twenty years - repeat viewing is way down because the audience knows that they'll be able to see it again down the line. Unusual movies are more available to people in smaller markets, both on film and video. Three or four new movies are released every weekend even in the smaller markets, and twice that number in the likes of New York, LA, Boston, Chicago, SF, Toronto, etc. By and large, this is a good thing!
There are, of course, unfortunate side-effects. Studios naturally have less reason to concentrate on what keeps people coming back than on what gets people in the first time. Intuitively, you'd think it would be the opposite, since with video every movie now becomes a potential long-term revenue source, but the reality doesn't seem to work that way.
 

Peter Kline

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Dave,
and?....
What the article infers is that the so-called "per screen average" of Pearl Harbor was a lot less than Disney and others stated.
Peter
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Graeme Clark

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Because it's 3200+ and technically 6000 would be included since it's higher than 3200.
Just like if I advertised a product and claimed "Ready in seconds" it could be 40000 seconds for all you know.
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Jack Briggs

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Jun 3, 1999
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And, Jason, I think the solution to the station-bug mess is in the governnment's hands. ...

To support your argument, however, a friend of mine who was living in Nashville back in the '70s tells me Paul Mazursky's lovely and charming little road film, Harry and Tonto didn't even arrive in that town until the early summer of 1975--when the film was already a year old. So, yes, overall the situation has improved vis. distribution.
But this front-loading phenomenon has disturbing implications. When the studio's primary objective is the big opening weekend, it doesn't much care if the film is good enough to have "legs." (Among other things.)
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Aaron Copeland

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It's only a "dearth" if you limit yourself to the major studio films that open at 3000+ theaters. Once the list is broadened to include smaller films (call them "arthouse", "independent" or whatever), the summer's been pretty good.
Well, there are a lot of people, myself included, who are more limited by location than we are limiting ourselves. I don't think any of the films you listed were/are being shown here (Fayetteville, AR).
Aaron
 

Michael Reuben

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Well, there are a lot of people, myself included, who are more limited by location than we are limiting ourselves. I don't think any of the films you listed were/are being shown here (Fayetteville, AR).
I sympathize with the frustrations of anyone without ready access to a full selection of movie theaters, but that doesn't change the fact that good movies are still being made and released. There's a big difference between "there's nothing good" and "there's nothing good near me".
The comment to which I was responding questioned whether home theater is still worthwhile when movies have gotten so bad. The reality is that home theater is more worthwhile than ever, because it may be the only opportunity some people will have to see the best new material.
M.
 

Derek Miner

Screenwriter
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Feb 22, 1999
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1,663
Of course, many of the writers agree: If only Hollywood would put out better "product."
I'm beginning to think this is just some empty platitude that can make someone sound more intellectual.
There are good movies and there are rotten ones. Some find audiences and some don't. There are ups and downs in the cycle (I happen to think we're in a down movie-quality cycle, personally)... There will always be dumb movies that lots of people go to and good movies that are ignored. But then there are good movies that large audiences go to see, but wouldn't otherwise. And there will be movies that nobody suspects will hit that find tremendous audiences.
A lot of this has to do with how the studios sell us their movies. If they would pull back some of the overblown and unnecessary hype for stuff like Pearl Harbor, and put it into some smaller films, we might see more surprises. The actions of the studios seem to think smaller films will sell themselves and big blockbusters need all the hype. Shouldn't this be the other way around? Pearl Harbor had such recognition with the public, it could have sold itself on low-cost hype. Smaller films aren't known to the public, they need exposure. Even though I follow movies pretty closely, I still find out about some small surprise. I was lucky last year to hear about "You Can Count On Me." That was a movie that could have sold decent tickets to mainstream audiences, still many potential moviegoers heard NOTHING about it.
Perhaps people should be asking Hollywood to SELL us better product.
= Derek =
 

Chris Dugger

Supporting Actor
Joined
Jun 5, 1998
Messages
665
Well.....
Most theatre chains will pay an approx 58% - 65% on film rental just in the month of July.
and.... Rumor (again!) on the street is that Regal will file chapt. 11, this week.
So... the mighty will fall!
Dugger
 

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