I had a post here last week about the many, many films that had not made it to Little Rock.  In today’s Democrat Gazette, Philip Martin argues that Arkansas isn’t a cultural backwater because we don’t get many of these films.  As he notes, neither does “95 percent of the country.” There’s an issue with the number of prints a film has to distribute and consumer demand for popcorn fave’s like “Rocky Balboa” and “The Rise of Taj.” His conclusion: ” . . . readers often ask me why a certain film they’ve heard about hasn’t opened locally.  And all I can tell them is to be patient, they’re coming.  Almost everything gets here eventually.  Which is a lot better than it was 10 years ago.”

NOTE: Before I get into this again, I should tell you that I have no idea whether Philip Martin read the comments on this blog or whether his column was in response to comments here or comments made from his readers or both.  Still, I’m offering this response.

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Patience is a virtue, so I’ve been told.  I just don’t have it.  Not when I walk into a “Rocky Balboa” and 4 people are there.  Nor do I have it when junk films like “Eragon,” are held over long after the “consumer demand” has worn off. 

Ok, so lets take a film like “Scoop,” Woody Allen’s latest comedy which opened earlier this year.  I saw it at the Rave.  Interestingly, the film only showed on 541 screens.  Still, it made it to one of Arkansas’ largest theatres presumably because Allen had commercial appeal after the success of last year’s “Match Point.”  Conversely, “Friends with Money” (1,010 screens), “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” (1,200), “Babel” (1,251), “The Queen,” (712) did not open at the Rave (“The Queen” did open at Riverdale).

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I suppose my point is that while the number of prints may matter, these are several very good films who had ample number of prints that big theatres failed to show.  Now, Market Street did show them, which is a kudos to them.  But I recall hearing at one point that a theatres ability to get a film has to do with that theatre’s box office numbers (it’s why “Dreamgirls” only opened at The Rave).  The Rave, presumably, has the highest attendance in central Arkansas.

But my issue is not with where a movie shows.  I’m perfectly content heading to Matt’s theatre to catch a movie.  But he’s told me that there are movies that are hard for him to get (+1 to Matt for trying) because of attendance.  So, my issue is that if a film that only shows on 541screens nationwide appears in Little Rock very soon after it opened in New York and LA, and it appears at the biggest theatre in central Arkansas, isn’t there at least a possibility that some of these lesser seen films could hold a spot on one of the 18 screens at the Rave?  

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Raise your hand if you’re planning on seeing “Black Christmas,” “Happy Feet,” or “Rocky Balboa” this weekend?  Surely, “Little Children,” deserves to be shown.  After all, Kate Winslet star of “Titanic” is in it! (“Little Children” showed on 42 screens nationwide; more than “Last King of Scotland,” “Letters from Iwo Jima,” “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Volver” or “Notes on a Scandal”

Also, for what it’s worth, each one of these films had a higher per-screen average than “Rocky,” “Eragon,” “We are Marshall,” “The Holiday,” “Blood Diamond,” Casino Royale,” “Black Christmas,” “Apocalypto,” and “Charlotte’s Web.” (that’s everything in the Top 14 except “Dreamgirls,” “The Good Shepherd,” “Night at the Museum,” and “Pursuit of Happyness”.)

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But I do not mean to pick on the Rave.  But they are the biggest and being the biggest means dealing with it.  And as for the issue of prints,  surely with each of the above mentioned films in contention for major awards, they’re available.  If not, then one can only conclude that we’ll have to wait for the DVD. 

 

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