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Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.


Would It Really Be So Difficult?  | e-mail post

I really enjoy movies. I went and saw Constantine last night, on which an old college friend (and fellow blogger at Deliberate Cinema) worked. It reminded me that I still have not seen The Machinist, which I would love to see, but I apparently will have to wait for it to come out on DVD. Why? I think there are one of two possible reasons:

1) It has not and will not be shown in my small rural community (Minneapolis, metro population 3.35 million) with little knowledge of or regard for the arts (even though we have more stage theaters per capita than NYC).

2) It was here briefly, but after its limited release in NY/LA, and I missed seeing an ad or showtimes for it (including a periodic check on Yahoo! showtimes)

If it was the latter, I would be very surprised. I visited the main website for the film, I tried to find a schedule of release dates by city (the similarly limited release film Memento did provide this, so I could actually plan to see it the day it opened here in town).

I simply do not understand why smaller filmmakers do not invest in the fairly simple website enhancement of noting their scheduled releases. I understand they didn't make 5,000 prints of the film so it could saturate every multiplex in America with staggered showings every 15 minutes. But since they didn't make as many, why not have the scheduled releases available, just in case there might be one or two souls in the 2,500 miles of land between NY and LA.

Now it is possible that they simply never bothered releasing it outside of the NY/LA area. If that's the case, that problem is really a separate one. But, at least update the website to say: if you haven't seen it, you can't until June 2005, when it comes out on DVD. It is almost as if the filmmakers don't want people to see the film.

If anyone knows of a site (fansites even) that keeps track of release dates by city for limited release films, I would love to know.

It is indeed a sad irony that bad films are so easy to find and good ones so difficult.
e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  |  | Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Comments:
Nice to see that you're back :-)
 
I am of course assuming that "Constantine" reminded you of "The Machinist" because I'd put the latter in my "Most Disappointing Films of 2004" list. "Constantine" will certainly find its way onto that list next year.

I'm not aware of any sites that have a comprehensive city-by-city release date schedule for each film out there. I think this has to do with the fact that secondary market releases are not planned in advance - they depend on how well a film performs in the primary markets. Having said this, Dark Horizons has as good a calendar as any:

http://www.darkhorizons.com/releasedates.php

Again, though, these are primary market release dates only.

All of the above notwithstanding, I agree that filmmakers should take advantage of the web site format for posting regular updates for this kind of information. This happens sometimes (see http://www.theroommovie.com/ for one of the sadder, more mentally-disturbed examples of this), and it tends to happen more religiously with truly independent (i.e. not distributed by the majors or mini-majors) films, but it is still a format that is often overlooked.

In summary: you're right - not employing web updates is nothing more than abject laziness. Distributors are very fickle, and keen to gut the advertising of a film when they begin to think it may not perform well (witness the nearly nonexistent advertising for the recent "Cursed" - when a Wes Craven film written by Kevin Williamson and starring Christina Ricci doesn't get promoted, you just know it sucks the pipe). But the web is, for all intents and purposes, free. Even the lowliest stinker of a pic deserves a web site!
 
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