Columnist sees recent TCM classic film festival as a model to emulate

posted by CSWalczak on April 30, 2010 at 7:55 am

LOS ANGELES, CA — Blog writer Steven Zeitchik sees the recent TCM film festival as more than just a retrospective of great films of the past; he thinks that it may serve as a model of how to present cinematic gems on a regular basis in the future all over the country by creating and event-like atmosphere around great films paired with a live element.

The reason it all worked was because the festival took something that’s part of our pop-culture canon and made it fresh. In some cases, these screenings were simply a way of introducing a piece of art or entertainment to a new generation with the extra flourish of a large-scale screening; in other cases, they added something specific to our understanding of the work. (“L.A. Confidential” director Curtis Hanson, for instance, introduced “In a Lonely Place.” Who better to talk about the history of noir than someone who’s made the best modern example of the form?)

The movie business often frets about the relevance of film-going in the YouTube age, when entertainment is disposable, portable and inexpensive to view (read: typically costs nothing). Hollywood has been intent on trying to compete with these many out-of-theater experiences by mounting ever larger spectacles — see under: the 3-D revolution, a particular hobbyhorse for us and others these days. And theater owners, eager for anything that will give them a leg up or stave off obsolescence, have gone along, sometimes grudgingly, sometimes enthusiastically.

But the entertainment world, as it often does, offers another way. And the TCM festival shows us what that way might be — namely, creating a buzz around a screening of a previously released film.

The full article is in the L.A. Times.

Comments (9)

efriedmann on April 30, 2010 at 10:46 am

I would give anything to be able to attend the TCM Film Festival. I’d love to meet Robert Osborne. Unfortunately, I live on Long Island, NY and paying the airfare to get there is not very feasible right now.

Edward Havens
Edward Havens on April 30, 2010 at 2:12 pm

I wonder how much from every $500 pass TCM paid Mr. Zeitchik to pimp this idea, especially during a down economy? The only person I know who went was able to go thanks to a press pass. The rest of us normal folk couldn’t afford to get in.

MPol on April 30, 2010 at 5:53 pm

They should have a TCM Festival in some of the Eastern big cities, such as Boston, NY, etc., Too bad it’s so expensive for the normal, ordinary, everyday person to afford to get into!

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on May 1, 2010 at 12:46 pm

On an “up” note; For those of us who have forgotten what $500 (plus travel) looks like, why not screen the future TCM Festivals via satellite to (remaining) historic movie palaces across the country?

On a “down” note; I thought the introductory background settings we rather demure, if not boring, especially where most of the action was at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Mr. Osborne warranted the grand forecourt, lobby or a seat in Sid Grauman’s private box. Next year, perhaps???

Otherwise, my wife and I very much enjoyed most of the picture that were screened.

meheuck on May 2, 2010 at 3:59 pm

For some reason, the server at the L.A. Times would not allow me to post this comment there, so I’ll do it here:

There’s one problem with your proposal for large-scale theatrical revival: the creative community doesn’t want it. When WB reissued THE EXORCIST on over 2000 screens, albeit the newly cut “The Version You’ve Never Seen,” it not only opened at #1, it outgrossed the previous six new films that WB released. The producers of those films were humiliated to see their new movies being beaten by something older, and made it clear to WB in no uncertain terms they would not stand for this in the future. So to protect those ongoing talent relationships, an already-planned reissue of the extended director’s cut of SUPERMAN was reduced to one screen in San Antonio, Texas, and no further simultaneous national reissues were done by any studio since. More recently, WB was enjoying solid revival business on the Final Cut of BLADE RUNNER, but producer Jerry Perenchio, who has never liked the film, has withdrawn his permission to screen it and so no more bookings can be taken on it.

The bottom line is that producers, talent agencies, venture capitalists – they make their money by making new product, no matter how crappy it is. And the studios would rather stay in business with them than alienate them by doing a large-scale revival of a bonafide classic, no matter how much in pure profit that, by the way, does not have to be shared with those parties, it could generate. The best we can hope for is the continued revival work of dedicated parties such as the New Beverly, CineFamily, and the American Cinematheque, and the occasional big event like the TCM festival.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 3, 2010 at 7:21 am

MPol: Although we didn’t have the entire Festival, TCM did hold one screening in New York City in March, at the Ziegfeld: “All About Eve”. Robert Osborne and Elaine Stritch hosted the event, and the place was packed (it was also free). A small taste of what the actual festival must’ve been like, but it was so much fun. TCM also held free single-classic movie screenings in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.

MPol on May 3, 2010 at 10:02 am

I remember attending a screening of the Wizard of Oz in Boston that was affiliated with TCM, but it wasn’t free, however. Tickets were $8.00 apiece.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig on May 3, 2010 at 10:51 am

The free movie TCM showed in Boston this year was “The Verdict”, which was filmed there. Each city got a movie which had something to do with the city: Chicago got “North by Northwest”, Washington DC got “The More the Merrier” and San Francisco got “The Lady From Shanghai”.

MPol on May 3, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Okay. Thanks for the heads up, Bill Huelbig. I stand corrected.

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