Comments from Al Alvarez

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Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Cinema owner protests new films by shutting down theater on Oct 9, 2006 at 10:44 pm

Studies have shown that movie-goers are movie-goers. Even those buying pirate DVDs go to the movies, rent and buy legitimate DVDs.

Where I think we drop the ball as an industry is the overwhelming focus on 15 to 24 year olds. There is a glut of product for that market at the expense of everyone else.

You are correct in that there have always been exploitation (crap?)films. There was even a bigger glut of product in the forties than there is now. What has changed is the number of quality non-formula films.

You can go back to any year in the last century and find ten interesting cutting edge films. You are hard pressed to find three these days. It is now October and outside of VOLVER from Spain, I can’t think of any other great film that has come out this year.

You mom is right. Even in the dire late sixties/ early seventies product shortage you could find an amazing variety of films being made. Now you will find ten versions of the same plot in the same year all badly told. You need to watch Korean, Chinese and Japanese films to get anything original and even Scorcese’s THE DEPARTED is a remake of one of those.

So what has happened to screenwriters in the US, Schmadrian? Even TV is more creative.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Cinema owner protests new films by shutting down theater on Oct 9, 2006 at 6:17 am

Cinema will continue to re-invent itself. Here are some signs of hope:

Real D, for example, brings a new 3D system that won’t be on home TV for another ten years. Old films can be remastered into 3D and although it is still quite expensive Lucas is redoing all STAR WARS and footage of SINGIN' IN THE RAIN in 3D is breathtaking. James Cameron is making his next film AVATAR in 3D.

Muvico is experimenting with splitting adult screens from under 21 screens and therefore segregating the mobile phone and audience participation crowd from those who need to focus more on the nuances of JACKASS NUMBER TWO. That rowdy crowd is not new. It is just getting more agressive in the way they enjoy their films and it may be time to bring back the Drive-In and leave them outside again.

Concerts and sporting events on Digital will allow families to experience Marylin Manson and football games “live on screen” matches without the arena violence many big city venues provide.

There is no doubt theatres are changing but so is the content of what we view there as well as at home. The success of MARCH OF THE PENGUINS, FAHRENHEIT 911 and AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH has been largely attributed to a belief that TV news is biased and that these films reveal something new.

They preach to the already converted willing to shell out ten dollars for a two hour newsreel with questionable facts. Can you imagine what these theatres would do if someone started to make good movies again?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Cinema owner protests new films by shutting down theater on Oct 8, 2006 at 10:39 pm

Schmadrian, BUBBLE was released on DVD the same day as in theatres so it was boycotted by all major theatre chains. ROAD TO GUANTANAMO did the same in the UK with the DVD on sale two weeks after release.

DRIVING LESSON is being shown on UK TV this month, two months after the theatre release and DEATH OF A PRESIDENT is a made for TV UK movie getting a theatre run in the US. (It is actually on TV here tonight!)

The reason the theatre run is still so importrant is two-fold.

1) Most movies sell on DVD at the same percentage as their theatre gross. The bigger the hit in theatres, the more exposure the title gets, the more units they sell and rent to the public. Obscure titles remain obscure with few exceptions.

2) Many films are sold to DVD on an economic model based on the theatrical gross. The bigger the opening weeks, the better the price they get.

In the rare case of a movie being a hit on DVD but a failure at the box office, you can be almost certain some marketing team at a studio just got fired.

Although studios often own their DVD rights, the departments sometimes operate on a mutually exclusive and somtimes antagonistic level.

The theatrical release STILL drives the whole industry.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Cinema owner protests new films by shutting down theater on Oct 8, 2006 at 11:15 am

LI, some theatres chose not to show FARHENHEIT 911 and PASSION OF THE CHRIST for political reasons. It sent no message to Hollywood since people just saw them elsewhere and they were both huge hits world wide.

Theatre owners can only make a stance by refusing to play a film in big numbers as in the case of BUBBLE. Otherwise, only the public can send the message effectively.

Your caviar stance means nothing if your customers still buy it elsewhere. Also, are you certain that the Iranian or French products you are rejecting do not come from an American owned company there?

Remember that until recently Snapple was owned by the Bin Laden family.

Cineplex Odeon welcomed controversial films. They went as far as to produce THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST themselves although Universal took the abuse as the distributor.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Cinema owner protests new films by shutting down theater on Oct 8, 2006 at 1:46 am

This is not really consumer power is it? What if Regal and AMC decided to pass on BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN or DELIVER US FROM EVIL? Would we approve of the gesture?

I think only the paying public has the right to say “no!, as they did with GIGLI and DOGMA. JACKASS and the upcoming BORAT are very political films when you consider what they say about our society. If the public is buying tickets then the theatres should be showing them.

I find many films immoral and downright bad. (SUPERMAN RETURNS comes to mind) I would never consider that our company would not show them for this reason.

The only reason a company should reject a film is because it violates the DVD window. In the UK we passed on ROAD TO GUANTANAMO for that reason and only for that reason.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Cinema owner protests new films by shutting down theater on Oct 7, 2006 at 7:17 am

LOL. Good Morning, Schmadrian.

I just meant FLYBOYS has received some of the worst reviews of the year. As a war drama it rates lower in its genre than JACKASS did in its own “GROSS-OUT” genre.

The Lorraine management stated they were closing due to lack of quility films that weren’t “drivel”. What they really meant was that they were willing to play “drivel” if it didn’t insult their personal sensibilities.

I think when an exhibitor dictates morals to their paying customers by denying them a film it becomes censorship. We already have ratings and critics to help inform the public about content without some cinema manager acting as a nanny for adults.

I wonder how the Lorraine feels about DEATH OF A PRESIDENT, PASSION OF THE CHRIST and FAHRENHEIT 911?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Cinema owner protests new films by shutting down theater on Oct 7, 2006 at 12:56 am

I see now that stinkbomb FLYBOYS is good enough to re-open the Lorraine.

So this had nothing to do with quality but rather censorship and good old fashioned family values after all.

We all know a good war is nowhere as obsene as toilet humour.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about National Twin on Oct 6, 2006 at 10:12 pm

That sure is it, LM. That marquee was the best place to stand on New Year’s eve.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Grand Pussycat Cinema on Oct 6, 2006 at 9:01 am

Ed, I am shocked and appalled that you think I might be some kind of authority on strip joints!

Having gotten that out of my system, I am pretty sure the main entrance was on Broadway but there could have been other marquee signs as it seems to have been located somewhere within this complex as was the Mardi Gras Topless (huh?) disco.

Did the Kitty Kat play movies?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Gaiety Burlesk on Oct 4, 2006 at 11:06 am

Ed, it was not rare for that double feature to have multiple runs. The theatres owned the prints so they kept bringing them back. It is precisely the lack of consistent distributors that caused Variety to stop tracking the films and the reason for recent claims that DEEP THROAT may have grossed as much as 600 million dollars making it among the highest grossing films of all time. No one can prove it.

THE BIRTH OF A NATION is the other title with a similar dilemma. Both films are politically incorrect so their true effect on history is being denied and erased.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Paree Adult Cinema and Live Show on Oct 4, 2006 at 12:19 am

The Metropole is one venue I have attended. The “entertainment girls” chatted you up while ordering $10.00 bottles of “champagne”, ( I think it was dressed up Perrier), and you paid for it. That is how the Metropole made much of it’s money. The pole dancers were actually carefully chosen and quite beautiful, as you would expect in Times Square.

…and as Dolly Parton would say “There’s nothing dirty going on!”, as far as I could see.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Cinema owner protests new films by shutting down theater on Oct 4, 2006 at 12:10 am

It has improved although US sports films such as GRIDIRON and ethnic movies often get missed or dealyed for obvious reasons. The UK holidays do not always match the US so THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA is now on previews but STORM BREAKER (it opens the US this month) already came and went. HOODWINKED finally opened this week to fantastic grosses although you can order it from Amazon anytime on DVD.

The DVD day and date DVD release helps no one in the movie food chain. It simply burns movies out quicker. If you produce mindless sequels such a the X-MEN movies you could make it work if cinemas didn’t refuse to play them.

I wonder if the Lorraine was too proud to show those stupid films?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Cinema owner protests new films by shutting down theater on Oct 3, 2006 at 2:00 pm

The latest in the UK is no four month window means no wide run. Julie Walters and that red-headed boy from HARRY POTTER means straight to TV for a great film: DRIVING LESSONS.

ROAD TO GUANTANAMO, missed it’s major audience by going straight to DVD here.

BUBBLE. What BUBBLE?

If Mark Cuban thinks cinema is over he should sell Landmark and start producing TV reality shows like UGLY BETTY. Derivative cliché is his best mode.

As long as someone makes movies such as BORAT, we have an industry that is alive, contemporary, belligerent and exciting. No matter what Bush’s America thinks.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about FIM buying and booking agents on Oct 3, 2006 at 11:12 am

There is no real training. Learn as much as you can about film and start at an entry level assistant job IN THE FILM DEPARTMENT. Most chains like to promote from within or hire from another chain’s Film Department. Crossing over from other departments tends to be difficult as Film Buyers are a clubby bunch who socialise with other Film Buyers and distributors rather than their own company members.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Harem Theatre on Oct 3, 2006 at 10:45 am

Good heavens! Artistic (hmm) murals and FRISKY HORNY KINKY SLU… just across the street? Maybe someone could recreate a replica of this street on 41st street for the tourist trade.

Obviously it is not just me, but wasn’t this squalor oddly beautiful?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Cinema owner protests new films by shutting down theater on Oct 3, 2006 at 10:26 am

There is more than a little posturing in this act. You can go back to the late sixties/early seventies and find midwestern theatres shutting down instead resorting to such dreck as A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and LAST TANGO IN PARIS while mourning the loss of Jerry Lewis and Doris Day movies.

Now, I am not suggesting JACKASS NUMBER TWO and TALLADEGA NIGHTS rate with those two classics but whatever happened to “The show must go on!” and letting the audience decide if the movie rates a visit?

I assume they already showed LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, THE QUEEN, HOLLYWOODLAND, QUINCEANERA, HOUSE OF SAND, FACTOTUM, SHERYBABY, and any number of other films looking to wean an audience away from mainstream crap.

An exhibitor who remains closed until the next formula movie comes out deserves to fail.

If the Lorraine’s idea of quality film is the next James Bond then say goodbye now. You have already lost this battle to the latest generation with questionable taste.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Campaign ad hits theater on Sep 30, 2006 at 1:22 pm

I think it is stupid for a theatre to accept political or religious advertising. They will be prime targets for law suits when the ACLU, Klu Klux Clan, and the American Communist Party come knocking at their door. They will then advertise or be forced to close for being what they really are. One-party fascists.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Ridgewood Theatre on Sep 29, 2006 at 11:07 pm

I have a theory and perhaps someone with better access to the records can pursue it.

Here is my assumption:
The Levy brothers sold the theatre to Samuel Strausberg who eventually incorporated it into the Small & Strausberg chain. This chain, booked by Fox at least as early as 1925, lost control of it’s assets and was forced to officially lease all it’s theatres to Fox by 1929. After the depression, Strausberg started again but never regained the Fox disposals.

Any takers?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Trail Theatre on Sep 29, 2006 at 9:14 pm

Brigitteg, this was published in May:

For sale or lease by owner, Bill Ogden, please call 305-663-5860.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Paree Adult Cinema and Live Show on Sep 29, 2006 at 11:52 am

Warren, Ed,

I am so glad this unravelling series porn mystery is bringing us together.

Lost Memory, can we have a (very heterosexual, of course) group hug?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Paree Adult Cinema and Live Show on Sep 29, 2006 at 6:57 am

Hi Guys, I have been out of town.

I show the Circus and all male Big top co-existing at 1604 Braodway.
There was a 49th Street Playhouse operating in 1982 that I cannot place.
732 Seventh Avenue is the Mini but I have no proof it was also the Frisco.

This from a NYT raid story, Dec. 9, 1972
“Three sheriff’s deputies and a squad of policemen stood guard, as a crew of movers supervised by an attorney, Mark Belnick, removed the property of "San Francisco Adult Movies” from 1531 Broadway, between 45th and 46th streets, and put it into a avan for shipmentto a warehouse. "

That address is the old Astor also. (???)

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about AMC Fresh Meadows 7 on Sep 29, 2006 at 5:43 am

Hi Brian, good to see you on this site! I certainly remember you, your rhymes and how you managed the NYC beaurocrats with their own medicine in order to keep us open.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Paree Adult Cinema and Live Show on Sep 26, 2006 at 1:36 pm

No I don’t have the Frisco address but I expected it to be around 720 Seventh Avenue, not Broadway.

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Paree Adult Cinema and Live Show on Sep 26, 2006 at 10:15 am

Ed, LM, could the “San Francisco Sex Cinema” (I love that name, by the way) mentioned above be the infamous FRISCO, record holder for their MISS JONES/DEEP THROAT double feature?

Al Alvarez
Al Alvarez commented about Ridgewood Theatre on Sep 26, 2006 at 9:46 am

Thank you for sharing that bit of mental vomit, Art. I hope you feel superior now.

I will explain.

The Ridgewood is still a viable business. Loews Kings is an war zone where the Kenmore was shot out of operation just a few years ago.

That’s why.