New release shelf life

posted by Michael Zoldessy on July 17, 2008 at 7:50 am

Not really news but Reuters takes a look at the state of staying power for summer flicks.

We live in a culture of instant gratification: instant-on appliances, fast food and, in some states, even day-of-registration voting.

Hollywood is not immune, especially during the summer months, when moviegoers descend each weekend on the newest movie at the multiplex like a swarm of hungry locusts.

Audiences make their likes or dislikes known instantly. The result is that hit or miss, no movie stays on theater screens for very long.

Comments (8)

markp on July 17, 2008 at 9:10 am

I have been saying for years now, that’s the whole problem with the industry today. When a movie comes out and its on 7 screens at the local 14-plex, what do you expect? Everyone can see it the first week, because your local 14-plex has 25 shows a day. Back when I got into the business, we would have 1, maybe 2 prints of a movie and it lasted for 3 to 4 months. And, on top of that, it would maybe be re-released a few months later, or you could always cath it at the local $2.00 house WITH a co-feature. (anyone remember them???) How I long for those days, but, this is what they call progress.

PeterApruzzese on July 17, 2008 at 9:14 am

Indeed, movie534. Heard today that The Dark Knight will be opening in over 4300 locations, with 10000 prints, and playing on over 25% of ALL movie screens in the USA. Unless the movie has the greatest word-of-mouth EVER, it will be dead in 3 weeks.

William on July 17, 2008 at 9:49 am

Now with video windows getting shorter and shorter. They what to make as much money in that first weekend and have bragging rights for it. Look at “Iron Man” from Paramount opened in May, it’s slated for video in late September. So it has that three month lead time for Christmas. During my GCC days we opened one of the earier Batman movies on our two largest screens. We never sold out Warner had booked the film into another plex a few miles from us and their business was just ok too.

markp on July 17, 2008 at 12:29 pm

I don’t know Peter, you think with 10000 prints it will last 3 weeks?? Just kidding, but I think you’re right. By the middle of August, Dark Knight will probably be on 1 screen in every multiplex, and in a 95 seat theatre at that.

And in regards to William, I remember my days as a GCC projectionist, and you’re right. We had Batman the whole summer into the fall. It did a nice steady business the entire time, which is something you don’t see anymore.

KingBiscuits on July 17, 2008 at 6:45 pm

Go see Wall-E! Your life depends on it!

And The Dark Knight is indeed looking to have the greatest word-of-mouth of all-time (outside of Titanic and E.T.). I got my ticket for tomorrow.

BradE41 on July 18, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Movies are not made for theatres anymore. Theatres are the advertisements for the home entertainment platform. Back when I was a teenager in the 1970’s films has long exclusive runs in Westwood/Hollywood, then wide runs, and re-issues. I cannot tell you have many re-issues of Young Frankenstein there was, Laemmle booked it into the Monica Twins in Santa Monica a few times. Now filmgoing is not as fun as it used to be. Films are commodities.

MPol on July 19, 2008 at 11:28 am

I see your point, BradE41. Nowadays, it seems that no sooner does a new movie hit the theatres, then it’s made into a DVD about six months or so later. When I was a teenager throughout most of the 1960’s, films also had long, exclusive runs, wide runs, and then re-releases. I still enjoy filmgoing, and, with rare exceptions, don’t attend the more current films. I have a yearly membership at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, which plays all kinds of stuff, as opposed to the same schlock that most all of the other theatres play, and I also attend the Brattle Theatre and the Somerville Theatre from time to time, both of which play all kinds of stuff that’re different from most of what comes out nowadays in the way of movies. When older classics come to the Coolidge, the Brattle, or to the Somerville Theatre, I jump at the chance to attend those screenings and see them on a great, big wide movie theatre screen, in a real movie palace, with the lights down low. Regardless of what anybody says or thinks, I believe that movies really ARE meant for theatres, and that even if one sees a great classic film on a home-theatre system and/or a big TV screen, it’s NEVER, EVER the same as seeing such films in a big theatre. It’s true that money-making hand over fist is the order of the day, and the reason for the DVD-home entertainment business is that the movie industry makes even more money that way—quickly, too.

So, I always like to go to the movie theatre, not just for the movie experience, but to get out and about among people, and to share the experience with several hundred or more people, whether I know them or not. There’s something more fun about that, and, even when I go alone, I always manage to find people to talk to before and after the film, also.

Here’s something else; West Side Story, which is my alltime favorite film, is a film that I sort of follow around our general area (I’ll go within reasonable driving distance, not any farthur), in addition to attending every screening of WSS that comes around, including TV/TCM airings of it. I have no DVD player, because I’m not much of a TV watcher. When they screened the film West Side Story at the Brattle just this last May, I attended both screenings of it!

scottfavareille on July 21, 2008 at 7:56 am

In Hong Kong, films go onto DVD within 30 days of theatrical release. In the US, the average is now 3 months.

Back in the 1960’s, this was the average pattern: A film like Lawrence of Arabia would play at 1 or 2 theaters in a major city like San Francisco (where it played at 1 theater for over a year continuous!), then it would go wider to neighborhood theaters, then would later come back as either a re-release or a second feature, then would go to network TV.

The pattern today: Saturation theatrical release, then DVD/pay-per-view, then pay cable(HBO, etc), then free TV (mostly cable channels like TNT or FX, network TV & local stations show fewer & fewer movies now).

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