Saturday, February 6, 2010

Frozen Out

No, that title has nothing to do with the winter storm that is clobbering you folks in the Northeast, but rather the release schedule for the newest offering from director Adam Green, and if the first round of reviews are to be believed, a movie that should break him into a higher level of commercial acceptance...depending on the receipts for this weekend. Frozen has received a limited release in a relative handful of cities, and any further expansion is going to depend on this weekend's grosses. I know that a number of bloggers are encouraging fans to nag their local theaters about getting the film, but having spent time in exhibition, I can sadly tell you that this has absolutely no effect. The decisions about what films are sent to what markets and what theaters are made very far above the pay grade of your local cinema manager, and in all my years of knowing dozens of managers around the state of Wisconsin (a place that traditionally gets stiffed when it comes to limited releases, and a place that, dammit, has ski lifts!), your requests result in this conversation between staff and boss...

STAFF MEMBER / GRUNT - "Gee, a lot of people are asking about/for (name of movie) tonight."

BOSS - "Isn't that interesting. Can you stick around tonight for inventory counts?"

Unfortunately, the rollout campaign for Paranormal Activity led many to believe that groundswells and public demand had an effect on release schedules, but this was all part of an ingenious master plan on Paramount's part, when they had every intention to break the movie wider once they saw the phenomenal dollars pouring in from the first round of bookings. And rest assured, if you're requesting Frozen, there are also folks requesting films like A Single Man or An Education. Take heart - your genre film has a much better chance of breaking wider than an art house release, which usually requires some major nominations or awardage to move outside of a limited platform release.

Some twenty or thirty years ago, it was marginally better. If your local theater was a single-screen art house, or that rarity in the 80s - a Mom & Pop affair - you might be lucky and get your movie for a week, and several weeks or even months after its national debut. (Having spent much of my life in a much smaller town in Central WI, there were even occasions when the cinema got a film after it was out on VHS - after the then-standard six month window of theatrical release.) But again, that would be at the discretion of the booker, who would be assigning the theater its movies from a place far, far away, not knowing or caring what audiences were demanding. I can only point to one time that my entreaties caused a theater to book a film that I personally requested. It was 1988, and it was Madison's famed Majestic Theater, which for years as part of the Landmark chain used to publish a calendar of upcoming films, and when a new one would hit the racks across the city, film fans would excitedly peruse it and plan their next couple of months of entertainment. Occasionally there would be one week in each calendar that was filled with irregular releases that stayed for only a few days, and that year, after I had been a notorious pest about the film, they actually managed to book the creepy delight Paperhouse. For two days. In the middle of the week. And no matinees. I was so proud...

Wanna see Frozen? Contact your friends in a city where it's playing, tell them to get their girdles in gear and see it themselves. Like everything in this life, it's all about the dollars.

1 comment:

Carl (ILHM) said...

Its great to see so many genre fans standing behind this film and pushing others to get in and see it. Unfortunately, due to the small nature of the film, it would be hard pressed to make it on a wide release, but we can certainly hope! OPEN WATER and PA sure proved to be able to do it, but with sharks and ghosts in your advertising, you certainly have an upper hand.