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TOPIC: Classic Films

Classic Films 15 Jan 2003 14:05 #23724

  • Driordan
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I was viewing the Charlottesville Jefferson's website and in it they answer a question as to why they don't show classic films. They claim the last major distributor of classic films closed two years ago (I assume they meant Kit Parker) and that avenue is dead. They also stated that DVD's and other media have replaced the need for big screen presentations of classics. Classics are out there, call any of the usual distributors and they all have a classic, repertory or archive dept. WB has over 6,000 titles available alone, from WB, MGM, RKO libraries.
Sony has a repertory dept. for Columbia titles, as do Universal, Paramount and MGM/UA. Fox goes through Criterion in IL, which is a company a lot like Kit Parker was.
They're available, if you can find an audience for them like we have. I love the Jefferson website...it looks like the people who run the theater are truly devoted and very proud of this great theater.
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Re: Classic Films 15 Jan 2003 14:08 #23725

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To quote Ky

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Playing classic films is a tricky business. We did real well with a double feature of Some Like It Hot and North by Northwest when we opened. A French double feature of Umbrellas of Cherbourgh and a Bunel film whose title escapes me at the moment did well. Sunset Blvd bombed even though we have a decent sized gay community. Breakfast at Tiffany's worked well. A series of 6 classics from the Columbia catalog bombed.
Our biggest hit in the classics department was something of a fluke. The week Alec Guiness died we were short a film for our 5-plex. It was August which isn't prime art movie season and in the summer of 2000 the art film landscape was dreadful. So out of desperation we booked in Bridge on the River Kwai and put it in our smallest house. Friday night it sold out! Saturday we moved it to our biggest house as it was our biggest grosser on Friday. It turned out to be our best film that week. We did 5K on it in a week at $250 vs. 35%. We held it for a second week and did pretty well then too. What really surprised us was the number of parents bringing their kids (from 8-9 year-olds up through high schoolers) to the film as a family outing.

The lesson we learned out of all this is that timing is everything when it comes to classics. The right film with the right recently deceased actor will work. The films that work best are not the obscure ones but those classic touchstones like Breakfast at Tiffany's that people fell in love with. But you've got to choose your moment wisely. Weeks when there isn't a slew of new product opening are best, especially if you want to try to get some newspaper coverage. We happened to pick a slow week for Kwai and were rewarded with a 1/2 page essay by Roger Ebert about what a great film it is. Roger has written a slew of these kind of things and you can see them on the Chicago Sun Times website. If your local paper runs Ebert reviews and its a slow week for openings you might get lucky or if you have a good relationship with the editorial department, make a suggestion.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
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