011 Summer Movies Pt. 1 (Guests: Colby and Jules)

Returning after a little summer vacation…we are discussing Summer Movies.  Those (mostly) outdoor events that communities all over host during the good weather months at recreation centers, town festivals, water parks, farmers markets, art festivals…

In the second half of the episode, I’m joined by Colby (10 years old) and Jules (8 years old) to discuss the king of summer movies for 2018 – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.


010 Henri Langlois and May 1968 in Paris

1968 was a year of worldwide social unrest, political activism and a year I wish I had been alive for.  Poland, USA, Germany, Jamaica, Yugoslavia, Ireland, Czechoslovakia, Mexico and France experienced social and political unrest that would define each country for generations to come.  

In France, 1968 saw occupations, wild cat strikes, general strikes and an organized student movement that served as inspiration and a blueprint for activism to this day.  In early February,  the French government decided to dismiss Henri Langlois as the director of the Cinémathèque Française.  Little did they know that this decision would lead to demonstrations, protests, occupations and a world wide film boycott of the Cinémathèque.  

The filmmakers, artists and citizens that came to the defense of Langlois would end up providing the infrastructure and inspiration for the “Parallel Cinema” movement that was part of the May 1968 protests and continued to be active in the years to come.

009 Viola Desmond, The Dark Mirror (1946) and The Roseland Theatre

Sometimes, motion picture theatres are the place where all manner of people come together and enjoy the shared cultural stories via this amazing art form.  And, sometimes they are the scene of racially motivated acts of intolerance.  Viola Desmond was waiting on car repairs when she decided to see The Dark Mirror at the Roseland Theatre in the fall of 1946.  Little did she know that the 30 cent ticket she purchased and her refusal to sit in the “proper place” in a segregated auditorium would start a chain reaction of civil rights milestones that would go all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court.

008 Birth of the Multiplex Pt. 2

Picking up where we left off with Part 1 of the Birth of the Multiplex (so listen to that one first for the full timeline), we explore in more detail the evolution of the multiplex.  After the success of Stanley Durwood’s Parkway Twin in the early 1960’s, he kept innovating and improving the theatrical experience.  As his competitors caught on to this theatrical improvement and the multiplex environment spread, we see the downfall in quality of the actual theatrical experience.  Cinder block walls, poor audio, dim projection and the quick construction of multiplexes were in direct contrast to the motion picture palaces of the teens and 20’s.

Theatrical technology would eventually catch up and multiplexes would start using xenon bulbs, platter projection systems and Dolby noise reduction just in time for the birth of the blockbuster films of the mid to late 1970’s.  Eventually, Lucasfilm’s THX and Sony’s Dynamic Digital Sound (DDS) would compete with each other (to the benefit of the audience) to not only improve audio but show off what a great sound system could do in a theatrical setting.

The multiplex was and is a business idea that just made sense.  In 1971, the United States had roughly 14,000 movie screens.  By 2015, the United States had a total of 40,547 screens.

007 Birth of the Multiplex Pt. 1

As we start to see and feel the first hints of spring, the mind of the film geek inevitably turns away from nature and towards the multiplex and the event films of the summer.  Films are our shared cultural stories and the summer blockbuster, whether or not they are good or bad, are seen by millions and millions and millions of people and therefore the most watched of our stories.  The multiplex style of movie theatre is the critical infrastructure needed to even have the evolution of the ‘summer blockbuster’ in the first place.

In part one of this two part series, we’ll take a look at the inspiration, programming and physical construction of the first movie theatres that would come to be know as the multiplex.  We cover a forward thinking Nickelodeon in Moncton, James Edwards Alhambra Theatre in California, The Patricia Theater in South Carolina, the Elgin Theatre in Ottawa, The Duplex in Cuba and Stanley Durwood’s Parkway Twin in Missouri.

006 The MoviePass Issue

Founded in 2011, MoviePass was met with immediate resistance upon its beta test in the San Fransisco area.  The service didn’t really take off on a national level until June of 2016 when Mitch Lowe became the new CEO.  He brought his years of experience at Netflix and Redbox to MoviePass and the subscription service introduced some tiered pricing and by the end of 2016 there were 20,000 subscribers.  Then, in 2017, the analytics firm Helios and Matheson bought a majority stake in the company and the movie theatre industry was officially disrupted.  MoviePass dropped the monthly price to the cost of a movie ticket and by the end of the 2017 had over 1 million subscribers.  At the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, MoviePass announced they would now start co-aquiring films for theatrical distribution.  But, how sustainable is this business model?

005 The Chinese Situation

It’s been projected that the Chinese box office will outpace Hollywood as the global box office leader as soon as 2020.  Whether or not this happens, Hollywood studios are already adapting the story’s they tell so as to not offend Chinese censors and thus gain access to over a billion potential movie-goers.  Hollywood studios are actively avoiding the three “T’s” (Tibet, Taiwan and Tiananmen) as well as  showing any Chinese Government or Military official in a negative light.  Other films are altering their story, editing, casting and/or product placement: Looper, Skyfall, Mission: Impossible III, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Pixels, Red Dawn, Doctor Strange, Iron Man III, World War Z, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Captain America: Civil War, Independence Day: Resurgence, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and The Last Jedi.

004 4DX Theaters (Guests: Jules and Colby)

Jules (8 years old) and Colby (10 years old) join me for a discussion of the South Korean company, CJ CGV, and their recent contribution to the Theatrical Experience – the 4DX Theater.  These seats not only move, they provide water, rain, mist, scents, air, snow, lightning, fog and (for some reason) bubbles.  On this episode we take turns picking which film we would want to see that would utilize these features.

003 The State of the Art in 2018

The Theatrical Experience is always evolving and the start of a new year is a great time to take a step back and look at the big picture.  On this episode I take a look at the continued trend of installing reclining seats, assigned seating, dynamic ticket pricing, the ever growing Chinese box office, new trends in “experiential cinema”, the continued appeal of 70mm projection, next generation laser projectors and the introduction of a projector-less screen.

002 The Netflix Issue

Front and center in the world of theatrical distribution is the Netflix issue.  It felt like a topic that needed addressed right away since this distribution platform is robbing film fanatics of the Theatrical Experience.  On this episode we discuss the need for a theatrical release so that a film can officially enter the public consciousnes.  Without a theatrical release, great films like Tramps (dir. Adam Leon), Deirdra & Laney Rob a Train (dir. Sydney Freeland) and Win it All (dir. Joe Swanberg) are almost entirely missing from the “Best of 2017” conversations – even though they are available to millions of Netflix customers.