“Why isn’t that movie playing in this city?”
The critic reviews are in and the movie sounds great to you! So why can’t you see it at Celebration! Cinema?
Many factors go into a movie’s release. The film company must plan its marketing campaign and print count. They base this film count on cost and marketing awareness. The big Hollywood Blockbuster easily will have 3,500 prints available (with a huge marketing campaign), while an art film may have one to three prints available (and no revenue to support a marketing campaign).
Once the film company determines how their release will expand, an art film will open in New York and possibly LA for the critics to review. Then, based on their marketing campaign (typically a very small campaign, relying solely on critics’ reviews and star power), they work on expanding to other markets. Film companies call this a plateau release schedule.
Film companies’ considerations
Usually, if a movie releases with fewer than 700 prints available, the film company does not consider Celebration! Cinema’s cities as viable markets. Incidentally, there are very many movies out there with as little as one print available and several with under 100 prints available. That said, we have brought many diverse, independent and small movies to our Celebration! Cinema theatres:
- We played “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” for one year, which is a great example of a small movie that broke the mold and expanded to more theatres once those great critics’ reviews and awareness hit the presses.
- We played a small independent movie called “Uncle Nino” for one year and even had the actor who portrayed Uncle Nino visit our theatres and market the film himself.
- We have played “Chaos Experiment” in Grand Rapids, because it was filmed here, and plan to show many others filmed in the state.
- Some great independent filmmakers will bring their movies to our theatres, including “To Save A Life”, “Coyote County Loser”, “Homeless for the Holidays” and “Handlebar”, all small film releases.
Some movies, like the well-reviewed Penelope Cruz film “Broken Embraces,” are just available to Grand Rapids and Lansing because Sony Pictures Classics has only a few prints available. Other well-reviewed movies like “An Education” cannot bring in attendance, despite numerous award nominations.
Factors that we consider
While we do our best to bring in all movies to our markets, it often comes down to:
- If a movie has a print available,
- Our available screen count, and
- Movies that are still doing business. We cannot end the run of a movie that is bringing in great attendance — consider “The Blind Side,” for example, playing strong since November 20, 2009.
If we do not have a screen available, we often have to pass on a smaller movie. Even a wide release like “Nine” could not find an audience anywhere, and had mixed reviews as well. We were unable to open it in our Mt. Pleasant market because of this.
We hope this helps ease some of the confusion out there. There are about 2-3 independent films released weekly; it is rare we can open all movies, but we’re happy to provide a screen when we can!
Jeannie Deibis is the programming coordinator at Celebration! Cinema.