Home > Programming > “Why isn’t that movie playing in this city?”

“Why isn’t that movie playing in this city?”

Jeannie DeibisBy Jeannie Deibis
Celebration! Cinema Programming Coordinator

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.

Broken Embraces at Celebration! Cinema
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:

  1. If a movie has a print available,
  2. Our available screen count, and
  3. 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.

  1. Tommy Allen
    January 21, 2010 at 11:20 am

    With NetFlix & Comcast on demand and Hulu, I seriously wonder how long the smaller films can be kept out of places like you say in places like Mt. Pleasant. The internet has been about opening all corner of the planet to deliver information. Film in it’s digital form is still a series of 1s and 0s like all other data jsut more o complex.

    If the theater is already broadcasting digital copies then a new delivery system has to be advancing now, right?

    We have to be open to changing the current terms that a distributor places on the theater by making them take a film for a week to maybe a limited three day run of a smaller film. Sometimes this might be all that is warranted.

    The days of having to live in a major market as the only way to see cutting edge cinema is coming to an end. As laptops begin to broadcast to big screen TVs as they do now, the industry will reinvent their delivery stream.

    Avatar should not be just a game changer for film-making but their delivery as well.

    Will we see Celebration Cinema become a leader in promoting and advocating for a new stream of delivery or will they just wait for it it. (I’d choose the first option and fight a bit harder for reforms to the delivery system.)

    West Michigan Innovates! (and we got your back, Jeannie! Go get ’em!)

    Tommy Allen

    • Jeannie Deibis
      January 21, 2010 at 1:25 pm

      Hi Tommy! Thanks for the support! What an excellent reply. I dread the day when people actually ‘want’ to see Avatar on their mobile phone (which I fear isn’t too far of a stretch). You are so right when it comes to our information age and technology changing so quickly, I cannot keep up!

      Luckily, we are in the top 10% to have digital cinema at Celebration! Cinema! However, with these incredible advances in presentation (there simply is nothing better in my opinion, and I used to make up and break down film each week in the movie theatres) come new challenges (and those upgrades as well).

      Our newest challenge is how an independent filmmaker now has to go through our DLP Digital Cinema provider and be approved (with fees attached) through this process. This is the same for the small film companies. As mentioned before, some film companies make only so many 35mm prints (many have not converted to digital presentations yet) and so we basically go on a waiting list and usually Grand Rapids and Lansing are markets we can open those small films. We had anticipated with digital cinema that we could easily play many more art films, but most are still 35mm with really limited availability. Even if we can open a 35mm film, we have to make sure we have a screen for it. We have been trying to open Me & Orson Welles, for instance, available only as a 35mm print, Freestyle Releasing has one available for Grand Rapids only and we do not have a screen for it until Feb. 12. There really are so many factors, it’s really complicated each week to bring in the big blockbusters, that the general audience still wants to see (and those large marketing campaigns from the film companies create that demand) and try to fit in an independent film and a 35mm art film.

      Keep asking for movies Tommy, we will do our best, we promise! We do worry about NetFlix and the directors that are out there opening their movies on the big screen simultaneously with a video on demand opening, but so far, in my opinion anyway, there just isn’t anything like sitting in a beautiful movie theatre, with other guests, enjoying some hot popcorn and pop and enveloping oneself in a movie on our big screens and in digital, ahhh, I love the movies.

      You are welcome to email me directly: jdeibis@celebrationcinema.com as well! Take good care fellow movie lover and we look forward to celebrating your visit!

  2. Twistr
    February 24, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    When you get a print of a small release movie, you should pass it among your other theatres, run it, 1 or 2 weeks only, in GR, then BH, Kal, Musk, Lans, Mt Pl,…. So each town/area has a chance to run it, and more people will geta chance to see it. There is NO OTHER theatre in Kalamazoo..(as far as Im concerned….)

    • Jeannie
      February 24, 2010 at 2:35 pm

      Good afternoon Twistr! Thank you for your incredibly cool comment about Celebration! Cinema in Kalamazoo! We sure love to hear accolades! Undoubtedly you are a BSMC member, yes?

      Now, on to your comment, in theory, we wish it were this easy. In some cases, we do just that, move the 35mm from one market to another. This process requires a new booking from the film company and the film company approves the move to the additional markets (or will not allow it, unfortunately). Kalamazoo is in sort of an unusual spot, between Grand Rapids and Chicago, so film companies sometimes will not expand into the smaller markets (I know, we think Kalamazoo is quite large). This being said, it’s always possible. We look at how the film performs in the markets we are playing it, and based on that, we request opens in our other markets . We do this with our digital movies as well, although we normally do not move a digital hard drive, just create a new booking with the film company.

      Which movie are you looking for? We are finally able to open “A Single Man” at Celebration! Cinema starting Friday!! Here is our website link for showtimes Friday, February 26: http://celebrationcinema.com/?pid=184&id=1959&theatreID=30008&calField=02%2F26%2F2010

      (looks like you will have to copy and paste that for the link to work. Keep me posted as to what movies you would like to see and we will do our best to accommodate!

      Thank you Twistr, feel free to email me directly at jdeibis@celebrationcinema.com and we look forward to celebrating your visit!!

  3. George Jobson
    July 7, 2010 at 10:03 am

    I read most of what you wrote and I still dopn’t like it. there’s one movie that I like and wanted to see and that is “Chloe.” I have yet to see it. Every month, I go the the Little Theatere to see a indie/foregin language movie, but the Kalamazoo Film society only show those type of movies only once a month. We need more indie films coming to Kalamazoo. I’m a internet film critic. I wrote movie reviews for The Big Screen cinema Guide. Kalamazoo needs more indie movie and less excuses.

  4. Anne Swift
    July 21, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    I agree with G Jobson, college towns K-zoo & Mt.P) should be in a separate category. We could easily use one screen dedicated to indie/foreign movies. Many of the people that attend our film festival have been very frustrated that we don’t have this and yet 5 screens are dedicated to the latest kid’s film. The mature crowd grows in numbers daily along with the more educated film goers.

  5. Jeannie
    July 22, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Good afternoon friends! I am so happy to announce that Focus Features has just expanded their planned print count to include the following theatres starting Friday, July 30: Celebration! Cinema North, Celebration! Cinema RiverTown, Celebration! Cinema Crossroads and Celebration! Cinema Lansing! Also hope Kalamazoo fans have shown their support for Cyrus, opened just last weekend at North and Crossroads (so far, very little attendance for Cyrus in Kalamazoo). Mt. Pleasant – we are still trying to get more art film to your market!!!

  6. Jeannie
    August 3, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Hoping some of you attended “The Kids Are All Right” at our Celebration! Cinema Crossroads (the title I forgot to mention in my July 22 response), unfortunately not too many guest attended the movie over the weekend. Please show your art film support and joing us at Celebration! Cinema! Thank you!!

  7. Heather
    August 8, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Is “The Kids are All Right” going to come to Muskegon?

  8. joyce e urbon
    December 3, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    I wish they would show more independent films at celebration South. North is too far from my house. I do go to rivertown when they are showing there.

    • Jeannie
      December 7, 2010 at 12:50 pm

      Good afternoon Joyce! Thank you for your email blog request. We do try to play more independent film at South, however, film companies usually request Celebration! Cinema North and RiverTown. We do try to eventually bring the movie (if we can) to South. We did that for a few movies this summer and fall. But when we do that, we have to book a 35mm print, as we cannot move digital prints, even though that seems easier, at this time, it is not possible per film company regulations. That being said, we do plan to play Black Swan opening on December 22 at Celebration! Cinema South, along with many other locations, however, The King’s Speech will open on December 25 at Celebration! Cinema North and Celebration! Cinema Crossroads. I hope this helps! We look forward to celebrating your next visit!

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