One of the biggest complaints about cinemas we hear around the Farm, apart from popcorn prices and people using their mobile phones, is lack of variety in the movie genres being shown.
Most towns these days only have a multiplex to get their big screen fix. Sadly many of these now only tend to show more main-stream films. Indie, art-house, non-mainstream, call-it-what-you-will cinema doesn’t seem to get a second of screen time.
There’s a very good reason for this though and it won’t be a surprise to any of you with an ounce of common sense. Money.
Big chains have to make money and if they can’t sell tickets to certain films they are not going to get shown. When you see five fully booked screens every night for two weeks to see Harry Potter, Twilight or Skyfall then you can see why they give films like this the most prominence.
Now, let’s be clear, we are not saying big mainstream films like the aforementioned should not be shown, well maybe not Twilight, but what we do want to see is more variety.
Occasionally a little gem of a movie might appear at your local screen and so there’s a good chance to show the cinema bosses that there will be more ticket sales and more money for them if they show more. Cinemas have a simple way of deciding how many screenings a film will have, if it sells well in the first week, it’ll get a second week, and so on. Therefore if you want variety, go and see a variety of films in their first week.
More often than not though, a lot of films don’t even get a look in. Even some of the more popular films are not shown. The Artist was possibly one of the biggest non-typical films of the past few years and yet many big chain cinemas in smaller towns didn’t show it at all. Incredible.
There are things you can do to help. Currently in Bedford there’s a small campaign to get people to watch Rust and Bone. This French/Belgian film has five stars across the board and has been raved about by almost every reviewer you can think of, but it’s on hardly anywhere. However, the town’s Cineworld have agreed to show it for one week and variety lovers in Bedford hope that if enough people go and see this film it could start a dialogue with the chain that might see more variety in the future.
This isn’t about hating big cinema chains, but ultimately big business, and that includes cinemas, are not going to listen unless it affects their reputation or bank balance. So get to know people working at your local multiplex, maybe you work there yourself. Persuade them to show a non-mainstream film (don’t make it too obscure) and then get as many people as you know to go and see it. If there’s a shared desire for variety then hopefully ticket sales will speak for themselves and cinema bosses might start listening.