Monthly Archives: October 2012

Can Movie Theatres Be Used As Emergency Storm Shelters?

Hurricane Sandy

What has been dubbed Superstorm Sandy will go down in history as one of the most devastating weather events in United States history. Arguably the most destructive storm since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it has left dozens dead, thousands homeless and millions of residents in New York and New Jersey without electricity. Though far less important in the grand scheme of the event, it has also shuttered hundreds of movie theatres along the eastern coast of the country for the past three days.

The strong winds, heavy rain and flooding brought New York City to a screeching halt Sunday evening with public transportation suspended indefinitely. Cinema owners also ceased operations with the likes of AMC, Clearview and Regal letting their screens go dark as early as three o’clock on Sunday. The move was meant not only to protect patrons, but also theatre employees who might otherwise have been trapped at work.

Much has been made about the adverse affect Sandy has had on box office receipts, especially on Sunday’s returns. But as film sprockets and reels have given way to digital bits and hard drives throughout the industry, little has been mentioned about the issues faced by modern-day cinemas.

Read More »

Man Booker Prize Makes Its Big Screen Debut

YouTube Preview Image

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction and Picturehouse Entertainment are teaming up on what seems to be a novel idea (pun intended). Literally (additional pun intended). Picturehouse will broadcast readings from authors that made the shortlist for this year’s prestigious literary award. The Prize Readings will be beamed live to cinemas throughout the United Kingdom on October 15th at 7:30 pm from Royal Festival Hall in London.

Since 1969 the Man Booker Prize has been awarded annually to the best English language fiction novel written by a citizen of the British Commonwealth, Ireland or Zimbabwe. This year’s list of nominees has been paired down to the following six authors:

  • Tan Twan Eng – The Garden of Evening MistsDeborah Levy – Swimming Home
  • Hilary Mantel – Bring up the Bodies
  • Alison Moore – The Lighthouse
  • Will Self – Umbrella
  • Jeet Thayil – Narcopolis

During Man Booker Live, as the alternative content event has been dubbed, each of the authors will be reading from and discussing their work. James Naughtie from the UK’s Radio 4 will host the proceedings which are taking place just one night before the winner of the GBP £50,000 prize is announced.

Information about theatres showing Man Booker Live can be found on the Picturehouse website.

Third Time May Be The Ticket For MoviePass Unlimited Moviegoing Subscription

MoviePass Card

Over a year after MoviePass failed to launch its all-you-can-view subscription movie service, the company is back with a retooled offering that has a much better shot at surviving the inevitable pushback by cinema chains and studios.

You might recall last June MoviePass announced a private beta with 21 theatres in San Francisco that would allow subscribers paying USD $50 per month to watch an unlimited number of films in cinemas. In effect, the idea was to bring the Netflix business model to movie theatres. The companies plans were shelved however when theatre chains such as AMC and Landmark said they had no intention of working with MoviePass.

By July 2011 MoviePass had teamed up with Hollywood Movie Money to offer its members a similar service, provided they dealt with the inconvenience of printing vouchers at home which could then be redeemed at cinemas. Theatres would in turn be paid for each ticket, in-full, with MoviePass swallowing any price difference. At best, this was a cumbersome process which did not seam ideal for wide adoption.

MoviePass has since parted ways with Hollywood Movie Money, dumped its voucher scheme and earlier this week made public its latest unlimited viewing subscription model. This time, MoviePass may have come up with a system that cinema owners and studios won’t balk at and its customers will find more attractive.

Now, members pay between USD $19.99 and USD $34.99 per month and can watch up to one movie in theatres per day. The subscription price is determined on where a member lives. MoviePass has created three zones; those living in areas where ticket prices average less than USD $10 will pay USD $19.99 per month, whereas in high density markets such as New York or Los Angeles, where ticket prices average USD $14, members will pay at the USD $34.99 level.

Rather than having to print out a voucher beforehand, subscribers can use an iPhone app to log into any theatre throughout the United States, select a movie and showtime and then use a special MoviePass debit card to pay for a ticket. The process has two main caveats in that subscribers must be within 100 yards of the theatre when logging in (which activates the debit card) and the theatre must accept credit cards. Cinemas will get paid the going rate for

The new MoviePass service does come with a few restrictions. For instance, 3D and Imax films are not included as part of the monthly plan. As well, one can’t just subscribe to peak moviegoing months such as summer or the year-end holiday season.

Read More »