Dance with the Devil


Fairly laid back for a Monday. That’s largely because Harry Potter has been a fixed item for some time and we’ve been selling tickets for a few weeks. Lots of them.

It got a bit testy at one point as I came under pressure to hold a couple of the films from this week. There’s not much room for anything else though as I’m running HP across two screens during the week and, for the first time, across all three on Friday Saturday and Sunday.  Given my whining “ooh, let’s go all arty ’cause Hollywood sucks” post from a couple of weeks ago I can understand it may appear I lack the courage of my convictions.

Not quite. HP, whilst being a global phenomenon is also an upmarket posh kind of global phenomenon so it fits right into my demographic. This was seen as rather unfair by one of the Very Big Corporation of America distributors who wanted more shows next week for their film that doesn’t contain any posh wizardry at all.

None of this would have been a problem had the multiplexes not started using films as a loss leader to sell slop bucket sized Coca-Colas. Twenty years ago we really could stretch a film out much longer. If a punter couldn’t get in they would buy a ticket for another day, sometimes up to a week or two in advance. Now they just motor off to Brighton “because it’s on every half an hour down there”.

In the past there would have been one print in each cinema, so in my vicinity that meant Eastbourne, two in Brighton, Tunbridge Wells and sometimes Burgess Hill and East Grinstead. Including us, seven prints in the area. As far as I can make out there are four in T.Wells, eight in Brighton, five in Eastbourne. I’ve got three and the two other independents have one each. Twenty two!

This means business is sucked out of the film very quickly, it’s a hollowed out husk after four weeks.

The expensive part of the film hire, what we pay for the film, is at the front end so it doesn’t benefit us to take all the money up front. As the run continues the percentage we pay starts to go down so surely it would be better to take more of the money later?

This leads me to conclude that multis are luring you in with 46 shows a day simply to sell you sacks of maltesers and vats of Sprite. Which makes them retailers, not exhibitors.

And surely the point of 16 screens was to offer more choice?

Shortening a films life also plays into the hands of those who want to bring forward the DVD windows. Madness.

I have to keep up. I could be all principled and doggedly stick to one print but I’d be the loser.

One thought on “Dance with the Devil

  1. Bad times. But you keep fighting and I firmly believe that there is a hardcore group of customers/fans/residents that will forever love and adore Uckfield Picture House for doing exactly what you have said. They don’t want to go to multiplexes! They are ugly, impersonal and staffed by snotty teenagers.

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