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Why do you 'choose' the films you show?
Ultimately, we don't make the movies.† So when we have a situation where there is a dearth of interesting films, we have to show what's available. A few months back at the Claremont, when we were showing THE DIVING BELL & THE BUTTERFLY and SAVAGES and PERSEPOLIS, we were only too happy to resist the studio siren song and skip playing films like DEFINITELY, MAYBE, FOOL'S GOLD and JUMPER.† But when the art films that are in release are not as commercially viable, we do what we have to to stay afloat.† Our policies haven't changed.† It's just a matter of the films we have available to us.
We sometimes aren't particularly thrilled with what we play.† However, we can only offer films as distributors make them available to us.† And when films don't open particularly well in town, the distributors cut back on their print allotments which means we have to delay the expansion of these films. †
A case in point is the French film, PRICELESS, which opened on March 28 at the Claremont.† Not the best film mind you, but at least it is something different.† Anyway, the opening was less than stellar, so the distributor declined to provide a print for the Claremont where we had initially hoped to open the film on April 4, a week after the opening in LA.† Kept having to push the film back week after week.† It finally opened but did not have any life left. But at least we are able to get it to Claremont.† In some cases, distributors have moved prints out of the LA market, forcing us to cancel planned for engagements.† The weak dollar makes gas more expensive, but it also makes it more expensive for distributors to buy prints of foreign films.† So where they might have had ten prints of a film for the US release, they often make do now with just two or three.† I'm not kidding.† The weak dollar has had that kind of impact on the distribution of 'smaller' films. ROMAN DE GARE was turned down by the distributor.† And the same for THE CHILDREN OF HUANG SHI.† Doing what we can, but it is not an easy marketplace right now.
Further, and in our defense, we have been opening more esoteric fare at the Claremont throughout the past few months, but the audience response to the films has been weak.† I don't mean to say that Claremont has been particularly weak.† Many of these films, like WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN or MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS have had a hard time finding an audience anywhere.† But when they only do enough business to warrant a week at the Claremont, we are again forced to look elsewhere for films.† It hadn't planned on (or wanted to) playing HAROLD & KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY.† But when an 'art' film like FLAWLESS doesn't do enough business to hold for a second week, and we can't get the distributor of [email protected] to give us a print as promised, we have to lower our standards.
Also, Distributors are not inclined to leave prints in this market for limited shows like morning shows when they have need to move them on to other markets. And for films that screen via video, there is still a cost to each exhibition for use of video equipment, etc.† Distributors are willing to incur that expense (loss) when it means getting a review in the LA Times.† Beyond those markets though, they weigh each exhibition on a cost benefit basis.† If they don't think they're going to earn enough in film rental to cover the expense, it isn't worth the risk.
Rest assured we always try to play the more esoteric fare that people expect of us.
ContactPhone: (310) 478-1041
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