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Moviemakers: Treat All Films as Events

Dee owns the Palm Theatre in San Luis Obispo.

After reading numerous articles bemoaning the poor performance of the 1991 summer movies, we’re now treated to the wisdom of Paramount Chairman Brandon Tartikoff: “It takes an event movie to get everyone to go to the theater these days . . .” (Film Clips, Nov. 3).

To an exhibitor such as myself, Tartikoff’s statement strongly underscores the problems with the failing movie industry and reinforces a scenario that has drastically changed moviegoing habits.

First, going to the movies simply costs too much, and second, the window between the theatrical and video releases has resulted in moviegoers selecting a few must-see films, then waiting (briefly) for the low-cost video.

Put this situation in our times of recession and the result is obvious.

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Not until studio executives start treating all movies as events--as they should be--will the industry pull out of its doldrums and get people back in the theaters.

The experience of enjoying “Terminator 2" should be as satisfying as the low budget “sex, lies, and videotape.” One way of doing this is providing an incentive for lower prices at the box office, which would result in more repeat business, rather than selecting the very few “big event” movies that Tartikoff suggests are the answer to sagging box-office receipts.

Or perhaps I can explain it better this way: My theater has a bargain night every Monday. Not only is it one of the best-attended nights of the week but patrons also put their money down and ask, “What’s playing?”

It is this attitude that must be nurtured, as opposed to Tartikoff’s idea of thinking that mega-buck epics are the only films people are interested in seeing on the big screen.

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