When Every Movie Is a Tent Pole

#StarWars  •  #IndianaJones

The recent opening of the latest Indiana Jones adventure got me thinking. Theatre owners seem to have shot themselves in the foot in the last two decades.

Summer Movies 2008

It's pretty common knowledge that the longer a movie plays in a theatre, the bigger portion of the take winds up directly in the theatre owners' pockets.

Well, back when Star Wars first came out, it played for more than an entire year at a theatre called the Cooper here in Denver. It was a huge summer movie at the dawn of the "summer movie" era and it played on only that one screen in all of Denver. A HUGE screen.

The multiplexes didn't get this kind of movie until it was re-released. Yeah, imagine that, a movie coming back to theatres instead of straight to home video.

Now the industry has changed so radically, movies play a month or so and then it's on to the next big thing. That smaller take for the theatre owners has certainly contributed to the $6 price tag on your ICEE. The other tactic has been to add more and more screens, perhaps recovering some of that coin in sheer volume.

But something else is getting lost: If people want the pristine "BIG SCREEN" experience, such as at the giant screens of the Cine-Capri or the Continental, they need to be there within the opening week - and maybe, if luck holds out, the second week. Otherwise, the constant rotation of flicks forces movies off the giant screens almost instantly.

It's a shame, because some movies, such as Crystal Skull, really thrive on the jumbo screens, which it graced for two weeks. Then Kung Fu Panda took the Cine-Capri by day and You Don't Mess with the Zohan took it for evening screenings. That lasted a week. Then The Incredible Hulk took over and so on and so on.

The industry is at a point where virtually every release is treated as a "tent pole" release, all year 'round. It's only a question of how big a tent the movie represents.

It's a sad state of the movie economy, but that's the way it is.

That's simply one issue. Things like arm chair box office monitoring, the shrinking home video window, movie downloads, and watching movies on Dick Tracy-size hand-held devices are a whole 'nother ball of wax.

And don't even get me started on the airline industry!

• Originally published at



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