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9/4/18 4:45 PM
From the Editor’s Desk
Reconsidering the Consent Decrees
During the 1940s, the Supreme Court of the United
States reviewed anti-competitive doings in the motion
picture industry. The major Hollywood studios controlled
almost every aspect of the movie industry. One of their
most disturbing practices was their effort to quash independents.
Certain policies such as block booking and overbroad
clearances were reviewed and condemned by the
Court and eventually led to the ruling that became known
as the Paramount Consent Degrees in 1948.
The Court decided the most sensible fix was forcing
the studios to divest themselves of cinemas. But their decision
stopped short of forever banning them from theatre
Last month, the government decided to review the
Paramount Consent Decrees. While the Department of
Justice may very well end the Decrees, it still cannot overrule
the Supreme Court. Overbroad clearances, block
blocking and other banned practices could easily lead to
lawsuits. But what was once considered unfair in another
time may be perceived as pro-competitive in the current
It is not uncommon for the larger exhibitors to demand
exclusivity in certain geographic areas of the country.
Since only overbroad clearances were deemed unacceptable
under the Paramount Consent Decrees, exhibitors
and distributors have negotiated more modest clearance
agreements in recent years. These pacts have led to Justice
Department investigations as well as lawsuits from unhappy
A Texas federal judge has put in play what could be
the first jury trial looking into the relationship between
theatres and studios since the landmark 1948 Court decision.
Soon after the DOJ decided to review the Consent
Decrees, a U.S. District Court rejected AMC’s bid for a
summary judgment in a lawsuit that alleges the leading
cinema circuit colluded with Sony, Disney and Universal to
the detriment of an independent theatre owner in Houston,
AMC made clearance pacts for exclusivity on first-run
films in Viva’s territory. While overbroad clearances are illegal
as stated in the Paramount case, the court noted that
Viva could not cite a single case in which clearances have
been deemed illegal since that time.
The judge concluded that a rule-of-reason analysis is
needed under antitrust law. To prove a violation of the
Sherman Act, Viva would have to show that AMC and the
studios united in a conspiracy to restrain trade.
The judge stated, “Though the Court agrees with AMC
that such evidence of horizontal agreements is precarious,
screening out marginal cases is not an appropriate use of this
Court’s summary judgment function. Based on the evidence,
the court cannot say a reasonable juror could not find the
existence of horizontal agreements between the suppliers.”
If we assume that the Consent Decrees restrained the
industry from excessively unfair pacts, what will happen if
they are struck down? Will the studios begin flexing their
muscles and seeing what they can get away with under antitrust
laws? It’s just a matter of time before we know.
The Heart of Show Business
Show-business people are kind, generous and philanthropic.
And the motion picture industry epitomizes this
goodness. Time and time again, we witness the generosity of
an industry that most definitely “pays it forward” There are a
number of entertainment-based charities that have different
missions but share the common element of doing good and
helping the less fortunate.
In this edition of Film Journal International, correspondent
Bob Gibbons interviewed four of the top executives from
the industry’s premier charities, including Variety—The Children’s
Charity, the Will Rogers Motion Pictures Pioneers
Foundation, Lollipop Theater Network and the St. Jude Children’s
Research Hospital. Each organization is unique in its
mission, with executives who are committed to their cause.
Todd Vradenburg, executive director of Will Rogers,
states that the motion picture industry has not only created
that charity but has sustained it for 80 years. Stan Reynolds,
international vice president of Variety, emphasizes that Variety
is a great family of people who care. Evelyn Iocolano,
executive director of Lollipop, says that Lollipop is about lifting
the spirits of the patients and families they serve by using
movies and entertainment to provide an escape from what
is otherwise a very stressful time in their lives. And Richard
Shadyac, Jr., president of St. Jude, explains that their mission
is to discover how to save the lives of children with cancer
and other life-threatening diseases while ensuring that no
family ever gets a bill from the hospital.
This industry is very proud of their prestigious institutions,
and despite the competitive nature of the business, when a
child or pioneer in the industry is in need, everyone bands
together to make certain that person is well cared for and
treated. That is why we are the Heart of Show Business.
4 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/5/18 6:09 PM
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Construction & Design
examines how cinema owners
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on investment, customers’
social experience, and more,
PUBLISHING SINCE 1934
Tom Hardy in Venom, pg 18.
© 2017 CTMG. All Rights Reserved.
In Focus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Reel News in Review .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Trade Talk. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Film Company News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Concessions: Trends .. . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Concessions: People . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Ask the Audience.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Buying and Booking Guide . . . . . . . . 63
European Update.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
Asia/Pacific Roundabout. . . . . . . . . . 72
Advertisers’ Index. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .74
Symbiotically Speaking.. . . . . . . . . . . 18
Tom Hardy gets slimed in Sony’s
Marvel Universe debut feature.
The King of Queen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22
Producer Graham King recounts
his 10-year effort to bring Freddie
Mercury’s story to the screen.
The Sundown Kid .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Robert Redford reprises the role
that made him a superstar—
the charming bank robber.
Fraudulently Yours,.. . . . . . . . . . . 30
Melissa McCarthy delivers a marvelously
mordant performance as a desperate
celebrity biographer turned literary forger.
of Show Business People” .. . . . . . 34
put a focus on kids.
Going to Geneva .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
gather by the lake.
Assassination Nation.. . . . . . . . . . . 68
Bel Canto. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
Blaze.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
The Children Act.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
Colette.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
Crazy Rich Asians.. . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
First Man. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
The Little Stranger .. . . . . . . . . . . . 69
Lizzie.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
The Nun .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
The Old Man & the Gun.. . . . . . . . 65
Peppermint.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
A Simple Favor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
White Boy Rick. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
9/6/18 8:51 AM
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Avengers: Infinit y War
Leads Successful Summer
Summer 2017 was a less-than-fabulous
season in terms of dollars and cents, with the
total domestic gross failing to crack the $4
billion mark for the first time since 2006. This
summer, now that all the figures are in, saw
a marked increase…but how much of one
depends on when you consider “summer”
to have started. Traditionally, that period runs
from the first weekend of May through Labor
Day weekend, during which period the North
American box office pulled in $4.38 billion,
giving 2018 the fifth most profitable summer
of all time. But there’s another element at
play, and that element is Avengers: Infinity War.
The first of this year’s summer blockbusters, it
opened on April 27. Add in that first weekend,
and this summer’s take balloons to $4.8 billion,
just shy of 2013’s $4.87 billion record.
Exhibition Clearance Pacts
Set to Go to Trial
Looks like the case of the clearances is
going to trial. Specifically, this is the allegation
of Viva Cinema Theatres, which specialized
in providing dubbed or subtitled films to the
Hispanic market, that AMC Entertainment colluded
with studios to give the massive chain
exclusive rights to first-run films. These “clearance”
pacts between AMC and studios, Viva alleges,
essentially drove them out of business. A
U.S. District Court Judge declined AMC’s bid
to offer summary judgment in the case, which
means we could be looking at a jury trial.
Global Road Files
for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Film distribution and production company
Global Road, the studio behind this summer’s
financially disappointing family sci-fi movie
A.X.L., has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Global Road Tang Media Partners found itself
unable to raise the funds needed to keep the
studio going, meaning it is now under the
control of its lenders. Some 45 employees of
the 11-month-old company were let go.
Chinese Domestic Films
on the Rise in 2018
There’s a good news/bad news situation
for the Chinese box office. The good
news: Domestic titles earned the equivalent
of $4.45 billion in the first eight months of
the year, a marked increase from the $3.04
billion earned by local titles in the equivalent
period in 2017. The bad news belongs
to imported Hollywood titles, which took
a small but noticeable hit: from $2.25 billion
last year to $2.74 billion, representing
a drop of slightly over18%. Add the two
figures together, and the total Chinese box
office has seen a 16% jump so far in 2018.
MoviePass Scales Down
Its Subscription Plan
The beleaguered movie-ticket subscription
service MoviePass has changed its plan
yet again. The cost of the plan remains the
same, but while users used to be able to
see one movie a day (minus IMAX and 3D
releases), now their MoviePass will get them
into three movies per month, with a $5 discount
on additional screenings. According to
statistics provided by the company, only 15%
of MoviePass subscribers typically see more
than three movies per month; focusing on
the other 85%, says Ted Farnsorth, CEO and
chairman of MoviePass owner Helios and
Matheson, will allow for longer-term success.
Unions Reach Agreement
With Film, TV Producers
The Alliance of Motion Picture and
Television Producers (AMPTP), hot on the
heels of an agreement with the International
Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees
(IATSE), has reached an agreement
with several other unions—including Teamsters
Local 399 and several craft-based
unions—as well. Details of the agreements
have not been released, but basic wage
increases are thought to be addressed.
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Advertising & Sponsorships
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CEO, Film Expo Group
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Film Journal International © 2018 by Film
Expo Group, LLC. No part of this publication
may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval
system, or transmitted, in any form or by any
means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording or otherwise, without prior written
permission of the publisher.
8 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/6/18 11:38 AM
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STAR WARS VOID
announced that Sept. 22
will be the opening date of
its in-theatre, hyper-reality
experience in partnership
with The VOID, creator of
fully immersive locationbased
ILMxLAB. Tickets are now
on sale for Star Wars: Secrets
of the Empire at the Cinemark
West Plano theatre in Plano,
Star Wars: Secrets of the
Empire transports guests
deep into the beloved Star
Wars universe, allowing them
to walk freely and untethered
throughout the full-sensory
experience. Under the orders
of the rebellion, teams of
four guests disguised as
stormtroopers travel to the
molten planet of Mustafar
where they will work
together to infiltrate an
Imperial base. There, they
will navigate through to steal
critical intelligence, with
help from familiar Star Wars
characters along the way.
The VOID has eight
globally, including three
locations in the United States,
two locations in Canada and
one location in Dubai, U.A.E.
announced new gaming
episodes for their “Front
+ Center” pre-show,
produced by the company’s
in-house creative team,
40 Foot Solutions. In the
new episodes, Screenvision
Media’s gaming expert
Jessica Chobot gives
Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire transports guests deep
into the beloved Star Wars universe, allowing them
to walk freely and untethered throughout the fullsensory
moviegoers a preview of
some of the industry’s latest
innovations and technological
The “Front + Center: ON
Gaming” episodes highlight
key consumer products and
a growing focus on gaming
as the category continues
to develop at a rapid pace.
According to MRI data,
moviegoers are 81% more
likely than the average U.S.
adult to be gaming influencers
and 24% more likely to be a
frequent gamer (playing more
than one time per week). In
the episodes, Screenvision
Media features brands that
are leading innovation in the
IN NYC, FRISCO
ScreenX opened new
locations in New York
City and San Francisco on
Thursday, Sept. 6. The launch
marked the first theatres in
each of these cities to feature
the panoramic, 270-degree
cinema environment that
projects films on three walls
of the auditorium. With these
openings, ScreenX expands
its domestic presence to
The new ScreenX
installations are located at
Regal Union Square Stadium
14 in New York City and
Regal Hacienda Crossings
Stadium 20 in San Francisco.
Both theatres are part of
the previously announced
major expansion plan with
the Cineworld Group and its
subsidiaries, which include
Regal, to bring 100 ScreenX
screens locations to the U.S.
and Europe in the coming
CONTENT & KEY MGR.
Services Group Inc.
announced the launch of the
Content & Key Manager, to
replace their existing Cinema
The Content & Key
Manager has been integrated
as a service within Deluxe
One, the company’s flagship
that unifies each stage of
the content supply chain,
creating an end-to-end
ability to manage assets and
requirements from creation
to delivery. Designed to
provide major circuits,
and studios with greater
visibility across the Deluxe
Technicolor Digital Cinema
(DTDC) theatrical supply
chain, the Content & Key
Manager simplifies day-to-day
management of operations.
AMC STUBS A-LIST
PASSES ONE MILLION
Seven weeks after
launching its new loyalty
program tier, AMC Theatres
announced in mid-August
that AMC Stubs A-List has
been responsible for more
than 1,000,000 in attendance
at its movie theatres.
AMC also announced that
A-List recently crossed the
mark, now having more
than 260,000 paid enrolled
members. A-List members
now account for more than
five percent of AMC’s weekly
A-List is showing broad
geographic and demographic
appeal. A-List members have
utilized the service at each of
AMC’s 640 locations spread
throughout all 44 states in
the U.S. in which AMC has
theatres. Membership levels
are strong across all age
and ethnicity groups, and of
special interest fully 28% of
enrolled members are under
the age of 30.
UNIQUE X SIGNS PACT
WITH VOX CINEMAS
Unique X confirmed an
agreement to provide its
RosettaBridge TMS, Roset-
10 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/5/18 6:11 PM
taNet eTMS, BaseKey KDM
Manager and Cielo network
monitoring systems to VOX
Cinemas, the Middle East’s
leading cinema circuit. The
five-year contract, which has
taken less than two months
to roll out across all of the
eight territories in which
VOX Cinemas operates, will
deliver significant improvements
in cinema workflow
and management, according
Unique X also inked
an agreement to provide
its autonomous digital
cinema systems to leading
Canadian circuit Cineplex.
The combination of Unique
X’s RosettaBridge TMS,
RosettaNet eTMS, Movie
Transit DCP delivery
network and Advertising
Accord onscreen advertising
manager will deliver a fully
advertising solution to
Cineplex’s network of 165
BIG CINE EXPO
CJ 4DPLEX received the
“Innovative Technology of the
Year” Award at Big Cine Expo
2018 for its 4DX system,
which features motion seats
and environmental effects
such as rain, wind, snow,
bubbles and various scents
that accompany and enliven
the onscreen storytelling of
NRG POLL SHOWS
National Research Group
(NRG), a leading global
entertainment strategy and
polling firm providing data
and insights to a wide range
of Fortune 500 companies,
released a follow-up survey
on the state of MoviePass
among current moviegoers
and former subscribers to
In March, NRG conducted
a comprehensive poll which
found that subscribers were
in love with the service, that
it was significantly altering
moviegoing behavior, and
that consumers had a strong
desire for a moviegoing
As a follow-up to their
spring poll, from August
15-17, NRG fielded a
new survey among 1,558
moviegoers ages 18 to 74.
This included 424 current
MoviePass subscribers and
100 subscribers who had
recently cancelled. NRG’s
findings revealed that
MoviePass has not only
taken a substantial hit in its
stock price, but it has also
suffered a major loss in its
brand perceptions among
its customers. Satisfaction
in the service has dropped
35 points over the past five
months. 50% of those who
have cancelled the service
have done so within the
past month, and only 37%
of current subscribers are
planning to stick with the
service “for a long time”
(down 25 points from
pointed to MoviePass’s
restrictions on what movies
they could see and when
they could see them as
the most frustrating thing
MoviePass has done.
recent difficulties, there is
still a healthy appetite for
movie ticket subscription
services, with 39% of
definite interest in a vibrant
MOVIEHOUSE & EATERY
projectors and Christie
Vive Audio systems are
powering the Moviehouse
& Eatery theatre complex,
which opened earlier this
year in the Lantana Place
district of Austin, Texas.
Christie business partner
Entertainment Supply &
Technologies (ES&T) provided
a one-stop solution for the
ten theatre auditoriums,
which include six Christie
Solaria ® Series CP2220 and
four Christie Solaria Series
CP2215 digital projectors.
The projection is augmented
by Christie Vive Audio. Dolby
CP-750 sound processors
were included to complement
the Vive systems.
Klipsch, a leading premium
global audio company,
announced the addition of
distribution partner American
Cinema Equipment (ACE).
The company now serves as
an official distributor of the
brand’s professional cinema
speakers throughout the
“We’re confident that
ACE’s immense experience,
exemplary service standards
and complementary products
will create turnkey premium
audio solutions for new and
existing integrators and
cinema operators,” said
Rob Standley, VP at Klipsch
SILVERSPOT TO OPEN
IN DOWNTOWN MIAMI
Silverspot Cinema in Met
Square, located at 300 SE 3rd
Street in Downtown Miami,
Florida, will be the first movie
theatre to open in Downtown
Miami since the Omni six-plex
more than 40 years ago.
houses “The Spot,” a private
auditorium with its own
bar and lounge. The Atmos
Theater, featuring Barco
laser projection, will open in
the fall, as part of Phase II of
the project and the opening
of additional auditoriums.
Upon completion of Phase II,
Silverspot Miami will be the
only six-story theatre in Dade
and Broward Counties.
The cinema will have
recliner seats and in-theatre
dining service, with options
including flatbreads, burgers,
traditional concessions, handcrafted
cocktails, an extensive
wine list and a full mojito bar.
B&B IN LIBERTY
B&B Theatres opened
a new MediaMation MX4D
theatre system at the Liberty
Cinema 12 in Liberty, MO,
bringing the theatre chain’s
total to three.
More than 250 guests
from studios like Paramount,
Fox, Disney and Annapurna
attended the red-carpet
opening. The MX4D theatre
showed Mad Max: Fury Road
to demonstrate the in-theatre
effects and motion.
MediaMation debuted its
MX4D Motion EFX Theatres
with B&B at their venues in
Shawnee and Lee’s Summit,
Kansas in mid-2017.
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 11
9/5/18 6:11 PM
FILM CO. NEWS
A24 acquired U.S. rights
to Gloria Bell, Sebastián Lelio’s
remake of his own 2013 film
Gloria. Stepping in for Paulina
García, who starred in the
earlier film, is Julianne Moore
as the titular divorcée who embarks
on a whirlwind relationship
with a man (John Turturro)
she meets whilst out clubbing.
Leilo’s 2017 drama A Fantastic
Woman scored a Best Foreign
Language Film Award at this
year’s Oscars. A24 plans a 2019
release for the director’s latest.
Principal photography is
underway on The Aeronauts, an
historical drama from “War &
Peace” and “Peaky Blinders” director
Tom Harper. The Theory
of Everything co-stars Felicity
Jones and Eddie Redmayne play
a pair of 19th-century explorers
who take to a hot-air balloon
in an attempt to fly higher
than anyone else in history.
The Amazon Studios release
also stars Brit veteran Tom
Courtenay and was written by
Wonder’s Jack Thorne.
Annapurna is producing an
adaptation of Jessica Pressler’s
New York story “Hustlers at
Scores,” about former strip
club employees who take their
Wall Street fat-cat patrons for
tens of thousands of dollars in
the aftermath of the 2008 financial
crisis. Jennifer Lopez will
star in the film, with Lorene
Scafaria (Seeking a Friend for the
End of the World) both directing
and adapting Pressler’s article.
Actors Michael Garza,
Austin Abrams, Gabriel Rush,
Austin Zajur and Natalie
Ganghorn have joined the
ensemble cast of CBS Films
and eOne’s Scary Stories to Tell
in the Dark. Guillermo del Toro
is co-producing the film, which
is based on Alvin Schwartz’s
popular children’s horror
anthology. André Øvredal (The
Autopsy of Jane Doe) directs a
script from a handful of writers:
Kevin and Dan Hageman
(The LEGO Movie), Patrick
Melton and Marcus Dunstan
(Saw IV, V, VI and 3D) and del
Matt Smith has joined
the cast of Star Wars: Episode
IX in an unspecified role.
Most recently known for
his work on Netflix’s “The
Crown,” Smith made a name
for himself starring in the
classic British show “Doctor
Who” for three seasons.
Directed by J.J. Abrams and
out Dec. 20, 2019, Episode IX
stars franchise regulars Daisy
Ridley, Adam Driver, John
Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Kelly
Marie Tran and Mark Hamill
in addition to Smith’s fellow
newcomers Naomi Ackie,
Richard E. Grant, Keri Russell
and Dominic Monaghan.
Kino Lorber acquired
North American rights to
Touch Me Not, slated for theatrical
release in January of
next year. Adina Pintilie directs
and stars in the documentary/
narrative hybrid, about a filmmaker
(Pintilie) who works
with several characters to
explore issues of sexuality and
emotional intimacy. The film
won the Golden Bear for best
film at this year’s Berlin International
There’s a bump in the road
for the James Bond franchise:
Danny Boyle has officially
stepped down as director
of the yet-untitled Bond 25
due to creative differences.
Production is set to begin in
December for a November
2019 U.S. release. This is expected
to be Daniel Craig’s
final turn as 007, though his
departure—and the identity of
his replacement—has yet to
be made official.
MUSIC BOX FILMS
U.S. rights to Transit, the
latest from director Christian
Petzold (Phoenix), have gone
to Music Box Films. Franz
Rogowski and Paula Beer
(Frantz) star in the World War
II drama about a concentration
camp escapee who assumes
the identity of a dead
writer…after which he meets
the dead writer’s grieving
widow. Awkward. The film had
its debut at the Berlin International
Film Festival and will
receive its theatrical release in
According to reports,
Netflix is considering an
exclusive theatrical run for
Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma
before debuting it on their
streaming platform. The film,
which debuted to raves at the
Venice Film Festival, is a semiautobiographical
a middle-class Mexico City
family in the 1970s. Netflix’s
potential shift away from its
typical day-and-date strategy
suggests its desire for Roma
to be part of the awards conversation.
For a similar reason,
director Paul Greengrass is
reportedly pushing for an
exclusive theatrical run for his
Netflix release 22 July, about a
2011 terrorist attack in Norway,
which also had its world
premiere at Venice. That film
debuts on Oct. 19 and Roma
on Dec. 14—though just how
those releases will shake out
remains to be seen.
Ben Schwartz (“Parks and
Recreation”) will voice the
title role in Paramount’s Sonic
the Hedgehog. Based on the
classic videogame, the film
will be directed by first-time
feature director Jeff Fowler,
an Oscar nominee for his
2004 short Gopher Broke, and
will blend live-action and CGI
elements. James Marsden, Tika
Sumpter and Jim Carrey also
star. Paramount has set a release
date of Nov. 15, 2019.
Val Kilmer stars in the
thriller The Super, helmed by
German director Stephan
Rick from a screenplay by
Black Swan co-writer John J.
McLaughlin. Kilmer plays the
offbeat maintenance man of
s swanky NYC apartment
building whose tenants have
mysteriously begun disappearing.
Patrick John Fleuger
(“Chicago P.D.”) plays the
building’s super, who, luckily
enough, used to be a police
officer, giving him the skills
to investigate the case. Saban
Films has acquired U.S. rights.
Sony Pictures Classics acquired
North American rights
to the psychological thriller
Never Look Away, from writerdirector
Florian Henckel von
Donnersmarck (Oscar winner
12 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/5/18 6:11 PM
The Lives of Others). Tom Schilling
stars as a painter who has
escaped East Germany and
made a life for himself across
the Berlin Wall; nonetheless,
he is unable to escape his
childhood under the Nazi regime
and later sufferings under
Communism. Sebastian Koch
and Paula Beer co-star.
20TH CENTURY FOX
Twentieth Century Fox
and Ben Affleck and Matt
Damon’s Pearl Street Films
came out on top of a bidding
war for a Daily Beast article
that is said to have generated
one of the biggest rights deals
ever for a single article. What’s
the story that had so many
studio checkbooks opening
up? That of Jerome Jacobson,
an ex-cop who ran a racket
involving winning game pieces
from McDonald’s long-running,
now-defunct Monopoly contest.
Affleck will direct the film,
with Damon set to star.
Amblin is partnering with
Walden Media and China-based
powerhouse Alibaba Pictures
for A Dog’s Journey, based on
the book by W. Bruce Cameron.
The film is a follow-up
to 2017’s A Dog’s Purpose, in
which the spirit of a single dog
(voiced by Josh Gad) is reincarnated
into multiple canine
bodies. Dennis Quaid, who
played one of the dog’s owners
in A Dog’s Purpose, is returning
for the sequel, as is Gad; they
will be joined by Betty Gilpin,
the breakout star of Netflix’s
“GLOW.” She will play the
troubled woman whom Gad’s
dog character—all of them—is
sworn to protect. Universal will
release A Dog’s Purpose domestically
on May 17, 2019.
It’s been a long road to
the big screen for Space
Jam 2. While it’s still by no
means a sure thing that the
film—a sequel to the 1996
quasi-cult classic in which
Michael Jordan, playing
himself, teams up with the
Looney Tunes (and Bill
Murray) to defeat a bunch
of space aliens in a game of
basketball—is actually going
to happen, Warner. Bros
has reportedly taken a step
forward by entering into
negotiations with Terence
Nance to direct. Andrew
Dodge wrote the script,
which this time around
centers on basketball
superstar LeBron James.
And, presumably, some
more aliens? Who knows?
James previously showcased
some surprisingly impressive
acting chops in a small role
(as himself) in Judd Apatow’s
2015 rom-com Trainwreck.
Malcolm D. Lee, who
had enormous success with
last year’s raunchy comedy
Girls Trip, is in negotiations
to direct Uptown Saturday
Night for Warner Bros. Coproduced
by Will Smith,
the film is a remake of the
1974 comedy starring Sidney
Poitier and Bill Cosby as
two friends whose visit to
an illegal nightclub goes
comically awry. Kevin Hart
will take one of the starring
roles, while the other has
yet to be cast. Kenya Barris,
creator of TV’s “Black-ish,”
is penning the new script.
Hart and Lee previously
worked together on
Universal’s Night School, in
theatres in September.
Dwayne Johnson is the
King of the Box Office, and
Crazy Rich Asians Sequel a Go
Following the success of Crazy Rich Asians, Warner
Bros. has officially put a sequel into development. Screenwriters
Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim are back onboard,
as are producers Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson and John
Penotti; director Jon M. Chu is expected to return as
well, though his involvement has not yet been officially
confirmed. Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan has written
two sequels to his bestselling rom-com, both focused
on Asian-American Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and her
struggles in dealing with the family and friends of her
crazy rich boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding). The cast of
the first Crazy Rich Asians also included Michelle Yeoh,
Awkwafina and Gemma Chan.
Guardians Vol. 3 Put on Hold
Disney has put Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on hold
for the time being following the firing of James Gunn, who
directed the first two films in the series. Gunn was let go
after old inflammatory tweets came to light; his ousting
was controversial among Marvel fans and many of the
Guardians cast. A small group of crew members had begun
the preliminary stages of pre-production; they have since
been let go until another director is found. Dave Bautista
says he may not return to play the character of Drax.
Ferrell, McKay Pact with Paramount
Paramount Pictures entered into a first-look deal
with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions
and its sister company Gloria Sanchez, run by
Jessica Elbaum. The three-year deal will run through June
30, 2021. Said Wyck Godfrey, president of Paramount’s
Motion Picture Group, “Adam and Will are among the
most influential and innovative comedic minds of our
time, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome back the
strong partnership that the studio enjoyed with them in
the past and will continue to nurture and grow for years
to come.” Previous Gary Sanchez-Paramount collaborations
include Daddy’s Home and its sequel, Hansel & Gretel:
Witch Hunters and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
now he’ll be playing a king
on film. King Kamehameha,
the founder of the kingdom
of Hawaii, to be specific, in
Warner Bros.’ historical epic
The King. Robert Zemeckis
will direct a script from
Randall Wallace, whose
filmic history experience
extends to Braveheart, Pearl
Harbor and the upcoming
Passion of the Christ sequel.
Johnson, in addition to
starring, will co-produce
through his Seven Bucks
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 13
9/5/18 6:11 PM
NAC Show Unveils
by Larry Etter, Concessions Editor
The National Association of Concessionaires’ annual
Convention and Expo in New Orleans in August
once again presented multiple educational forums,
social events and a forward-looking tradeshow. The latest
showcase of new products continued to represent the
four pillar components of ingenuity, technology, innovation
and delectable presentation.
Among the new offerings was Dible Dough, a frozen
cookie-dough bar. Its ingenious objective is to deliver
edible raw cookie dough without egg products, frozen to
be sold as a complement to other ice cream alternatives.
Dible Dough was voted Best New Product of the Expo
by the NAC membership and attendees.
Dible Dough Edible Cookie Dough Bars are familiar
to many, but until now haven’t been available in such a
convenient form. Dible Dough combines a delicious, allnatural
product made with real, recognizable ingredients
with the homemade taste that people crave in an easyto-eat,
easy-to-sell package. “These bars are available in
three flavors and will generate additional sales because
of their attractive, eye-catching packaging combined with
the overwhelming popularity of cookie dough. Everyone
loves cookie dough!” enthuses company president Jolene
Software company Tez presented a product called
Waiter Locator. This technology allows theatre operators
to use their software and applications to improve
service times for in-theatre dining experiences. With
Waiter Locator, guests can request food and beverages,
contact their server and pay without ever leaving their
seats. This software does not require adjacent POS systems
to coordinate service. Customers can request food
in three different ways. First, by text-messaging—the
guest texts a keyword and receives a link that directs
them to the home menu where they can place their order.
Or, each guest receives a QR code that sends them
to the home menu. Finally, the Waiter Locator app is
available on IOS or Android devices.
The concept is meant to keep things simple. Once the
patron is seated in the auditorium, they have easy options
for ordering; various generations of customers can choose
the most comfortable way to communicate their orders.
When the guest pulls up the menu screen, he/she then
places their order and, voila, the order is sent to an iPad
running the Waiter Locator. The host receiver is located in
the kitchen or service area. Since the order contains the
exact location of the guest, it theoretically speeds up delivery
times. Imagine no servers in the auditoriums taking
orders, only attendants delivering food and beverages. Payment
is also made through the patron’s phone, resulting in
no credit cards, cash or interruptions for the collections.
If that is not enough, management has precise data on
response times, productivity and a means to identify slow
service during busy stretches.
Texas Tito’s Inc. unveiled its latest contribution to
the concession roster with a prepacked, pre-portioned
jalapeño. This three-ounce package of sliced jalapeños
without the mess of juice could be a perfect complement
to nachos and cheese. Concessionaires historically either
provide customers bulk jalapeños, leaving questions about
safety and sanitation, or spend time and money repacking
into soufflé cups, resulting in mess and waste. Tito’s portion
packages solve these problems by providing a shelf-stable,
sanitary alternative at a competitive cost.
Tito’s jalapeño packages reduce transaction times and
offer a higher perceived value, providing additional sales
opportunities. Many theatres will offer one package of
Tito’s jalapeños with an order of nachos and sell additional
packages. Each package contains a sell-by date and
UPC code, which improves inventory management, while
the one-year shelf life reduces or eliminates waste.
Nuts.com offered its latest in snack options with
gourmet nuts. A complete selection of flavored almonds,
cashews and other nuts are available in various sizes in
single-service or sharable bags. In addition, Nuts.com
represents Kopper’s Chocolate, an upscale version of
espresso beans, chocolate-covered nuts and even candycoated
Kopper’s Chocolate and Nuts.com have been two
of the most respected family-owned and operated businesses
in America over the past 90 years. The companies
have passed down recipes for three generations and
Kopper’s is regarded as the first company to produce
chocolate-covered gummy bears. The emphasis now is to
gain the support and allegiance of cinema operators and
extend their exposure past just the Internet.
No one should be surprised that NAC continues to up
its game with an array of merchandise that produces the
innovations theatres are looking for to increase the value
proposition so needed to enhance the experience.
Larry Etter is senior vice president at Malco Theatres
and director of education at the National Association
14 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/5/18 3:38 PM
JOIN THE CELEBRATION!
Kristin Kent Directs
Food & Beverage for Studio C
Kristin Kent is a rising star in the cinema business:
She is tough, funny, and can pull off just about
anything. Kristin is director of food and beverage
operations for Studio C, an entertainment company that
brings diverse groups of people together through movies,
music, dining and events, best known for Celebration!
Her background is in restaurants and hospitality. Now
the theatre channel gets to see her expertise in action
at Celebration! A life-long Michigander raised in Sterling
Heights, she has chosen to stay in her hometown and
mentor the next generation of cinema food and beverage
players with her leadership skills.
“My father, at the age of eight, moved to the United
States from Poland,” she reminisces. “He put himself
through college. He always remained humble and taught
me to work hard in order to be successful. My father is
my role model and someone I lean on and speak to daily.”
Meanwhile, her mother taught her the power of helping
others in need. “She is the strongest woman I know.”
One of five children, Kristin was a star in track and
field at Ludington High School and earned a scholarship to
Grand Valley State University, where she earned a B.A. in
Business Administration and Criminal Justice Prelaw. Few
people know she also was stellar in the pole vault as well.
Kent launched her career in the restaurant industry.
She began working with JK&T Wings, a franchise owner
of Buffalo Wild Wings. When she started with JK&T,
they owned two restaurants. During her 11 years of
employment, she assisted in the development of 38 new
locations in three states. While the hospitality industry
was not her first choice for a career, once she became
immersed in the industry…well, it was a love affair.
“The fast-paced, ever-changing environment was
exciting and created a drive for me to continue to grow.
The concept of creating experiences for guests became
a passion,” she states. Her time at JK&T gave her the
impetus to succeed. “When I first began at JK&T, there
were very few females in leadership roles. This was the
factor that led me to work harder: The motto ‘Never
give up and always learn from mistakes’ kept me growing
and led me to continue to excel.”
In 2016, Kristin had the chance to found her own
consulting company. Her experience with JK&T had
piqued interest from other restaurateurs in the area,
and she jumped at the opportunity to lead their
organizations. Watermark Corporation, a leader in
private dining facilities and country clubs, recognized
her prowess and asked Kristin to oversee their efforts
to make their facilities public. She joined Red Water
Restaurants Group in that mission. Her time at JK&T gave
her the momentum to succeed
Kristin joined Celebration! Cinemas in 2017 and
replaced Kenyon Shane as director of food and beverages
when he retired. “Celebration! exists to create space
where the story happens,” she observes. This philosophy
fits her personality perfectly. “While there are stories
told on the big screen, the more important stories are
those that each guest brings with them to the theatre,”
she believes. “The idea of enhancing these stories
through food and beverage poses an exciting new
challenge” that she is eager to take.
Kent believes there’s great potential in introducing
trends from the restaurant world. “Teaching guests that
the movies aren’t just popcorn and candy anymore—
they can have a superior theatre experience, complete
with adult beverages and full meals. It is not as simple as
implementing new items in a restaurant, it’s a new way of
thinking. Relying on peers to help blend the two in order
to achieve operational success.” Kristin also believes, “It is
about designing in existing theatres kitchen spaces that can
create high-quality food at a value the guest will love.”
Thinking outside the box may be her most
outstanding attribute. “Finding the right and best way
to introduce enhancements can sometimes be a tricky
balance,” she confesses. She likes to introduce new items
with various textures and unique flavor profiles, with the
overall objective of delighting guests with fresh concepts
that are fun and out of the ordinary.
Kristin loves going to movies, enjoying a tub of
popcorn, Swedish Fish and a great cocktail. She loves
reading, especially leadership books that help build
teams. But she prefers reading with her children: her son
Landon, 10, and daughter Braelyn, 8. “Whatever book
they want to share with me is my favorite!” Her hobbies
are biking, fishing, boating and visiting the beach. She is
an adept runner, joining at least one half-marathon each
month. Billy Madison is her favorite movie, as it represents
her perspective on life: You have to work hard to be
successful, you learn from your mistakes and grow, but
make sure you Celebrate!
15 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/5/18 3:38 PM
ASK THE AUDIENCE
- A COLLABORATION BETWEEN -
Ask the Audience is a monthly feature from Film Journal International and National
CineMedia (NCM) that allows you to ask an audience of 5,000 frequent moviegoers,
known as NCM’s Behind the Screens panel, the pressing questions of our industry.
desire for a better sound system (93%),
a better movie screen (93%), and luxury
seating (81%). Additionally, 72% of our
panelists consider amenities, such
as concession stands, lobby seating
areas, or restrooms, to be as important
as ticket cost when choosing which
theatre to attend. Of those panelists
whose theatres had been recently
renovated, 68% stated that they
are significantly more likely to
consider such theatre amenities
as “very important.”
We all know that the success of our
businesses revolves around the
quality of the moviegoing experience.
To keep up with consumers’ evergrowing
expectations, as well as the
competition, more and more exhibitors
are considering whether a renovation
that would include improvements
such as more comfortable seating,
advanced sound systems, and newly
upgraded movie formats (i.e., 3D, 4D),
is a smart investment. When we asked
the audience, it should come as no
surprise that people were significantly
more likely to give lower scores to
describe their local theatre’s design,
comfort, and technology if it had not
been recently renovated. However,
over half of our Behind the Screens
panel reported that their local theatre
had been renovated within the last
five years, so we decided to explore
how those moviegoers feel about
the renovations and find out what
improvements they find most enticing.
We asked the audience.
TOP 5 CONSUMER
DESIRED UPGRADES IN
THEIR MOVIE THEATRES:
SOUND SYSTEM (93%)
BETTER / BIGGER
MOVIE SCREEN (93%)
LUXURY SEATING (81%)
CONCESSION STAND (78%)
MOVIE FORMATS (72%)
Out of the panelists whose local movie
theatre had been renovated, 81%
felt that the updates were beneficial,
and over a quarter of people went
to the movies even more after the
renovation. If you’re currently weighing
whether to stay open during the
renovation or temporarily close to
get the construction completed
on a faster timeline, you may be
interested to know that 70% of the
panelists’ theatres did remain open
during renovation. The consensus
from the audience was that theatre
renovations do not disrupt the daily
moviegoing experience, with 84%
of our respondents saying that the
construction did not bother them and
71% saying that they went to the movie
theatre just as often while the theatre
was under construction.
When it comes to a renovation
wish list, the top three reasons that
consumers are interested in having
their movie theatre updated are a
TOP 3 MOST COMMON
RENOVATIONS IN THEATRES
ACROSS THE NATION:
So, while renovations can be
expensive and time-consuming,
they could pay off big time for your
business. At the very least, they should
not have a negative impact on how
frequently your customers visit your
theatre during the process. At best,
the improvements you invest in today
will play a large role in how positively
audiences rate their moviegoing
experience at your theatre, which
will keep them coming back for
years to come.
To submit a question, email
with your name, company,
contact information, and
what you would like to ask
the Behind the Screens panel.
aged 18-54 were
19% MORE LIKELY
than moviegoers aged
55+ to consider theatre
amenities as important
when deciding which
theatre to attend.
aged 18-34 were
16% MORE LIKELY
to choose improved
accessibility as a
desired upgrade than
16 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2017
9/5/18 3:38 PM
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No one can accuse filmmaker Ruben
Fleischer of repeating himself—his directorial
credits include the post-apocalyptic
horror comedy Zombieland, action crime drama
Gangster Squad and superhero film Venom. The
genre may change from project to project, but
there is a consistent objective. “I have hopefully
learned something along the way from each one
and have evolved as a filmmaker. But at my core
it’s always about character, performance, casting
the best actors for each role and providing a
space where they can do their best work.”
Much has been made about Columbia
Pictures producing an entry in the Marvel
Cinematic Universe based around the rogues’
gallery of Spider-Man—but without the
famous young wall-crawler. “We decided with
this film to make it all about the relationship
between Eddie Brock and Venom, who is
trying to come to terms with his new reality
on our planet. This is an original version of the
story that we think is compelling, exciting and
satisfying on its own two feet.”
Venom chronicles disgraced journalist
Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) investigating a
sophisticated corporate survivalist group,
which leads him to encounter and bond with
a volatile alien symbiote. Extensive digital
augmentation was needed to bring to life the
parasite inhabiting the body of the protagonist.
“I had never done an entirely CG character
before and have been wanting to do a more
expansive visual-effects movie for a while,”
Fleischer says. “It’s a whole new set of skills in
my toolbox as a filmmaker and is such a huge
part of modern filmmaking. We’ve embraced
visual effects to create the most dynamic
version of the character that we can possibly
could in terms of elevating his look, effect
and bearing; he’s as photorealistic and true to
the comics as we could make him. Because
Tom Hardy provides the voice and attitude of
Venom, there was a lot to build from.”
In many ways, Venom can be seen as a
buddy movie. “We talked a lot about 48 Hrs.
and Midnight Run, where there are these two
opposing characters that come together on a
journey, forge a relationship and each leave a
little changed by the other,” Fleischer recalls.
“An American Werewolf in London was a big
influence in terms of the horror aspects, being
entertaining and having funny moments. Our
movie has all of those elements.”
A real joy for Fleischer was watching
Hardy play opposite himself. “The fun of
the movie is seeing Eddie Brock react to this
voice in his head that belongs to a crazy alien
who wants to eat people’s brains and having
to navigate our world knowing that he has
Frank Masi © © 2017 CTMG. All Rights Reserved.
Tom hardy gets slimed
by trevor hogg
18 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/5/18 3:18 PM
Frank Masi © © 2017 CTMG. All Rights Reserved.
in sony’s marvel Universe debut feature
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 19
9/5/18 3:18 PM
for breaking industry news,
FJI’s Screener blog and reviews
Like us on Facebook
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for updates on our latest content
the Movie Theatre Business
an 8,000-pound gorilla inside of him.” terms of locations, the challenge was trying
Rather than being R-rated, Venom is to find San Francisco in Atlanta,” Fleischer
aiming for PG-13. “We made the movie confides. “I wanted to make sure to get as
to and the rating was never
a consideration. It was more ‘Let’s make
the best version for as
much of San Francisco in the film as we
could. We tried to shoot all of our exteriors
broad an audience there and get as much production value
that we can. Whatever the rating board crammed into every single frame so as
decides it to be is what it will be.’ It hasn’t to showcase the city. A lot of our stuff in
affected any of our processes in any way.” Atlanta was done on stages.”
As with New Iron Man Models in 2008, Venom is Are
cast was kept small—the
viewed as the first of a series of intercon-
actors are Hardy, Ahmed and Michelle
nected comic-book franchise movies. “My
focus is purely on this film,” Fleischer explains.
“What evolves out of this or what
evolves beyond this is somebody else’s
responsibility. It has been fun featuring
characters who are familiar to the fans
of the comics and creating this world of
their own niches
carefully. “In regards
thinking beyond Venom.
is a real
I liked his
be found at
area. The main
past has been
comics: ‘Eyes, lungs,
so little time.’”
Dynamic pricing encourages
is a genius.
to a thrifty
has a real
indie films. It
as well as deliver large-scale
data is all-powerful.
movie of this
that can be
of the principal
as an internal
resource as well
by Sonny Waheed,
Williams. “It’s their stories and there
are some supporting characters who play
throughout. With Tom, there was no
question as to who should play the role of
Eddie Brock/Venom. As soon as he got
involved, that’s when the movie took off.
Riz is someone I’ve been a huge fan of
forever and he was my first choice to play
Chief Marketing Officer, Arts Alliance Media
with loyalty or subscription services will
to be in
a feat. But
in the film.
not the customer. Entrants from
and, for now
can use pricing
of the most
is edgy, cool,
to lose money
in the environments,
are now their
the same model
is a big
part of what
he is and
It has been
also be slowly
say, $10. But
in the new
be to persuade
to the comics.”
term is another
in every aspect, whether it
if not more
20 126 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER / MAY 2018 2018
018-039.indd 116-134.indd 20126
9/5/18 4/4/18 3:18 4:02 PM PM
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9/5/18 3:18 PM
King recounts his
10-year effort to bring
story to the screen.
Rami Malek is Freddie Mercury
in Bohemian Rhapsody.
At right, Graham King.
by John Hiscock
Nick Delaney © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
He has steered 40 movies and television series to the
screen, has won an Oscar and worked with director
Martin Scorsese and stars like Leonardo DiCaprio,
Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie.
His movies have earned some 65 Oscar nominations, but
nothing 56-year-old Graham King experienced came close to the
difficulties, traumas and setbacks he encountered during the ten
long years he spent producing Bohemian Rhapsody, the story of the
flamboyant singer Freddie Mercury and the band Queen.
First there was the problem
of getting the rights from
Queen members Brian May
and Roger Taylor, who were
initially reluctant for the movie
to take place. Then Sacha Baron
Cohen, who was originally set
to play Mercury, feuded with
Queen leader Brian May and
badmouthed the script.
The script was re-thought
and rewritten more times than
King can count. And while
filming was well underway, the
director Bryan Singer was fired.
“Freddie Mercury has been
throwing hurdles at me for ten years and continues to do so,” says
King ruefully. “Every time we thought we were on the right track,
something else would go wrong.”
The British-born producer, whose movies include The Aviator,
Argo, The Rum Diaries, Hugo and The Departed, for which he won an
Oscar, is talking in a Beverly Hills screening room after unveiling
a 25-minute clip of Bohemian Rhapsody, which stars Rami Malek,
from the TV series “Mr. Robot,” as Freddie Mercury.
King is relieved and delighted that his vision has finally made
it to the screen and is ready for release. But he is also wracked with
nervous anxiety as he anticipates audience reaction to the project.
“We’ve made a film that’s got to please a lot of audience
members and millions of Queen fans,” he says. “We don’t hide
from Freddie Mercury having HIV and getting AIDS. We don’t
hide his sexuality, but every time we put a piece of footage out
there, somebody says, ‘You’re not showing Freddie Mercury doing
this or that.’
“I think Rock Hudson and Freddie were the first two major
stars to pass away from AIDS. We were never going to hide from
that, but the question was how we were going to put it into the
film without it becoming Philadelphia or without it becoming a
movie about AIDS or about sexuality. He was one of the greatest
performers of our time and with one of the greatest voices. So that’s
what we’ve struggled with for so long—putting all these ingredients
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 23
9/5/18 3:18 PM
into a 120-page script. And even up until the last second we were
changing dialogue and changing scenes.
“For me, it was about getting the script right and it was the
development that took so many years. When you’re developing
someone’s life story into a two-hour film, you’ve got to pick the
moments. And with Freddie’s life it took so much work, and so
many writers came in to help to build this story and hopefully tell
the right story. We all know you get one shot in a film at telling
the story and it was never quite right for a long time. I would keep
going off to do another movie, then coming back to the drawing
board and figuring out how we can get this done.”
Growing up in London, King remembers seeing Queen
on the “Top of the Pops” television show and marveling at
the flamboyance of Freddie Mercury. “I was just mesmerized
watching him because of his looks and voice and the chemistry
he had with an audience,” he recalls. “I always said that if he
was a politician he could go in front of 400,000 people and just
command respect and show them and teach them where to go.
No one cared if he was straight or gay, which you couldn’t say
about many entertainers. So, for me, it was all about telling the
life story of someone that people don’t know a lot about.”
After much negotiating and difficulty, King managed to
obtain the movie rights from Brian May, Roger Taylor and
Queen’s longtime manager, Jim Beach. “But they were very
opinionated in the early days about the movie they wanted,” King
recalls. “I told May, ‘We’re making a film, not a documentary,
and if you don’t stick to every minute of history and every song it’s
okay, you can get away with it.’”
He finally won over May and Taylor, but then, he says, “the
whole Sacha Baron Cohen thing happened.”
He was shooting Hugo at the time, which co-starred Baron
Cohen. “Sacha clearly had a passion to play Freddie Mercury, but
there was no script and there was nothing done at the time,” King
says. “As a producer, until I have a screenplay and until I have a
director, I’m not going to ever hire a cast member. Sacha wanted
me to sign his deal and I didn’t, and he got mad and it all kind of
kicked off from there.
“There was a lot of talk from him about how in the script
Freddie dies halfway through and then the movie is about the
band. Well, that’s never, ever been the case. The movie is bookended
with the Live Aid concert and starts and ends with Live Aid.
“Then the whole Sacha and Brian May thing became a war in
the press, and for me it was always about Brian May, who anytime
could say, ‘Let’s not bother making this film.’ Queen didn’t need
to make the film. They didn’t need money, so the friction between
Sacha and Brian May became nerve-wracking to me, because any
minute he could have just pulled the plug.”
King spent hours and days sitting with the band and asking
questions about Freddie and their lives with him. But all the time
he was worried that they might change their minds. “Whether
I had the rights or not, if they weren’t going to support the film
and didn’t want to get involved, I would never make the film. So
that was always the big tension for me. Other than that, I think
they’ve been terrific.
“But there were times where they would be like, ‘Are we
actually going to make this movie?’ And I don’t think Brian May
ever thought we were going to make the film. And when I said I’d
got it green-lit at Fox, I think I called his bluff in a way.” He laughs.
“But it was a lot of meetings, a lot of getting together and
I realize that their life stories are going to be on 6,000 screens
around the world, so I understand how nervous they are.”
Ben Whishaw was mentioned as a possible Freddie Mercury,
but again, no script was ready. Then, King recalls, “I was in
London shooting a film and Denis O’Sullivan, who works with
me, called me and said, ‘I think I’ve found our Freddie Mercury.
I’d love you to fly back to L.A. to meet this guy Rami Malek and
spend some time with him.’
“So I did and I think he was really nervous, but there was a
little bit of Freddie in him then and he really wanted this gig.
And I think we would have been killed if we had a white Freddie
Mercury. Freddie was born in Zanzibar and went to school in
Mumbai, while Rami has an Egyptian and Greek background.
But it wasn’t about the look; I wasn’t looking for an impersonator,
there was just something about him.
“He put himself on an iPhone, copying one of Freddie’s
interviews and he sent that to me. And I was like, ‘Oh my
God, that’s Freddie Mercury.’ I knew right then that was it—
done, done, done! Sometimes it’s a gut feeling and I know it
sounds a bit corny, but I knew he was right for the part. I’ve
worked with Daniel Day Lewis and Leo and all these guys and
this performance I think is one of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s
The songs in the movie are performed by Freddie, Rami and a
Freddie sound-alike named Marc Martel.
“Rami sings a little bit in the film, there’s a lot of Freddie
Mercury obviously, and a lot of Marc Martel. He sent a video to
Brian May and Roger Taylor and he sounds exactly like Freddie
Mercury. We knew that we had someone we could use for parts
that maybe Rami couldn’t do and obviously Freddie didn’t do.
So we were in Abbey Road recording studio for maybe two and a
half months with Marc and with Rami, recording bits and pieces
that we knew we needed. It’s hard to find someone who can sing
like Freddie Mercury and I’m not sure the movie would have
happened if we didn’t have Marc.”
But with a star, a singer, Queen’s cooperation and the script
problems solved and shooting well underway, the problems were
by no means over.
The famous Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium, which
bookends the film, was an extremely tough location shoot on a field
in the north of England with 4,000 extras. It was, says King, a “heavy
load” on the shoulders of Bryan Singer. And then allegations of
sexual assault surfaced against him in Los Angeles.
Reports at the time said he was fired from the movie by 20th
Century Fox because of the allegations, but Graham King explains it
slightly differently. “I like Bryan Singer,” he says. “I think he’s really,
really smart and he did an amazing job on this film. Unfortunately,
he’s got a lot going on in his world and in his head—a lot of personal
issues, family issues and a lot of things. It came to a point where
he just wanted to take a break from filming. He came to me in
November and wanted a hiatus until after Christmas so he could
deal with his problems and come back after the holidays.
“But when you have momentum going on a film, it’s hard to
do that and tell the actors to come out of their character and come
back later. So obviously I discussed it with the studio and they were
pretty adamant not to have a hiatus. And that’s kind of when it
happened.” Dexter Fletcher took over the directorial reins for the
last 16 days of filming, but Singer retains sole directing credit.
Graham King currently has 20 projects in development, but it
is Bohemian Rhapsody that is consuming his thoughts and giving
him restless nights.
“Right now, my fear is making sure that people enjoy the film
that I’ve spent nearly a decade trying to get made,” he says. “I was
nervous about showing this footage here today, because it’s the
first time and it’s kind of like letting your baby go.”
24 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/5/18 3:18 PM
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The Sundance Kid is hardly a kid anymore. Then again, once a Sundance
Kid, always a Sundance Kid. Exhibit A: The Old Man & the
Gun is the Sundance Kid at sundown—an octogenarian Robert
Redford still sticking up banks. And this was his idea, too!
Seeing it as a great film to ride out on, Redford pounced on the
screen rights to David Grann’s same-named article way back in 2003
when it was first published in The New Yorker. Fifteen years later, this
story is finally seeing the light of cinema—courtesy of writer-director
David Lowery, who may have just invented The New Bank-Robber
Movie—arguably, the quietest, politest and most humane ever made.
“I did a lot of different drafts when I was working on the script,”
Lowery recalls. “It was based on a true story and this article, so I tried
a more journalistic approach about all the true events. That really wasn’t
my strong suit—it wasn’t what I was good at—so what I eventually did
was just take out as much as I possibly could. I wanted to see how little
plot, incident and dialogue I could get away with—with the hope being
that the genre elements and the trappings of a heist film would kick in.”
There is considerable evidence he succeeded. Whenever police break
into a chase, which is often, the screeching brakes and screaming sirens
seem muted, the crashes and collisions minimal, and whole action sequences
come at you a bit befogged and removed, as if delivered in long
shot, pre-numbed by redundancy and familiarity.
reprises the role
that made him
by Harry Haun
“We have these little signposts giving audiences an idea of where the
movie is going and what type it is. Otherwise, it’s a bare minimalist approach
to cops and robbers.”
More scholar than casual observer of the genre, Lowery places director
Michael Mann’s key capers at the top of his list: Heat first, Thief next,
“then there’s Bob le Flambeur, the Jean-Pierre Melville film from the
’50s, and Altman’s Thieves Like Us.”
Was he tempted to steal from the best? “I was, a little bit,” he readily
allows. “I watched Heat. I watched Thief. I watched The Friends of Eddie
Coyle. But, in doing so, I realized that’s not the kind of filmmaker I
am. I can’t make a movie the way Michael Mann does. I’ve got my own
strengths, and it was important for me to stick to that instead of mimicking
what other filmmakers have done so well in the genre.”
As it was, his plate was already sufficiently full, telling the (relatively)
true story of Forrest Tucker—not the grizzled character actor who stole
scenes from John Wayne, but the career criminal who, during his 83
years, stole $4 million and escaped from 17 prisons (including the really
big Big Houses like San Quentin and Alcatraz).
He began his life of crime in the year of Redford’s birth, 1936,
as a 15-year-old car thief, and it continued until 2000 when, bored
by the retirement life, he broke into a four-bank robbing spree, earn-
Eric Zachanowich © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox. All Rights Reserved.
26 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
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OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 27
9/5/18 3:18 PM
ing him a 13-year stay in a Fort
Worth prison. He died there in
the fourth year of that sentence.
None of his three wives ever
knew of his escapades and incarcerations
until they were gently
informed of this by the police.
Lowery’s movie begins with the
line “This story, also, is mostly true,”
for a variety of reasons, he insists:
“It’s partially to let people know it
isn’t entirely true—there’s a lot of
truth in it, but we took liberties—
and also, it’s a nod to Butch Cassidy
and the Sundance Kid, an imitation
of its first line: ‘Not that it matters,
but what follows is true.’ I wanted to
subtly tip my hat towards that movie at the beginning of this one.”
William Goldman, who dashed off a couple of Oscar-winning
screenplays for Redford in the ’70s (All the President’s Men as well
as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), was the first person that the
actor contacted to do the screen adaptation of this.
“In his second book, Adventures in the Screen Trade,” Lowery
points out, “Goldman talked about not quite being able to crack
this story, but he did take a shot at it… I know Bob got attached
early and was just waiting for the right time to make it. He actually
brought the story to me. It was always going to be a Robert
The prospect of a wizened Clyde Barrow carrying on accordingly
could conceivably have played—after all, Warren Beatty
was Redford’s main rival for the Sundance Kid role—but this was
never a consideration for Lowery. “If I hadn’t used Bob, I wouldn’t
have made the movie. It wasn’t because I wanted to tell this story
per se or because I was fascinated with the real Forrest Tucker. I
just wanted to give Redford a chance to play this part. It was a
real honor that he asked me to do it, so, for me, this was a shot at
making a great Robert Redford movie. That’s where my interest
with the story began, and that’s what I ultimately set out to do and,
Much of the movie takes place in and around 1981, with Tucker
at the end of his lawless trail, tentatively opting to settle down
with Wife No. 3, beautifully played by Sissy Spacek in her first
big-screen appearance in six years. “I didn’t know if Sissy would do
it or not, but I specifically wrote the part for her, crossed my fingers
she’d like it, and, thankfully, she did. I can’t think of anybody else
who’d be better for it.”
Spacek and Redford are “together again, for the first time” (i.e.,
both picked up their Oscars in 1981—she for playing Coal Miner’s
Daughter, he for directing Ordinary People). The two other Oscar
winners in the film also won their awards in different categories:
Keith Carradine, 1975’s Best Songwriter (for “I’m Easy” from
Nashville), appears fleetingly as a police captain (“Originally, his
part was much bigger, but, as these things sometimes happen, we
had to trim it down quite a bit—but all those scenes will be on
the DVD”), and Casey Affleck, 2016’s Best Actor (for Manchester
by the Sea), is much more prominently in play as Tucker’s Javert,
John Hunt, a detective in pursuit who becomes captivated with the
criminal’s commitment to his craft.
The real John Hunt, who contributes a cameo to the film (a fellow
prison inmate who asks Tucker to lunch), was interviewed by
Lowery a lot as he wrote the script. “Most of the facts of the case I
learned from him—including the fact he never caught him.”
Sissy Spacek and Robert Redford
One visual joke to look for: Affleck
affects a Sundance Kid mustache
for this relentless lawman,
while Redford sports an on-and-off
bogus one for his heists.
“There are a few nods that Casey
made to some of Bob’s greatest
performances. I won’t say what they
are, but, if you pay attention, you can
catch them. The mustache was not
intentional, but he certainly looked
a lot like the Sundance Kid, and I
felt it was the right thing for a cop
in the ’70s to have in Texas. Then, as
a side note, it was just a real joy to
put a mustache back on Redford. We
haven’t seen him with facial hair for
many, many decades. To give him a mustache in those bank-robbery
scenes really felt like we were seeing the Sundance Kid down
in front of us one more time.”
So how do you direct an Oscar-winning director? Lowery overcame
that obstacle two years ago when he and Redford first crossed
paths filming Pete’s Dragon.
“I didn’t realize it till later, but the first day directing him
I was so terrified I referred to him as ‘Mr. Redford’—like, ‘Er,
Mr. Redford, would you please perform this scene a little faster?’
Finally, he said, ‘Mr. Redford was my father. Please call me Bob.’
From that point on, it was very down-to-earth, and I could work
with him just as a director working with a great actor. He’s really
good at coming in and doing the job that is at hand with the
cast that is at hand. He could’ve directed the movie, but, when he
shows up to act, he’s there to act. He’s happy to trust his collaborator,
And the younger the director, the better for Redford. Lowery
is 37. J.C. Chandor was 40 when he put the actor through the
intricate loops of what essentially was a one-man film, All Is Lost,
and that reaped Redford a heap of international Best Actor nominations.
“I think Bob is definitely excited about working with new
talent,” Lowery says.
It certainly didn’t hurt that Lowery is a graduate of the Redford-founded
Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Lab. He broke
into the big time there by developing 2013’s Ain’t Them Bodies
Saints, the first of the three Casey Affleck flicks he has helmed.
“I didn’t meet Bob while I was doing that, but I did meet him
a few weeks later at the Sundance Festival. There’s a nice sense of
circuitousness about him choosing—and trusting—me to do this
film, because I’m a product of what he has given to the film industry,
which is this incredible stage space for artists to develop their voices.”
Fox Searchlight has given Old Man an awards-season launch
date of Oct. 5—a vote of confidence that Lowery finds both “superoptimistic
and terrifying. I don’t like to think about it. My goal has
always been just to make a good, solid film, and if they feel like they
can do something with it in that regard, that’s great. But I had to
wipe that from my mind at all times, or else I’d be stressed out.”
Still, it’s not science fiction to speculate that this Old Man could
earn Redford his long-overdue acting Oscar. It’s his 78th screen performance,
and while he was filming it he put out the word it would
be his last—then he recanted. The latest? On August 6, Entertainment
Weekly quoted him as saying, “Never say never,” but yes…
Lowery has his doubts: “Bob goes back and forth. Much like
the character in the film, he’s never going to be able to stop. He
might try, but he’s never going to be done.”
Eric Zachanowich © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox
28 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/5/18 3:18 PM
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Melissa McCarthy delivers a marvelously mordant performance
as a desperate celebrity biographer turned literary forger
Mary Cybulski © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. All Rights Reserved.
by David Noh
In “Can You Ever Forgive
Me?,” Melissa McCarthy
drops her usual ingratiating
and transforms herself
into the toughest, meanest lesbian
who ever prowled and drank
her way through the streets of
Manhattan. Such a person was
Lee Israel (1939-2014), a noted
biographer of Tallulah Bankhead
and Dorothy Kilgallen, who
by the 1980s had fallen on hard
times as a result of her abrasive,
intractable personality, alcoholism
and unsuccessful book
pitches—Fanny Brice’s bio, for
one—that no one was interested
in. Desperate to pay her bills,
she not only stole but forged
celebrity letters—Noel Coward,
Dorothy Parker—from libraries
where she had researched
her subjects and sold them to
autograph dealers, until she was
caught in 1993 and made to serve
six months under house arrest
and five years of federal probation.
Israel poured her experience
into a book, “Can You Ever
Forgive Me?,” which, ironically,
received critical praise and
reinstated her literary name.
In a case of no bad deed goes unrewarded,
Marielle Heller has
directed an adaptation of the
book, giving her star a chance
to really stretch and its subject
more fame in death than she ever
had in life.
As a patron of the New York
gay bar Julius, I would often see
Israel there, throwing drinks
back and usually surrounded by
a coterie of admiring fellows.
One wag there once quipped, “I’ve
known her for so long, I remem-
30 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/5/18 3:18 PM
er when she was Lee Palestine!”
Having enjoyed her biographies,
I once had the temerity to spend
time with her when I caught her
there alone. She did not suffer
fools, but I was buying the
drinks and able to palaver about
congenial subjects—old movies,
good writers—so it turned out
to be an overall pleasant experience,
although every now and
then I detected a sudden dangerous
flicker, warning me to
change whatever topic that was
incurring her displeasure.
Luckily, meeting the lovely,
bright and very likeable Heller
for breakfast in a beyond-trendy
area of modern Brooklyn, rife
with designer dogs leashed to
designer strollers leashed to
jogging hipsters, was an undiluted
Marielle Heller: I never knew Lee, but
I got to talk to a lot of people who did,
and some of them said, “Well, you’ve
captured the essence, but she was much
harsher. My producer, who was working
on the project for many years, knew her
earlier, and said she would show up for a
work lunch and wouldn’t realize that Lee
had gotten there an hour learlier and had
already had two martinis that would be
on the bill when she paid it.
Film Journal International: I’m pals
with Ray Barr, the executor of Lee’s estate
and her great friend, and he told me originally
this was going to be directed by Nicole
Holofcener, with Julianne Moore.
MH: I had nothing to do with that.
They were very close to making the movie
and then it sort of fell apart through creative
differences, I understand. Some time
later, Melissa read the script and fell in
love with it. And then Anne Carey, with
whom I did my debut feature The Diary
of Teenage Girl, brought it to me, saying,
“Melissa might be interested and this may
be getting a new life.” Jeff Whitty [Avenue
Q] had written the original draft of the
script, and Nicole had rewritten it from
his draft. I know Nicole and talked to her,
and she gave me her blessing.
It’s such a New York story, and I’ve
lived here since 1991. I love New York,
and was just drawn to this. Lee felt familiar
to me in many ways, and I loved
having this woman as a strong character,
who is sort of an asshole. If it was a man,
people wouldn’t blink, but they don’t want
to tell stories about women like her.
But I just found her so funny, so on
top of it and saying things you never say.
There’s something so satisfying about
that and how smart she was. I kept thinking
that if you saw her on the street, you
might just pass right by her and never
think anything. Funnily enough, there is
a therapist I’ve seen for many years on the
Upper West Side with an office downstairs
and she lives upstairs. I was telling
her about the project and she said, “Not
Lee Israel?” And I said, “Yes,” and she
said, “She lived in this building for many
years, until she died... You don’t want
to know what I thought about her. She
was difficult.” I realized that I’d probably
passed her in the hallway while going to
therapy for many years.
FJI: She was indeed hard as nails, but
if you got her to open up, about a favorite
writer or movie, she softened and you’d see
another side to her. How did Richard E.
Grant come aboard, as Lee’s gay friend and
MH: He was just someone I knew
that I wanted. His part wasn’t written as a
Brit, but that part of his character seemed
to fit so well, so I rewrote it a little. I just
loved him and I think he’s gonna blow
people away: He sparkled and was just
a delight. He and Melissa formed a true
friendship as we filmed. They were so
close, it was so sweet—there were days he
wasn’t even filming, and he’d show up and
take her for lunch. Exactly what you hope
for when you’re directing two actors and
need them to have this great friendship
Jack is a real character, but he’s not as
prominent in the book. We took a little
more artistic license, but he was the real
person who helped her with her crime. It
was so touching to think about these two
misfits who have nobody but find each
other. They shouldn’t get along, but for
some reason it worked. And how sweet
and then tragic this bond was. I connected
more to their friendship than their
crime. I love that these two characters
have opposite life philosophies: She’s so
negative, and he’s the forever optimist,
“It’ll be fine!”
FJI: Your film really captured this almost
subterranean urban world of bars like Julius
and the collectible world of musty bookshops
and shifty dealers.
MH: It was so fun to get to shoot in
all these locations around New York. A
lot of places are already gone and there
were so many places, while we were scouting,
that were gonna be shut down while
shooting. There was a feeling of capturing
this New York that’s going away, and it’s
very sad. I don’t think the Argosy bookshop
is in danger and there’s that amazing
little hole in the wall on the Upper West
Side that looks like a cavern, with books
all the way to the ceiling. I felt like we
were connecting to a New York when it
was still an artists’ world.
FJI: The monumentally embittered,
angry, difficult character of Lee Israel, the
butchest of lesbians, is the greatest possible
stretch I can think of for a comedienne like
MH: We talked a lot in the months
leading up to it. We did a reading and
did a lot of work, finding the look for the
character and the voice. She was very prepared,
and also very open to direction, a
joy. It was a very different type of part for
her. She is one of the best improvisers in
the world but didn’t do any of that on this
movie. It’s going be really interesting for
people to see her like this, because she’s
so naturally funny, but also so soulful and
FJI: What’s your next project?
MH: It’s tricky for me, because I’m
leaving for Pittsburgh tomorrow for three
months to make this movie about Mr.
Rogers with Tom Hanks, You Are My
Friend. It’s hard because Can You Ever
Forgive Me? is coming out at same time
I’m shooting, and will be doing double
duty with press on the weekends. I’m tired
just thinking about it.
Mr. Rogers was from Pittsburgh and
filmed his show there. Micah Fitzerman-
Blue and Noah Harpster, who I met when
I directed an episode of “Transparent,”
had been working on the screenplay for
years before I came aboard about a year
ago. I contacted Tom Hanks and we put
the whole thing together, so it’s off to the
I didn’t think I’d ever want to make
a movie about men, especially a straight
white one. But if I have to, Mr. Rogers
is the man who pulled me in. It’s about a
journalist who meets Mr. Rogers. He’s a
man who’s just becoming a father and he’s
grappling with these issues of fatherhood,
having issues with his own father, and
FJI: You say you never went to film
MH: I went to theatre school. It was
my big passion from when I was really
young, just to act. I did a lot of theatre
and when we moved to New York in
2005, I did a lot of off-Broadway theatre,
also developing new plays, and a lot of
regional work in Shakespeare.
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 31
9/5/18 3:18 PM
I had a career but was frustrated by
the type of roles I was playing and the
lack of control. That’s when I started writing,
with no goal of becoming a director.
I spent eight years on The Diary of a Teenage
Girl…. The night before my first day
as a director, I was vibrating, so scared.
But my first day on set was one of the best
days of my life. We filmed this incredibly
emotional scene on the beach and it felt
so good, with my two main actors. I left
that day, crying, couldn’t believe it came
to fruition. It was so moving. Yet people
who have known me most of my life did
not react to me becoming a dirctor with
“Whoa, really?” They were more like,
“That makes sense.” [laughs]
I realize my biggest strength as a director
is the fact that I love actors, understand
how their brains work and what we’re asking
of them when they’re doing this very
difficult job. It’s a very diferent relationship
from other directors I’ve worked with, because
I speak their language.
With Melissa, I felt like we shared this
bond. She trusted me and was willing to
go to places that I think even she was surprised
by. When we finished, she turned
to me and said, “I feel like I did things I’ve
never done before.” We kind of cried and
held each other. It’s such a bond you have
to make to do thse things; she’s so vulnerable
and it’s such a different side to her.
FJI: You have a thriving career, marriage
[to writer-director Jorma Taccone] and a kid,
Not bad, huh?
MH: I know. I’m such a cliché, in
Brooklyn, with a kid. We moved in and
got a stroller. We’ve been together so long,
almost 20 years. It’s helpful that we make
I’m very lucky—things are going really
good. My husband is working on the
Tracy Morgan show, “The Last O.G.” He
just directed the pilot and has been writing
a number of movies, debating what
he’s doing next.
We kind of have to switch off—one of
us has to stay with the kid. They’re coming
to Pittsburgh with me, and he will be
writing during the day and taking care of
our son. It’s tricky because it’s long hours
as you’re trying to parent. My mother-inlaw
is in town this week and is helping
while we try to juggle everything.
FJI: If nothing else, Can You Ever Forgive
Me? is a real character-driven boon in
this cartoon/Marvel comics movie age.
MH: Fox Searchlight does different
types of movies that are character-based
and, obviously, having someone like Melissa
aboard helped. But I didn’t have to
push this boulder uphill—people were
already interested in making it. I got to
come in and find my own way into it and
make it the way I wanted and everybody
was very supportive.
The movie actually doesn’t come out
until October and it’s weird to have made
a movie that’s been finished for months
and people haven’t been able to see it.
It feels like blue balls: Can we get it out
there? I’m ready for people to see it.
FJI: Finally, what do you think made
Lee Israel the way she was?
MH: My assumption about her was being
that smart and unrecognized, as a gay
woman trying to make her way at a time
when it was much less accepted, to feel
that talented and unseen, makes you pissed.
She went out of favor with the times—the
world she wanted to inhabit was not in
vogue. She was born in the wrong era,
probably should have been part of the Algonquin
round table. But it was the 1980s-
90s in New York, and she felt isolated by
her own mind, in so many ways.
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32 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
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of Show Business People’
Entertainment Charities Put a Focus on Kids
by Bob Gibbons
Marlo Thomas of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Stan Reynolds at a Variety–The Children’s Charity’s Event
When a baby
abandoned in a Pittsburgh,
PA theatre on Christmas
Eve 1928, a note asking
finders to take care of her
read, in part: “I have always
heard of the goodness of
show business people…”
Through the years, that
goodness has been—and
continues to be—the foundation
of several entertainment-based
charities, each with a different
sense of purpose, a different story that begins
at a different time in a different way.
The child left behind led to the creation
of Variety—The Children’s Charity.
An upstate New York lodge—which
became a hospital named in memory of an
early star of movies and vaudeville—gave
birth to The Will Rogers Motion Picture
Pioneers Foundation. A volunteer who
believed that sick children in hospitals
should be able to enjoy new movies at
the same time as healthy kids co-founded
the Lollipop Theater Network. A struggling
entertainer who made a promise in
a church helped to establish ALSAC, the
fundraising and awareness organization for
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Today, these four organizations, among
others, continue to demonstrate
“the goodness of
show business people.”
Below, their directors
discuss their uniqueness—
and a common sense of
commitment: to make a
difference, especially in
(Executive Director, Will
Rogers Motion Picture
I’ve worked for nonprofits for almost thirty
years and what I find is that every charity is
unique. All 1.2 million charities in America
are unique in their mission and purpose.
Stan Reynolds (International Vice
President, Variety—The Children’s Charity):
One unique aspect
of Variety is our naming
structure; it’s based on
a circus-themed party
our founders had—and
so we call each chapter
a “Tent.” There are 43
total Tents around the
world; 21 of them are
in the United States.
Each Tent is linked to
the international office,
but each does different
things in different ways in different communities.
Variety is a great family of people
Evelyn Iocolano (Executive Director,
Lollipop Theater Network): We’re the only
organization that works with the studios on
a regular basis to bring their new releases to
children’s hospitals around the country. But
the real purpose of Lollipop is to lift the
spirits of the patients and the families we
serve by using movies and entertainment to
provide an escape from what is otherwise a
very stressful time in their lives.
Richard Shadyac, Jr. (President and
CEO, ALSAC): St. Jude Children’s Research
Hospital opened in 1962 with a mission
like no other—to discover how to save
the lives of children with cancer and other
life-threatening diseases—while ensuring
that no family ever receives a bill from St.
Jude for treatment, travel,
housing or food. We are committed
to continuing that
practice so that families can
focus on what matters most—
helping their child live.
Vradenburg: What I find
unique about our organization
is that our industry has
not only created our charity
but has sustained it for eighty
years. Today, we have three
distinct units: the Pioneers
34 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/5/18 3:18 PM
3/28/18 5:31 PM
Assistance Fund, the Will
Rogers Institute and Brave
Beginnings. The Pioneers
Assistance Fund helps people
on both a short-term and
long-term basis; the Will
Rogers Institute funds research
and training programs
on respiratory diseases; and
Brave Beginnings provides
hospital incubators and other
life-saving equipment for
premature babies born with
Iocolano: We’re focusing on the
emotional part of children’s healing, on
their spirit. We get multiple copies of a
film currently in theatres
and we show it in hospital
playrooms; for children too
sick to be moved, we show
the movie in their room.
Just recently, when I walked
into a room to do a bedside
screening, it seemed that
this patient might be mobile
enough to go to the larger
group screening, so I told
her about it. The mom spoke
up and said, “She knows, but
she told me that she wants
to stay here and have some snuggle-time
with me.” I thought: How cool is that?
Who has snuggle-time in a hospital?
Reynolds: We do some work in hospitals,
but we also build all-inclusive playgrounds
for special-needs children; we provide
vans to Boys and Girls Clubs and other
organizations to get kids to their activities.
Support for therapeutic camps—camps that
serve special-needs kids—is also another
cornerstone for Variety. We have a program
called “Bikes for Kids” where we give away
bikes to kids who can’t afford them. Each
Tent does different things, but we all focus
on the needs of children.
Vradenburg: In 2006, Variety approached
us to help a Los Angeles hospital
that needed multiple life-saving incubators
for premature babies. We had never funded
equipment or direct patient care outside
of our own hospital, but we took a tour
of the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care
Unit—NICU—seeing the tiny infants
on the life-saving equipment. It was not
only incredibly moving, but also showed
us we could make a difference in lives being
saved—and we began the Will Rogers
Institute Neonatal Ventilator Program. In
2015, we renamed that program “Brave
Beginnings” and expanded its scope to include
all equipment in the NICU.
Richard Shadyac, Jr.
Iocolano: We have
other in-hospital programs—like
of Hope” music jams—
where musicians teach
kids the basics of music,
help them write a song,
and record it for them so
they have a keepsake of
their work. Or our “Artists
Days,” where studio artists
come in and draw for the
kids after showing them a
TV show or animated film.
We also work with talent who sometimes
just come in and play videogames with the
kids or decorate t-shirts. And we had our
second “Lollipop Superhero
Walk” this year. We
always have something.
Shadyac: I think of
going to the movies as one
of our greatest activities,
but when you have a child
battling a life-threatening
disease, it’s nearly impossible
to visit the theatre.
That’s one of the reasons
it’s so special when every
year during our St. Jude
“Thanks and Giving”
campaign, one of our theatre partners hosts
a special advance screening at St. Jude for
a soon-to-be-released movie. It’s always a
fun event that allows St. Jude families the
opportunity to come together, eat popcorn,
sometimes interact with characters, and get
to feel a little sense of normalcy.
Reynolds: Since 2000, we’ve had the
special-needs bike program. To see a kid
who has cerebral palsy, whose body may not
work correctly but whose mind is sharp, be
able to ride a bike and finally feel like a regular
kid—that just has to give you a sense
that you’re making a difference. We had one
kid with cerebral palsy who never walked.
We got him a specialized bike that moved
his legs—and six months after we gave him
the bike he was walking assisted for the first
time in his young life. He had developed
muscles he never knew he had—and all
because of that bike. If that doesn’t make
you feel good, I don’t know what will.
Iocolano: We had an event called
“Game Day,” a day of giant games—and
afterwards a patient’s mom wrote us a
letter and she said: “For the first time, we
had a day without cancer.” And I thought:
That’s what we want to create—every time
we walk into a hospital, we want to create a
time when a child feels free of any illness.
Shadyac: More than eighty exhibitors
are incredible partners to us, leveraging the
power of movie magic to support the St.
Jude “Thanks and Giving” campaign by
asking moviegoers to give thanks for the
healthy kids in their life, and give to those
who are not.
Reynolds: Our fundraisers have
evolved to include polo matches and poker
events, hunting and fishing events and golf
tournaments, and lots of other programs.
Every Tent has its own events and activities
that they continue to improve and
change, because they all know we have to
keep things fresh, we have to change with
Iocolano: Funding is always challenging
and it gets harder and harder every
year, for every charity. Right now, we’re
stretched to the limit; the only way for us
to take on a new hospital is to have designated
funding for it. And we don’t spend
a lot of money on marketing and advertising—but
we do need to be out there,
people do need to know what we’re doing.
Shadyac: We want members of the
industry to understand our mission and the
impact that they are helping make towards
ending childhood cancer. We couldn’t do
what we do without their support. The
entertainment industry plays a crucial role
in helping carry our message to the public.
Vradenburg: Our challenge is to keep
reminding our members that their predecessors
started this charity and now it’s up
to them to keep it going. There’s no “duty”
when it comes to a charity; it’s will, it’s
desire, it’s a belief that you can and need to
make a difference.
Reynolds: Charity is a business; we’re
in the business of raising money—and we
need the ideas and energy and commitment
of great people to do that. With the
exception of a small central staff, we’re all
volunteers. But we raise a lot of money
worldwide—and we’re doing a lot of good
with the money we raise.
Shadyac: The movie industry is a
global business, and St. Jude is committed
to improving pediatric cancer care
worldwide. Treatments developed at St.
Jude have helped push the overall survival
rate for childhood cancer from 20 percent
when the hospital opened to more than 80
percent today. Still, globally the vast majority
of childhood cancer patients do not
have access to adequate care; we recently
announced a $100 million investment to
achieve an ambitious goal of influencing
the care of 30 percent of children with
cancer worldwide within the next decade.
Reynolds: For the future, I’d personally
continued on page 74
36 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/5/18 3:18 PM
West Liberty, Iowa
Over 100 Years of Entertainment
You brought St. Jude
to the silver screen.
Because of your generosity during the holiday season,
we were able to help more children and families at
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital ® in 2017.
Every year, theater partners like you donate
pre-show screen time to run the St. Jude
Thanks and Giving ® campaign trailer.
Featuring a cast of infl uential celebrities,
this trailer captures the hearts of
moviegoers everywhere. Thank you
for helping us raise awareness and
support for our lifesaving mission:
Finding cures. Saving children. ®
St. Jude patients
Sarah and Azalea
For more information, please email email@example.com or visit stjude.org/theaters
NEW STRAND Theatre
©2018 ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (33819)
Going to Geneva by Rebecca Pahle
Midwestern Exhibitors Gather by the Lake
The number-one issue facing theatre owners and managers today, as identified by Geneva Convention cochair
John Scaletta, is “the changing landscape of the industry.” If that seems vague, well, it’s only natural.
From multiplexes in major markets all the way to a single-screen independent outfit, every theatre is different.
“If you talk to theatre owners, one might say studio terms and new policies” are at the forefront of their minds,
Scaletta explains. “Another owner might say print availability on first-run films. And another theatre owner might
say quality of product coming out from the studios.”
The key to running a successful theatre, then, is realizing that there is no one key—and that’s what makes the
Geneva Convention so important to the exhibition professionals who flock to the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin show,
taking place Sept. 25-27, every year.
“There’s a lot of casual interaction” at the Geneva Convention, Scaletta explains. “It’s not as fast-paced as other
conventions.” Further, it’s a priority for Scaletta and co-chair George Rouman that events not overlap, giving attendees
the chance to attend all the panels they want to attend and see all the people they need to see. The openingnight
party, taking place at the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa’s ski chalet, “is always a great opportunity to make
new friends and see old friends. And, of course, all our meals turn into social gatherings, because during lunch you’re
sitting with different people each time… And after all the events are done each day, everyone gathers at the bar” to
continue the conversations and cement the relationships they made during the sunlight hours.
The end result of the Geneva Convention’s casual, networking-friendly environment is a three-day stretch
where theatre professionals from across the Midwest region can meet, chat and workshop the issues they face
on a day-to-day basis, going back to their theatres with actionable ideas on how to provide a better experience
for their customers. Before Scaletta and Rouman were co-chairs of the Geneva Convention, Scaletta notes, they
were attendees. (Scaletta is currently the VP of F&F Management, while Rouman is the VP of Rouman Amusement
Company, Inc.) That goes a long way towards explaining why they’re both so focused on providing useful,
The Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneer Foundation accepts proceeds at the 2017 convention.
Sept. 25-27 / Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
38 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/5/18 3:18 PM
concrete information at the Geneva Convention every year.
“If I’m going to bring my managers to a convention, then I need
them to find something that they can learn about and bring back
to their own theatre that’s going to benefit the organization,” says
Scaletta. Even if a panel they attend is on something that “they don’t
really believe they need to know about, sometime down the road
they’re going to come up with an idea or help determine a solution
because they learned something at the Geneva Convention.”
Topics up for discussion this year at Geneva include cybersecurity,
event cinema, Google Analytics and social media. There will be
two screenings, one each on Tuesday and Wednesday night. Wednesday
afternoon will see the annual Awards Luncheon. Twentieth
Century Fox will be named the Studio of the Year, with Dolby taking
home Vendor of the Year honors. “This year’s Larry D. Hanson
Award is being given to Bob Bagby of B&B Theatres,” says Scaletta.
“It really does give me a lot of joy each year to determine who we
are going to honor with the Larry Hanson Award, because so far
everyone we’ve honored Larry knew and admired.” Theatre veteran
Bud Mayo, chairman of New Vision Theatres, will receive the Paul
J. Rogers Leadership Award, while the Ben Marcus Award goes to
Scott Forman of Warner Bros.
As always, a major component of the Geneva Convention is its
charitable contributions. And we mean major. Proceeds from the Geneva
Convention go to charities, including the Will Rogers Foundation
and Variety—The Children’s Charity, in addition to a handful of
local groups. Each year, a child in need is gifted with a mobility bike
As anyone who’s planned a show knows, it’s no easy business—
but the knowledge that they’re doing good for the world “keeps
A child in need is presented with a much-needed bicycle
thanks to the Geneva Convention
and Variety—The Children’s Charity.
George and I going,” Scaletta says. “We both work full-time [in addition
to] working on this convention. When it gets stressful, I sit
back and think about another child getting a bicycle who wouldn’t
otherwise have it, because they have a disability that doesn’t allow
their parents to go into a store and pick up a bike. That’s what distinguishes
us from every other convention in the country—around
the world—that our proceeds benefit charity.”
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 39
9/5/18 3:18 PM
FJI’s Annual Report
Lap of Luxury
LEADING EXHIBITORS REPORT
ON THE RECLINER REVOLUTION
Film Journal International polled a number
of top theatre circuits about their adoption
of luxury power recliners and how it’s impacted
their audiences and their business. Here’s what
they had to say.
Roughly what percentage of your auditoriums
now have luxury recliners?
We offer premium DreamLounger SM
recliners in 72 percent of our first-run auditoriums,
which is believed to be the highest
percentage among the top chains.
Do you install power recliners? What
percentage of your auditoriums have power
Our DreamLoungers are power recliners.
They allow guests to go from seated
upright to full recline with just the touch of
What kind of impact has the trend toward
luxury recliners had on your business?
DreamLounger recliners have been
instrumental in our effort to provide our
guests with a more comprehensive entertainment
experience. With the addition of
DreamLounger recliners, we have also implemented
reserved seating across much of
our circuit. Not only does this provide our
guests improved peace of mind, it also allows
us to better track advance ticket sales.
Do you charge more for tickets to your
Following a renovation from traditional
seating to recliner seating, we do implement
a modest upcharge. That said, our current
pricing model includes several value offerings
for all day parts and demographics.
What kinds of comments have you gotten
from your customers about recliners?
Feedback from guests about our Dream-
Lounger recliners has been extremely positive,
which is why we continue to invest in
this premium amenity across our circuit.
Once they try the recliners, many comment
that this is the only way they will see a
movie going forward. They appreciate comfort
that feels like home in a social setting,
double the legroom between rows, and the
ability to pick their favorite seat online.
What has been the impact on maintenance
Auditorium cleanliness is of the utmost
priority in providing a positive moviegoing
experience. In addition to increased comfort,
our DreamLounger recliners are made
from a durable material that is easy to clean.
Senior VP, Marketing &
Roughly what percentage of your auditoriums
now have luxury recliners?
Nearly half of our domestic theatres
now feature luxury recliners
What percentage of your auditoriums have
Every recliner is a power recliner.
What kind of impact has the trend toward
luxury recliners had on your business?
There’s no doubt it has had a very positive
impact on going to the movies. When people
enjoy the in-theatre experience, it creates a
desire to want to visit the theatre more often.
Do you charge more for tickets to your
Because we remodel 100% of our auditoriums,
there is no upcharge. We offer the
same price for every luxury recliner.
What percentage of your theatres have a
When a theatre gets the recliners
added, they also add the reserved-seat amenity.
For that reason the percentage is the
same. Nearly half of our domestic theatres
have reserved seating.
What kinds of comments have you gotten
from your customers about recliners?
As you can imagine, they get overwhelmingly
positive reactions. Most of the
comments (“comfortable,” “relaxing,” “won’t
go anywhere else,” etc.) are predictable responses
but always great to hear.
What has been the impact on maintenance
Surprising little impact. Cinemark has
always dedicated a great deal of time and
effort to cleaning auditoriums after every
show (no matter what kind of chair), and
that simple but important task keeps potential
issues to a minimum.
40 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/5/18 3:28 PM
Roughly what percentage of your auditoriums
now have luxury recliners?
B&B Theatres is proud to be an industry
leader in the luxury recliner revolution. Our
guests enjoy access to luxury recliners in
50% of our auditoriums circuit-wide.
What percentage of your auditoriums have
All of our recliners are luxury electric
What brand recliner do you use?
What kind of impact has the trend toward
luxury recliners had on your business?
Recliners have become our new standard.
We are firm believers in the power of recliners
to drive attendance and, when coupled
with our outstanding presentation and hospitality,
provide our guests with a comfortable
experience that is second to none.
Do you charge more for tickets to your recliner
When installing recliners into a remodeled
theatre, we do not raise admission prices.
What kinds of comments have you gotten
from your customers about recliners?
The overwhelming majority of customer
feedback has been outstanding! Guests love
the chance to recline in comfort and enjoy
the magic of the movies with their feet up!
What has been the impact on maintenance
With greater seat area and moving parts,
recliners are much more difficult to clean.
We deep-clean them every night and sterilize
each seat between shows. The recliners are
also doubling our cleaning costs from thirdparty
janitorial services. This is an important
consideration when calculating remodel P&L!
VP Marketing, Sales &
Landmark Cinemas Canada
Roughly what percentage of your auditoriums
now have luxury recliners?
150 out of 317 screens have recliner
seats (47.32%). Fourteen of 45 theatres
have recliners (31.8%).
What percentage of your auditoriums
have power recliners?
All our recliner seats are power
What brand recliner do you use?
VIP Cinema Seating and Encore
What kind of impact has the trend
toward luxury recliners had on your
We have seen substantial growth in
our own market share and in overall moviegoing
Do you charge more for tickets to your
No. Our recliner experience is regular
What percentage of your theatres have a
51% (23 locations out of 45).
What kinds of comments have you gotten
from your customers about recliners?
“What an amazing experience! Your
new setup and seating are perfect! I will
not attend another cinema.”
“All we can say is BRAVO! Your new
chairs are outstanding!!”
“This was our first time at Landmark
Cinemas and you have ruined other venues
for me. Those chairs are AMAZING!”
“I can honestly say this is one of the
best movie experiences I have ever had.”
What has been the impact on maintenance
Due to the size and construction
of the recliner chair versus traditional
theatre seats, there is an increase in the
scope of cleaning auditoriums. Seats need
to be wiped down after each performance,
and cleaning behind, underneath
and between seats is much more involved.
Theatre staff and cleaning contractors are
constantly working together to ensure
the auditoriums are cleaned to our standard.
From a maintenance perspective,
the seats have a lot more moving parts
and electrical components that require
more focus and attention than chairs in
in the most comfortable
movie theatre seat
you’ve ever experienced.
and enjoy the increased
personal space afforded by
a reduction in seating capacity,
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OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 41
9/5/18 3:28 PM
TELESCOPIC SEATING SYSTEMS’
SPIRIT OF INVENTION
Telescopic Seating Systems, LLC, also
known as TSS, has been an innovator
in seating systems for many years.
Film Journal International asked Fred Jacobs,
managing partner, to lift the curtain on TSS’s
Film Journal International: Telescopic Seating
Systems uses the motto “Innovations that Move
You!” Can you explain what the motto means?
Fred Jacobs: Our motto applies on two
levels. TSS believes innovations need to cre-
42 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/5/18 3:28 PM
ate that “WOW” experience to “move the
customer emotionally” at some level. That
can be “Wow! How do they keep this theatre
so clean?” Or “Wow! These recliners
are really comfortable!” It just so happens
that for many TSS products such as recliners
and movie theatre rockers, our products also
physically move our customers.
FJI: Do you consider TSS a “tech company”?
Jacobs: TSS is definitely a technologybased
company with a customer focus. We
always ask, “How can we make a better product
for our customers? How can we solve
their problems?” Sometimes we solve problems
customers didn’t know existed. Solving
problems really gets us excited.
FJI: Can you give us an example?
Jacobs: When enhancing our luxury recliner
seating years ago, we decided to be
more than a “sofa company.” We met with
theatre operators, worked in theatres and
analyzed what was going on. We made sure
we understood the premium experience,
the importance of clean theatres, and how
hard a theatre is to clean wasn’t being addressed.
Customers needed a solution.
We also saw adding electrical power for
recliners was a huge expense. Our understanding
led us to invent Clean Sweep to
automate the theatre cleaning process and
Smart Power to lower installation cost
and to make recliners easier to clean. We
believe our inventions have and continue to
improve movie theatre operations.
FJI: What do you mean “TSS invented”
these things? Isn’t that a rather bold statement?
Jacobs: Truly unique inventions receive legal
recognition via patents. So when TSS says
we’ve invented things, we can back it up with
issued and pending U.S. and International
patents. TSS has been granted over ten seating
system-related patents in recent years,
with many applications pending.
FJI: So now I understand why you say TSS is a
Jacobs: Yes, TSS is a tech company with a
strong customer focus! TSS invests heavily to
give customers that “WOW” experience. We
believe we’ve received more issued patents
recognizing our innovations than all other
luxury-seating companies combined.
FJI: So can you lift the proverbial curtain and
tell us what’s coming from all these patents?
Jacobs: Clean Sweep and Smart Power
have been enhanced greatly since their introduction
years ago. Features have been
added to the point where we believe the
new names ”Smart Clean Sweep ” and
“Smart Power-2 ” are now warranted.
They are in operating theatres now. They
are part of patented “Smart Chair Systems
” incorporating such advance features
as Collision Detection , Smart Networking
, Smart Power Supplies , Smart
Battery Back-Up , Smart Power Management
, Smart Guardian and more. Oh,
did I mention our recliner-to-recliner
chair wiring doesn’t lie on the floor, to
make cleaning easier? We manage chair
wiring to keep it off the floor. Should we
call that “Smart Wiring”? Or how about
our system that manages power demands
of different devices?
FJI: You’ve certainly given our readers an
understanding why TSS is a tech company.
Thank you for a glimpse of the new luxury
features to come.
Telescopic Seating System’s products are
protected by one or more of U.S. Patents
9,693,631, 9,326,610, 9,526,340, 9,631,384,
9,693,630, 9,808,085, 9,993,080, 9,655,458,
9,730,518, and 9,943,174, as well as additional
pending patent applications.
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 43
9/5/18 3:28 PM
IRWIN SEATING COMPANY KEEPS
IN STEP WITH THE EXHIBITION BUSINESS
As the exhibition industry develops new strategies to
enhance all aspects of the moviegoing experience to attract
and retain customers, Irwin Seating Company continues to
do its part to meet those ever-changing needs. The company has
been manufacturing theatre seating since 1907 and continues to
design, manufacture and enhance their extensive line of seating in
Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The company is now under its fourth generation of family
leadership, with Graham Irwin, president & CEO; Coke Irwin,
senior VP of sales and marketing; Andrew Irwin, director of
manufacturing for the company’s Telescopic division; and Win
Irwin, who retired from the day-to-day operations in 2015 but
remains chairman of the board.
At a time when a number of seating
manufacturers have closed their doors, Irwin
Seating Company continues to adapt and
expand. Coke Irwin explains, “Over the last six
or seven years, we’ve seen a few major seating
manufacturers close up shop and many smaller start-ups cease
operations, leaving customers in a bit of a bind. Being a familyowned
company on solid financial footing, we’re not as beholden to
outside influencers and this allows us take a long-term approach to
Irwin continues, “That doesn’t mean we’re unwilling to change.
In fact, we have developed and continue to encourage a culture of
continuous improvement where we are constantly evaluating our
products, services and processes to get better at what we do—
provide the best seating and service available.”
Irwin Seating’s Spectrum Recliner seating is a perfect example
of the continuous improvement approach the company takes in all
aspects of its business. Irwin Seating introduced their first recliner
Irwin Seating Company model ZG4
Eclipse recliner with optional swivel
tables and flip-up center armrest.
Irwin Seating Company’s
and manufacturing plant
in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
44 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/5/18 3:28 PM
in 2014. Despite widespread acceptance of Spectrum
by the exhibition industry when it was introduced,
the company has constantly evaluated and improved
their offering. In four short years they have redesigned
their recliner three times, with the latest model, ZG4,
introduced this past spring at CinemaCon.
Coke Irwin elaborates, “We are constantly evaluating
the industry and talking to customers to find out what’s
working for them and what we can change to make
their operations better. ZG4 is the latest example of
this cycle, and customer response has been fantastic.
We’ve had a number of executives tell us this is the
most comfortable recliner they’ve ever sat in. But
that doesn’t mean we’re done: We are continuing
to evaluate ZG4 to keep costs steady during a time when raw
materials are rising, we are constantly testing components to make
sure Spectrum is as reliable as our customers have come to expect
from us, and we’re evaluating needs and trends so we will be ready
to help the industry move forward in the future.”
Irwin Seating Company is no stranger to the shifting needs
of the exhibition industry, having adapted to changes many times
over its 110 years. Irwin Seating helped their customers move
from large, single-screen movie houses to multiplex facilities
in the ’70s and then from sloped-floor auditoriums to stadium
seating in the ’80s and ’90s, and now to recliner seating. All
along the way, the company has been a leading developer of
seating that enhances the customer moviegoing
experience. Rockers were developed in the
’70s and ’80s for the multiplex; high-back, flipup-arm
love seats were introduced by Irwin
Seating to complement stadium-seating designs,
and now they are providing circuits with their
comfortable Spectrum recliners.
One of Irwin Seating’s strengths is their
ability to provide custom solutions. Irwin smiles
as he expands on this: “Having been in the seating
business for as long as we have, there isn’t
anything we haven’t seen, and when a customer
comes to us with an idea for something unique,
we can rely on our experience to come up
with a solution for them.” He continues, “We have a great team,
from engineers who know what’s possible, to our people out
on the shop floor who take pride in their workmanship, to our
sales managers, to our installation partners—everyone takes a
customer-centered approach to their work, it’s something we call
the ‘Irwin Difference’ and it’s the key to our success. It’s all about
our people, our products and our services.”
As the exhibition industry continues to find new ways to
attract patrons, Irwin Seating Company is poised to assist circuits
with their needs. Coke Irwin concludes, “We have a great team
assembled and we’re here ready to help when asked. We can’t wait
to see what the next century of business has in store for us.”
of Sales and Marketing
Irwin Seating ZG4 Solstice Recliner
at the Cinemark Greeley Mall,
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 45
9/7/18 10:40 AM
PLUSH NEW RECLINERS
Sit Back, Lie Back
In our annual roundup, seating
manufacturers share details about their
newest and plushest recliners for the
Dolphin Leadcom’s “Total Solution”
recliner became an instant hit at
CinemaCon 2018. This spectacular
recliner was designed for the American
theatre market by American theatre
owners. The Total Solution recliner is fully
modular, meaning every component and
Dolphin’s Total Solution
part can be easily and quickly interchanged.
As well as having a total metal frame and
armrest, this recliner is durable, luxurious
and comfortable. It is also paired with
an eight-year structural warranty and fiveyear
warranty (leatherette models). Join
the growing number of cinema owners
using Total Solution recliners. For sales
inquiries, contact Edwin Snell or Jessica
Galik: Edwin@dlseating.com, Jessica@
Encore Performance Seating
Encore Performance Seating has
created another way to maximize and
The Encore C8
enhance the theatre experience. The
power headrest is a fantastic feature—
your guests can adjust it for the perfect
sightline. In addition to this feature, our
C8 Luxury Power Recliner has a heated
lumbar option. Heated lumbar will make
your guests so comfortable they won’t
want to leave—it gives them an “at home”
experience. Encore offers various options,
sources the finest materials, and provides a
comprehensive warranty with exceptional
customer service and ongoing support.
Figueras International Seating
Figueras’ Riva Club offers comfort,
luxury and charm. An individual or
configurable seat in high-comfort rows
with generous dimensions, it’s designed
for use in VIP rooms, cinemas, stadiums
or home theatres. The back reclines by
pressing a button incorporated in the
armrest. The position of the footrest
is also adjustable. When vacating the
seat, both the back and the footrest
will automatically return to their initial
The upholstery is done in an artisan
manner and can be personalized. The
back and seat cushions have ergonomic
shape and a headrest and lumbar support
are incorporated for added comfort.
First Class Seating’s
First Class Seating
The Bliss Zero chair replaces the ubiquitous
scissor mechanism with two kinematic
motors that generate a near-zero
gravity effect to the body. NASA invented
the concept of zero-gravity posture for
astronauts as they launch into space. Users
feel the uninterrupted body support
of Bliss the moment they recline, a sense
that they are floating, defying gravity yet
perfectly balanced while keeping their eyes
aligned with the screen. A new massage
feature allows moviegoers to indulge in
46 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
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9/5/18 5:37 PM
luxury with eight massage zones in the seat
and back and four modes of control.
Experience Bliss. Experience Different.
Irwin Seating Company, leader in
seating solutions for the cinema Industry,
is pleased to showcase ZG4, the latest
Spectrum Recliner Luxury model. This
version features a new seat module
that offers exceptional comfort with a
deep cushioned ride. This seat works in
conjunction with a new proprietary recliner
mechanism for smooth motion. Early
screenings of ZG4 have led to rave reviews,
as patrons find their optimum personalized
comfort and viewing position. Spectrum
ZG4 provides more recline than previous
models, enhanced comfort and unmatched
operational imperatives only offered by
Irwin Seating. For additional information,
call (866) 464-7946 or stop by ShowEast
booth 210 in October. (irwinseating.com)
Quinette Gallay presents the Premium
St Omer, one of its Premium Cinema
range models. Equipped with a mechanical
sliding system for the seat and back, the
Premium range allows an ideal seating
position. The harmony of its neat outline
is elevated by an elegant optional piping
finish and is combined with the generous
size of its backrest and armrests that
provide optimum comfort. The unique
design concept of Quinette Gallay chairs
will impress the most upscale cinemas.
sumptuous and luxurious as it embraces
and supports your body. The specially
designed foam and chaise-lounge footrest
adjusts to your body smoothly, simply
stretching to that extra degree of comfort
you have come to expect.
Customizable with dual-motor rise
and recline, it gives users more flexibility
in determining a position that they find
comfortable. With the control buttons
and a USB port located within your
reach, you can even choose to have
an auto-return function to return the
chair to its original position. Options
such as cupholders, swivel table and
popcorn holder can also be incorporated
into the Valencia to further enhance
the user’s overall cinema experience.
Telescopic Seating Systems
Telescopic Seating Systems, LLC
(TSS), “America’s Seating Technology
Leader,” offers a full range of movie
theatre seating with unsurpassed comfort
and features. TSS recliner seating offers
industry-leading patented features such
as Smart Power, Smart Clean Sweep
and Smart Reserve—features that pay
for themselves while enhancing your
customers’ experience. TSS premium
rockers and rocker chairs are installed
in premium movie theatres, screening
rooms and professional sporting
venues around the world. TSS is an
international company based in the USA.
VIP Cinema Seating
Intelligent design takes the next
logical step in VIP’s newest innovations
involving smart technology and modular
design options. The company that
pioneered the concept of luxury cinema
seating now leads the way with new customization
options, ensuring not only
the utmost comfort and convenience
for cinema-goers but also maximum
exhibitor profitability. Three new series
lines—the Avalon, Bravo and Matrix
series—allow exhibitors to select their
most strategic level of investment, while
offering seating that innovates even beyond
luxurious comfort with enhancements.
VIP Cinema Seating’s
The Valencia from Seating Spectrum
features unique cushioning that feels
48 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
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Construction and Design
PRESERVING THE SOCIAL EXPERIENCE
IN A STREAMING WORLD
FJI’s Annual Report
by Mike Cummings, Senior Principal,TK Architects International
Many times, when I meet someone
or talk with friends and am
describing my work—primarily
designing movie theatres—people will
ask me: Aren’t movie theatres going
away? I inevitably start with talking about
people dining out even though they have
a kitchen in their home, and the fact
that collective storytelling is part of our
human experience dating back to cavemen
gathering around a fire. Usually this
stream of conversation stops, but there is
a whole lot more to the story.
Longstanding businesses have been
disrupted by new technology companies
that provide previously unachievable
levels of customization and on-demand
50 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
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At right: Social Gaming Spaces offer
a competitive gaming space surrounded
by socializing space for spectators
as well as to encourage food and
Opposite page top: Event cinema
functions as a space for concerts,
sporting events, premieres, and other
more creative uses.
Opposite page bottom: Alternative
Content Hub creates a small, intimate
venues for friends to share some of
their favorite content.
products and services. Consider Apple
and its completely revolutionary impact
on the music business, or Amazon
providing us the ability to find anything
and order it online and have it delivered
to our front door. Netflix is most
commonly mentioned in the discussion
of the end of the movie theatre. There is
merit to the convenience and flexibility of
the Netflix ‘in-home” model as a serious
threat to moviegoing. However, this does
not consider the social experience of
the movie theatre. You cannot achieve
the same level of emotional response
by yourself that you can in a group. It
A R C H I T E C T S
ARCHITECTURE • CONCEPTUAL DESIGN
INTERIOR DESIGN • ENGINEERING • GRAPHIC DESIGN
DESIGNING ENTERTAINMENT WORLDWIDE
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 51
9/5/18 3:35 PM
is always funnier with shared laughter,
sadder with shared tears, and scarier with
Cinema and exhibition have rightfully
been focused on providing presentation
and technology that is not available in the
home for the vast majority of people. This
has created a Hollywood model matching
tentpole movies with the big screen. This
portion of the business works, but only if
filmmakers are providing good movies and
Cinema exhibition is one of several
industries impacted by online business
disruption. The most prominent is retail.
Some brick-and-mortar retail stores are
failing, a lot more are struggling, while
some are still thriving. The International
Council of Shopping Centers published
their “Envision 2020” report on the future
of the shopping center industry. Among
the findings are that a “hybrid form of
commerce is emerging, where shoppers
move seamlessly between physical
and digital worlds of retailing as they
research products and make purchases.”
Shopping centers are evolving from
simple retail properties into shopping,
dining and entertainment centers that are
central to, and fully integrated with, the
communities that surround them. The
role of cinema in creating a shopping,
dining and entertainment center serving
as a community center and cultural hub is
Theatre Architects & Engineers
Above: With Virtual reality (VR),
each participant has an individual
experience. The social part happens
when people watch the participants.
To return to the main question: How
can cinemas survive in a streaming world?
I propose the answer is a straightforward
▶ Presentation quality
▶ Social experience
Let me provide some statistical basis
for my optimism.
Verizon prepared a report on Millennials
and entertainment in 2014 that
provides a broad perspective on preferences
and some good news for cinema.
Millennials’ top three preferences for
entertainment are to watch a TV program
they like, listen to music and watch
a movie they’re interested in. Most have
a subscription service like Netflix, but
the report also clearly shows very low
tolerance for any audiovisual problems
along with a strong preference for higher
quality. Other high-ranking entertainment
preferences include interacting on social
media, gaming on a gaming console and a
wide variety of fantasy sports. I think all
of these are considerations for turning the
cinema into an entertainment destination.
The MPAA 2017 Theatrical and Home
Entertainment Market Environment
(THEME) report also includes encouraging
statistics. Theatrical still accounts for
46% of combined theatrical and home
entertainment spending globally. Digital
home entertainment is growing significantly,
theatrical modestly, and physical
home entertainment spending is falling.
Frequent moviegoers continue to drive
theatrical business, accounting for 49%
of ticket sales while representing 12% of
the population. Diverse age and ethnic
groups are rapidly becoming frequent
All of this data supports optimism
about the future of moviegoing. But there
are challenges and threats that should
prompt exhibitors to consider evolving
their facilities beyond just cinema into
entertainment destinations. Some of the
52 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
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Left: Alternate cinema experiences
include large-format screens.
surrounded by small, intimate venues for
friends to share some of their favorite
content. Some people will reject this idea
outright, but these are among the favorite
brands of Millennials and represent a
real opportunity. There are business
challenges to this idea, but more unlikely
alliances have happened.
VR and/or AR. Virtual reality (VR) is
a very different kind of social experience
than traditional moviegoing. Each participant
is having an individual experience.
The social part happens when you have
people watching the participants. I saw
an example of this at BIRTV.
There is good news out there, and
there are some great opportunities. We
can learn from retail’s challenges and build
a better mousetrap. I hope this prompts
you to think about design as a tool to
create a social hub for your community.
▶ Alternative cinema experiences
like 4DX, ScreenX, MX4D and children’s
▶ Entertainment center functions like
laser tag, arcade games, bumper cars and
All of these functions merit consideration.
Based on the research, you could consider
some additional features that might
be part of your strategy to create an entertainment
eSports. I saw a very interesting
installation of MX4D in the TCL Chinese
Theatre in Hollywood that also serves as
an eSports venue. It hosts competitive
eSports tournaments during part of the
week, with lots of spectators, and delivers
an immersive EFX alternative movie
experience the rest of the week. eSports
fits within the Millennial entertainment
preferences from the Verizon report and
represents a tremendous opportunity.
The multi-use of the auditorium is another
compelling business plan.
Event Cinema. Design an auditorium
to also function as an event space for
concerts, sporting events, premieres, and
other more creative uses.
Social Gaming Spaces. Create a
dedicated competitive gaming space surrounded
by socializing space for spectators
as well as to encourage food and
Alternative Content Hub.
Create a Netflix or YouTube red lounge
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 53
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Construction and Design
From One to Eight
A 1920S WESTCHESTER
INTO A MODERN MULTIPLEX
by Robert McCall
Principal, JKRP Architects
This is not another story about a grand old
movie palace left to rot on Main Street
America. There are hundreds of movie
palaces across the country that have been left
to the same terrible fate. These grand theatres,
once the centerpiece of every Rockwellian idea
of Middle America for generations, never had a
chance against the modern megaplex theatres and
their multiple movie offerings.
This particular theatre, however, is a different
story. The Mamaroneck Playhouse, long a staple
of the community of Mamaroneck, New York
since the 1920s, has been hosting live theatre
performances and showing films for almost
a century. Like most older single-auditorium
theatres, the Playhouse has been struggling to
find its identity in the 21st century. A renovation
in the 1980s hastily cut the main auditorium in
half and turned the once-grand space into two
smaller theatres. This is still a common solution
to increase the offerings of a typical one-screen
auditorium today, and unfortunately the intended
result of increased ticket sales does not usually
follow. Patrons were left with two subpar
auditoriums and the remains of the grand theatre
languishing in the wings.
JKRP Architects, theatre experts based in
Philadelphia, PA, were tasked with reviving the
glory of the old theatre while creating six new
auditoriums for the new owners. Normally in an
old venue like this, you would be lucky to get four
theatres, especially given the site’s 14,000-squarefoot
footprint. Our design team—myself, senior
project coordinator Michael Farinella, and Jennifer
Yun and Pete Leatherman—were able to think
outside the box—literally—and come up with a
scheme to create eight intimate auditoriums with
large screens, great sightlines and recliner seats.
continued on page 54
54 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
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Renderings of the Mamaroneck Playhouse renovation
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 55
9/5/18 5:36 PM
The architects were able to optimize the volume of the large
auditorium and insert two auditoriums side-by-side on the lowest
level, while preserving the upper level for one large 170-seat
auditorium. This allowed them to retain a majority of the intricate
plaster ceiling details of the original theatre while creating a large
56 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
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JKRP Architects’ isometric section, and below left, a before photo and after rendering.
wall-to-wall screen for the new auditorium. By placing a new large
theatre over the original stage area, the architects were able to
create another 94-seat auditorium with its screen back-to-back with
the large theatre. They were able to use the fly tower behind the
original stage to create two small-screen stacked auditoriums. An
additional two screens were added on top of the existing vestibule,
with measures taken to make the volume disappear from view when
seen from the street. The large brick stair towers were left in the
main auditoriums, recreating the unique feeling of watching a show in
the old theatre.
As if it weren’t already an architectural feat in and of itself to
squeeze eight viable auditoriums into the old theatre, all of the
cinemas obviously needed to be handicapped-accessible and come
with all of the amenities one would come to expect in a contemporary
theatre. The next challenge was how to create an exciting
lobby and concession area that didn’t feel like an afterthought.
The whole vibe was turned into an urban-chic industrial aesthetic,
with two narrow retail spaces fronting the street and a formal
center-entry processional leading to ticketing and concessions. The
height from the existing rake of the underside of the theatre seating
provided a lofty, airy lobby, which the architects were eager to
take advantage of. The soaring space was filled with an industrial
steel stair and glass catwalks that crisscross the lobby and provide
spaces to casually grab a drink or a bite before the show. The
exposed brick piers and warm wood ceilings soften the space and
help show off the original steel bow trusses supporting the roof.
This will surely become a place where people will want to hang out
both before and after the show.
To say this project was complex is an understatement. Finding
the space within the site’s footprint to create not only eight
auditoriums but eight good auditoriums with nice sightlines and
comfortable amenities was a herculean task, not to mention the
structural gymnastics and logistics of supporting the auditoriums
and moving people efficiently through the space. The architects
were sensitive to keep much of the character of the original auditoriums
and make them work with the new design.
The entertainment industry and the theatre industry in particular
are constantly reinventing themselves to meet the demands of their
patrons. Grand old movie palaces don’t need to turn into big-box
retail or be chopped into several small stores. With the right vision
and the right architects, they can turn back into the neighborhood
hubs they once were and compete with the major operators.
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 57
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Construction and Design
THE PROFITS ARE
IN THE DETAILS
by Shaun Polak
Some time back, a client complained
about a cabinet door that, despite
having been re-hinged, continued to
sag. During a site visit to investigate the
problem, I discovered that concession
stand staff were opening the cabinet door
and sitting on it to rest.
This is just one of the ways that your
concession stand, box office, bar and
lounge can take an unexpected beating.
Over nearly 50 years in business, we at
Proctor Companies have seen first-hand
how beautiful, functional spaces can
deteriorate if they’re built without understanding
the wear and tear they’ll face
under real-world conditions. Using this
information, we have developed designs,
hardware and construction methods to
ensure that theatre owners don’t face
the cost and reduced productivity associated
with premature aging of their
In the case of the cabinet door, we replaced
the door hardware again, this time
with burly, hospital-tip five-knuckle hinges,
and we secured each hinge set with
nine screws. Problem solved. After that,
we made it company policy to specify the
same bombproof hinge design for all cabinet
doors regardless of location or use.
That’s just one of the ways we create
facilities that look great and perform
well—both today and ten years down the
line. What it comes down to is attention
to the details.
For instance, we know that using OSB
or MDF for millwork can warp and bloat;
instead, we use plywood. And not just any
plywood. We spec sustainably sourced
The Angelika Film Center, Carmel Mountain, San Diego, CA.
Note the extensive glass merchandising, stainless-steel column wraps
and extended counter kick plates.
three-quarter-inch Lumin ® plywood
panels. These have more, thinner ply than
standard plywood, which makes them extremely
consistent in thickness, highly water-resistant
and nearly warp-proof. Then
we wrap all interior cabinet surfaces—not
just those that are visible—in white liner
to make cabinet interiors bright, durable
and easy to clean and to ensure compliance
with local building codes.
We know that painted or laminated
cabinet door edges inevitably become
chipped or dinged, so we edge-band all of
our cabinet doors with black 2mm PVC. A
special machine cuts the banding material
to length, rounds the edges, applies the
glue and presses it in place. We’ve also
learned that conventional door hardware
can snag employees’ clothes and lead
to impact injuries, so we only use only
commercial-grade, recessed pulls.
For countertops, we spec one-inchthick,
AC-grade plywood backing. Unlike
the thinner, lower-grade material used
by others in the industry, this keeps
countertops straight and true even
if people sit on them or place heavy
equipment in the middle of a span. We
top the substrate with quartz, fulldepth
Corian (not the thinner, less
durable version), or high-pressure
horizontal-grade laminate, depending on
design. Finally, we add commercial grade
grommets to all through-cuts for cord
protection and a nice, finished look.
In candy displays, concession stands
and box offices, we use one-quarterinch-thick,
tempered glass for durability
and we mandate polished glass edges for
As already stated, we use only
hospital-tip five-knuckle hinges on cabinet
doors. If a lock is required, we specify a
commercial, re-keyable design so changing
access can be accomplished with just a
tumbler swap, not a full lock replacement.
58 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
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When hanging kitchen barn doors, we use self-centering,
commercial-grade, double-sprung hinges for durability and we fit
the doors with tempered windows to minimize collisions.
For horizontal prep and expo line surfaces, we use only
18-gauge, de-burred, type 403 stainless steel. Unlike other
fabricators, we specify a slightly grainy finish. Experience has
shown that this makes scratches less visible. Under-table shelves
and table legs, which are fitted with adjustable bullet feet, are
constructed of stainless steel as well. Galvanized steel is cheaper,
but in humid and moist environments it will eventually pock,
rust and fail. For tables built to support heavy equipment, we
add welded, reinforcing supports. All tables Proctor Companies
builds are NSF-approved.
We steer away from cheap knockoffs and go with low-voltage
LEDs from Hafele ® for accent, spot, ambient and task lighting.
Hafele lights are famous for their reliable power supplies and long
duty cycles. Their full-coverage lenses allow placement in barbacks
and other splash zones, increasing productivity and safety
in areas that have traditionally been poorly lit.
We install stainless-steel, outside corner guards on wall corners
in high-traffic areas. We specify wrist handles for all sink installations
for ease of use and a sanitary workspace. We add stainless-steel liners
to recessed sinks to add depth, decreasing splash-out. We set
our bar heights to 34 inches for ADA compliance and we add corner
guards around ADA access areas to increase access and reduce injuries.
When we construct bars, we install parallel—not bundled—tap
lines and we label them for ease of service later on. And ADA areas
are designed with rounded corners and smoothed edges for a satisfying
As you can see, the details matter. Attending to them requires
coordination across all disciplines—from salespeople to designers to
project managers and installers—with knowledge, experience and a
shared dedication to creating the highest possible value for clients.
I’ve recently rejoined Proctor after a nearly ten-year hiatus, and I
couldn’t be happier to once again be part of a team that understands
that the lowest price does not always represent the best value.
Shaun Polak is the director of project management at Proctor
Companies, which designs, builds and supplies foodservice facilities for
movie theatres around the world.
Let us rev up your revenue engine.
Food and liquor sales
drive your success.
To maximize your food and
liquor profits, you need a facility
that is designed to sell, sell, sell.
Proctor Companies has been
creating innovative designs
that do just that for nearly five
decades. Nobody does it better.
Considering a new project? Give
us a call.
Seaport_Half FJ.indd 1
8/29/18 1:33 PM
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 59
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Construction and Design
Don’t Waste Your Money!
by Brian Kubicki
Hello again from the cinema
acoustical design forum
desk! It’s good to be with
Film Journal readers once again. Let’s
get right to it…
I initially thought my topic would
never generate enough material for an
entire article, but the more I thought
about it, the clearer it became that my
real struggle would be staying concise.
Everyone involved with cinema
acoustical design is hit with questions
about things that are assumed by the
questioner to be relevant to affecting
the acoustics of their projects, but
in reality are misapplied or have no
relevance whatsoever to the issues
on the table. Why they come up may
be because a manufacturers’ sales
rep is encouraging applications for
their products, or perhaps the cinema
designer came across the product or
concept in their own research or while working on another project.
Regardless of how or why they came up, these are the items most
frequently suggested for incorporation into cinema design and construction
that are discarded in the flames of irrelevance.
Resilient channels are suggested for use in auditorium wall or
ceiling construction at some point on almost every project. These
typically light-gauge, metal “Z-shaped” channels are often used in
office or residential wall and/or ceiling construction to introduce a
measure of structural separation or resilience in the wall or floorceiling
assembly. They are mounted perpendicular to the studs and
the drywall is attached to the channel, with the “leg” of the channel
providing the desired resilience. Some employ neoprene as the
resilient element. While these devices are very beneficial to their
most used applications in offices and residences, the walls in cinema
auditoriums that require the highest degree of sound isolation are
already composed of double-stud
wall construction, which is the most
structural separation that can be
achieved. The addition of resilient
channels to these assemblies is not
adding more isolation than can already
be realized. So, if an existing
design is being reviewed for costreduction
channels are usually the first thing
to go. Also, many designs fail to recognize
the top sin of using resilient
channels: installing them between
layers of drywall. If you recall, narrow
air gaps in stud-and-drywall
construction cause degradation of
sound-isolation performance in the
lower frequencies due to mass-airmass
Sound-absorbing panels are
most certainly important to the
acoustics of a cinema auditorium.
But when clients attempt to address
sound transmission—or as more
garishly termed, sound bleed—between adjacent auditoriums, the
question is often asked whether installing more or thicker sound-absorbing
wall panels will improve sound isolation. The simple answer
is no. Sound-absorbing wall panels, as well as the lay-in ceilings in the
auditoriums, are placed there to improve the sound in the acoustic
environment of the auditorium in which they are used. I often describe
the situation by noting, “If sound-absorbing panels were all
that was needed to control sound transmission between spaces, why
not just use drapery to separate adjacent auditoriums?”
Laminated gypsum board is a much-discussed product and
it has its benefits to certain projects. For the unfamiliar, laminated
gypsum board is similar to laminated glass, except two thin layers
of drywall are adhered with a viscoelastic layer. The main benefit
to laminated gypsum board acoustically is seen at the coincidence
frequencies, which for drywall are in the 2,000 to 4,000 Hertz high-
60 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
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frequency range. At these frequencies, the coincidence dip seen in
the transmission loss curve is reduced, improving the performance of
the wall or ceiling at these high frequencies. However, as anyone who
has experienced sound-transmission problems between adjacent
cinema auditoriums can attest, the problem almost always occurs in
the extended low frequencies, not in the high frequencies. Even with
the coincidence dip of standard drywall, transmission loss values are
up in the 55 to 65 dB range, so gaining a few decibels of isolation is
not really very relevant.
Sound-retarding doors are often considered for use as auditorium
entry or exit doors, particularly when the auditorium exit
door may be near a busy roadway or an item of noisy equipment.
The reality, though, is that these types of sound-rated doors are
primarily designed for application to recording studios or acoustic
testing labs. These doors usually possess cam-lift hinges to ensure
gravitational force is applied uniformly to the door perimeter seals
to ensure that sound leakage around the door where it meets the
frame is minimized. This type of hinge is harder to open than a
typical door with butt-hinges and may not be appropriate for use
in public spaces such as movie theatres and may not meet ADA
(Americans with Disabilities Act) opening force standards without
incurring the additional costs of automatic door openers. The best
door for an auditorium is relatively heavy: one-and-three-quarterinch-thick
solid-core wood or insulated (glass or mineral fiber)
hollow-metal doors with adjustable field-applied sound gaskets at
the head, jamb and door bottom.
Sloping and shaping sound-absorbing ceilings in cinema auditoriums
are often considered as being helpful to the distribution of
sound in an auditorium, but that’s a totally unfounded myth. Ceilings
in cinema auditoriums are designed to absorb sound, not reflect it.
Finish materials in a performance space are shaped to reflect or diffuse
incident sound, but in these applications the shaped material is
drywall or plaster, which reflects sound instead of absorbing it.
Insulation blankets above lay-in auditorium ceilings are seen
in many cinemas. The thought is that the glass fiber or mineral fiber
will improve the sound absorption that the ceiling provides, but the
ceiling is already designed to absorb sound. A glass fiber lay-in ceiling
panel absorbs about 80 to 90% of incident sound and a mineral
tile panel absorbs about 55 to 65%. Laying a six-inch-thick blanket
of insulation above a lay-in ceiling in an auditorium may add three to
five percent to those numbers, but the benefit (not to mention the
additional weight the ceiling grid must support) doesn’t meet the
I could go on for another hour or two with elements ill-applied
to cinema acoustics, but press time is rapidly approaching! Thanks
again for reading.
Brian Kubicki of ADK, L.L.C. may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A JACK ROE PRODUCTION
SHOWING IN THEATRES NOW
WHERE THERE’S INTERNET,
For sales and product information email: email@example.com
by jack roe
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 61
9/5/18 3:35 PM
Construction and Design
KEY FACTORS TO CONSIDER
WHEN UPGRADING YOUR CINEMA
by Jeff Kaplan
Projection booths have been a
necessity in theatres since the
movie houses of the 1940s.
But today, theatre owners are taking
advantage of cutting-edge projector
designs and architectural innovations
to move projectors out of the booths
altogether. When done correctly, this
new approach is providing significant
benefits, including generating greater
When designing a boothless theatre,
exhibitors can take advantage of much
greater flexibility in the utilization of
space in both traditional theatre and
nontraditional retail buildings. However,
they need to be careful to avoid an
issue that some early boothless theatre
adopters have experienced—inadequate
airflow for their projectors.
Room to Breathe
Building a theatre from the ground up
or in an existing, non-theatre space has
always posed its share of challenges. For
example, if you’re converting the space
from a different previous usage, such as a
supermarket or big-box discounter, you
may have to raise a roof and/or dig into
the floor to make space for the seating
and projection booth or catwalk. In the
end, you’re left with significant costs, an
awkward layout and a lot of dead space
that generates no revenue.
With a digital projector, however,
you will have much more freedom in
remodeling your space. That’s because
most modern laser cinema projectors
don’t require an HVAC system to vent
hot air in the same manner as lampbased
projectors. Without the added
necessity of a cooling system, these
projectors emit noise levels lower than
60 decibels. This lower sound level helps
alleviate the need for the soundproofing
found in a hush box to keep them from
disturbing patrons watching the movie,
so there are no worries about placing
these projectors inside the auditorium.
There are a multitude of manufacturers
of hush boxes, should they be required
for a specific auditorium.
When installing a laser cinema
projector in a boothless auditorium,
ensure that there’s enough space
around the projector to allow for
adequate airflow to keep it cool.
It’s crucial to take the necessary
steps to ensure adequate airflow.
But being free from using an
HVAC system doesn’t mean you can
ignore ventilation entirely. Laser
cinema projectors require adequate
airflow—both in and out—to keep
them from overheating, which can
lead to unexpected repairs or early
replacement. When installing a laser
cinema projector in a boothless
auditorium, ensure that there’s enough
space around the projector to allow for
adequate airflow to keep it cool.
Laser cinema projectors’ space-saving
technology provides increased flexibility,
enabling your architects and designers to
use space once reserved for projection
booths to add additional seating or
more elaborate concession stands, bars,
restaurants or lobby entertainment
areas. You also have the option to build
nontraditional lobby designs with houses
that are side-by-side or back-to-back—
whatever works best for your space.
These boothless designs could add one
or two additional screens in a space with
limited square footage, greatly boosting
your bottom line.
Planning Your Move to Boothless
New laser cinema projectors offer
many benefits, including not requiring a
traditional and costly projection booth.
Because these projectors operate at a
much lower internal temperature, they
don’t need the same cooling system
found with lamp-based projectors, which
also lowers their overall noise level.
Making the move to a boothless
cinema may seem simple, but it does
require some careful planning and
forethought to ensure a good return
on your investment. As noted above,
it’s crucial to take the necessary
steps to ensure adequate airflow for
your projector and a distraction-free
experience for your customers.
Jeff Kaplan is a national account
manager for digital cinema display
technology at NEC Display Solutions, with
over 15 years of experience in the digital
cinema field. He is also a board director
for the International Cinema Technology
Association and received the TriState
Theatre Association’s 2018 “Person of the
62 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/5/18 3:35 PM
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VOL. 121, NO. 10
UNIVERSAL/Color/2.35/Dolby Atmos/142 Mins./
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler,
Corey Stoll, Patrick Fugit, Christopher Abbott,
Ciarán Hinds, Olivia Hamilton, Pablo Schreiber, Shea
Whigham, Lukas Haas, Ethan Embry, Brian d’Arcy
James, Cory Michael Smith, Kris Swanberg.
Directed by Damien Chazelle.
Screenplay: Josh Singer, based on the book First Man:
The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen.
Produced by Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen, Isaac Klausner,
Executive producers: Steven Spielberg, Adam Merims,
Director of photography: Linus Sandgren.
Production designer: Nathan Crowley.
Music: Justin Hurwitz.
Editor: Tom Cross.
Visual effects supervisor: Paul Lambert.
Costume designer: Mary Zophres.
A Universal Pictures presentation, in association with
DreamWorks Pictures and Perfect World Pictures,
of a Temple Hill production.
Technically marvelous, Damien Chazelle’s
poetic Moon-landing saga intimately portrays
the thorny headspace of quiet American hero
Neil Armstrong. Ryan Gosling gives a careerbest
A giant leap even
for the youngest-ever
Best Director victor,
First Man is a poetic
intimacy. We all know the wildly successful
outcome of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission,
which crowned American astronaut Neil
Armstrong with the immortal title “the
first man to walk on the Moon.” But with
an intricate script by Spotlight co-scribe Josh
Singer (an adaptation of James R. Hansen’s
2005 biography), Chazelle journeys into the
largely unknown—not only through the dark
corridors of the universe but also the private
headspace of a quiet, resolute character,
driven by purpose and challenged by personal
demons in equal measure.
In that, the life story of Armstrong is not
entirely a thematic departure for Chazelle,
even if it might seem so on the heels of
his music-driven wonders Whiplash and La
La Land. His First Man also delves into an
obsessive kind of human determination,
but one light years ahead in maturity and
consequence from those that fuel his
previous protagonists. And music still plays an
important part: La La Land composer Justin
Hurwitz’s terrific score is both melancholic
and unsettlingly hypnotic, informing the
character study at the heart of First Man.
The motion sickness and dyspnea pervading
the film kicks in early, in a panic-inducing
opening sequence that follows Armstrong
(Ryan Gosling, in his most complex and
understated performance yet) on a test flight
that near-fatally malfunctions as it teeters in
the atmosphere. Here, Chazelle sets the tone
from the get-go: high stakes that are, despite
the vast subject matter, as minimalist as possible.
His unadorned approach continues when
Neil and his supportive wife Janet (a steely
Claire Foy, never a sidelined-spouse trope)
lose their three-year-old daughter Karen to a
brain tumor. As he does throughout, the filmmaker
treats this heartbreaking episode with
remarkable soberness, letting the audience
mine the emotion out of extreme close-ups (a
recurring artistic choice), the gray hospital and
the fleeting funeral scene.
“It would be unreasonable to assume that
it will have no effect,” Neil says, matterof-factly,
when asked about the possible
professional ramifications of his daughter’s
passing as part of his application to NASA’s
Gemini program in the mid-’60s. He gets
the job nonetheless and moves his family
from Southern California to Houston—a
life-defining change we never forget to be a
result of the Armstrongs’ shared grief. They
settle into their new neighborhood and make
friends, the ill-fated astronaut Edward Higgins
White (Jason Clarke) and his lively wife Pat
(Olivia Hamilton) among them. Aided by a
solid supporting cast (including the likes of
Kyle Chandler, Pablo Schreiber and Christopher
Abbott) and the craftsmanship of
his repeat collaborators—cinematographer
Linus Sandgren, who shot First Man on a
combination of grainy 16mm, textured 35mm
and expansive IMAX, and editor Tom Cross—
Chazelle portrays the family’s subsequent
years in Texas. Through effective crosscutting,
we witness the deepening of Pat and Janet’s
friendship, as well as the evolving camaraderie
of the astronauts. Meanwhile, the nightmarish
claustrophobia of the costly, sometimes fatal
space missions that paved the way for the
success of Apollo 11 are detailed. You might
have seen the likes of The Right Stuff or Gravity,
but it’s unlikely that you have ever felt more
like you’re inside an airless, miniscule and rattling
spacecraft, extremely vulnerable to the
hostile conditions that surround it. Similarly,
the sweaty Houston mission control center at
the heart of Apollo 13’s triumphant finale feels
grubbier and more suffocating here.
Unsurprisingly, the historic Moon landing
that defined a generation before the nation
lost its interest in the space program is First
Man’s crowning achievement. With smart use
of sound—and sometimes, lack of sound, like
during the seconds that follow Armstrong
opening his spacecraft’s door and taking
his famous “small step”—the film remains
deeply immersive, human and personal.
Kudos to Singer, for wives and families never
get discarded and instead receive the time
and respect they deserve. In one remarkable
scene, Janet bravely demands straightforwardness
from Neil. She is not the clichéd wife
who asks him to stay home with his family.
“Tell your kids you might not come back,” she
bluntly tells him instead.
Needless to say, forget the fake controversy
around the lack of an American flag in the
Moon-landing scene—the idea of it is unambiguously
there, along with the national pride that’s
ingrained in the DNA of First Man at every turn.
Consistent with Chazelle’s narrative subtlety,
patriotism plays out quietly in the background,
just like the Cold War with Russia, the political
protests that erupted around the country and
other historical markers of the time. With First
Man, Chazelle aims much higher than jingoistic
cheers. What he lands on is a deeply human
story of a bruised family man who buries his
own sorrow in outer space while uniting the
world around a shared hunger for advancement
beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.
BLEECKER STREET/Color/2.35/111 Mins./Rated R
Cast: Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Denise Gough, Fiona
Shaw, Eleanor Tomlinson, Robert Pugh, Ray Panthaki.
Directed by Wash Westmoreland.
Screenplay: Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland, Rebecca
Produced by Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley, Pamela
Koffler, Christine Vachon, Michel Litvak, Gary Michael
Executive producers: Svetlana Metkina, Norman Merry,
Director of photography: Giles Nuttgens.
Production designer: Michael Carlin.
Editor: Lucia Zucchetti.
Costume designer: Andrea Flesch.
Music: Thomas Adès.
A Bold Films and BFI Film Fund presentation, in association
with HanWay Films, of a Killer Films and Number
9 Films production.
FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018 63
9/6/18 11:39 AM
Anchored by superb turns from Keira
Knightley and Dominic West, this timely and
gorgeously shot account of a beloved French
writer foregrounds Colette’s remarkable
freedom from conventional norms as she
finds her artistic voice.
A biopic about Colette is almost ridiculously
perfect for the current moment. The
celebrated French writer is often viewed as a
proto-feminist icon who embodied women’s
empowerment through work, sexual freedom
and an embrace of fluid gender. (Between
her three marriages she enjoyed a rewarding
long-term liaison with a woman.) If her
sass and blithe indifference to conventional
morality sometimes shocked fin-de-siècle
Paris, it rhymes nicely with trends today. In
a fine stroke of casting, the creative team
behind Colette—Wash Westmoreland and
his late husband Richard Glatzer—plucked
Keira Knightley as the eponymous heroine.
Knightley shines in period films (Anna
Karenina, Pride & Prejudice) and here inflects
Colette with a boldness and forthrightness
that create a bridge between Belle Epoque
Paris and today’s zeitgeist.
Born Gabrielle-Sidonie Colette, she was
a country girl with long braids and no dowry,
living far from the cultural ferment of Paris,
when she married Henry Gauthier-Villars
(Dominic West, pulling out all the stops and
then some). Willy, as he was known, brought
the 20-year-old into the bustling streets,
flourishing salons, and his literary and artistic
worlds—a heady mix that also included repo
men arriving to haul off his furniture. Willy
was a Gallic-flavored Casanova and hustler
who fast-talked a stable of ghostwriters into
churning out books in his name. Early in their
marriage, Willy scented lucre in Colette’s
anecdotes about her schoolgirl days and
hatched a fruitful scheme: co-opt his wife for
his stable of writers.
With that was born the novel Claudine
à l’école and a gaggle of other Claudines in
a long-running series—penned by Colette,
but bearing Willy’s name. How could the
filmmakers resist the famous scene (known
to every Comp Lit student) when Willy locks
Colette in her study at their country house to
force more Claudines out of his golden goose?
He may have contributed editorial tweaks—
”Make it naughtier”—but Willy was essentially
an early marketing genius who turned the series
into a publishing sensation defining a new
archetype: the teenager. Perhaps he created
the first franchise, complete with spin-offs.
Though Colette surprises at every turn
with the way it anticipates modern trends, the
first act wants more dramatic action and is
slow to find its way. Once Willy and Colette
set up as an early celebrity couple, cutting a
swathe through Parisian society with their
amorous adventures, the film finds its groove.
When Willy asks his wife’s opinion of a new
acquaintance, Colette responds, “It’s the
woman who interests me”—and we’re off on
a new plot thread. In this marriage, the couple
are business partners and co-conspirators in
romantic intrigues. After Willy horns in on
Colette’s liaison with an American heiress
(Eleanor Tomlinson), Colette’s outrage lacks
conviction. True to the credo “Everything
is material,” she promptly weaves Willy’s
double-timing into the plot of her next
book—Claudine en Ménage. (Happily, the
French had a term handy for this.) If there’s
a constant in Colette, it’s her refusal to play
But the couple’s fortune has been built
on the lie of Willy’s authorship. When, to
cover debts, he sells off the Claudines for a
paltry sum, Colette has finally had enough. His
desperate pleas reveal that his was the greater
dependency; though exploitive, he was in
thrall to her creativity and drive. Instrumental
in pushing Colette to claim her own artistic
voice is the alluring, gender-defying aristocrat,
the Marquise de Belbeuf, or “Missy” (Denise
Gough, fascinating), a calm, reassuring figure
(and more of a man than Willy?). In her
third act, with Missy urging her on, Colette
reinvents herself as a mime and itinerant
performer (sometimes bare-breasted) and
hits the road. A virtuosic set-piece revisits
a performance at the Moulin Rouge when
Missy and Colette kiss onstage, unleashing an
uproar and shutting down the house. Out of
her peripatetic actor’s life, Colette pulled the
memoir-ish, much-admired La Vagabonde, with
her own name finally in place on the cover.
The filmmakers choose to track Colette’s
journey from country girl to her coming of age
as an artist. This material will be well known
to Colette’s many readers. Arguably, a still
more fascinating period in Colette’s journey is
the next stage, after she’s assumed authorship
of her own work and goes on to marry twice
more. True to form, when husband #2 has
an affair, Colette “retaliates” by seducing his
handsome son. From this affair of the heart
came Le Blé en herbe and aspects of Chéri.
Perhaps there’s a sequel in the wings?
In this first installment of Colette, the
below-credits work is stellar: DP Gilles
Nutgens bathes the screen in the sepiatinted
gaslight of salons and theatres—you
can practically smell the interiors. Thomas
Ades, celebrated British opera composer,
drives the action forward with his soaring
score. In a kind of legerdemain, this most
Gallic of French writers is conveyed by
a stellar cast of Brits without straining
credibility. With judgment-free honesty and
wit, Westmoreland’s Colette recreates an
iconic woman who forged a freewheeling
life in tune with her truest impulses and
left a body of work that speaks uncannily
to our time. Colette, though, is never done
surprising, and feminists today should not
be too fast to claim her as one of their own.
“Me, a feminist? You’re kidding,” Colette said
in 1910. “You know what the suffragettes
deserve? The whip and the harem.”
A SIMPLE FAVOR
LIONSGATE/Color/1.85/117 Mins./Rated R
Cast: Blake Lively, Anna Kendrick, Henry Golding, Andrew
Rannells, Rupert Friend, Ian Ho, Joshua Satine, Kelly
McCormack, Aparna Nancherla.
Directed by Paul Feig.
Screenplay: Jessica Sharzer, based on the novel by Darcey
Produced by Paul Feig, Jessie Henderson.
Director of photography: Jonathan Schwartzman.
Production designer: Jefferson Sage.
Editor: Brent White.
Music: Theodore Shapiro.
Costume designer: Renee Ehrlich Kalfus.
A BRON Creative and Feigco Entertainment production.
Blake Lively emerges as a delectable,
bonafide star in this diverting if muddled
To that honorable if slightly tawdry roll
call of memorable film noir femme fatales—
Mary Astor (The Maltese Falcon), Barbara
Stanwyck (Double Indemnity), Lana Turner
(The Postman Always Rings Twice), Jane Greer
(Out of the Past), Anjelica Huston and Annette
Bening (The Grifters), you can most definitely
add Blake Lively in A Simple Favor. In this Paul
Feig-directed, Jessica Sharzer-scripted thriller
(from the novel by Darcey Bell), Lively plays
the rich, imperiously sexy and mysterious
Emily Nelson, who inveigles her unlikely new
friend, Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick),
a mousy, slightly annoying overachiever of
a widowed housewife, into her opulent,
martini-drenched suburban world with so
much Dietrich-esque suggestiveness and brazen
audacity that you attend to everything this
irresistibly androgynous minx says or does.
The super-twisted plot has Emily going
missing, perhaps even dead; a finger points to
the husband (Henry Golding) Stephanie heard
her referring to with a bewildering mix of
contempt and passion. As a relationship grows
between Stephanie and Emily’s hubby Sean
and they bond over their children, Stephanie
tries to break the case by alerting her followers
on the domestic mommy-goddess daily
blog she operates from her sparkling kitchen
with relentlessly chipper enthusiasm.
Feig’s direction is silken-smooth in the
opening passages, which draw you in through
a combination of intrigue and insouciant
comedy, generated by the highly contrasting
personalities and physiques of the beyondlouche
Emily and tightly wound, unsophisticated
Stephanie. Kendrick’s interplay with
Lively’s big, alluringly langurous temptress is
deliciously diverting, but the script could have
used some judicious editing; a surfeit of credibility-straining,
overly antic plot developments
crowd the last third of the film, which until
then had an intriguingly languid pace. It’s not
entirely clear whether the filmmakers mean
for you to take it all seriously or just give up
and laugh at the mounting U-turn outrageousness,
much like the way John Huston would
sometimes lazily send up his movies by their
end, perhaps out of a veteran’s boredom.
64 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/6/18 11:39 AM
Kendrick seems to be thoroughly enjoying
herself, acting with a fussy, uptight energy
that, while brightly efficient, is something we
have seen her and many others do before—
starting with Jean Arthur, who made this
gambit her stock-in-trade. It pales next to the
startlingly original presence of the devastating
Lively. Golding, as he was in Crazy Rich Asians,
is crazy handsome and rather charmingly
nonplussed by all the feverish estrogen around
him. Two bright young actors, Ian Ho and
Joshua Satine, are mercifully almost completely
devoid of movie-kid precocity as the
children in the story. And on the periphery
are a pair of flamboyantly rendered gay clichés:
Rupert Friend as Emily‘s designer boss,
who recoils at being compared to Tom Ford,
and Andrew Rannells doing a Paul Lynde as a
vicious, busybody single-dad neighbor, holding
his baby daughter like an Hermes accessory.
THE OLD MAN & THE GUN
FOX SEARCHLIGHT/Color/2.35/93 Mins./Rated PG-13
Cast: Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Danny
Glover, Tika Sumpter, Tom Waits, Elisabeth Moss, Isiah
Whitlock Jr., Keith Carradine.
Directed by David Lowery.
Screenplay: David Lowery, based on the New Yorker
article by David Grann.
Produced by James D. Stern, Dawn Ostroff, Jeremy
Steckler, Anthony Mastromauro, Bill Holderman,
Toby Halbrooks, James M. Johnston, Robert Redford.
Executive producers: Patrick Newall, Lucas Smith, Julie
Goldstein, Tim Headington, Karl Spoerri,
Director of photography: Joe Anderson.
Production designer: Scott Kuzio.
Editor: Lisa Zeno Churgin.
Music: Daniel Hart.
Costume designer: Annell Brodeur.
A Fox Searchlight Pictures presentation, in association
with Endgame Entertainment, of a Condé Nast
Entertainment, Sailor Bear Film, Identity Films, Tango
Productions and Wildwood Enterprises production.
True story of an elderly bank robber on a
crime spree is an undemanding vehicle for
A showcase for Robert Redford, The Old
Man & the Gun is drawn from one of those
offbeat New Yorker profiles about soft and
cuddly, stranger-than-fiction eccentrics. This
time it’s Forrest Tucker, a recalcitrant bank
robber who gets away with his crimes in part
by charming his victims.
A cinema icon for over 50 years, Redford
can’t help imbuing his role with the past. Some
viewers will see Tucker as an older version of
con men in The Sting or The Hot Rock or any
other number of movies in which Redford
played lovable rascals. Here he’s a goodlooking
guy in his 70s, still natty in suits and
fedoras, friendly, even jaunty, playing to the
audience with hints of grins, his eyes twinkling
Director David Lowery’s softball screenplay
follows Tucker on both solo jobs and
with his elderly team (Danny Glover and Tom
Waits), kvetching like they’re in an even more
laid-back Going in Style. Getting almost as
much screen time is Casey Affleck’s Houston
cop John Hunt, dogged and soft-spoken and in
what was for the time an unusual marriage.
On the run from cops, Tucker befriends
Jewel (Sissy Spacek), a widow who owns a
ranch. Soon they’re exchanging telling glances
in a low-key diner. She will later throw Tucker
a lifeline as the cops close in.
Spacek, of course, brings her own career to
the movie—Jewel might be Holly from Badlands,
all grown up and out of prison. Whatever her
past, Spacek fully inhabits her character here.
She performs with a lack of inhibition that
Redford would never attempt. There’s an energy,
or at least a spark, in her scenes that’s largely
missing from the rest of the movie.
One way to watch The Old Man & the
Gun is as a primer on acting styles, from Tom
Waits’ shambling shtick (honed from his years
as a singer of tall tales) to the flailing hands
and grimaces Elisabeth Moss uses as Tucker’s
neglected daughter. As for Affleck, he slows
down his gait and swallows his lines until he
begins to resemble wallpaper.
At this stage in his career, Redford’s
performances are always about himself: his
looks, his outlooks, his body of work. In J.C.
Chandor’s dead-end All Is Lost, even as a Marvel
archvillain in Captain America: The Winter
Soldier, Redford comments on his past roles
more than he acts. Maybe he relates to Tucker
as someone who managed to steal a career
while working on jobs beneath his skills.
Lowery, an effective director on last year’s
A Ghost Story with Affleck, seems tentative
here. Long driving sequences in cars, tight
close-ups on faces, the post-crime focus on
bank tellers and managers, Daniel Hart’s lush
score, even the credits font all reach back to
Redford’s successes in the ’60s and ’70s. It
was a period with some great movies, but also
pretentious bombs like The Chase, inexplicably
The Old Man & the Gun is never less than
pleasant, and Redford’s fans might even find it
resonant. Others may think it’s cute but underwhelming,
sweet-natured but forgettable.
There are worse ways to spend your time.
WHITE BOY RICK
COLUMBIA PICTURES & STUDIO 8/Color/2.35/
111 Mins./Rated R
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Bel Powley,
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rory Cochrane, Brian Tyree Henry,
RJ Cyler, Eddie Marsan, Bruce Dern, Piper Laurie.
Directed by Yann Demange.
Screenplay: Andy Weiss, Logan Miller, Noah Miller.
Produced by John Lesher, Julie Yorn, Scott Franklin,
Executive producers: Georgia Kacandes, Matthew Krul, Ari
Handel, Michael J. Weiss, Christopher Mallick, Logan
Miller, Noah Miller.
Director of photography: Tat Radcliffe.
Production designer: Stefania Cella.
Editor: Chris Wyatt.
Music: Max Richter.
Costume designer: Amy Westcott.
A Studio 8 production.
Yann Demange tells the true story of a
young Detroit convict with the same thrilling
panache that informed his debut,’71. Despite
certain structural gaffes, White Boy Rick
observantly portrays a family stuck in a cycle
Back in 2014, director Yann Demange made
a searing debut with his Belfast-set IRA
thriller ’71, following a young soldier caught
in the crossfire in the year before Bloody
Sunday. His sophomore feature White Boy
Rick, which premiered at the 45th Telluride
Film Festival, boasts a similar tautness in
telling the true and tragic story of a 14-yearold
Detroit boy’s criminal pursuits in the
The film centers on Richard Wershe,
Jr., who, along with his family, lived the
anti-American Dream during an era of the
overblown nationwide war on drugs and the
widely publicized “Just Say No” campaign.
Despite his young age, Rick Jr. was lured by
the FBI to work for them as an informant.
Three years later, in 1987, he was sentenced
to lifetime imprisonment for cocaine possession,
the FBI leaving him in the hands of an
unsympathetic judge. To this day, Rick is still
serving his prison sentence—title cards in the
end, accompanied by Rick’s own voice, inform
us that the year 2018 is when he would finally
be paroled after having served 30+ years
What leads to Rick Jr.’s sentencing is
a complicated tale of people with no good
options habitually making bad decisions
despite their grand aspirations. The script,
co-written by Andy Weiss and Logan and
Noah Miller, for the most part does justice
to the complex dynamics at play, allowing
Demange to paint a vivid, true-to-the-era
portrait of the crime-infused Detroit streets.
Terrific newcomer Richie Merritt plays Rick
Jr., a physically demanding part channeling the
young criminals of GoodFellas, with commendable
confidence—he matures in his acting as
his character is put through the wringer of
poverty and backstabbing, also finding himself
in a brief but life-changing romance.
Quickly earning the nickname “White Boy
Rick,” Rick lives in his predominantly black
community with his loving, well-meaning but
by all accounts ne’er-do-well father Richard
Sr. (Matthew McConaughey, perfectly cast)
and his drug-addict sister Dawn (Bel Powley,
one of the most exciting young actors working
today). Grumpy grandfather Roman (Bruce
Dern, comic relief straight out of Nebraska)
provides frequent teasing. Failed by the system
as well as by his gun-loving family—Rick Sr.
frequents gun shows in a world where shootings
regularly occur—Rick Jr. falls into the
hands of manipulative FBI officers played by
Jennifer Jason Leigh and Rory Cochrane.
Of course, Rick Jr. isn’t entirely
blame-free from accepting their dicey
proposition. White Boy Rick works largely
thanks to this awareness. Demange dissects
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 65
9/6/18 11:39 AM
the story from a tricky perspective,
acknowledging that Rick Jr.’s story is
made up of both knowingly irresponsible
acts and the unstoppable cycle of crime
fueled by desperation. Demange and
cinematographer Tat Racliffe adeptly depict
the tightknit, street-smart neighborhoods
of a tarnished Detroit. Similarly, Amy
Westcott’s costuming, especially intricately
designed for the background actors, brings
the flamboyance of the era to life without
falling into the trap of overzealous nostalgia.
But White Boy Rick’s treatment of Dawn,
whom father and son rescue from nearfatal
addiction, leaves much to be desired.
She sometimes feels like an afterthought.
Similarly, the surprising turn of events that
reveals Rick Jr.’s newborn baby unfolds
haphazardly and is handled in a cutesy
way. But despite its structural hiccups,
Demange’s film still manages to highlight the
humanity of a family and community that
fights to survive their no-win circumstances
and aspire to pass on something hopeful to
SCREEN MEDIA FILMS/Color/2.35/102 Mins./Not Rated
Cast: Julianne Moore, Ken Watanabe, Christopher
Lambert, Sebastian Koch, Tenoch Huerta.
Directed by Paul Weitz.
Screenplay: Paul Weitz, Anthony Weintraub, based on the
novel by Ann Patchett.
Produced by Caroline Baron, Lizzie Friedman, Karen
Lauder, Greg Little, Andrew Miano, Anthony Weintrab,
Executive producers: Madeline Anbinder, Stephen Anbinder,
Robert Baron, Tracy Baron, Ali Jazayeri, Lisa
Wolofsky, Viviane Zarragoitia.
Director of photography: Tobias Datum.
Production designer: Tommaso Ortino.
Editor: Suzy Elmiger.
Music: David Majzlin.
A Screen Media presentation of a Priority Pictures,
A-Line Pictures and Depth of Field production.
Terrorists kidnap Julianne Moore but free
her heart in this far-fetched drama.
You don’t go to operas for the plot, but
movies about opera singers are a bit different—and
one less aria, and one more judicious
rewrite, might have helped Bel Canto.
Based on the Ann Patchett novel—itself
inspired by a real-life incident in Peru—it’s
set in a Latin-American country where the
vice president is giving a grand diplomatic
ball. The guests include various ambassadors
and a Japanese mogul, Katsumi Hosokawa
(Ken Watanabe), whose investments the
country is eagerly trying to obtain.
Helping them in that effort? The entertainment
for the evening is Roxanne Coss (Julianne
Moore), a renowned American singer
on whom the opera-obsessed Hosokawa has
more than a casual fan’s crush. Coss is only
there for the generous fee, but her hosts hope
her appearance will persuade Hosokawa to
commit to a massive new project.
And then terrorists burst in and take
This is the point at which many movies
would suddenly reveal there’s a disgracedbut-still-studly
Special Ops hero among the
guests (and spotting Christopher Lambert in
the cast briefly adds to that suspicion). But
director Paul Weitz (who also co-wrote the
faithful adaptation) is interested in quieter
stuff, as the hostage situation drags on for
weeks and bonds begin to form.
The strongest is between Hosokawa and
Coss even though it’s a relationship that has
to develop non-verbally; very few people at
this international party seem to be fluent in
more than one language, so the soundtrack is
a colorful babble of Japanese, Spanish, Italian
and other tongues. But Hosokawa’s courtliness
is obvious—when the terrorists demand
they lie on the floor, he makes Coss a pillow
out of his folded tuxedo jacket—and it soon
warms even this diva’s somewhat chilly heart.
That’s fine, and both actors play to their
strengths here—Watanabe’s stoic masculinity,
Moore’s quicksilver emotions—and
the rest of the cast is solid. Lambert adds
a few small moments of humor as a French
diplomat; Sebastian Koch is the mostly
disregarded voice of reason, as a negotiator
commuting between the government and the
kidnappers. And, as the rebel leader, Tenoch
Huerta is formidable without ever becoming
Yet the film—Weitz’s first since 2015’s
indie Grandma—feels a little cheap and
shortchanged. Grainy bits of stock footage
used to pad out scenes of military preparations
stick out painfully. Also jarring is
Moore’s singing—she lip-syncs expertly to
the glorious Renée Fleming’s pre-recorded
vocals, but the room tone is off. Even when
Coss is singing in a nearly empty, marblefloored
home, it has the warm, rich ambience
of a concert hall.
But even less realistic are the interactions
among the characters. That being thrown
together in this situation might draw people
close is undeniable; that it would encourage
explosions of sexual passion seems less likely.
But not only do Coss and Hosokawa connect,
so do a shy Japanese translator and an illiterate
terrorist (who meet for assignations in a
china closet). Other bursts of affection include
Coss tutoring a would-be singing gunman and
the vice president happily chatting with a rebel
who’s already killed one of the hostages.
Perhaps this worked better in Patchett’s
novel, where readers can create a certain
poetic distance, but transferred to the
screen these moments just fail to convince,
as gun-toting rebels conspire to let hostages
sneak away for a few hours of amor. Why, it’s
just like the last episode of my favorite telenovela,
one rifle-toting kidnapper exclaims!
Yet, it probably is. And it helps strike one of
the loudest false notes in this occasionally,
operatically, off-key drama.
THE CHILDREN ACT
A24/Color/1.85/105 Mins./Rated R
Cast: Emma Thompson, Fionn Whitehead, Stanley Tucci,
Ben Chaplin, Eileen Walsh, Anthony Calf, Jason
Watkins, Dominic Carter.
Directed by Richard Eyre.
Screenplay: Ian McEwan, based on his novel.
Produced by Duncan Kenworthy.
Executive producers: Glen Basner, Ben Browning,
Joe Oppenheimer, Beth Pattinson, Charles Moore.
Director of photography: Andrew Dunn.
Production designer: Peter Francis.
Editor: Dan Farrell.
Music: Stephen Warbeck.
Costume designer: Fotini Dimou.
A BBC Films, Toledo Prods. and FilmNation Entertainment
An impressively acted but uncompelling
film about a family court judge in the U.K.
who grapples with her faltering marriage and
the impact of her legal decisions on a young
boy—and ultimately herself.
Perhaps I’m suffering from compassion
fatigue, but no matter how hard I tried (and I
did, really and truly), I couldn’t muster any serious
empathy for Fiona Maye (Emma Thompson),
a high-powered family court judge who
has to make life-and-death decisions (most
of which are no-brainers for any reasonable
person). At the same time, her husband Jack
(Stanley Tucci) has announced he’d like to
have an extramarital affair with a particular
young woman, though he has every intention
of returning to Fiona.
It’s his last-ditch sexual fling, he explains,
arguing that Fiona has grown passion-free
altogether too wrapped up in her cases and
career to care one way or the other. Arguably,
he has a point. Still, asking for her stamp
of approval strains credulity. On second
thought, if she okayed his proposal (and that
might be the sensible thing to do), problem
solved. Also, no movie.
Adapted for the screen by Ian McEwan
from his 2014 novel and directed by Richard
Eyre, who helmed Iris and Notes of a Scandal
(two subtle and moving films), The Children
Act, referencing a 1989 U.K. child-welfare law,
feels manufactured, certainly more so on the
screen than in the book.
Nonetheless, the picture has its rubbernecking
appeal, watching it unfold to see what
happens next given its contrived premise. It’s
also fun to watch highly educated, successful
people (Jack is a professor of ancient history)
at work and at home—in this instance a spacious,
comfortable refuge that proclaims lowkey
affluence (credit to production designer
Peter Francis). There are the book-lined
walls, Persian rugs and a grand piano. Fiona
is an accomplished pianist, too. Talk about
Like many of McEwan’s novels, The
Children Act consists in large measure of the
protagonist’s introspective journey. Transferring
it to the screen is therefore challenging.
Several of his earlier adaptations have succeeded,
most notably (and recently) On Chesil
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9/6/18 11:39 AM
Beach. What’s missing in McEwan’s Children
is Fiona’s private motivation, which could
account (at least in part) for her otherwise
For example, in the novel it’s clear that
Jack’s proposition is devastating to Fiona not
because she’s wildly in love with him—though
she once was, and the memory is haunting.
His breach, rather, shatters her stability,
identity and sense of place in the world. She
is suddenly forced to question her choices,
including her decision not to have a child. Jack
and Fiona spend many weekends playing host
to his very young nieces and nephews. They
have a designated guest room overflowing
with stuffed animals and other toys.
Fiona is indisputably committed to her
time-consuming, intellectually demanding
career—she’s engrossed by the moral and
ethical legal twists and turns it provides—but
now in the throes of a major crisis she hurls
herself into it with even greater fervor as a
way to focus her attention and block out the
intrusive pain. This connective tissue is missing
from the film. We know Fiona is troubled, but
that’s about it. Her behavior doesn’t add up.
Her most recent case centers on a
17-year-old leukemia patient whose parents,
committed to the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses,
forbid the hospital from administering
blood transfusions that (in conjunction with
chemotherapy) would save their son’s life.
Transfused blood is viewed as unclean and a
violation of God’s will. The doctors present
their case; the parents (convincingly played
by Ben Chaplin and Eileen Walsh) present
theirs, insisting that their son fully shares their
Fiona decides to visit the young boy in
question, Adam Henry (Fionn Whitehead
of Dunkirk), lying in a hospital bed, to see
how he feels about all of it, knowing it’s an
unprecedented step on her part (in fact,
virtually inconceivable). As it turns out,
Adam is a bright, charming, even flirtatious
youngster who spars with the judge on judicial
and religious matters, making it clear he is not
being coerced by his parents or the church
elders. He impresses Fiona with his sharp
intelligence and artistic sensibility, especially
his love of poetry and music. Guitar in hand,
he strums away while the two of them sing
a duet, “Down by the Salley Gardens,” a
sentimental folk song with a poem by Yeats.
Nurses and social workers silently observe
the performance. This moment rendered me
As expected (no spoiler here), Fiona rules
on the side of the doctors. Adam receives his
treatments, including the transfusions, and
recovers. It’s a transforming experience for
him. He’s thrilled to be alive and looking forward
to his future. He’s beginning to question
his faith. He’s also fallen in love with Fiona.
After all, she’s given him new life, literally and
metaphorically. In all probability she’s the first
woman who has expressed any interest in him.
He writes, calls and trails after her, at one
point traveling from London to Newcastle,
where she’s attending a legal gathering. Finally,
he suggests moving in with her as a non-paying
lodger who will earn his keep by doing chores
around the house.
She knows she’s aroused feelings in him
that she had no business arousing. In the novel
there is some reciprocity of feeling and that
makes for a more complex—yes, emotionally
compelling—scenario. Onscreen she’s dismissive,
even cruel. Adam is still an inexperienced
child and she has unwittingly exploited him.
Painful consequences follow.
The climactic scene takes place during
a Christmas concert in which Fiona is
performing. Throughout much of the film,
she rehearses the program with her friend
(Anthony Calf), a High Court barrister. Music
plays a central role in this film, and that works
well. Less successful is the melodrama that has
been concocted to take place at the aforementioned
recital. Fiona receives bad news
before the performance, struggles through
most of it and finally has a public meltdown.
It’s just plain false. This is a steely, private British
woman. It would never happen.
That said, Thompson cuts a highly
intelligent, empowered figure whose silent
moments are evocative of thoughts unvoiced.
Whitehead as a young boy on the cusp of
adulthood struggling with God, mortality and
overactive hormones is impactful, too. And
in a small supporting role, Tucci is as much a
witless sad sack as he is a bastard.
The acting is not the problem. It rarely is.
And, within parameters, the movie is not dull.
Just don’t expect to feel much short of guilt in
response to your own apathy.
SUNDANCE SELECTS/Color/2.35/127 Mins./Rated R
Cast: Benjamin Dickey, Alia Shawkat, Josh Hamilton,
Directed by Ethan Hawke.
Screenplay: Ethan Hawke, Sybil Rosen, based on Rosen’s
memoir Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering
Produced by Jake Seal, Ethan Hawke, John Sloss,
Executive producers: Louis Black, Sandy Boone,
Gurpreet Chandhoke, Stephen Shea.
Director of photography: Steve Cosens.
Production designer: Thomas Hayek.
Editor: Jason Gourson.
Music: Blaze Foley, Townes Van Zandt.
Costume designer: Lee Kyle.
An Under the Influence production.
An unconventional reimagining of a
country-music legend’s career from writerdirector
Languid, associative, at times dragging, at
other moments deeply affecting, thanks to a
song and a trick of the light, Ethan Hawke’s
Blaze is difficult to define. It’s based on the
life of country singer Blaze Foley, so should
we call it a biopic? But Blaze lacks your standard
cradle-to-the-grave scope; instead, the
movie, directed and co-written (with the late
Blaze’s former wife, Sybil Rosen) by Hawke,
interweaves three different time periods
to paint a portrait of an artist that’s more
impressionistic than comprehensive. And yet
the movie isn’t nearly abstract enough to be
called a “tone poem.” Almost as singular as it
claims its subject once was, then, what Blaze
does offer is an experience fueled by the
undeniable strength of the real Blaze Foley’s
We are given to know our hero through
flashbacks and flash-forwards: as he was in his
relationship with the aspiring actress, Sybil
(Alia Shawkat); on the long night before he
met his tragic death; and through the narrative
recollections of fellow musicians and friends
Townes (Charlie Sexton) and Zee (Josh
Hamilton), as they give a radio interview an
unrevealed amount of time after Blaze’s death.
Blaze is a gentle giant, hippy troubadour,
romantic, great talent and—that unfortunate
aspect of his character that gives his onscreen
story its dramatic weight—a self-destructive
mess. We see him falling in love in 1970s
Georgia with the intelligent Sybil and living
an Edenic life with her in a tree house in the
woods. We see him, too, brawling in bars and
drunkenly abusing hecklers across the Midwest.
And we see him—we hear him, above all
else—sing through every high and every low.
The un-billed star of Blaze, the reason you
stick with the story despite its relative lack of
action and its time-jumping (which takes some
getting used to), is the music. Impressive,
too, are the handful of great performances
given in service to those songs—think of the
actors in this film as the equivalent of backup
singers to Blaze’s tunes—most notably from
Sexton as Townes, who brings such ease to
his dialogue you’d think he was improvising on
the spot, and Ben Dickey (who, like Sexton,
is a musician off-screen as well) as Blaze. The
latter is sometimes difficult to understand,
with his Southern accent and his lyrical-jive
way of talking. At times, when he’s whispering
with Sybil in bed, he sounds not unlike a
Dixie “Godfather.” But, having never heard
any of the originals he covers, I found after a
while I ceased to mind how difficult it was to
understand Dickey when he spoke; I was only
waiting for him to sing again.
Although the screenwriting plays second
fiddle to the songwriting here, there are a few
noteworthy moments of humor that enliven
the longer stretches without a song. Townes
and Blaze are given to telling jawing anecdotes
that are like short, comic stories unto themselves.
(Perhaps unsurprising, coming from
author Hawke.) Yes, they reveal things about
the characters who tell them, but do these interludes
also make the two-hour-plus film longer
than it needs to be? Maybe. Possibly. Yes.
But Blaze is not an economical movie when it
comes to its storytelling, and the color these
drawling anecdotes brings is so vivid, their
length—that is, the length of the film in its
entirety, really—must be given a pass.
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 67
9/6/18 11:39 AM
In the end, the story of Blaze Foley isn’t
so very different from the many other tales
you’ve likely heard of talent for a fleeting
moment achieving grace, only to be wasted
through the self-inflicted cracks of its human
vessel. As Leonard Cohen sings of Janis Joplin
in his “Chelsea Hotel #2”: “I can’t keep track
of each fallen robin.” But more than any unconventional
structure, it is the music of Blaze
that redeems the dragging bits and makes the
movie, and the man, something to attend to.
CRAZY RICH ASIANS
WARNER BROS./Color/2.35/Dolby Digital/120 Mins./
Cast: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh,
Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, Sonoya
Mizuno, Chris Pang, Jimmy O. Yang, Ronny Chieng,
Remy Hii, Nico Santos, Jing Lusi, Carmen Soo, Pierre
Png, Fiona Xie, Harry Shum Jr..
Directed by Jon M. Chu.
Screenplay: Peter Chiarelli, Adele Lim, based on the novel
by Kevin Kwan.
Produced by Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, John Penotti.
Executive producers: Tim Coddington, Kevin Kwan,
Robert Friedland, Sidney Kimmel.
Director of photography: Vanja Cernjul.
Production designer: Nelson Coates.
Editor: Myron Kerstein.
Music: Brian Tyler.
Costume designer: Mary E. Vogt.
A Warner Bros. Pictures presentation, in association with
SK Global and Starlight Culture, of a Color Force, Ivanhoe
Pictures and Electric Somewhere production.
Forget the visual largesse. There’s a strong
tale of family conflict buried under all the
bling that, coupled with a large, appealing,
all-Asian cast, is the no-martial-arts crossover
film this cinematically neglected populace
has needed forever.
Directed by Jon M. Chu and based on Kevin
Kwan‘s popular pop-fiction novel, Crazy Rich
Asians captures the new big-money Asian
zeitgeist in all its garishly florid, excessive and
mind-numbing glory. It’s all about the accoutrements
here—the humongous McMansions,
flashy rides, designer drag and bling that runs
to a cool million for a pair of earrings.
The plot is Simple Simon, and none too
original, focusing on Rachel (Constance Wu),
an NYU economics professor who unknowingly
falls into a Cinderella situation when
she suddenly discovers that her Singaporean
boyfriend, Nick (Henry Golding), comes from
one of the richest families in his—indeed,
anyone’s—country. He takes her home to
attend a wedding and introduce her to his
family, which is enough to start a crapstorm of
gossip that makes it into the media via certain
Twitter dish addicts dogging their trail.
If Rachel was kept in ignorance
regarding Nick’s status, however, there is
no doubt as to how his family feels about
her. His über-controlling mother, Eleanor
(Michelle Yeoh), simply doesn’t think Rachel
is good enough for her cherished son. Her
constant testing of the poor girl, as well
as the bitchiness of many of the women in
the highest strata of Singaporean society,
persuades her to give up her guy and hightail
it back to the relative normalcy of NYC and
her sweet, supportive immigrant mom, who
herself harbors a big secret.
Chu piles on the lavish party visuals in
a way not seen since Baz Luhrmann’s The
Great Gatsby. Would that the design elements
were as natty as that flick’s, for this particular
crowd invariably substitutes flash for
elegance. Gargantuan nightclubs, bachelor
parties aboard huge ships with rich a-hole
arrivals via private plane, and mountains of
mouthwatering food and drink culminate
in a wedding to end all weddings, which
takes place in an indoor manmade river at
floodtide. The use of sprightly Chinese pop
songs, which often make more satiric points
than the weakish, often random script, is
the cleverest, most on-target aspect of this
Chu is not an actor’s director, being far
more concerned with splashy spectacle than
intimate human emotions. Luckily, quite a
number of his huge all-Asian cast—a boon to
a minority that has been historically ignored
in American film (it’s been 25 years since
The Joy Luck Club)—rise to the occasion and
deliver both laughs and occasional, muchneeded
poignancy. Yeoh is the cast standout
here, imbuing the ramrod-stiff Eleanor with
a scary, almost Mrs. Danvers-like quality, the
ultimate, implacable dragon lady obsessed
with position, power and family status. She’s
impressive (as she was in Memoirs of a Geisha)
and, to her credit, does not for a second try
to soften this Chanel-clad witch who holds
all of the family jewels (including certain private
parts of Nick) in her unshakeable claw.
While she takes top dramatic honors, the
irrepressible Queens-bred Korean-Chinese
rapper Awkwafina is the breakout star as
Rachel’s rambunctious BFF. She’s every bit as
lovable and almost as outrageous as Tiffany
Haddish in Girls Trip. One just wishes she’d
been given stronger material.
Wu (of TV’s “Fresh Off the Boat”) is
lovely, has an appealing down-to-earth quality
and—in tandem with Yeoh—manages to draw
you into this culture-clash dilemma, which
should provide more true audience appeal
than all the obvious opulence. She even manages
to affect some sort of chemistry with
Golding, who, although dazzlingly handsome,
doesn’t bring much to this party.
As if to take the romantic pressure off
the two leads, who are not exactly Hepburn
and Grant or even Rock and Doris, there’s
an expendable subplot involving Nick’s
cousin, the impossibly chic and mournfuldespite-her-bling
Astrid (Gemma Chan)—
that name says a lot about the improbable
Westernized pretensions of these folk,
however much they insist on their traditional
ways—and an errant husband who can’t
quite get over his more common roots in the
midst of so much muchness. —David Noh
NEON/Color/2.35/110 Mins./Rated R
Cast: Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra,
Anika Noni Rose, Colman Domingo, Maude Apatow,
Cody Christian, Kathryn Erbe, Susie Misner, Danny
Ramirez, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Noah Galvin, Bill
Skarsgård, Joel McHale, Bella Thorne, Joe Chrest, Jeff
Pope, Jennifer Morrison, J.D. Evermore, Lukas Gage.
Written and directed by Sam Levinson.
Produced by David S. Goyer, Kevin Turen, Anita Gou,
Matthew J. Malek, Manu Gargi, Aaron L. Gilbert.
Executive producers: Steven Thibault, Jason Cloth, Andy
Pollack, Christopher Conover, Mike Novogratz, J.E.
Moore, Will Greenfield, David Gendron, Ali Jazayeri.
Director of photography: Marcell Rév.
Production designer: Michael Grasley.
Editor: Ron Patane.
Music: Ian Hultquist.
Music supervisor: Mary Ramos.
Costume designer: Rachel Dainer-Best.
A Bron Studios, Foxtail Entertainment and Phantom Four
production, in association with Creative Wealth Media.
This wannabe-satire about high-school
girls coping with a hometown devolving into
hacker-created chaos is possibly the year’s
most obnoxious release.
Early in Assassination Nation, a character
blows his brains out, and writer-director Sam
Levinson positions his camera directly behind
the man’s head so that we, the audience, are
fully splattered with his remains. That moment
perfectly encapsulates this obnoxiously
extreme “satire,” which rubs one’s face in
nonstop ugliness while trying to decide which
of its many subjects it wants, at any given
instance, to skewer.
From the get-go, Levinson makes every
wrongheaded directorial decision imaginable
in an apparent effort to make one loathe
Assassination Nation—and his success in that
regard proves this teensploitation schlock’s
lone triumph. Amidst an awful barrage of
“trigger warning” montages, color filters,
flashbacks and fast-forwards, slow-motion,
narration and split screens—so, so, so many
split screens—we’re introduced to Lilly
(Odessa Young), Sarah (Suki Waterhouse), Em
(Abra) and Bex (Hari Nef), four BFFs whose
high-school lives are dominated by drinking,
sexting, gossiping and generally acting like the
sort of nightmarish cretins parents hope their
children don’t become. These sexpots exist
in a town named Salem (foreshadowing alert!)
that’s populated by all manner of deviants, be
it jocks, cheerleaders, school administrators
or the mayor himself. As repulsively visualized
by Levinson, it’s suburbia as a hellscape of
tarts, douches and perverts, where every girl
has a phone filled with nude selfies, every boy
is a horndog creep, and every male adult is
hiding a deep, dark secret.
Things go terribly wrong in this hamlet
once a hacker begins releasing residents’
confidential messages, photos and browser
histories, at which point Assassination Nation
strives to fashion some sort of delirious commentary
about 21st-century lack of privacy
and the potential hazards posed by digital and
social media. No matter that its cautionary-
68 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/6/18 11:39 AM
tale message (be careful what you record
and share!) is immediately obvious, Levinson
beats it into the ground with leering, strutting
stylistic excess, all while positing everyone
in his story as either a creep or a victim of
creeps (or both!). One awful thing leads to
many more, until finally, the film comes to the
conclusion that revealing people’s intimate
personal details would lead to societal collapse,
and shortly thereafter, the Purge.
Masked men are soon forming posses and
hunting for fresh meat—female, in particular,
which shifts Assassination Nation’s focus away
from pricking modern online paradigms and
toward cultural misogyny. Lily, Sarah, Em and
Bex (who’s transgender) are cast as prey and,
afterwards, as noble avenging feminist angels.
Alas, their persecution at the hands of Charlottesville-esque
white psychos (highlighted
by a sub-Brian De Palma-style sequence
shot from outside a home’s windows) might
have had more bite had Levinson not first
spent so much time depicting his heroines as
thoroughly awful. As with an upside-down
image of a bat-wielding girl standing on the
American flag while stalking cheerleaders
practicing an eroticized routine in a darkened
gym, everything here is laughably underlined
in a vain attempt to Say Something Meaningful
about contemporary teenagerdom and
America. The only thing conveyed by this
wildly moralizing, exhaustingly edgy film,
however, is its own shock-tactic self-love.
THE LITTLE STRANGER
FOCUS FEATURES/Color/1.85/111 Mins./Rated R
Cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Will Poulter,
Charlotte Rampling, Josh Dylan, Anna Madeley, Kate
Phillips, Lorne MacFadyen, Amy Marston, Darren Kent,
Tim Plester, Kathryn O’Reilly, Oliver Zetterström,
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson.
Screenplay: Lucinda Coxon, based on the novel by Sarah
Produced by Andrea Calderwood, Gail Egan, Ed Guiney.
Executive producers: Daniel Battsek, Andrew Lowe,
Cameron McCracken, Tim O’Shea.
Director of photography: Ole Bratt Birkeland.
Production designer: Simon Elliott.
Editor: Nathan Nugent.
Music: Stephen Rennicks.
Costume designer: Steven Noble.
A Focus Features/Pathé presentation of a Potboiller Prods./
Dark Trick Films/Element Pictures/Film4 production.
A classy, quiet, cryptically sculptured ghost
story clever enough to retain its mystery,
The Little Stranger will trigger post-show
discussions and cerebral hangovers.
Walk away, Faraday,” advises an English
‘ country doctor in The Little Stranger to his
impressionable new assistant, who has become
irretrievably mired in the miseries of a
once-grand Warwickshire manor that’s fallen
on decay and disrepair.
Doctor’s orders are thoroughly ignored
by this physician, who has no interest in healing
himself. His given name is never given—
even as an eight-year-old making his first
fateful visit to Hundreds Hall, where his mum
worked as a housemaid. The only thing that
precedes his surname is his title: Doctor. You
could call him X the Unknown, because he
becomes progressively more unknown as the
The Little Stranger represents a step up
for Lenny Abrahamson, one of the best of
cinema’s emerging new directors. In 2015, he
squeezed an Oscar (Brie Larson’s)—along
with a nomination for himself—out of a
10x10-foot Room; now, he has a whole mansion
to play with—and, fortuitously, it comes
haunted, capable of scrambling the fragile
psyche of the story’s central character as it
did poor Julie Harris’ in The Haunting.
Hundreds Hall, viewed here circa 1948, has
an aura akin to Norma Desmond’s dilapidated
digs in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard. “A
neglected house gets an unhappy look,” Sunset’s
Joe Gillis observed. “This one had it in spades.
It was like that old woman in Great Expectations—that
Miss Havisham, in her rotting wedding
dress and her torn veil, taking it out on the
world because she’d been given the go-by.”
The long-gone-by inhabitants of Hundreds
Hall have the quivering upper lip of Miss Havisham,
delusional and depressed as befits an
upper class that has lost its shine. Charlotte
Rampling brings all her reserve and regality
to the matriarch of the manse, Mrs. Ayres.
Will Poulter hits the right hollow notes as the
notional master of the house, Rod, tragically
scared and stunted by a fiery encounter with
the RAF. Both of them, as well as their home,
are Scotch-Taped together by a deglamorized
and moving Ruth Wilson, the spine and
spinster of the place whose lesbian leanings
throw a monkey wrench into Faraday’s hopes
of marrying into the Ayres lineage.
There may or may not be another resident
at Hundreds Hall wafting around the premises,
triggering servant bells and setting off a vicious
dog attack. The suggestion is strong that
this very well could be the poltergeist version
of Suki, Mrs. Ayres’ daughter, who died of
diphtheria at age eight, shortly after meeting
the boy Faraday.
Faraday, who advocates electromagnetism
like the same-named British scientist who
helped discover it, is played by two quite
different actors—Domhnall Gleeson as a
repressed thirty-something and Oliver Zetterström
as a wide-eyed sub-teenager.
Lucinda Coxon proves to be the perfect
person to adapt Sarah Waters’ neo-gothic
novel of 2009, since Coxon’s specialty is creating
title characters where there’s a multiple
choice of possibilities. The Danish Girl was
either a portrait of artist Gerda (Oscarwinning
Alicia Vikander) or her transgender
spouse Lili (Oscar-nominated Eddie Redmayne).
Similarly, The Little Stranger could be
a listless and lingering Suki or the grownup
version of the eight-year-old boy she caught
breaking off a plaster acorn from a picture
frame to keep as a souvenir of his visit.
You decide. The Little Stranger invites debate
and analysis long after viewing. Heady horror
films with psychological tics and twists are few
and far between, and this is the best one since
The Innocents, Jack Clayton’s stylish and sinister
1961 edition of Henry James’ The Turn of the
Screw. Abrahamson even unwinds his like a novel.
ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS-SABAN FILMS/
Color/2.35/105 Mins./Rated R
Cast: Chloë Sevigny, Kristen Stewart, Kim Dickens, Fiona
Shaw, Denis O’Hare, Jamey Sheridan, Jeff Perry.
Directed by Craig William Macneill.
Screenplay: Bryce Kass.
Produced by Naomi Despres, Liz Destro, Chloë Sevigny.
Executive producers: Edward J. Anderson, Roxanne Fie
Anderson, Elizabeth Stillwell.
Director of photography: Noah Greenberg.
Production designer: Elizabeth Jones.
Editor: Abbi Jutkowitz.
Music: Jeff Russo.
Costume designer: Natalie O’Brien.
A Saban Films and Powder Hound Pictures presentation of
a Destro Films production, in association with Artina
Films and The Solution Entertainment Group. Produced
in association with Goldfinch Australia Limited.
All too bloodless.
Director Craig William Macneill strips the
sensationalism from the tale of perhaps American
history’s most famous murderess in Lizzie.
Think of it as the antithesis of Lifetime’s 2014
made-for-TV movie Lizzie Borden Took an Ax,
which had a wide-eyed Christina Ricci hamming
her way through a late 19th-century tale of parricide.
Chloë Sevigny, who stars and produces
here, takes a far more subdued route in this far
more subdued movie. So subdued, in fact, that
Lizzie is just a few breaths short of DOA.
There are kernels, here, of what could have
been a better film. One respects the intent of
Lizzie in taking its subject’s story and removing
from it the rubbernecking and reveling in gory
details present in so much of the true-crime
genre. Here, Lizzie is less a crazed murderess
than a fiercely independent woman constrained
by the insistence of her father—not to mention
society at large—that she have basically no say in
her own life. Andrew Borden (Jamey Sheridan),
on top of being controlling and parsimonious in
the extreme, is also a rapist. His victim is the new
family maid Bridget (Kristen Stewart), a subject
of sexual attraction—reciprocated—for Lizzie.
Screenwriter Bryce Kass wisely stops short
of framing Lizzie as some sort of proto-feminist
heroine—she did murder her parents in cold
blood, after all—but his take on Lizzie’s life adds
some much-needed dimension to a story that’s
been reduced over the years to a skipping-rope
rhyme for children.
If the intentions are admirable, the execution
is considerably less so. Sevigny’s portrayal
of Lizzie transitions over the course of the film
from demanding and abrasive to borderline
deadpan. And, yes, Lizzie’s spirit is being beaten
down by her father, who repeatedly harps on her
behavior and appearance and, Lizzie believes, has
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 69
9/6/18 11:39 AM
plans to ship her off to some unspecified (but no
doubt horrible) locale. All the same, there needs
to be some nuance to the performance to make
it emotionally engaging, and Sevigny just plain
A lot of details are thrown out here—the
death of Bridget’s mother, Lizzie’s epileptic
seizures—but the frequently meandering script
doesn’t seem to know what to do with them.
Even the burgeoning romance between Bridget
and Lizzie is handled with an unsure touch, as if
Kass and Macneill aren’t really sure what they’re
trying to say about what the two women mean
to each other, so Sevigny and Stewart will just
have to muddle through as best they can.
There are disjointed elements here—a
modern-leaning script, driftless performances
and an overwrought score from Jeff Russo, its
clanking piano more suited to an out-and-out
Gothic thriller—that Macneill is ultimately
unable to wrestle into a cohesive, compelling
whole. The result is a dull retread of a story
that deserved better. —Rebecca Pahle
STX ENTERTAINMENT/Color/2.35/102 Mins./
Cast: Jennifer Garner, John Ortiz, John Gallagher, Jr., Juan
Pablo Raba, Annie Ilonzeh, Cliff “Method Man” Smith,
Jeff Hephner, Cailey Fleming, Pell James.
Directed by Pierre Morel.
Screenplay: Chad St. John.
Produced by Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Eric Reid,
Executive producers: David Kern, James McQuaide, Renee
Tab, Christopher Tuffin, Donald Tang, Wang Zhongjun,
Wang Zhonglei, Felice Bee, Robert Simonds, Adam
Director of photography: David Lanzenberg.
Production designer: Ramsey Avery.
Editor: Frederic Thoraval.
Music: Simon Franglen.
Costume designer: Lindsay Ann McKay
A Huayi Brothers Pictures, Lakeshore Entertainment and
STX Films production.
Opening on the heels of the lackluster
Bruce Willis/Eli Roth remake of Death Wish,
this distaff revenge thriller has nothing new to
say about vigilante justice.
Riley North (Jessica Garner) is just your
ordinary, overscheduled, middle-class mom: She
has a loving husband (Jeff Hephner), an angelic
little girl, Carly (Cailey Fleming), and a job that
keeps her perpetually on the wrong side of
harried. Of course, the Norths have financial
worries and Riley’s managed to get herself on
the wrong side of bitchy queen-bee Peg (Pell
James), who retaliates by insidiously ruining
poor Carly’s birthday...and it’s almost Christmas.
Where’s the good will? But an impromptu
trip to the local carnival should fix things right
up—as long as they’re together, everything will
be all right. Except, of course, for that ominous
car full of gangbangers lurking down the street,
the ones who open fire on the North family,
killing Chris and Carly and putting Riley in the
hospital. And even though she’s an eyewitness
and bravely identifies her family’s murderers in a
courtroom, the collusion of a sleazy lawyer and
a corrupt judge sets them loose.
Cut to five years later, years the broken
Riley has spent in Hong Kong—Where life is
cheap? Why Hong Kong?—transforming herself
into a lean, mean vengeance machine. And now
she’s back home, living off the grid in a van on
skid row and dedicated to washing all the scum
off the streets.
Peppermint appears to have been driven by
the notion that audiences bored with macho men
out to get justice for themselves and/or their
loved ones when the big, bad system fails them
will be all over the novel idea of a female punisher,
an idea that of course isn’t so novel at all.
The trouble is that Peppermint is too cautious
for its own good, careful to keep Riley above her
own bloody fray—she even gets to see herself
depicted on a graffiti mural, angel wings spread.
Sure, she’s hanging corpses from the spokes
of a Ferris wheel (a terrific image held long
enough that its fundamental preposterousness
undermines the effect), but she hasn’t gone blood
simple. There’s a lack of ferocity to the movie’s
mayhem, a sense that it won’t go that extra yard
and risk suggesting that however sympathetic
Riley’s motives are, she’s crossing a line—not just
a legal one, but a moral one.
That would be a downer, of course, but
it’s what separates lazy, paint-by-numbers
romps from memorable thrillers. Peppermint is
a bloody crowd-pleaser, but it’s fundamentally
forgettable, the kind of movie whose details
begin to disappear the moment the credits roll.
WARNER BROS.-NEW LINE/Color/2.35/Dolby Digital/
96 Mins./Rated R
Cast: Taissa Farmiga, Demián Bichir, Jonas Bloquet, Bonnie
Aarons, Charlotte Hope, Michael Smiley, Ingrid
Bisu, Sandra Teles, August Maturo, Jack Falk, Lynnette
Gaza, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson.
Directed by Corin Hardy.
Screenplay; Gary Dauberman.
Story by Gary Dauberman, James Wan.
Produced by Peter Safran, James Wan.
Executive producers: Richard Brener, Michael Clear, Gary
Dauberman, Walter Hamada, Dave Neustadter, Hans
Ritter, Todd Williams.
Director of photography: Maxime Alexandre.
Production designer: Jennifer Spence.
Editors: Michael Aller, Ken Blackwell.
Music: Abel Korzeniowski.
Costume designer: Sharon Gilham.
A Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Atomic Monster and
The Safran Company production.
The demon nun vanquished in The Conjuring
2 returns for her close-up in a straightforward
origin story that’s more funny than
Introduced tormenting Vera Farmiga’s clairvoyant
ghost-hunter Lorraine Warren in The Conjuring
2, the demon nun Valak (Bonnie Aarons)
now follows devil doll Annabelle as the latest
antagonist in the Conjuring/Annabelle horrormovie
universe to be granted a standalone
prequel. Although Warren and her partner in
the paranormal, husband Ed (Patrick Wilson),
make flickering prologue appearances, the
couple are not integral to this film’s 1952-set
story. Or are they?
The clairvoyant investigator in The Nun is
dewy Sister Irene, a novitiate prone to alarming
visions, who happens to be portrayed by
Farmiga’s younger sister, Taissa. It’s unlikely, given
the chronology of these films and Sister Irene’s
current vocation, that she’s Lorraine’s mother. The
filmmakers of some future pre/sequel might yet
pull the rug out from under this film’s mythology,
but for this story, credited to franchise mainstay
James Wan and screenwriter Gary Dauberman,
all signs point to The Nun being an origin story for
the demon Valak, and for the far more heavenly of
the two sisters, Irene/Lorraine Warren.
As such, the more intriguing nun definitely
is Irene, drafted into the service of a supernatural
investigation by Father Burke, the Vatican’s
most trusted paranormal detective. Played by
former Oscar nominee Demián Bichir, usually
a reliable source of caring authority, Burke
is haunted by his own demons, naturally, and
further robbed of some authority as lead investigator
by Bichir’s wan performance.
Fantasy-film actors often don’t get the
credit they deserve for making extreme makebelieve
feel fully fleshed. Chris Hemsworth, for
example, doesn’t just look the part of Marvel’s
god of thunder, but he swings Thor’s hammer
as if it were forged by magic, not by the props
department. Bichir, certainly as capable an actor,
shows a nice touch delivering half-scared comic
asides, but, for the most part, he doesn’t wield
Burke’s crucifixes with the called-for conviction.
Consequently, the priest seems more tired than
terrified, exhausted from decades spent chasing
demons, performing exorcisms and serving in
World War II as an army chaplain.
Burke’s determination to root out the
demon nun while conquering his own ghosts
should, but fails, to add urgency to his pursuit,
with Sister Irene, of answers behind the spooky
goings-on at a centuries-old abbey. One answer
they seek is why exactly the Church established
this abbey inside a sinister-looking castle
nestled in the Romanian countryside. Built
during the Dark Ages by an evil duke who was
less interested in being closer to God than in
opening a gateway to Hell, the castle, care of
production designer Jennifer Spence, is an apt
haunted house full of dark, dusty chambers and
catacombs. However, cinematographer Maxime
Alexandre lights the stony abode and surrounding
environs so thoroughly that the foreboding
mood frequently lapses.
So, in the absence of dense atmosphere or
genuinely frightening depictions of nuns, director
Corin Hardy relies heavily on jump scares.
Shadows and figures dart in and out of doors,
around corners, and Sister Irene and Father
Burke dutifully chase after them, sometimes assisted
by a handsome and, for pitifully explained
reasons, French-Canadian resident of this
haunted Romanian village. He’s helpfully named
Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), and somehow this
movie turns out to be his origin story, too.
70 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/6/18 11:39 AM
by Andreas Fuchs
FJI Exhibition / Business Editor
CICAE SEEKS INNOVATION
The International Confederation
of Art Cinemas (CICAE)
introduced the 2018 project
for its “Art Cinema = Action +
Management” training course
in San Servolo, Venice, Italy,
co-financed by Creative Europe
Three new actions aim to
“amplify the training’s short-term
return on investment” by including
tailored one-on-one networking
sessions. For executive trainees,
a more mentorship-focused approach
“tackles a specific challenge
or problem.” In addition to personalized
sessions with tutors and
experts, online resources for the
participants will follow the training.
“We are in a crucial period
for the industry with market concentration,
and evolving customer habits,” says
project manager Javier Pachón,
who is co-founder and director of
CineCiutat in Palma De Mallorca,
Spain (cineciutat.org/en). “So, it is
an exciting challenge and an honor
to lead a project focused on sharing
knowledge and helping us set
a higher standard for art-house
exhibitors all over the world.”
Detlef Rossmann, the German
president of CICAE, welcomes
this approach as “a key tool” that
helps art-house cinemas “stay at
the forefront of innovation.” The
six-day training addresses every
major area that affects art-house
cinema management, organizers
Andreas Fuchs also runs the Vassar
Theatre in Vassar, MI.
noted, from business planning,
funding and employee experience
to programming, marketing
and communication. Another key
element is “giving continuity to
the Green Screens session, sharing
environmentally friendly actions
BFI SETS BLOCKBUSTER
“We think there is enough
wisecracking, slapstick, satire,
smut and innuendo in our
‘Comedy Genius’ season for
everyone,” says Heather Stewart,
creative director of the British
Film Institute (BFI). “In a divided
Britain, in a world where we may
be uncertain about what we’re allowed
to find funny anymore, we
need a laugh more than ever.”
From October to the end of
January, the BFI is only too happy
to comply with “the U.K.’s greatestever
celebration of film and TV
comedy.” “Comedy Genius” kicks
off in style with Jane Fonda “In
Conversation at BFI Southbank”
on Oct. 23, celebrating the BFI
re-release of 9 to 5 (Colin Higgins,
1980) across cinemas on Nov. 16.
Two weeks earlier, the sparkling
new 4K restoration of Some Like
It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959) will heat
up selected cinemas. The BFI also
spotlights the trailblazers of the
past, from the beloved Laurel and
Hardy to the overlooked, such as
“The Marvellous Mabel Normand.”
“Comedy Genius” will reach
every corner of the U.K., BFI
promises, via screenings and events
funded by the BFI Film Audience
Network (BFI FAN). Quite
FAN-tastic, indeed, to think that
‘Lighten Up!’ will host comedy
screenings at U.K. cathedrals and
churches, including Sister Act (Emile
Ardolino, 1992) and Monty Python’s
Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979). A
touring series presented by the
Independent Cinema Office (ICO)
will cover a wide range of films and
many more titles will be available
on BFI Player. Trailblazing Women
(She Done Him Wrong, All of Me,
Mean Girls and Girls Trip) meet
Agents of Chaos (What’s Up Doc?,
Dr Strangelove: Or, How I Learned To
Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb )
on Stoner Saturdays (Serial Mom,
Airplane!) and Screwball Sundays
(Bringing Up Baby, My Man Godfrey).
Slapstick (Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday,
The Pink Panther Strikes Again) and
Christmas Comedies (Trading
Places, Elf) go hand in hand with
Great British Smut (Carry On Cleo)
and English Eccentrics (Withnail & I,
The Belles of St Trinian’s). All that plus
Fun With Nazis! too (To Be or Not
to Be, The Producers).
After Magnolia (2000) and
There Will Be Blood (2008), Paul
Thomas Anderson has become
the first-ever filmmaker to win
the FIPRESCI Grand Prix three
times, as Phantom Thread was
chosen best film of the past
year. The 473 members of the
International Federation of Film
Critics (www.fipresci.org) selected
Lucrecia Martel’s Zama, Martin
McDonagh’’s Three Billboards
Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Pawel
Pawlikowski’s Zimna Wojna (Cold
War) as other worthy contenders.
As is tradition, the Grand
Prix, which was first bestowed in
1999, will be presented on Sept.
21 during the opening ceremony
of the San Sebastián International
Film Festival (www.sansebastianfestival.com).
TAORMINA FEST FOCUSES
ON SOCIAL ISSUES
One is hard-pressed in a
trade publication to highlight
(yet) more film-festival winners
that may never see the light of
commercial (art-house) cinemas.
So, we won’t, and will write
about something else instead.
Italy’s Taormina Filmfest (www.
taorminafilmfest.it) has certainly
one of the most spectacular—if
not the most and, at 2,300 years,
certainly oldest—locations for its
film screenings. Your columnist has
never been there, but envies his
parents for visiting the magnificent
5,000-seat outdoor Greek Theatre
with the German division of
CICAE many, many years ago. The
64th edition featured over 50 films
including 14 world, 12 European
and 10 Italian premieres. Equally
impressive, the all-female jury,
headed by president and producer
Martha De Laurentiis, noted how
many of those films spotlighted
social issues including themes of
human rights, feminism, bullying
and social inclusion.
During its seven-day run,
the festival welcomed a myriad
of local and international special
guests like Rupert Everett (Tauro
d’Oro Awards for director of and
actor in The Happy Prince), Richard
Dreyfuss (Tauro d’Oro), Matthew
Modine (Lifetime Achievement
Award) and Terry Gilliam.
VISTA GROUP EXPANDS
Vista Group International
calls its partner Cineworld Group
(www.cineworldplc.com) a “global
super-circuit.” And no wonder: It’s
present in ten different territories
with 792 sites and 9,542 screens
(as of June 30). The world’s second-largest
exhibition chain not
only extended its existing relationship
in the existing Cineworld territories
in which Vista is licensed
and installed—the U.K., Ireland
and the USA—for five years, but
also added a wider range of Vista
Cinema products, as well as solutions
from Movio, Numero and
movieXchange Showtimes (www.
OCTOBER 2018 / FILMJOURNAL.COM 71
9/5/18 4:14 PM
by Thomas Schmid
FJI Far East Bureau
Chinese authorities have
apparently blocked the release
of Walt Disney Pictures’ liveaction
Winnie the Pooh film,
Christopher Robin, according to
local media. The film, starring
Ewan McGregor as a grownup
Christopher Robin reuniting
with his childhood friend Pooh,
was originally scheduled to
debut in the country in early
While authorities have
given no reason for denying
the release, Chinese media
have speculated that it might
be connected to an ongoing
nationwide clampdown on all
references to the classic Winnie
the Pooh character created by
children’s-book author A.A.
In 2013 a press photo of
China’s president Xi Jinpeng
walking alongside then-U.S.
president Barack Obama was
juxtaposed in the social media
with an image of Pooh taking a
stroll with Tigger. A year later,
similar posts appeared of Xi
Jinpeng and Japanese Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe, who were
being compared to Pooh and
Eeyore, respectively. Then,
in 2015, a photo showing Xi
Jinpeng in a motorcade was
accompanied by an image of
Pooh sitting in a toy car.
As the memes rapidly grew
in popularity as an obvious
expression of political dissent,
Chinese authorities began to
systematically block or delete
images and even mere mentions
of the cartoon character from
posts across all social-media
Meanwhile, British comedian
John Oliver—himself having
status in China for his frequent
sarcastic remarks about the
country’s regime—in June
roasted Xi Jinpeng on his U.S.
talk show “Last Week Tonight,”
criticizing the Chinese leader
for his alleged sensitivity to
being compared to Pooh. The
respective “Last Week Tonight”
episode was promptly blocked
According to a report
carried by BBC News, political
analysis company Global Risk
Insights has suggested that the
heavy-handed censorship may
be taking place because the
comparisons of Pooh with Xi
Jinpeng are seen by the Chinese
government as “a serious effort
to undermine the dignity of
the presidential office and Xi
But Christopher Robin is not
the only Disney offering that
has been denied a release in
China, as earlier this year the
studio’s adventure fantasy film A
Wrinkle in Time likewise wasn’t
permitted to make it to Chinese
However, the release
dates in China of other movies
produced or co-produced by
Disney have not been affected.
CINEPLEX TO ACCEPT
Thailand’s leading cinema
chain Major Cineplex Group
announced that it will become
the country’s first operator to
At CineAsia, attendees will get the chance to hear about the current trends
and new state-of-the-art technologies in the motion picture industry.
Nowhere else in Asia can you accomplish as much in a short period of time
to sustain, and help grow, your business in the year to come. Join your cinema
exhibition, distribution, and motion picture industry colleagues to network;
and see product presentations and screenings of major Hollywood films
soon to be released in Asia. Attendees will also get the opportunity
to visit the Trade Show where you will find the latest equipment, products,
and technologies to help make your theatre a must-attend destination.
CineAsia will take place at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre
on December 10-13, 2018. Visit http://www.filmexpos.com/cineasia/
accept cryptocurrency payments
The company said it
expects to be ready to kick off
cryptocurrency payments by the
end of this year, which would
then allow film fans to purchase
movie tickets as well as popcorn
and other snacks and soft drinks
at its outlets.
The move became possible
after Thailand’s Securities and
Exchange Commission introduced
its Cryptocurrency Act
in July, which effectively permits
trading in seven different cryptocurrencies:
BTC, ETH, BCH,
ETC, LTC, XRP and XLM.
In order to pay in
cryptocurrency, Major Cineplex
customers will have to use
and regulated online payment
service “RapidzPay,” which
utilizes highly scalable blockchain
technology and a decentralized
model with the aim of catering
to all local and international
SINGAPORE FILM BAGS
maintains a surprisingly prolific
movie industry, films produced
in the tiny Southeast Asian citystate
remain largely unknown
their often rather excellent
production values and creative
But A Land Imagined,
co-produced by Akanga
Film Asia (Singapore), mm2
Films de Force Majeure
(France) and Volya Films (The
Netherlands), might finally have
helped the country to break
Directed by Yeo Siew Hua,
the mystery thriller in the best
tradition of film noir has won
72 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER 2018
9/5/18 3:41 PM
by David Pearce
FJI Australia / New Zealand Correspondent
the prestigious Golden Leopard
trophy at the recent 71st Locarno
Film Festival in Switzerland,
awarded by the International
Competition jury presided over
by acclaimed Chinese director
Jia Zhang-ke. It is the first time a
Singaporean film has bagged the
festival’s top award.
A Land Imagined, which also
celebrated its world premiere
at Locarno, additionally won
the Junior Jury Awards’ first
prize for director Yeo Siew Hua,
received a special mention from
the Ecumenical Jury and earned
its lead actress Luna Kwok the
Boccalino d’Oro Award for best
actress. The film’s international
sales rights have reportedly
been secured by U.S.-based
A Land Imagined tells the
story of foreign migrant worker
Wang, who suffers a debilitating
work injury and is afraid of
deportation. Unable to sleep,
he frequents a dreamy cybercafé
where he forms a virtual
friendship with a mysterious
gamer that takes a sinister turn.
When Wang suddenly
disappears, police inspector
Lok is assigned to locate him.
Lok’s investigations eventually
lead him to a land-reclamation
site where he finally uncovers
the truth behind Wang’s
The film’s producer and
founder of Akanga Film Asia,
Fran Borgia, said: “To be awarded
the top prize at Locarno is one
of our wildest dreams come true.
A Land Imagined’s win is the firstever
top prize for a Singapore
film at [any] A-list festival, and
it also is a win for the next
generation of Singaporean and
Southeast Asian filmmakers.”
For feedback and inquiries,
contact Thomas Schmid at thomas.
MoviePass has been getting a lot of press in the
U.S. but so far has not arrived Down Under.
That is not to say it will not come here, but some
industry figures have their doubts. Because most
major chains do not have competing cinemas in the
majority of their cities and suburbs, there is said to
be less reason for them to look at outside moviesubscription
services. However, cinema audiences
per capita peaked in 2001, and cinema operators
are always looking at ways to increase attendance.
One U.S. movie subscription service, Sinemia,
has arrived in Australia and is already doing business
here, although no figures have been released.
Sinemia is currently offering a similar rate as it
does in the U.S., with a Winter Special of A$3.99 a
month for one movie, A$7.99 for two and A$12.99
for three films a month. In the U.S. it charges customers
an annual fee, while currently in Australia
customers are billed monthly.
Most chains have their own cinema clubs which
offer members discounted tickets. I am sure they
have all considered launching their own subscription
service, but none has done so as yet.
An alternative scheme is Choovie, an Australian
company that uses a dynamic-pricing formula.
Choovie tickets are as low as A$6 for sessions with
low attendance, but average A$10.50. Prices vary
depending on the film’s popularity and session sales.
Choovie has been around for just over a year and
has added extra cinemas in that period. Dendy and
Majestic cinema chains are among the 69 Australian
cinemas currently signed up. They charge exhibitors
A$1.25 per ticket sold and the majority of tickets
sold are for daytime sessions. They are now looking
at expanding into New Zealand.
little-known war story is that of the 20-person
A Vienna Boys Choir and their visit to Australia
for concerts in 1939. At the end of their tour, war
broke out and they were declared enemy aliens.
The Archbishop of Melbourne took them under
his wing and found them homes while they were
retained in Australia. They also became part of
his choir. The choirmaster, Dr. George Gruber,
became active in the music scene in Australia, but
was arrested for having suspected Nazi contacts in
1941 and deported to Austria in 1947. He was later
cleared by a de-Nazification tribunal. The 20 boy
members of the choir remained in Australia.
Jack Savige has written a screenplay, Stranded,
based on the events, to be produced by Lance
Reynolds and Icon Films. Although no casting has
been announced, Chris Hemsworth has been approached
to play Dr Gruber.
Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions, Red
Lamp Films and Australian writer-director
Kim Mordaunt are currently working on the script
adaptation of the Finnish children’s novel Monster
Nanny by Tuutikki Tolonen. This family film focuses
on a hairy, dusty monster who does not talk but is
a children’s nanny. The children soon find out that
some of their friends also have similar very hairy
nannys. Animal Logic will also be involved in this
In Marlene van Niekerk’s novel Agaat, a 40-year
relationship develops between a young white
woman, Milla, and her black maidservant Agaat during
the apartheid era in South Africa. Milla gets
married, has a child and helps run the family’s
farm. As the years go by, the family falls apart,
but Agaat remains and is now her caretaker. Jocelyn
Moorhouse (The Dressmaker) is writing the script
and will direct the film of Agaat for Bronte Pictures.
Send your Australia/New Zealand news to David
Pearce at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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like to see Variety focus more on “mobility”—specialized bikes,
vans, durable medical equipment on wheels for children—as a
major unifying thread for what we do. I think that would make us
an even more powerful force to be reckoned with.
Vradenburg: In our case, the Pioneers Assistance Fund is
strong—and will continue. For the Will Rogers Institute, we’re going
to narrow our focus on a particular pulmonary issue, tackle it and
solicit support. And Brave Beginnings will most likely become a
charity unto itself. To raise the amount of money required to get many
hospitals up-to-speed equipment-wise requires a focused effort by a
dedicated team of people—both industry- and non-industry related.
Iocolano: Since we started, we’ve visited seventy-five hospitals
nationwide and have entertained more than forty-thousand children
and family members. For the future, we’ll continue to work on keeping
sick children connected to the outside world; we’ll try to keep
providing their childhood to them. I can’t think of anyone who needs
the magic of the movies more than the kids who are literally fighting
for their lives.
Shadyac: Our partners in the entertainment industry have been
instrumental in helping build St. Jude into what we are today. Our
discoveries are their discoveries. Those children whose lives have
been saved by the research and treatment they received at St. Jude
are children that the exhibition industry helped save. For that, we are
eternally grateful, but there’s still work to be done.
Vradenburg: Our industry is changing, but it’s still a very
special family where people have done great good in the past and
we need to them to continue to want to do good—to take care of
each other—for the future.
Reynolds: At the end of the day, we’re all going to grow old,
but we want to leave a legacy on this Earth. And I think that making
a kid smile is a great legacy.
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Film Journal Internationa Seating / Construction & Design Vol. 121, No. 10 / October 2018
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