Film Journal October 2018

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From the Editor’s Desk

In Focus

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,

Viva Cinemas.

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.


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1 800 424-1215












1 877 755-3795

OCTOBER 2018 / VOL. 121, NO. 10

Construction & Design

examines how cinema owners

can maximize their return

on investment, customers’

social experience, and more,

pages 50-62.



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.

“The Goodness

of Show Business People” .. . . . . . 34

Entertainment charities

put a focus on kids.

Going to Geneva .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

Midwestern exhibitors

gather by the lake.

Theatre Seating

Annual Overview,

pages 40-49.


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

Irwin’s ZG4


Dolphin’s Aristocrat

VIP seating

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Tele: (212) 493-4097

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.

Subscriptions: 1-877-496-5246 • •

Editorial inquiries: • Ad inquiries:

Reprint inquiries: • 1-877-652-5295


Robert Sunshine

President, Film Expo Group

Andrew Sunshine

Executive Editor

Kevin Lally

Associate Editor

Rebecca Pahle

Art Director

Rex Roberts

Senior Account Executive,

Advertising & Sponsorships

Robin Klamfoth

Exhibition/Business Editor

Andreas Fuchs

Concessions Editor

Larry Etter

Far East Bureau

Thomas Schmid

CEO, Film Expo Group

Theo Kingma



for breaking industry news,

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for updates on our latest content

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.


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Cinemark Holdings

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

experiences, and

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

entertainment centers

globally, including three

locations in the United States,

two locations in Canada and

one location in Dubai, U.A.E.



Screenvision Media

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




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

seven locations.

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




Deluxe Entertainment

Services Group Inc.

announced the launch of the

Content & Key Manager, to

replace their existing Cinema

Portal platform.

The Content & Key

Manager has been integrated

as a service within Deluxe

One, the company’s flagship

cloud-based platform

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,

independent exhibitors

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.



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

quarter-million membership

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 confirmed an

agreement to provide its

RosettaBridge TMS, Roset-


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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

to UniqueX.

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

automated, networked

advertising solution to

Cineplex’s network of 165




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

movie blockbusters.



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

the service.

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

subscription service.

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

March.) Respondents

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.

Despite MoviePass’

recent difficulties, there is

still a healthy appetite for

movie ticket subscription

services, with 39% of

moviegoers expressing

definite interest in a vibrant

subscription-based plan.



Christie cinema

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

United States.

“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

Group, Inc.



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.

Silverspot Cinema

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,

artisan cheeseboards,

traditional concessions, handcrafted

cocktails, an extensive

wine list and a full mojito bar.



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.


010-016.indd 11

9/5/18 6:11 PM



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

Toro himself.


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

Film Festival.


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.


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

early 2019.


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

drama about

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


010-016.indd 12

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.


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

Prods. banner.


010-016.indd 13

9/5/18 6:11 PM




NAC Show Unveils

Snack Innovations

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. 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,

represents Kopper’s Chocolate, an upscale version of

espresso beans, chocolate-covered nuts and even candycoated

milk chocolates.

Kopper’s Chocolate and 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

of Concessionaires.


010-016.indd 14

9/5/18 3:38 PM


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!

Cinema locations.

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!

—Larry Etter



010-016.indd 15

9/5/18 3:38 PM



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.

















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




Luxury Seating

Concession Stands


Sound System


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


than moviegoers aged

55+ to consider theatre

amenities as important

when deciding which

theatre to attend.


aged 18-34 were


to choose improved

accessibility as a

desired upgrade than

moviegoers 35+.


010-016.indd 16

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

Tom hardy gets slimed

by trevor hogg


018-039.indd 18

9/5/18 3:18 PM



Frank Masi © © 2017 CTMG. All Rights Reserved.

Ruben Fleischer

in sony’s marvel Universe debut feature


018-039.indd 19

9/5/18 3:18 PM


Got It




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

we intended


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



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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


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20 126 FILMJOURNAL.COM / OCTOBER / MAY 2018 2018

018-039.indd 116-134.indd 20126

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The King


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9/5/18 3:18 PM

Producer Graham

King recounts his

10-year effort to bring

Freddie Mercury’s

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

John Russo

of Queen


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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

unbelievable. Unbelievable.”

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.”


018-039.indd 24

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.

Robert Redford

reprises the role

that made him

a superstar—

the charming

bank robber




by Harry Haun

David Lowery

“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.


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018-039.indd 27

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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

Redford movie.”

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,

hopefully, achieved.”

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,

the director.”

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


018-039.indd 28

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10-13 DEC





Untitled-3 1

9/4/18 4:40 PM






with Melissa


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

comic shtick

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-


018-039.indd 30

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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

Melissa McCarthy.

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

emotionally present.

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.


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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

different things.

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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018-039.indd 32

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Untitled-1 1

5/21/18 3:13 PM

‘The Goodness

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

named Catherine

was found

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

Todd Vradenburg

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

children’s lives.

Todd Vradenburg

(Executive Director, Will

Rogers Motion Picture

Pioneers Foundation):

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

Stan Reynolds

things in different ways in different communities.

Variety is a great family of people

who care.

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


018-039.indd 34

9/5/18 3:18 PM

Untitled-3 1

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

pulmonary distress.

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.

Evelyn Iocolano

Iocolano: We have

other in-hospital programs—like

our “Rhythm

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

the times.

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


018-039.indd 36

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 or visit


©2018 ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (33819)

2018 Convention

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


018-039.indd 38

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.”


018-039.indd 39

9/5/18 3:18 PM

Seating Innovations

FJI’s Annual Report

Lap of Luxury



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.

Marcus Theatres

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

a button.

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

recliner auditoriums?

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

and cleaning?

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.

James Meredith

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

power recliners?

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

recliner auditoriums?

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

reserved-seating policy?

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

and cleaning?

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.


040-049.indd 40

9/5/18 3:28 PM

Brock Bagby

Executive VP

B&B Theatres

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

power recliners?

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

and cleaning?

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!

Jack Gardner

VP Marketing, Sales &

Content Programming

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

Cinema Seating.

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

in Canada.

Do you charge more for tickets to your

recliner auditoriums?

No. Our recliner experience is regular


What percentage of your theatres have a

reserved-seating policy?

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

and cleaning?

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

the past.


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040-049.indd 41

9/5/18 3:28 PM

Seating Innovations



Recliner Innovator

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

recent innovations.

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-


040-049.indd 42

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

tech company.

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.


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Always Evolving

Company Profile

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

our business.”

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

corporate headquarters

and manufacturing plant

in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


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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.”

Coke Irwin,

Senior VP

of Sales and Marketing

Irwin Seating ZG4 Solstice Recliner

at the Cinemark Greeley Mall,

Greeley, Colorado.


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Luxury Recliners



Sit Back, Lie Back

In our annual roundup, seating

manufacturers share details about their

newest and plushest recliners for the

cinema environment.

Dolphin Leadcom

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:, 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


Riva Club

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

Bliss Zero

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


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Untitled-4 1

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.




St Omer




Irwin Seating

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. (

Irwin’s ZG4

Quinette Gallay

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


Seating Systems

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

Matrix series

Seating Spectrum

The Valencia from Seating Spectrum

features unique cushioning that feels


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Construction and Design





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


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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

beverage sales.

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







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is always funnier with shared laughter,

sadder with shared tears, and scarier with

shared gasps.

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

compelling stories.

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

absolutely critical.

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

two-prong strategy:

▶ 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

trending enhancements:


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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

boutique bowling.

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

beverage sales.

Alternative Content Hub.

Create a Netflix or YouTube red lounge


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Construction and Design

From One to Eight




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


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Renderings of the Mamaroneck Playhouse renovation


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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


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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.


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Construction and Design



Maximizing ROI

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.


050-062.indd 58

9/5/18 3:35 PM

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

customer experience.

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

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Seaport_Half FJ.indd 1

8/29/18 1:33 PM


050-062.indd 59

9/5/18 3:35 PM

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

opportunities, resilient

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-


050-062.indd 60

9/5/18 3:35 PM

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

additional cost.

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





For sales and product information email:




by jack roe


050-062.indd 61

9/5/18 3:35 PM

Construction and Design



Going Boothless

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.

Increased Flexibility

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

Industry” Award.


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VOL. 121, NO. 10


UNIVERSAL/Color/2.35/Dolby Atmos/142 Mins./

Rated PG-13

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,

Damien Chazelle.

Executive producers: Steven Spielberg, Adam Merims,

Josh Singer.

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,

Damien Chazelle’s

technically astonishing

First Man is a poetic

Ryan Gosling


of claustrophobic

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.

—Tomris Laffly


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,

Mary Burke.

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.


063-074.indd 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

female victim.

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.”

—Erica Abeel


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

modern noir.

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.


063-074.indd 64

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.

—David Noh


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,

Marc Schmidheiny.

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

Robert Redford.

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

like icicles.

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

cited here.

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.

—Daniel Eagan



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,

Darren Aronofsky.

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

of despair.

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

behind bars.

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


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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

their descendants.

—Tomris Laffly


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,

Paul Weitz.

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

everyone hostage.

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

simply monstrous.

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.

—Stephen Whitty


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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Beach. What’s missing in McEwan’s Children

is Fiona’s private motivation, which could

account (at least in part) for her otherwise

incomprehensible actions.

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

religious convictions.

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.

—Simi Horwitz


SUNDANCE SELECTS/Color/2.35/127 Mins./Rated R

Cast: Benjamin Dickey, Alia Shawkat, Josh Hamilton,

Charlie Sexton.

Directed by Ethan Hawke.

Screenplay: Ethan Hawke, Sybil Rosen, based on Rosen’s

memoir Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering

Blaze Foley.

Produced by Jake Seal, Ethan Hawke, John Sloss,

Ryan Hawke.

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

Ethan Hawke

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

country-folk music.

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.


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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.

—Anna Storm


WARNER BROS./Color/2.35/Dolby Digital/120 Mins./

Rated PG-13

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-


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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.

—Nick Schager


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,

Tipper Seifert-Cleveland.

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

story unravels.

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.

—Harry Haun



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


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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

doesn’t deliver.

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./

Rated R

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,

Richard Wright.

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.

—Maitland McDonagh


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.

—André Hereford


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by Andreas Fuchs

FJI Exhibition / Business Editor



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

MEDIA Programme.

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,

digital diversification

and evolving customer habits,” says

project manager Javier Pachón,

who is co-founder and director of

CineCiutat in Palma De Mallorca,

Spain ( “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

for exhibitors.”



“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 ( 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 (



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. 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 International

calls its partner Cineworld Group

( 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.


063-074.indd 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

earned persona-non-grata

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

in China.

CineAsia 2018

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

theatre screens.

However, the release

dates in China of other movies

produced or co-produced by

Disney have not been affected.




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

accept cryptocurrency payments

from moviegoers.

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:



In order to pay in

cryptocurrency, Major Cineplex

customers will have to use

the government-approved

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

e-commerce platforms.




Although Singapore

maintains a surprisingly prolific

movie industry, films produced

in the tiny Southeast Asian citystate

remain largely unknown

internationally, despite

their often rather excellent

production values and creative


But A Land Imagined,

co-produced by Akanga

Film Asia (Singapore), mm2

Entertainment (Singapore),

Films de Force Majeure

(France) and Volya Films (The

Netherlands), might finally have

helped the country to break

that spell.

Directed by Yeo Siew Hua,

the mystery thriller in the best

tradition of film noir has won


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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

Visit Films.

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

Australian-U.K. production.

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


10-13 DEC





063-074.indd 73

9/5/18 3:41 PM


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The Goodness of Show Business continued from page 36

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.

Postmaster: Please send address changes to: Film Journal International, P.O. Box 215, Congers, NY 10920-0215.

Canadian Publication Mail Agreement #41450540. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: MSI, P.O. Box 2600, Mississauga, On L4T OA8.


063-074.indd 74

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Film Journal Internationa Seating / Construction & Design Vol. 121, No. 10 / October 2018

Seating / Construction & Design




Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury

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“Our customers are telling us that

they’re seeing more movies, more often

because they have such great seats to

sit in. They also tell us that because of

our seats, we have become their movie

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INTERNATIONAL: 1-204-396-1136


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