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Tag: Cinema

Editorials

UK Drive-In Cinemas: Boom or Bust?

July 9, 2020
Drive-In Cinema [Source: Harpers Bazaar]

Drive-in cinemas. The American phenomenon where you can enjoy watching films on a big screen from the comfort of your car. It’s something that brings all the benefits of the communal experience without the annoyances of viewing films in a crowd of people. Well with the current pandemic worries drive-ins are seeing a resurgence in popularity. And the UK is looking to get in on the action.

So, today we’re going to look at the history of drive-ins, as well as some of the drive-in cinema events coming to the UK. And asking if UK drive-ins will take off as they have in the US?

History

Drive-In Theatre history began when Richard Hollingshead came up with an idea to accommodate his mother, who couldn’t fit into normal cinema seats. He had the idea of allowing people to view movies from the comfort of their cars. He set up a screen between some trees to project movies onto, with a radio behind the screen. And in 1933 he opened the first official drive-in cinema in Camden, New Jersey advertising it as affordable family entertainment.

Subsequently, drive-ins sprang up across the US in the 1950s and 60s. Culminating in 1958 when over 4000 drive-ins operated across the US. The numbers slowly declined in the 70s and 80s due to high land values and competition from television forcing many theatres to close. But since the 90s the number of theatres still open has remained steady. Recently new theatres have even begun to open. During this time drive-ins also gained access to new Hollywood releases. And with evolving technology drive-ins have received a great boost in projection and sound quality. A far cry from the grubby exploitation roadshows of old.

Similarly, Australia also enjoyed a history of drive-in success, with several big drive-in screens still operating today. The UK however never cracked the drive-in market. There were several attempts. In 2012 Route 66 opened, hoping to be a permanent fixture of the UK cinema scene, though it has since closed. And there are around 20 drive-in theatres currently operating in the UK. But compared to the US and Australia, UK drive-ins don’t have the same affection needed to keep business going. However, in the age of social-distancing, UK drive-ins may finally have their time to shine.

Enjoying a drive-in together [Source: Deseret News]

Coming Soon To A Destination Near You

Several pop-up drive-in events are coming to the UK over the next few weeks. Among them, The Luna Cinema and At the Drive-in, which will be screening films across several different UK areas (Including London, Oxford, the Midlands, Leeds, Manchester, and more) throughout the coming months.

Both are showing a wide variety of films. From modern Oscar contenders like Joker, and A Star is Born, to perennial favourites like Back to the Future, Grease and much more. Both allow you to order food and drink directly to your car. And both offer state of the art sound (broadcast to your car radio or a speaker which will be provided) and visual technology to ensure viewers get the best experience possible. But does this mean Drive-Ins will become a British mainstay?

Drive-Ins – Here To Stay?

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, many have wondered how the cinema industry will survive. With many movies now being released directly to on-demand, some argue that cinemas are a thing of the past. On top of that, according to some commentators, because the UK isn’t a car-based society like the US and Australia, the drive-in experience may not hold as much appeal for us. And in a time of economic uncertainty, many may not want to pay to see old films in a big car park.

But equally, there are many who crave the cinema experience, and the last few months have seen a renewed interest in supporting the arts and creative industries. And with 31.7 million cars in the UK, Drive-Ins are a good way for many to watch films in a way that is communal, supportive, and safe. Will it succeed? Only time will tell.

Are drive-in cinemas the future? [Source: Time Out]

What do you think? Are drive-ins the way forward? Will streaming ultimately win? Or are you waiting for regular cinemas to reopen? Let us know your thoughts.

Also Read: Amazon to Own Odeon Cinemas?

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Editorials

Why We Need To Support Independent Cinemas Now More Than Ever

June 10, 2020
Cinema

It’s been already more than two months since we’ve set foot in a cinema and it feels like an eternity. For the cinema lovers, there might be light at the end of the very dark tunnel as the lockdown is being eased little by little. According to the latest news, the 4th of July would the day cinemas could re-open their doors. While it seems that the multiplex cinemas will be able to open on that day (if still permitted by then), the more independent cinemas might not be as is shown by the recent survey from the Independent Cinema Office (ICO).

Social distancing rule

It’s understandable that the big cinemas want to be ready for a July opening because of the possible release of ‘Tenet’ and ‘Mulan’. Many big chains will likely follow the strategy of Vue which includes giving families the possibility to isolate their seats from others, mandatory online booking, staggering screening times, and enhanced cleaning. This is to make sure that the social distance rule is upheld. Well, it’s exactly that rule that prevents smaller independent cinemas from being able to open their doors in July as well. According to 41% of the venues, they won’t be able to let the audience back in when social distancing measures are still in place. The main reasons for that are the practicalities of the venue and the need for large audience numbers to survive financially.

There are still 59% who think they might be able to open even with social distancing. The most important steps they would undertake is the placement of hand sanitiser stations (91%), face masks for staff (83%) and gloves for staff (80%). However, implementing social distancing rules in cinemas can’t go on forever as it would only work for approximately three months it seems. Why? Because of a 20% increase in costs (additional staffing, PPE and additional cleaning, etc.) and the 50% loss in capacity.

Graph by the Independent Cinema Office
Source: The Independent Cinema Office

Not opening before September

However, even with social distancing, it seems that we will have to wait until the end of the summer to visit independent cinemas. While some venues think they may open in July or August, the majority expect to re-open in September. According to 14% of the respondents, they sadly won’t open until 2021, in the hope that social distancing will be a thing from the past.

It’s no surprise that independent cinemas want to wait until social distancing rules are (almost) non-existent and until the spread is under control. “As a small community cinema run largely with the support of volunteers we have to put the welfare of all those involved first. Social distancing will be difficult to achieve and is unlikely to provide confidence for staff volunteers and audiences to return in the short term.” is a reaction of one of the 497 independent cinema workers (amongst of which were CEOs, directors, and managers) that participated in this survey.

Graph by the Independent Cinema Office
Source: The Independent Cinema Office

Many difficult months ahead

Saying that the upcoming months will be a challenge for the independent cinema is such an understatement. The last few weeks have already proven difficult and the future doesn’t look any brighter (yet). According to the survey, the biggest concerns are the practicalities of reopening with social distancing measures (no surprise there) and the audience’s confidence levels and lack of admissions. In the IOC report was stated that “audience confidence for our elderly demographic is going to be extremely challenging to regain. I fear that it would be better for our long term sustainability if we were to remain dark and furloughed until the need for social distancing is no longer required.

Graph by the Independent Cinema Office
Source: The Independent Cinema Office

How to support independent cinema?

Sadly, we won’t be able to return to independent cinemas soon. However, there are many ways to support them. The majority of the respondents thinks that help from government is much needed and that reduced distributor terms would also help them to survive during and after this pandemic. An extension of the furlough scheme until the end of 2020 and a scheme for PPE would also be extremely helpful.

The audience itself can also play a big part in the survival of independent cinemas. First of all, there’s the UK Cinemas Fund that’s been created by MUBI, the online streaming service, and film distributor. The campaign aims to raise £100,000 to help support independent cinemas and film festivals across the UK, so every penny is vital in the survival of the film industry in the UK. There are also many cinemas for which you can buy memberships and e-vouchers to support them. One thing is for sure: Independent cinemas need our support so that they can come out of this pandemic ready to open and stronger than ever.

Also Read: UK Government Allows Film & TV Productions To Restart Filming, But How Practical Are Their Guidelines?

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Editorials

Breaking The Theatrical Window: What Does Disney & Universal’s Decision Mean For Future Cinema Releases?

May 28, 2020
Movie Posters

A few weeks ago, the film industry was turned upside down due to shocking announcements. AMC Theatres mentioned that they would ban Universal Studios films in America and later it was also announced that Odeon and Cineworld would do the same in the UK. The reason? Universal Studios released Trolls World Tour, which broke digital sales records, directly on “premium” video on demand. After seeing the success of the release they have decided to release more films either directly to Video on Demand or drastically reduce the time movies go from the cinemas to home entertainment platforms. Because of the lockdown, many production companies need to come up with new ways to release their movies and as the audience spends more time indoors, major companies are responding to an increase in Video-on-Demand and streaming platforms subscriptions. They’re sending films now straight to streaming platforms instead of postponing the theatrical release.

While this might be a good solution for now because of the closure of the cinemas, this might not be positive for cinema chains in the long run. If this method seems to be successful for the production companies, then Universal Studios will certainly not be the last production company to “break the theatrical window”. The question remains: will breaking the theatrical window and the success of streaming platforms be the end of cinema-going as we know it?

Industry Adaptation and renegotiating the Cinema Theatrical Window | Vamonos Creative

What is the theatrical window?

Some people jump the first chance they get to watch movies on the big screen while others prefer to watch the new blockbusters from the comfort of their home. Well, in normal circumstances, the cinema-goers would have access to movies three months before others as the theatrical window is three months. However, that time between the end of the cinematic run of a movie and the moment that it will available via digital platforms and video-on-demand platforms has become smaller over the years. One of the reasons is because major companies want to make up for the loss they have to overcome due to the decline in DVD-sales. The other reason is the one we all have to deal with at the moment: The coronavirus.

Impact of COVID-19 on the film industry

That the coronavirus epidemic has had a major impact on film didn’t only become clear because of the postponing of releases, the movie-making itself but also the way movies are shown to the audience now. As mentioned before, people rely on films, even more, these days. Whether it’s to entertain their children, have a nice time with their partner or just to relax, movies are present in every household. This is being proven by the fact that Disney + has now 54.5 million subscribers worldwide since November and the amount of new Netflix subscribers in the globally during the lockdown was more than 15.8 million, double the number forecast. It comes as no surprise that recent movies like The Invisible Man (Universal), Bloodshot (Sony and Columbia Pictures), The Way Back (Warner Bros.), and Onward (Disney) were released almost immediately after the forced termination of their theatrical run.

How will COVID-19 shape the future of the film industry? | The A.V Club

Why would Universal & Disney consider breaking the theatrical window?

Why would big production companies such as Universal Pictures and Disney break the theatrical window? Well, that answer is plain and simple: Money. Due to the lockdown, companies aren’t able to show their movies in the cinema, and instead of pushing them back, they decide to release them anyway. People already liked watching movies from their home, maybe because of the price, the fact that they don’t have to deal with popcorn eating strangers and now even more so with the fact that they can watch movies without having to go outside and put themselves in unnecessary danger, due to the virus.

It might be a while before cinemas are back up and running as usual and before the audience flocks back to the “dark room” to immerse into the stunning movies the industry has to offer. Whether the theatrical window will stay smaller than the usual three months, even when everything is back to normal, is something that we can’t predict.

The future of film releases

Movies will always be a part of society, whether you will see them on the big screen or a smaller one. Production and distribution companies and cinema chains must work together to bring films to the biggest audience possible. On one side, the theatrical window still needs to remain as big as possible. The cinema chains won’t survive if production companies make that window smaller or just skip the cinema entirely. However, cinemas will also have to keep in mind that, despite the smaller window, people still want to watch movies on the big screen so banning movies of certain companies isn’t the right attitude either. There will always be a thirst for watching movies in the cinema and there will always be people who prefer to watch it in their own home with friends and family so why not work together and give both audiences what they want?

New Upcoming Movies 2020 & 2021 | MovieGasm

Also Read: How Coronavirus Has Affected The Film Industry

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Editorials

The Most Important Cinema In The World To Me: Prince Charles Cinema

May 25, 2020

Just a small-town girl livin’ in a lonely world

Many of us have the dream to see the world and to move to another city and so did this small-town girl who was living in Belgium. The dream became a reality at the end of 2016 when I moved to London. An entirely different world welcomed me with open arms, bright lights, and a diverse, entertaining, and mind-blowing culture. Film has always been a passion of mine and moving to London just heightened that love even more. It didn’t take long before I found my local cinema which was one of the big chains. Day in, day out, I was being emerged by stunning, captivating, and glamorous movies.

While the brand-new blockbusters caught my eye instantly, there was also the thirst for seeing more independent or older films that became a classic in their own way. Luckily for me, it didn’t take long before discovering a small, unique and incredible cosy cinema right in the heart of London: The Prince Charles Cinema.

The Home of Cult Film, Prince Charles Cinema
The Home of Cult Film, Prince Charles Cinema

From a tiny theatre to an awesome cinema in the West End

Where now The Prince Charles Cinema is, the site was a theatre back in 1962. After supporting the performing arts for many years, it became a cinema, but maybe not the one you would expect. Knowing that the cinema back then hosted the UK’s longest theatrical runs of “Emmanuelle” and “Caligula”, you can only imagine what kind of cinema it must have been. However, in 1991, the foundations for The Prince Charles Cinema were laid and the rest is cinema history. They describe themselves as one of the most popular independent cinemas in the UK and when attending a screening in The Prince Charles Cinema, it’s not hard to understand why they deserve that title.

From films shot on 35mm to 70mm presentations and from cult classics to the most recent movies. Don’t forget the sing-a-longs or the all-nighters! Yep, The Prince Charles Cinema has it all. 

The Prince Charles Cinema
The Prince Charles Cinema (credit: Time Out)

Only two screens but thousands of memories

Like most of the independent cinemas, The Prince Charles Cinema offers multiple types of memberships. You can either go for an annual membership (£10) or a lifetime membership (£60). You get discounts on tickets and snacks and there are even films you get to see for £1. When I discovered The Prince Charles Cinema for the first time, I decided to go for an annual membership. London is already expensive enough and I wasn’t sure how many times I would use the membership, especially because I have another for one of the bigger cinema chains already. But boy, was I wrong for not going for a lifetime membership?!

Whether it was seeing the great chemistry between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation, falling in love with Christian Slater in True Romance or being astonished by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale dazzling performances in The Prestige, it was all a marvellous experience. Even that massive headache from all the spinning in Inception was worth it! It didn’t take long before that annual membership turned into a lifetime one.

The most memorable evening at the Prince Charles Cinema was one that happened very recently during the screening of The Room. Yep, the movie from writer/director/actor Tommy Wiseau. After seeing The Disaster Artist a few years ago, it was time to check out the real deal. Wiseau visiting The Prince Charles Cinema, a full house, and plastic spoons at hand. Yep, it became an evening I will never forget, even more so because I ended up in a Salsa club in Soho with fellow cinemagoers after that.

Tommy Wiseau presenting a screening of “The Room”

They will be back and so will I!

At the moment, The Prince Charles Cinema is closed but the “We’ll be back” banner gives me hope that the days of movies, excitement, having a great time, and meeting up with friends aren’t gone completely. I hope that I will be able to walk through the doors of The Prince Charles Cinema soon, sit back in one of those chair, and (re-)discover the great movies this wonderful cinema has to offer.

To find out more about The Prince Charles Cinema (and to buy memberships) visit their website here.

The Prince Charles Cinema (Credit: Alamy)

Also Read: The Most Important Cinema In The World (To Me)

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Editorials, How Film Changed Me

How Film Changed Me: On Survival Without the Cinema

May 3, 2020

My first memory of the cinema is the mezzanine. Looking down at rows of empty seats, the art deco fixtures of a time long gone, and all of it lit up by the blueish light from the screen. I was with my Grandma watching a re-release of The Little Mermaid, my hands gripped the brass bar in front of our seats, my knuckles turning white. I was around five years old. 

The local Odeon, now transformed into a cultural hub in my hometown, was a place I longed to be. I craved its dusty theatre and shabby, rundown lobby. As a teenager, when loitering around the city centre, specifically outside McDonald’s, as was the social convention, waiting for someone to invite you to a party that night, I used to try and convince my friends that our money was best spent at the cinema. We could catch an afternoon screening and still be out in time to find out which of our friends older siblings might buy us booze for that night but, they didn’t take to it. 

I would have similar debates with my Dad, a man who thought of the cinema as an extravagance. To him, it was a place you go when it’s cold or raining, or as a special treat. He saw no sense in spending bright summer days cooped up inside a multiplex when the country parks and the great rivers of our nation were all free and readily available. We argued about it all the time. I begged to spend two hours in the dark instead of doing anything remotely ‘outdoorsy’, and he would not entertain it. I always lost this battle, if you could even call it that. I once wrote him a letter explaining, in ten bullet points, why we had to go to the cinema to see The Incredibles that weekend so I could complete a primary school homework assignment on reviewing. He wavered, unsure if it really was as necessary as my scribbled plea made out. That Saturday however, turned out to be one of those cold, rainy, days and so, mostly because of nature, he gave in. 

The Long Day Closes, dir. Terence Davies / Credit: BFI
The Long Day Closes, dir. Terence Davies / Credit: BFI

When semi-independence reared its head around sixteen, and I got my first job at a retail chain, I spent every weekend (and most of every payslip) at the cinema. Myself and three friends formed a small troop of cinemagoers who would forgo some of the adolescent evening festivities in favour of film. Our taste was, well, to be polite, mixed. We saw The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on opening night, Revolutionary Road one blurry Sunday afternoon, The Strangers on a dark night that would make us terrified waiting for a ride home, Inception in a packed theatre, and Australia on an icy New Year’s Day. We saw whatever was new that week, with no real idea about reviews or aggregate websites. It was just the three of us, joined by the mutual love of cinematic escape. 

When I lived in London in my early twenties, that escape became crucial, a tool to wield against the loneliness that comes with large cities. As long languid winter nights passed by, as taxi cabs waited, and bike messengers whizzed past, gliding through puddles made of endless rain, I would want to be anywhere other than in the city. The two hours I was able to spend in a different life kept me sane, kept me from giving in to the crushing isolation that felt so heavy. I would leave reality and enter into strange the German humour of Toni Erdmann, the escapist pleasure of La La Land, the close tension of Personal Shopper, the dark, sexy magic of God’s Own Country, and the beautiful calm power of Moonlight

La La Land, dir. Damian Chazelle / Credit: Lionsgate
La La Land, dir. Damian Chazelle / Credit: Lionsgate

Yes, my love affair with the cinema has been a long one, and it is, and likely always will be, my favourite place to be. So, during this period of lockdown, it’s been hard to focus, to find any kind of experience to replicate this absent one. So far, the only thing I’ve taken solace in is that the last film I saw in the cinema pre-lockdown was Portrait of a Lady on Fire and, with its French restraint and love blooming in relative isolation, it feels like a fitting final film. 

Of course, it’s not possible to recreate that cinematic experience at home. It’s too light out, the cat walks in and out of the room having a sneezing fit, and my housemates check their phones, send texts, or scroll on twitter while we watch. I am not innocent of this either, distraction happens so easily when not communally frowned upon. Last week, we made some microwavable popcorn and gobbled some store-bought sweets while watching a new release, available via streaming, but it couldn’t quite live up to the classic cinema experience. Still, it added a little zest to watching a new film at home and new releases are still coming, though at a slower pace. 

Maybe this pandemic will alter how we think about film distribution, now that it’s somewhat levelling in terms of access. I find it hard-pressed to imagine any of the chain cinemas near me, who favour larger blockbuster fair near exclusively, would screen Eliza Hittman’s starkly subtle polemic Never Rarely Sometimes Always, yet it’ll be available to rent from May 13th. The same goes for BFI Flare’s ‘online festival’, making up for the cancelled event, including Sam Feder’s essential documentary Disclosure or Liza Xi Xiang’s regulated and mesmerising A Dog Barking at the Moon. These were all films that would likely have required considerable travel and money, on my part, to see. That’s if they screened near me at all. 

The Shape of Water, dir. Guillermo del Toro / Credit: Searchlight Pictures
The Shape of Water, dir. Guillermo del Toro / Credit: Searchlight Pictures

There are cinephiles, the urban city types, who love to talk about male auteur filmmaking, who consider the likes of Netflix to be the ‘death of the cinema’. Even prominent name directors like Steven Spielberg find the streaming sites to be a real thorn in their arty sides. Except they don’t look at the reality; most people don’t have access to arthouse films on their doorstep. Leveller’s like Mubi, Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player, and others have made it a great deal easier for most people but is ease even the issue? What it comes down to for most people is money. So many people are priced out of the cinema-going experience, with tickets well over £12 these days and travel to be considered too. If you can rent a film at home, for £15.99 and three or four of you can sit down together, snug on the sofa, at watch together for around £3.99 each, who’s to say that isn’t the best option? 

Sure, I love the cinema. I love it more than eating a good meal, more than getting the weekend papers and reading them in bed. I love it more than fish and chips on the beach in some seaside town as the sun sets, more than napping, more than finding a tenner you didn’t know you had in your jeans pocket. Hell, I love it more than sex. I would even go as far as to say I love it more than good sex, than mid-blowing sex. It’s a vital part of my identity, of my routine, and, like so many other things right now, it’s not available to me. 

It’s a great privilege to be able to go to the cinema regularly, as is the ability to miss it. People who are worried about job losses, financial hardship, or the vulnerable groups who are most susceptible to this virus have more substantial things to worry about during this pandemic. That this is one of my more significant issues with lockdown is a symbol that, really, I’m not all that affected. 

When lockdown is lifted, and businesses reopen will I be heading to my local cinema with bells on? Yes, I will but maybe the way I approach it has changed. Last week, my housemates and I split the cost to rent the new Juliette Binoche thriller, Who You Think I Am and the South African military drama Moffie (both on Curzon Home Cinema). We’ve never done that before but liked both films and paid around £3 each to watch them. So, I couldn’t help but wonder*, maybe it really is time for us to reassess our viewing habits? 

*Sorry, it’s the first column, and I couldn’t resist. 

Also Read: The Problem with the role of ‘The Wife’ in movies like ‘Dark Waters’

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Editorials

Where Are All The Young Moviegoers?

February 13, 2020
Young Cinema Audiences [Source: British Council]

It’s a fact; cinema relies mostly on young people for their numbers. 15-24-year olds are consistently the largest audience to attend cinemas. But those numbers have been slowly declining over the years. What is causing this? Today we are going to research into the young cinema audience and see if we can answer why younger moviegoers aren’t attending cinemas and if they can be brought back?

Where are the young cinema audiences?

According to Stephen Fellows, some of the main factors hindering young people from going to the cinema are:

Many say that streaming services also greatly contribute to the dropping of young audiences. However, the big streaming services are used primarily to watch TV shows over movies. And waiting to watch new films at home is more often done by infrequent moviegoers. But a big advantage streaming has over the cinema is easy accessibility and it allows for the comfort of home viewing. Whereas young people view the cinema as less relaxing and harder to organize. This means it is harder to encourage young infrequent cinema-goers to come to screenings due to a perceived lack of comfort. So, the cinema experience itself poses more of a barrier to young cinema-goers than streaming.

2018 – Encouraging The Return of Young Audiences?

In a previous article, we showed that 2018 marked the highest number of UK cinema admissions since 1970. Of the 20 highest-grossing movies of 2018, only 3 received a BBFC classification above 12a. These films also told diverse stories that appealed to a broad range of demographics, tastes, and interests. And these films were viewed as events that needed to be seen on the big screen with friends.

2018’s audience figures (at the time of writing) are not available. And while the high year attendance indicates these movies brought in a wide variety of demographics, the encouraging of teenagers and families to come and see the latest releases with low age classification, the telling of a range of stories to encourage interest from groups who may have been previously uninterested; the percieved uptake in value of the overall cinema experience (regarding both the viewing and social experience) indicates that 2018 could have seen a rise in young cinema attendance, as the industry tackled issues pertinent to this demographic.

What Should Cinemas Do?

But no matter what that year’s numbers may show, in the long term the cinema industry must do a lot more to bring young audiences back.

Aside from the family social element and showing more diverse stories aimed at interesting young audiences, consideration must also be given to the cost/perception of attending the cinema, the logistics of organising cinema trips and paying attention to social elements that young people can share with friends.

There are several ways to tackle these problems. Fellows said that young people value cinemas offering rewards for loyalty, as it makes the customer feel valued and also encourages more frequent attendance. Cinemas could also encourage socialisation through ventures like exclusive screenings for young people or film clubs. Frequent hosting and advertising of such events would also encourage good audience organization. Lastly, cinemas must aim to make visits more attractive/obtainable. This can be done by reducing ticket prices (possibly through group offers). Showing that cinemas are good value for their price (offering other incentives for the price of admission). Or constructing more cinemas across the country (allowing more people to easily access the cinema).

This will cost a lot to accomplish. But with more accessible cinemas, incentives geared towards repeat visits and greater social opportunities, it would surely encourage higher attendance from the younger audience.

Also Read: The Biggest Financial Film Flops

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Editorials

Weapon of Choice: Iconic Weapons in Movies

January 13, 2020
Leatherface - Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Whether you’re a hero or villain you need a great weapon to help you vanquish your foes. And cinema is full of amazing weaponry. So, today we’re going to look at seven iconic movie weapons, who wielded them and their real-world origins.

Lightsaber (Star Wars Franchise)

The weapon of the most powerful beings in the galaxy far far away, the Sith and the Jedi. Many famous Jedi and Sith have wielded the multi-coloured laser swords. Including Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, his son Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Maul, Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, and Rey. George Lucas decided to include a futuristic sword in the original Star Wars as a symbol of honour and chivalry. And with only a 4×5 camera flash attachment (the hilt), sticks wrapped in reflective material (the blade); the hum of a projector and the buzz captured from a TV set (the sound effects) Lucas and company birthed arguably the most famous movie weapon of all time.

Vader and Luke’s lightsaber duel from The Empire Strikes Back [Source: Arbin Instruments]

Freddy Krueger’s glove (Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise)

Horror films have created several iconic weapons, some of which we will get into later. But horrors most inventively creepy killing implement is Freddy Krueger’s Razor Glove. Envisioned by director Wes Craven as a throwback to mankind’s primal fear of claws grafted onto modern equipment, not only is Freddy’s glove inventive but its very look is surreal and frightening. Perfectly fitting with the story’s nightmarish aesthetic.

Freddy Krueger's iconic glove
Freddy Krueger’s iconic glove [Source: NME.com]

Nunchaku (Bruce Lee Movies)

This traditional Okinawan martial arts training weapon has become a staple of martial arts movies specifically because of Bruce Lee. Bruce used Nunchaku in several of his movies (Enter the Dragon, Way of the Dragon & Game of Death). He wielded them with such speed, grace, and effectiveness that they were transformed in the public’s mind from mere training implements into incredible weapons in their own right.

Bruce Lee's nunchaku in Game of Death
Bruce Lee’s nunchaku in Game of Death [credit: Columbia Pictures / Sony Entertainment]

The Infinity Gauntlet (Marvel Cinematic Universe)

The MCU needed to give its ultimate villain Thanos a weapon that would make an impression on audiences after ten years of build-up. Made of Uru metal, forged by the dwarves of Nidavellir, with a design ripped straight from the original comic and armed with the infinity stones that collectively give the wearer the ability to do practically anything, including wiping out half of all life in the universe, the Infinity Gauntlet is, without doubt, the most destructive weapon on this list.

Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet.
Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet [credit: Disney / Marvel Entertainment]

Chainsaw (Texas Chainsaw Massacre Franchise)

Employing household tools as weapons is a common practice in slasher movies, and this is one of the movies to thank for that. Director Tobe Hooper originally thought of the idea to use a chainsaw as his movie’s weapon when he was wondering how to get out of the busy store and saw a chainsaw in the hardware section. One thing’s certain, audiences have never looked at chainsaws the same way since.

Leatherface's Chainsaw in Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Leatherface’s Chainsaw in Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) [Source: Syfy Wire]

The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch (Monty Python & The Holy Grail)

In 1975, the Pythons gifted us with possibly the silver screens silliest weapon. When confronted with the dreaded Rabbit of Caerbannog, King Arthur and his knights use the Holy Hand Grenade, originally used by Saint Atilla, to destroy the beast. Shaped like the Sovereigns Orb of the United Kingdom there is no better weapon to destroy your beastly foes and satirize religion.

The Holy Hand Grenade - Monty Python & The Holy Grail
The Holy Hand Grenade [Source: Addicted to Quack]

Revolver (Western Genre)

Everyone loves westerns and the one weapon that typifies the western is the revolver. Patented by Samuel Colt (later developed by multiple companies in the 1800s) as a singlehanded firearm, that can be fired several times without reloading. The revolver has become a symbol of the old west gunslinger. A weapon of great destructive capabilities that requires a keen eye and steady hand to master. No Mexican standoff is complete without one.

Clint Eastwood with iconic western revolvers
Clint Eastwood with iconic western revolvers [Source: AMC]

So ends my list of seven iconic movie weapons. Be sure to fire your suggestions for great movie weapons I missed into the comments.

Also Read: The Best Action Films of the Decade (2010 – 2019)

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News

10 Films To Watch This January

January 7, 2020
January 2020 - 10 Films to see in cinemas

A new year doesn’t only mean new resolutions that we’ll try to keep but also a bunch of brand new, diverse, thrilling and exciting films. We’ve selected ten films that will make from January the perfect start of 2020!

Jojo Rabbit

This latest film from director/writer/actor Taika Waititi has been in UK cinemas for a few days and if you haven’t seen it yet, we suggest you do. Waititi provides you with a unique view on the Hitler era in a film that’s full of satire, spectacular A-list talent and incredibly promising upcoming young actors. The chemistry between Waititi and young actor Roman Griffin Davis is spot-on!

Jojo Rabbit is in cinemas now

Uncut Gems

Adam Sandler as a notorious and charismatic New York City jeweller? It might seem like the next comedy from Sandler that might have an extremely high predictability level. Nothing could be further from the truth thanks to directors Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie. The brothers made from their latest film a dark, humouristic, fast-paced and violent gambling/heist drama. While you might feel some discomfort (not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing) when watching Uncut Gems, the movie does only give Sandler the chance to sparkle again, literally and figuratively speaking

Uncut Gems will be on the big screen from the 10th of January and available via Netflix from the 31st of January

Adam Sandler as Howard Ratner in Uncut Gems
(Source: IMDb)

1917

While 1917 will be released at the beginning of the new year, we dare to say that this movie from Sam Mendes will be the film with the best cinematography and editing of 2020. Mendes, cinematographer Roger Deakins, and editor Lee Smith make it feel like this film was shot in one take. Because of that magnificent element, you’re standing shoulder to shoulder with the two soldiers who have to deliver an extremely important message during the First World War. Esteemed actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, and Richard Madden are great as always but Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay are the ones that excel!

1917 will be in UK cinemas on the 10th of January

Waves

He already shone in Luce but in Waves, Kelvin Harrison Jr. shows us, even more, why he deserves as many awards as possible. Together with great upcoming talent Taylor Russell and Alexa Demie, he tells the gripping story of a young family that’s being struck by loss, doubts and abuse. Luckily, there’s also a place for hope, love, and strong relationships. Director Trey Edward Shults can also rely on stunning performances from Sterling K. Brown, Renée Elise Goldsberry, and Lucas Hedges. Waves is a powerful and emotional film portrayed by a strong cast.

Waves is in UK cinemas from the 17th of January

Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Tyler and Alexa Demie as Alexis in 
(Source: IMDb)

A Hidden Life

Director Malick takes us back to World War II by telling a very emotional story of a couple facing the terrible sides of the war. Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl) is being looked upon with agony because he doesn’t want to pay taxes or doesn’t want to fight for his country. The less he’s involved in the war, the better. He and his wife Fani (Valerie Pachner) live a very sombre life but as long as they have each other and their children, nothing can stop them. Until the war comes much closer than they want… This results in a beautifully shot, highly moving and touching movie about love, family and war.

A Hidden Life will be released on the 17th of January

The Personal History of David Copperfield

It was the openings film of the BFI Film Festival 2019 and while you’re watching The Personal History of David Copperfield you’ll understand why. The film isn’t only packed with A-listers such as Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw, and Gwendoline Christie but also with a lot of humour, wonderful moments and beautifully shot scenes. With David Copperfield by Charles Dickens under his arm, director Armando Iannucci turns the story about family, trying to survive and finding unexpected love in a gorgeous and light-hearted movie.

The Personal History of David Copperfield is out on the 17th of January

Dev Patel as David Copperfield in The Personal History of David Copperfield
(Source: IMDb)

The Lighthouse

If you’ve seen The Witch from director Robert Eggers, then you know that he makes on-point, stirring, dark and thought-provoking thrillers. With his The Lighthouse, he delivers that again! Eggers can’t only count on the electrifying music from Mark Korven and the striking black/white cinematography from Jarin Blaschke but also on the spectacular chemistry between Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. Both men put on a mysterious and dynamic performance and bring the twisted and sinister story of the lighthouse keepers Thomas Howard and Thomas Wake perfectly to life.

The Lighthouse is released on the 31st of January

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Tom Hanks as the beloved children’s television presenter Fred Rogers. You probably don’t need more than that to buy a ticket for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. With her latest film, director Marielle Heller honours the real-life friendship between Rogers and journalist Tom Junod (portrayed by Matthew Rhys). While Junod is being renamed to Lloyd Vogel, the story remains the same. A wonderful one about a unique friendship, family and human emotions. Both Hanks and Rhys dazzle and because of that, the movie became a heart-warming, lovely and charming one.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood will be in UK cinemas from the 31st of January

Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
(Source: Lacey Terrell – © Sony Pictures Entertainment )

Queen and Slim

He was already nominated for an Oscar for his stunning performance in Get Out and put on strong performances in Black Panther and Widows. She is an amazing upcoming talent. Yep, Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith are making a great team as Slim and Queen, a couple whose first date isn’t going as planned. Their happy moments make space for darker and tragic ones. The result: Two young lives completely broken, two people living in fear and pain. Will their love for each other be strong enough to keep them together or will their disastrous past become too dark? You will get the answers to that question after watching this exciting Queen and Slim by director Melina Matsoukas.

Queen and Slim is out on the 31st of January

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

After multiple attempts to make this film, tragically losing important cast members and experiencing financial problems, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018. We can’t imagine what a relief that must have been for director Terry Gilliam. His “most cursed film in cinema history” tells the story of genius film director Toby (Adam Driver) whose creative days are sadly behind him. The production of his latest film about Don Quixote isn’t going great and the passion for filmmaking seems to decline.

This is until he finds a student movie he made about Don Quixote (Jonathan Pryce). This discovery is the beginning of a trip down to the memory lane. Driver and Pryce bring their A-game to this film and lead co-stars Stellan Skarsgård, Olga Kurylenko and Jason Watkins wonderfully through a funny and witty medieval story.

Catch The Man Who Killed Don Quixote from the 31st of January

Adam Driver as Toby and Jonathan Pryce as Don Quixote in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote 
(Source: IMDb)

Also Read: Quibi & the Rise of Short Films

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Editorials

Sorry We Missed You: Film and the North

October 31, 2019

Sorry We Missed You, the latest endeavour from Ken Loach (KesI, Daniel Blake), is a harrowing addition to Loach’s specific brand of socialist realist cinema. Featuring performances from a group of largely undiscovered actors, the film is a damning condemnation of zero-hour contracts and the current ‘gig’ culture that idealizes the entrepreneur, one who grafts alone to achieve and draws us, as a country, further away from empathy and collectivism. Set in Newcastle, Ricky (Kris Hitchen) takes up work as a delivery driver for the fictional courier service PDF. In a role in which he is considered ‘self-employed’ and finically responsible for the parcels he carries, he doesn’t ‘work for’ the company he works ‘with them’. He isn’t hired but rather asked to ‘come on board’, a manipulative twist on language to appeal to those in need. Sorry We Missed You captures working life in the North and the current state of the working-class in Britain with laser-like precision. The setting and subject also lead to a revaluation of the question: What is the relationship between film and the North? 

The North of England is largely misunderstood by those that don’t live here. The thrill of hearing a Northern accent on a night out, the obsession with gravy, and the ‘correct’ word for your evening meal are all points of fascination and humour to those who didn’t grow up above Birmingham. Over in Hollywood, that misunderstanding is even worse. There’s the age-old adage that when asked by an American where you are from in England they are surprised or confused if you don’t say London yet, films from the North have often proved to be complex and intricate, writhing with history and division, with sex and sexuality.

God’s Own Country (Credit: ORION PICTURES)

Last month, I wrote about British Romantic Comedies and how they are, to their detriment, apolitical. They ignore the issues of class, sex, race, and many others that face our country today. Cinema from the North is the exact opposite: Mike Leigh’s Peterloo told a socialist story and portrayed a massacre that most had forgotten, Clio Barnard’s The Arbor is an experimental genre-blend that explored race and gender inequality on a Bradford Estate through the experience of Andrea Dunbar, Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country is a rich, political, and delightfully queer story set in the Yorkshire countryside, and William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth is an electric story of deception and desire filled with sexuality and power.

It seems cinema and the North are perfect bedfellows yet to some if you want to experience ‘the arts’ you have to perform the pilgrimage down to London and sell your soul for a Pret A Manger wrap… but creators and artists have had enough. There is a fight to create more opportunities and indeed more stories from the North with the recent move of Channel 4’s HQ to Leeds and the current construction of a film studio in Liverpool to rival Pinewood proving a good start. If the industry in place then hopefully vital voices will come through.

A Taste of Honey (Credit: BRITISH LION PICTURES.)

When Shelagh Delaney wrote A Taste of Honey (one of the most performed plays in British history and adapted into an acclaimed film in 1961) she did so after a boy trying to impress her took her to the Manchester Opera House to see a play. She wrote in a letter to theatre producer Joan Littlewood, ‘I had discovered something that means more to me than myself.’ As such, she created work that found drama and gravity in the world she came from. She found a voice and something to say and dared to push forward into a world she knew wasn’t built for her. 

Like Delaney, the North is a place talent can, if given the opportunity, thrive. It has produced writers from the working-class comedy stylings of Willy Russell to the intrigue and betrayal of Jed Mercurio. It has formed directors like Terence Davies, whose Liverpudlian self-portraits are stunning and musical. Acting-wise, it has offered some of the strongest and most memorable performances in cinematic history. This writer has issues every day knowing we live in a world in which Julie Walters did not win an Oscar for her role as the chain-smoking, brash, ballet teacher living in Thatcher’s Britain in Billy Elliot. Nor will he be able to sleep well at night ever again knowing Jane Horrocks wasn’t even nominated for her dazzling and wild performance as a shy woman with a talent for impersonating musical icons in Little Voice. He will also forever be frustrated that Maxine Peake’s talent continues to go underappreciated and that routinely that affluent actors from the South continue to gain the most acclaim

That relationship then? One in which talent has to stand out and fight for a seat at the table, to work to prove that the North is a place of art and culture, and to tackle politics and class head-on. It will strive to eviscerate British cinema’s idea of classlessness and fight to render the idea of a single ‘British accent’ entirely moot. It will not rest until the North is seen as it really is: diverse, visceral, and truly alive. 

Sorry We Missed You is released nationwide on November 1st.

Sorry We Missed You (Official Trailer)

Also Read: “Sorry We Missed You” UK Premiere Highlights & Interviews

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Editorials

Breaking Through the Box Office

September 12, 2019
Darkest Hour

A common complaint of modern cinema is that it’s full of sequels, remakes and reboots. This was certainly true in 2018, with only 3 of the top 20 films being original stories, “Coco”, “Darkest Hour” and “Peter Rabbit”. While there is an argument that Hollywood is out of original ideas, and those ideas are seen as more “indie” and never make the same impact as the latest superhero film, clearly some do. So what do these films have that others don’t?

Big Names

Pixar have been producing original hits since 1995, although much of their recent works have been sequels (Credit: Disney/Pixar 2011)

It’s likely you’ve heard of at least one of those three films, if not all of them. “Coco” is from the wizards at Pixar, “Darkest Hour” was based on a true story and pushed for Oscar nods, while “Peter Rabbit” is based off the children’s books that ingrained the character in British Culture.

All of these films are rated fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, so the general consensus is that they are all good films (scores ranges from 64% – 97%). But clever release dates may also have played a part in their success. “Peter Rabbit” was released in February, making it the only children’s film in cinemas for several weeks. This lack of competition likely helped the film’s success.

Darkest Hour, despite being released in late December, was marketed as an Oscars contender early on, especially Gary Oldman’s performance and the hair and make up effects used to transform him into Winston Churchill. Oscar buzz is a huge selling point for any film.

Meanwhile, Coco is from Pixar animation, the studio behind classics like “Toy Story” and “Wall-E”. Pixar’s pedigree rivals the Disney Renaissance , with “Cars 2” the only weak link in it’s (at the time) 19 films.

Where are all the originals going?

“Okja” was a big original release that was released on Netflix (Credit: Netflix, 2017)

As with most years, the top films were all part of franchises. “Avengers: Infinity War” took the top spot, with the number two spot being filled by the “Mamma Mia” sequel. The top ten also consisted of entries in the Jurassic World, Fantastic Beasts, Mission Impossible and Star Wars franchises. As well as a sequel to Mary Poppins and Spider-Man spin-off “Venom“.

Many original stories do get full theatrical releases, but often the biggest ones are feature big names attached, such as the recent “Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood“, with director Quentin Tarantino and actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt involved to draw-in audiences.

A common place to find original stories is on streaming sites, with Netflix having some of the most high profile releases, such as “Okja” or “Velvet Buzzsaw”. Streaming sites have grown in popularity and content in recent years, with content that struggles to find distribution often picked up by streaming sites, such as “The Interview” after the drama caused with the Sony email hack. Although more high profile releases are heading to streaming sites, such as Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman”.

The Future

James Cameron’s “Avatar” was an original story, and managed to hold the record for “highest-grossing film” for 10 years (20th Century Fox, 2009)

It’s unlikely that every film released in cinemas will be a sequel or part of a franchise. There are enough “big” original films released with the likes of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” and Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” as examples, while streaming will only get more high profile releases.

Avatar, which was recently dethroned as the highest-grossing film of all time, is an original story (although it has spawned a franchise) so there is clearly potential for them to succeed, but perhaps a big name must always be attached in some form or another for them to make a big impact?

Also Read: Five Great Films About Filmmaking

Editorials

How Cinema Attendance Hit Record Levels In 2018

February 7, 2019

In a world of streaming and affordable home media, the death of cinema distribution is often talked about. A belief that many would agree with. After all, why go to the cinema when you can watch a film multiple times at home for a fraction of what they would pay going to see those films at the theatre?

It’s therefore interesting that according to the UK Cinema Association, UK cinema attendance in 2018 was at its highest since 1970, with 177 million admissions. This is impressive considering all the factors going against cinema in 2018, including a boiling summer and competition from the World Cup.

UK Cinema Admissions (UK Cinema Association)

But why did cinema attendance decline during the 1970s? And what was it about this past year that encouraged people to return in larger numbers? Well, join me as we dive down the rabbit hole and try to find out.

1970: Starting to decline

1970 was the year the UK saw the general release of many perennial favourites, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Kes and many others. It was also the year when cinema audiences began to decline dramatically in numbers, going from 193 million admissions in 1970 to 176 million in 1971. By the end of 1980 admissions only reached 110 million.

Many blame the expansion of television and the video recorder for the decline. And with Hollywood going through major changes at the time due to several large flops, the big crowd-pleasing spectacles that had been largely used to showcase its superiority to home viewing quickly dropped off. These pictures then took a back seat in the UK, replaced by a mix of personal and experimental projects that appealed to niche audiences as well as television adaptations and sex comedies. From there although attendance was not always in continual decline, and tentpole blockbusters returned, the audience figures never reached the numbers they once had – until 2018!

In 2018 attendance numbers rose with huge hits like Bohemian Rhapsody, Mamma Mia Here we go again, Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther.

The biggest UK film hits in 2018

2018: What has changed?

There are of course many factors that could have contributed to the rise in cinema attendance. Some insiders put it down to the value of the cinema experience. Going to the cinema is not just about the film anymore, it’s about the communal experience. The ability to buy food, drink, alcohol and enjoy a film with your family and friends on a large screen with luxury seating without having to spend as much as you would for a night at the opera or a football match.

The number of venues dedicated to showing films across the UK is also growing, in different geographical areas. This means that it is easier for audiences to get to cinemas, no doubt helping to encourage repeat visits.

On the other hand, the rise could be a result of Hollywood using their old hits formulas with a new approach. The big hits of 1970, M*A*S*H, Love Story and Airport all had pre-existing fanbases, all being based on novels (some specially written to drum up interest for the movie) and stars with name recognition. Airport having Burt Lancaster and Dean Martin, M*A*S*H having Donald Sutherland and Love Story having Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal. Hollywood often used these tactics in the past, but these films also covered a range of genres: disaster, romance, war/comedy and demonstrated an attempt to appeal to different tastes. Airport focused on Hollywood spectacle, Love Story on personal character drama and M*A*S*H on anti-establishment humour rampant at the time. Helping to attract different audiences.

All these elements can be seen in the big hits of 2018. The genres range from musical to superhero and biopic. And all demonstrate a commitment to bringing in broad audiences through either brand recognition or having a big name attached to the project.

But these films also tackle modern issues that help them appeal to different audiences. Instead of focusing exclusively on white straight men we now have stories about black superheroes, LGBTQ icons and women exploring their sexuality and coming to terms with their own identities. With a lot of money spent on these projects, it must be an attractive prospect for underrepresented groups to see representation on the big screen. All the aforementioned films are also rated 12a. And with cinemas being more easily accessible it makes it easier for every member of the family to watch these diverse tales. The issues of today are being told with old school Hollywood spectacle, which seems to have struck a chord with people, regardless of your opinions on the films.

A long way to go

But despite rising attendance figures, these must be viewed within context. Comparing the populations of the times the average person in 1970 would have visited the cinema around 3.5 times a year. In comparison the higher population the average person will only visit the cinema around 2.7 times a year. Which makes a difference when considering box office takings


UK population estimates and projections, 1951 to 2041 (Office for National Statistics )

With the average ticket price in the 1970s being £6.83 (45p, adjusted for inflation) the total box office takings of 1970 reached £1,318,190,000. Beating 2018’s takings of £1,277,122,327 despite the higher average ticket price and higher number of cinemas.

The average viewer just does not visit the cinema enough to equal the 1970 numbers. So, if cinema is to return to the high attendances it once had, there is still a long way to go. And with the predicted continuing increase of the population, cinemas will need to do all they can to encourage visitors to return or attendance will continue to fall. This could result in cinema closures or another rise in the average ticket price.

What now?

Despite this, the high attendance figures of the past few years indicate that if cinemas continue to appeal to audiences, through showcasing big films that can be viewed by diverse audiences at affordable prices, then maybe we will reach the attendance figures of cinemas heyday again.