BRIAN VINER: Why won’t distributors show us the GOOD movies?
Why won’t distributors show us the GOOD movies? BRIAN VINER says many cinemas in Britain only show big blockbusters or children’s animations
Last week on these pages, I reviewed four new films: Tully, Lean On Pete, Nothing Like A Dame and I Feel Pretty.
To the first three I gave four stars; to I Feel Pretty, a muddled comedy starring Amy Schumer, just two. On the whole, other critics dished out the same verdicts. Yet only one of those films ended up in cinemas nationwide, and it wasn’t any of the good ones.
After attending the press screenings in London, I returned to my home in rural Herefordshire especially keen for my wife and her friends to see Tully, a terrific movie in which Charlize Theron brilliantly plays a harassed mother of three who is rescued by a young nanny.
Catch her if you can: Charlize Theron plays a harassed mother of three in new film Tully
But neither of our two nearest multiplexes, Odeon Hereford and Vue Worcester, are showing Tully. They would have to drive to Cheltenham or Birmingham, more than an hour away, to see it. Even there, options are limited.
This is a depressingly regular occurrence, as distributors (the big film companies, such as Universal in the case of Tully), and leading exhibitors (the major cinema chains) prioritise their profits ahead of giving the provincial cinema-going public a decent range of movies to choose from.
It’s no wonder that Avengers: Infinity War is smashing records at the box-office; on its opening weekend some nine-screen multiplexes showed it on no fewer than seven screens. Even during a Bank Holiday blessed with a heatwave, well over a million people went to see it. Not just because it’s great, but because they could.
London and the larger cities offer a healthy diversity of films, of course. But if you live anywhere else, you’d better enjoy big-budget blockbusters and cutesy children’s animations, because it sometimes seems there’s precious little else to see.
Avengers: Infinity War is smashing records at the box-office; on its opening weekend some nine-screen multiplexes showed it on no fewer than seven screens
Three cheers for the smaller chains, and for Britain’s marvellous independent cinemas, for thinking more imaginatively. But the powerhouses in the industry are letting us all down.
When I asked Universal why Tully hadn’t made it to Hereford or Worcester — which, contrary to what metropolitans might think, aren’t exactly one-horse towns — a spokesperson said: ‘For commercial reasons the film’s theatrical release means it doesn’t always fit into the schedules of some of the smaller multiplexes.’
So in other words, hang the audience, we don’t think we can make enough money out of you lot in the sticks.
There are more than 3,500 cinema screens in this country. You’d think just one of them might be showing a very good film featuring a major Hollywood star at the top of her game, without the need for anyone who doesn’t live in a Highlands croft to make a three-hour round-trip.
With the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime encouraging us to stay at home, film distributors and exhibitors need to give us more reasons to get out of the house, not fewer.
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