I was all set this week to write about something positive and calm. The fact that my friends want to see I Am Legend in IMAX -- or else not at all -- made me contemplate how there's often theaters, show times, and audiences that we feel necessarily appropriate for the movie we're going to see (for example: "midnight movies" have their title for a reason).
Unfortunately, some news came on the wire Friday that caused me unease. I don't need to care about a chain of theaters out in the Midwest when I'm sitting in New York, but I do care. It's the main reason I wanted a column about the exhibition side of movies. I feel the need to direct attention to the sufferings of American cinemas, while at the same time celebrating the movie-going experience.
The story is that Marcus Theatres will not be showing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street because the movie costs too much to book. What this means is that Paramount Pictures is asking for an unusually high percentage of the money made from ticket sales. Marcus thinks the percentage is too steep and is protesting by refusing to show the movie at any of its 49 cinemas.