Movie theaters take another shot in the chest

We predict a lot of things around here, most of them are pretty scatterbrained thoughts fueled by staying up too late the night before watching the FX rebroadcast of Justified (a perfect segue to announce we’ll be doing a review of some new midseason TV shows tomorrow).

hey look, it's the only reason worth seeing gi joe!

hey look, it's the only reason worth seeing gi joe!

So it’s tough to remember if I predicted there would be a firefight over Alice in Wonderland’s DVD coming out pretty early — but I think I did. Now it’s starting, with the theaters saying they might drop the movie this weekend in protest. We saw it first last year when the abomination we know now as GI Joe came out on DVD the first week in November — less than three months from its release date — to make sure it was visible in stores by Black Friday and on everybody’s Christmas list.

It’s an empty threat from the theaters. Unless every theater in the country dropped it, there’s no way just one or a couple will. There are too many theaters out there right now all competing against each other for only a handful to stand up for themselves. Just look at the Poconos — all four theaters, all within about 20 miles from each other, are playing Alice in Wonderland. If the Casino Theater in Mount Pocono decided to stand up and say, “This is crapola!” and drop Alice, do you think someone who wanted specifically to see it wouldn’t drive to the Stroud Mall to see it? Or the Pocono Community Theater in East Stroudsburg? Unless all four theaters dropped it, a boycott just wouldn’t work. One theater would be standing on its principles — and losing guaranteed thousands of dollars.

Now think about that in bigger cities with movie theaters on every other block. It’s one for all, or none for all. Theater owners are in enough trouble right now trying to get people to come to movies with higher ticket prices, less free time and increasing OnDemand pressures, they wouldn’t drop a movie that’s made them surprising mounds of money in the past two weeks. Theaters barely make a dime on a movie until the third week of its run, at least. They wouldn’t drop it when it’s going into its third weekend. 

what a shock, disney is out to screw over everybody

what a shock, disney is out to screw over everybody

Movie studios aren’t stupid, they know the theater threat is less than hollow. Studios are being smart — they’re not releasing any small or mid-level movies early. Alice (on its way to $350 million at the box office in North America) and GI Joe ($150 million here, $300 million worldwide) are two big-budget, guaranteed money-makers theaters need. When The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard announced it would come out on DVD less than three months from its theatrical release date — the movie made just $15 million — theater owners wanted blood. Instead of fight over a movie that made theaters about $5 a piece, Paramount pushed the release date back. Only a week, but back nonetheless to appease the theaters. It should be noted that Paramount was the studio on GI Joe as well. Alice is a Disney product, as if that should surprise anyone the way the studio is screwing everyone but itself.

Studios lost billions of dollars as the DVD market has cooled in the last couple years, and they need ways to reinvigorate that market to meet the bottom line. Getting the movies on the street quicker would be one of those ways at the expense of some theater revenue — revenue that’s more shared with outside companies than DVD revenue is.

So what we have is a John Woo-style Mexican standoff where no one will blink. Theaters won’t not play movies, and studios need to repopulate the earth with DVD revenue. And the only way it’s going to stop is if someone pulls the trigger. This is something that has the potential to drive theaters out of business — it should be taken very seriously.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! What better way to celebrate than talking about the people who couldn’t pull off one of the toughest accents in the world to pull off — the Irish accent. Those are some pretty good examples of those who failed, but I’m really offended that Jeff Bridges from Blown Away doesn’t make this list. The guy wins and Oscar and he’s immune from being made fun of for a while. Not here. Julia Roberts should get special consideration for effing up an Irish accent not once but twice in Mary Reilly and Michael Collins. Maybe if she tried it in a movie not named after someone? Blown points because Tommy Lee Jones had an equally bad accent. Colin Farrell came around 10 years too late, he should have had the part of Bridges.

I think I’ve been justifiably critical of the local concert scene in the past for bringing the same acts, or at least the same genre of acts, here over and over. But two shows on sale this weekend that go against that — Rusted Root at Penn’s Peak on June 12 and Kings of Leon on June 8 at Montage Mountain in Scranton. Sure, it would have been nice to have Kings of Leon at a smaller venue four years ago while they were still cool, but we’ll take what we can get. Both shows go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. Even Musikfest in Bethlehem has some newcomers that go on sale Friday like Norah Jones and Martina McBride. Again, five years too late, but we take what we can get around here.

Another newcomer, Norah Jones, will be at Musikfest in Bethlehem on Aug. 7. That show goes on sale Friday.

Congratulations to ESPN, the only winner in the Tiger Woods scandal! It was bad enough when the station was profiting off Woods when it got new viewers because of it, but now it’s the network televising the first two rounds of The Masters, when Woods will be coming back. I’m often prone to take off from work one of the first two days and go to the bar to watch, but I was the only one there. Now? Every bar will be packed. Guaranteed.

Because Lil’ Wayne doesn’t have enough problems, now he’ll have to answer for a bench warrant in Arizona for failing to appear for a hearing on drug and weapons charges -- because he was in jail 3,000 miles away. That’s fun to explain to a judge. “Sorry, your honor. You know, maybe you’ll get a kick out of this, because it’s pretty ironic. I couldn’t answer your weapons charge because I was already in jail on another weapons charge. Can I go now?”

is this even her? she's tough to recognize anymore

is this even her? she's tough to recognize anymore

I don’t care what comes after the words “Jessica Simpson investigates … ” those first three words of a headline are just too funny to take anything that might be said afterwards seriously. I stop reading after those three words and start making up fake news blurbs in my head that make me laugh like ” … the effects of global warming on the polar ice caps” or ” … what napalm actually is.” Remember about six years ago when Simpson ruled the reality TV world and sparked this alarming trend of dummies getting TV shows just because they were hot? Now it’s not until four days later that I even realize her newest reality show premiered. That’s a good thing, right? It’s almost impossible to believe she’s been replaced by someone named “Snooki.”

Kick-Ass is off my radar completely for now, but the last time we heard near-definitive news of a sequel before the movie has been released was for The Hangover. And that did pretty well. Just something to keep in the back of your head.

Quite the paradox — I can see Ryan Phillippe as Captain America, but I don’t see him getting the job in a billion years. I’ve warmed to Phillippe in the last couple years after Crash, Breach and Stop-Loss — and because he’s a Philly sports fan — but his box office track record is quite terrible. And by “quite” I actually mean “ridiculously.” To the point where it’s tough to realize why he’s even considered a legitimate leading man anymore. There isn’t a $100 million movie on his resume and he was one more 54 away from starring in Cruel Intentions 4.

Don’t forget about the contest to win tickets to Friday’s United Way fundraiser!

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