15 November 2008

Here Comes the Oscar Bait

The six screen arthouse theatre that I manage has just got our bookings for the rest of November and the tentative bookings for December and into January. Finally! Every other question we get in person and on the phone is about Milk, Doubt, Slumdog Millionaire, The Wrestler, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Australia, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, Gran Torino, Che, Revolutionary Road and probably a few more that I can't think of right now. Basically, if it's been written up in Entertainment Weekly as having "Oscar Buzz", we're getting bugged with "when are you getting it questions".

Perfectly fine. Whatever gets folks to come out and support a locally owned arthouse theatre is fine with me, but what about Waltz with Bashir, The Class, Gomorrah, O'Horton or anything else that is maybe not in English. It's almost not worth programming anything but the Oscar Bait films from November to February because the audience just isn't there for these films, at least not in Cleveland. Once the Oscars are done, then we're back to business as usual and these foreign films will do just fine.

I hadn't ever noticed this trend until I started my current job. The brand of Oscar is quite powerful and 90% of the conversations heard in the lobby in between shows are comparison arguments about why there is no way Mickey Rourke will win Best Actor. I love that people are that into film and are having heated and intelligent conversations about the illogical ending of Doubt, I just wish that there was some cohesive element to films the rest of the year. Something that would keep these kinds of conversations going from March until October. But, at the same time, I really dislike the Employee of the Year (aka Oscars) awards.