Picture House programming
From Jonny Courtney
Friday, 10 February 2012
As the programmer at the Picture House, I thought it might be helpful to people if I explained a little bit about how this works, as I think Andrew B and Jenny B have raised valid points, which I know they are shared by others in Hebden.
Whenever we book a film to be screened at the Picture House, we enter into an agreement with that film's distributor regarding the number of days we must screen the film, and the percentage of the box office we must pay back to the distributor.
If we were to take a major title from release date, we would be contracted to screen the film for 7 days straight at the very least (it could be 14,21 days etc) and we would have to agree to pay back a large percentage of the box office (somewhere around 55/65%) back to the distributor.
For a multiplex, this agreement is no problem. They have several screens and will move the film into smaller auditoriums as the weeks progress, and put the newer releases in the larger auditoriums. As they have several screens they can of course show several titles at the same time, so taking a film for a long period of time is easily accommodated.
For Hebden Bridge Picture House, as a single screen cinema, to take a title from release would be very difficult. Aside from the large share of box office revenue we would have to pay back to the distributor, we would also be limited to showing just that title for a lengthy period of time, meaning we could probably only screen around 4 films per month (if that).
The reason we take films after a certain number of weeks is that a) the percentage of box office revenue we have to pay back drops to around 35%, and b) we can take each title for reduced number of days, which allows us to fit in so many films into one month.
As January and February are part of the awards season, we unfortunately have to wait a little longer for major titles, such as the Iron Lady and The Artist. Distributors know that these films will be very successful at the box office, and so are in a stronger position to dictate terms, which inevitably means we have to wait longer for the films to arrive at Hebden. Contrary to popular belief, we actually get some films in 3 weeks from release date. DVDs typically are available 3 months from the theatrical release date, so this isn't really a major concern.
The other major factor is that we are still screening 35mm prints, as opposed to digital. Production of prints is decreasing rapidly, which means that we often have to wait even longer now until we can secure a title, and sometimes prints are not produced for a film, meaning we cant show it at all. One of the major improvements HRTC is aiming to do is install a digital projector, which will hopefully mean we can secure some titles earlier, and I will have a wider selection of titles to choose from.
I do appreciate this doesn't make much difference if people want to see a film on the date of release, but hopefully it goes a little way to explaining why the programme is the way it is.
From Jenny B
Friday, 10 February 2012
Thanks for that Jonny, nice of you to take the time to explain so fully. I can't say it changes my view on paying through a precept for the cinema, but it will probably make me less 'impatient' about seeing new releases.
This message follows on from the Hebden Royd 2012/13 Precept