"Many Movie Theaters Decide to Leave the Bat Signal on Till Dawn"
(I'm going to end up sounding a lot crabbier than I intend to here.)
In yesterday's New York Times, Michael Cieply reported on the unprecedented decision to screen next week's The Dark Knight for a 24-hour period beginning next Thursday night at midnight. Unless you've been on Mars for the last year, you know that the Batman sequel of course opens wide on Friday.
Here's my concern: the opening weekend experience is becoming more diluted and less exciting. Cieply reports "midnight shows have become part of the summer blockbuster ritual", which is true in one sense but not in another. My memory tells me that they started in earnest with Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. I don't know if that's true, but either way, yes, most summer blockbusters get this treatment now.
But so do non-blockbusters outside of the summer months. There's hardly a Thursday night at any local cineplex that isn't screening a new romantic comedy or action fantasy, regardless of the buzz and regardless of whether it's January or June.
So this leads into my next question: if people don't see it at midnight, does that mean they're not going to see it at all? Is that the concern, and is that why they've added 3:00 AM and 6:00 AM screenings of the The Dark Knight?
It's an event. I get that. We live in an age where "Harry Potter" books are released at midnight and video game releases cause riots. There's nothing inherently wrong with advance screenings. I just think it's pretty special to still see sell-outs. Have a midnight screening a few times a year for the big ones, fine. Demand will be massive. Those who don't get tickets immediately will have to see it, horror of horrors, on "opening night" (which is either nonexistent or the best definition, depending on how you look at it).
And let's get the other little ant out of my pants. If I'm anticipating a movie for months on end, do I really want to watch it for the first time at 3:00 AM, when the audience will either be snoring or on the collective verge of cardiac arrest due to sugar and caffeine overdoses?
Like I said, I'm sounding a lot more negative than I mean to. As it happens, I'm seeing The Dark Knight on Thursday at 12:00 AM...
What are your thoughts on this trend?
2008 Asian American International Film Festival
In other news, the 31st Asian American International Film Festival opens today in New York. From the press release:
"With groundbreaking new programming and an eye for innovation, the Asian American International Film Festival ’08 will open on Thursday, July 10 with the East Coast debut of Princess of Nebraska, from acclaimed director Wayne Wang. The Centerpiece Presentation will be on Thursday, July 17 with the U.S. premiere of The Speed of Life by director Ed Radtke. The Festival will close on Saturday, July 19 with Ping Pong Playa from Academy Award-winning director Jessica Yu."
Maybe check it out if you're in New York. These festivals are you usually ignored at the viewer's expense. The AAIFF has previously been the occasion for the U.S. premiers of films from directors such as Mira Nair and Ang Lee. Besides that, I don't think Asian-American filmmakers (maybe aside from Justin Lin) have enough exposure in Hollywood.
More info can be found in festival director Sonjia Hyon's post on PBS' P.O.V. blog.