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Top box office stars- Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, Jane Fonda, Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Jill Clayburgh, Roger Moore, Mel Brooks
Top grossing films- Superman $81m, Every Which Way But Loose $48m, Rocky II $43.1m, Alien $40.1m, The Amityville Horror/Star Trek The Motion Picture $35m
The most glorious time of my life, film wise, was the 80s.
Let me guide you thru a typical cinema going experience for me. 1980. Empire Strikes Back. Logan Valley Mall Cinema IV. Screen 3. The best screen in Altoona, PA, tho not in the closer region. Matinees were $1.50. I would buy my ticket, I saw most movies alone, and head to concession. I would purchase a Sno-Caps and a pina Colada froth thing drink. A kind of middle ground between a smoothie and an icee. I would then head in and sit in the front row.
I would be on the seat so far forward my ass would be completely off. One sits like normal then slides down until it is your back on the seat and your chin is almost to your chest. If I snuck candy in I would open all the packaging as to not make noise during the film. There were no cup holders so you had to work around how you would easily access your beverage without needing to see it and it would not get knocked over by others. I would think about story ideas, what I should pay attention to this time, count holes in the screen, listen to other people’s conversations until the trailers.
I was silent in trailers. This was the best way to learn what was coming out. Magazines may hint at future releases. Commercials were no more than 3 weeks before a premiere. Trailers could give you info months before release. Trailers were not as sophisticated as they are now. They sold the movie by way of short scenes or narration over still images. A poorly made trailers showed you the end of a film. A great trailer showed special effects shots and had whole jokes. Some fan magazines and fan clubs had earlier and better information, but they were not easily had.
The film starts. I direct the opening fox music. Opening crawl. I tried to memorize these but I am terrible at it so I only know parts. Story starts. What am I paying attention to this time? Let us say this is viewing 42. Options I had were thus:
Next time, what it all means.
Top box office stars-Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Robin Williams, Michael Douglas, Tom Hanks, Michael J. Fox, Eddie Murphy, Mel Gibson, Sean Connery, Kathleen Turner
Top grossing films-Batman $150.5m, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade $115m, Lethal Weapon 2 $79.5m, Honey I Shrunk the Kids $71.1m, Rain Man $65m
I was reading about filmmaking first as a child interested in special effects, then as a teenager interested in filmmaking, next as a young adult taking film classes, making my own films, voraciously reading any bio or textbook I could find at university. Eventually I made my way into managing cinemas and never ending study. I made contacts, learned how the business worked, began to loathe most mainstream films, and just kept going.
I had an enlightening but difficult time in the one official film course IUP offered. I was introduced to films I had not seen but had read about. Concepts were explained more fully. I hit a wall with Blade Runner. I had read more about it than the professor who felt he was an authority. We wasted several classes arguing about the film. I won and had my A lowered to a B.
I wrote a paper about the symbolic language David Lynch uses in all of his films, at least up to 1990. I wrote a paper on Truffaut and taught myself about the French New Wave. I’m thinking about writing one on Orson Welles or John Hughes.
I’m not in the biz any longer but I retained friends all over the pipeline from writing to producing to spfx to booking to marketing. I know way too much about popcorn and Creators poppers. Poor presentation drives me crazy as does the noise in a theatre.
I miss film. The tactile act of threading. I miss the noise in the booth. I miss being good in the booking game and predicting movie box offices. I do not miss the owners and how exhibition works.
I was going to go to film school for my masters but I couldn’t afford it. I hoped to go to Australia but you need to live there after.
I get frustrated speaking to people sometimes when they ask a question about the business, I give an answer, and they reject it because I don’t know why. I was predicting digital projection which no one thought would happen. Or why 3d wouldn’t stay. Why large format would dominate. Why Covid was the death knell of exhibitors grip on distributors. Blah blah blah.
My wife gave me the gift of the criterion channel a couple years ago so I am catching up on all the films I wanted to see but did not have the opportunity. It is glorious. I was craving surreal films, challenging films, creative films. I’ve been overdosing on Bergman, Cocteau, Truffaut, Goddard.
Having been immersed in popular tripe for so long I had begun to forget the joy of a film with meaning, a film that required thought.
A new type of content to stimulate the masses. I am going to list facts I find interesting, and I hope you do too, for a year in film. I am going to jump around to keep it more interesting. Let me know what you think. It’s ok to engage me.
Top box office stars- James Stewart, Grace Kelly, John Wayne, William Holden, Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando, Martin & Lewis, Humphrey Bogart, June Allyson, Clark Gable
Top grossing films- Cinerama Holiday $10m, Mister Roberts $8.5m, Battle Cry $8m, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea $8m, Not As A Stranger $7.1m