A&E » Film

Dollar dollar bills, y'all



How much money would you have to make to be considered a failure?

Likely your own personal number is far, far, faaaaaaar lower than Han Solo's. Solo made over $100 million domestically in four days last weekend and, while no one is complaining officially, word on the street is Disney is 'Disna'ppointed with their latest Star Wars spin-off/cash grab. The executives in the Marvel Films department (Disney owns them, too) keep making lewd gestures across the room at Lucasfilm and sending them orders of "simulated calamari" at lunch (that's the Calamari made from inverted pig rectums—apparently it's hard to tell the difference!)

Of course, this is all unsubstantiated (especially the ass-calamari part) but for Solo, the damage has been done. The big shots are already shaking their heads at Han and revising how much they're willing to spend on his sequel. The funny thing is, the movie's not that bad (no Jar Jar Binks, for one) and this kind of unfair persecution fits Solo's character kinda perfectly—the everyman with the big heart getting constantly screwed around. Perhaps it's a brilliant reverse-marketing campaign and this high-performing-underdog role will boost gates on the next one.

If the cinema lasts that long. Solo's weekend exemplifies a larger trend. Last year, U.S. theatre chains recorded their worst box office sales since 1995. Partially because people are opting for the big screens in the comfort of their own homes, but also because going to the movies is goddamned expensive.

And here's where the Whistler Village 8 deserves credit. Unlike pretty much everything else in town (except condoms, which are still free at the bottom of the stairs to at the Whistler Medical Centre) Whistler movie tickets are not vastly overpriced. The Village 8 offers movies at a price that is comparable to anywhere else in the country (if only Whistler landlords would do the same).

But even that can add up. If you're a family with two to three kids, going to the movies and getting some snacks can easily be an $80 to $100 night (that's more than a hooker or a half tank of gas in Squamish).

Even for childless people (a.k.a. The High Five Club) taking a date to the cinema more than a couple times a week might necessitate a third job. Because while Han was grossing a cool centi-million last weekend, the Low Income Measure (a.k.a.: the Poverty Line) for single adult Canadians is any salary under $22,133 a year, before tax. That doesn't leave much room for three Marvel and two Star Wars movies every 12 months, plus the stuff you actually want to see like the upcoming prehistoric shark flick The Meg.

The good news is it will be a while before movie theatres completely die off the way video stores did; there is still too much value in the shared human experience. But something has to change and cinema's first kick at the affordability can is the obvious one: copy Netflix, or more specifically the Netflix subscription model.

People are buying everything from organic groceries to razors to boutique coffee to computer programs to dog food on a subscription model these days. Why not try it with movie theatres?

U.S.-based service MoviePass has been making big headlines lately for offering a subscription that allows members to see one movie a day, in the theatre, for $10/month. There are a few restrictions (no 3D, you have to buy the ticket that day) but even so, that sounds too good to be true.

And it likely is, even with selling their subscribers' data to any takers, inside experts can't figure out how MoviePass will ever turn a profit, or even break even; but it's shots fired in the right direction.

Here in Canada, a service called Sinemia launched in April that gives members access to two movies/month (at Cineplex theatres only) for just $10.99 or three flicks for $15.99. This seems a lot more realistic, and a damn good deal (let's get Imagine Theatres/Village 8 on board).

Can this save the movie theatres? Time will tell. Another idea might be for Hollywood to stop shitting out so many franchise-based flicks that cost $450 million to make and market, and go back to bankrolling smaller films to niche markets (a.k.a.: Adam Sandler or Kevin Smith's entire careers.) But in any case, Hollywood is on the ropes and Netflix-style subscription services are one of the reasons why.

As theatres toy with solutions, the end results are gonna be good for movie fans. We'll be trading privacy and personal data for cheaper movies but who cares? Privacy is a myth nowadays anyhow.

Back on the silver screen, Solo obviously needs your money and the only new flick at the Village 8 this week is Adrift, about a couple that sails into a hurricane and learns what love really is, or something.

It looks like a less scary (and meteorologically inverse) Dead Calm crossed with anything by Nicholas Sparks, but Adrift is based on a true story and I bet my grandma would have loved it.

Adrift opens this week, thankfully at regular Village 8 prices, so you can take your date out for calamari afterwards.


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