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Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

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Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

Old 10-26-18, 09:49 PM
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Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

or can studies release anything they want ?

Surely there should be some baseline quality checks for anything shown in a theatre and i don't mean on the censorship side of things, more on the 'doesn't totally stink" side of things

E.g. no way Slender Man should have been released theatrically
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Old 10-26-18, 09:58 PM
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Re: Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

They can release whatever they want as long as the theaters will carry it.
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Old 10-26-18, 10:32 PM
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Re: Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

With my 35 years worth of movie-going experience, I can assure you there's no prohibition on releasing movies that stink.
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Old 10-26-18, 10:39 PM
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Re: Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

nah
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Old 10-26-18, 10:46 PM
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Re: Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

The market speaks for itself...
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Old 10-26-18, 10:59 PM
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Re: Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

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Old 10-26-18, 11:12 PM
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Re: Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

Funny, I was thinking of seeing if I could stream this tonight!
Guess I'll scratch it off the list ...
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Old 10-26-18, 11:21 PM
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Re: Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

The film A.I. made over *checks notes* $235 million dollars, so... no.
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Old 10-26-18, 11:27 PM
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Re: Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

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Old 10-26-18, 11:51 PM
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Re: Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

I mean, both studios and theaters make decisions on what gets shown, and try to decide based on what they think what sell. But there's some things that limit that decision making.

For studios, they'll sometimes pull films if they look bad, or test bad. Theodore Rex was famous at the time for being the most expensive movie to go direct to video after it's theatrical release was cancelled ($30 million)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Rex_(film)

However, there's reasons why a studio often won't pull a film. For one, there may be a contractual obligation to release a film. Depending on the specifics of the contract, this may be as little as releasing in one theater for one weekend, which is how we got the lowest grossing movie ever, Zyzzyx Road, which only made $30 during it's theatrical run, from 6 patrons (2 of which the director personally refunded):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zyzzyx_Road

However, other contracts may specify at least a certain level of release, so the studio will release it to fulfill the contract.

There's also the sunk-cost fallacy, where the studio figures that since they already paid for the production, they're already so far in they may as well release it. Who knows, it may become a cult favorite for being so bad it's good! The idea is that burying the film or dumping it to video is admitting defeat without even trying.

Also, recent changes in technology and distribution mean that the costs to studios for releasing a film aren't quite the same as they used to be. It used to be that release a film wide, studios had to make enough prints to fulfill the theaters, and prints cost a lot. So older releases were sometimes a lot more timid, releasing only in a few dozen theaters the first week, and slowly increasing if it did well, as well as maybe even moving existing prints around to different theaters. So if a film was a terrible bomb, it may not ever get out of a few dozen theaters in major cities.

However, with digital projection and satellite distribution, there's really no additional cost to the studio for distribution to more theaters; it's just one more theater downloading the satellite simulcast. So with minimal cost and a cut of any revenue, why not? The other consideration is that movies come to video/streaming a lot faster than they used to. So instead of slowing releasing a film over several months to different markets, the idea now is to push it out everywhere you can in the first week.




Now, for theaters, they only want what will fill seats. However, their relationships with studios can complicate things.

For one, theaters are often scheduling films months to years in advance. So they're often basing their decisions based on what the studio's sales pitch has been, and sometimes this can be based more on the studio's promised marketing push and such than the quality of the film. If theaters do see any content, it may be specially prepared sizzle reels or essentially extended trailers. Now, as consumers, we all know how misleading trailers can be, so the preview content theaters see can potentially be just as misleading.

Another factor can be the deals studios make with theaters. I believe a lot of times movies can come in package deals, like "if you want this film, you must take these movies as well." So a theater may agree to air a movie they're not very interested in just to get the movies they are interested in from a studio.



There's also the idea, for both studios and theaters, that an unused movie screen is just lost revenue, so there has to be movie to play on every screen every week. Studios and theaters both prefer to play the movies most likely to get a lot of tickets during the months when most people attend movies, so the summer blockbuster season, and to a lesser extent the holiday season. That creates two lull periods where studios loath to release anything of note, basically January through March, and August through October. But something has to be playing in theaters during these times. So studios release their lesser films during these times, and theaters play them to have something to play. This is why when you see a movie's release date rescheduled from one of the blockbuster seasons to an off-season slot, it's typically a sign the studio doesn't have much faith in the film.

Now, there's one major exception to October being a slow season, and that's for horror movies. Horror movies tend to do really well in the build-up to Halloween, so both studios and theaters are eager to play nearly any horror movie during this time.


So while quality is one factor both studios and theaters use to decide to run a film theatrically, it's only one of many, and may be mitigated by those other factors.
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Old 10-27-18, 10:24 AM
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Re: Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

There was a period in the late '60s and early '70s when a lot of major studio-produced films perceived as potential bombs got little to no theatrical release, sometimes even after a major marketing push, often from major directors and featuring top stars. I'm not sure whether the studio bosses hated the final product or they previewed the films and got overwhelmingly negative response or they released the films in backwater regions to see how they'd do before deciding to release in major cities. Probably examples of all of these.

Some of the ones I recall:

THE EXTRAORDINARY SEAMAN (1969), directed by John Frankenheimer and starring David Niven and Faye Dunaway, who had just come off two major hits, BONNIE AND CLYDE and THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR. This film got a big build-up in the trade press and then...hardly any release. I don't recall it playing in New York at all.

THE APPOINTMENT (1969), directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Omar Sharif and a then-prominent French female star, Anouk Aimee.

Lumet and Frankenheimer were big directorial names at the time.

THE PICASSO SUMMER (1969), starring Albert Finney and Yvette Mimieux.

THE PHYNX (1970), an all-star misfire with a Monkees-like pop group assigned to go behind the Iron Curtain to rescue dozens of old Hollywood stars kidnapped by the Commies. I've seen it on DVD-R. It's really bad, but great to see Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, Dorothy Lamour, Pat O'Brien, Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, et al playing themselves. This had a lot of build-up before Warner Bros. dumped it. I'm not sure if it ever got shown anywhere.

STOP (1970) directed by black actor Bill Gunn (GANJA AND HESS) and photographed by Owen Roizman (THE FRENCH CONNECTION). Another Warner Bros. dumpee.

DEADHEAD MILES (1973), a trucking drama directed by Vernon Zimmerman, written by Terrence Malick and starring Alan Arkin, who was a major lead at the time.

There were many more than these, but this is all I recall now.

Last edited by Ash Ketchum; 10-27-18 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 10-27-18, 05:35 PM
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Re: Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

Thanks for the info Jay, that was interesting
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Old 10-27-18, 06:13 PM
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Re: Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum View Post
There was a period in the late '60s and early '70s when a lot of major studio-produced films perceived as potential bombs got little to no theatrical release, sometimes even after a major marketing push, often from major directors and featuring top stars. I'm not sure whether the studio bosses hated the final product or they previewed the films and got overwhelmingly negative response or they released the films in backwater regions to see how they'd do before deciding to release in major cities. Probably examples of all of these.
Reminds me ofEmperor of the North Pole. Fox promoted the hell out of it. Emphasis on reunion of those who made Dirty Dozen, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Robert Aldrich.
You couldn't go to the movies without seeing the trailer.
I waited, and waited, and waited some more. Movie never showed up. Finally saw years later on vhs.

Fox did release it, but yanked it after a week or so because they thought people who think it was a Christmas movie. It got re-released as Emperor of the North but the distribution process was all fowled up by now and most towns/cities never showed the movie.
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Old 10-27-18, 06:20 PM
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Re: Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

Originally Posted by rw2516 View Post
Reminds me ofEmperor of the North Pole. Fox promoted the hell out of it. Emphasis on reunion of those who made Dirty Dozen, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Robert Aldrich.
You couldn't go to the movies without seeing the trailer.
I waited, and waited, and waited some more. Movie never showed up. Finally saw years later on vhs.

Fox did release it, but yanked it after a week or so because they thought people who think it was a Christmas movie. It got re-released as Emperor of the North but the distribution process was all fowled up by now and most towns/cities never showed the movie.
I saw it at a theater in New York, where it played for several weeks, but didn't realize it had such limited distribution in the rest of the country. I remember it being promoted as EMPEROR OF THE NORTH POLE, but released without the "POLE." I had eagerly awaited it and I loved it. I later watched it on network TV with my father, who had ridden the rails as a hobo in the 1930s. He objected to its portrayal of Shack (Borgnine), the railroad guard. He remembered the railroad guards being helpful to the hoboes and understanding of their situation, not brutal and mean, like Shack.
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Old 10-27-18, 06:31 PM
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Re: Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

As long as people keep seeing crap like Nolan films they will keep releasing them.
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Old 10-27-18, 07:16 PM
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Re: Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum View Post
THE EXTRAORDINARY SEAMAN (1969)
Heh heh heh heh.
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Old 10-27-18, 07:37 PM
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Re: Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

I saw Emperor of the North in its theatrical release in small town New Hampshire. I didn't know that almost nobody else had.
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Old 10-28-18, 07:42 AM
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Re: Aren't there Baseline Quality checks for Theatrically released movies ?

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum View Post
I saw it at a theater in New York, where it played for several weeks, but didn't realize it had such limited distribution in the rest of the country. I remember it being promoted as EMPEROR OF THE NORTH POLE, but released without the "POLE." I had eagerly awaited it and I loved it. I later watched it on network TV with my father, who had ridden the rails as a hobo in the 1930s. He objected to its portrayal of Shack (Borgnine), the railroad guard. He remembered the railroad guards being helpful to the hoboes and understanding of their situation, not brutal and mean, like Shack.
Originally Posted by Nick Danger View Post
I saw Emperor of the North in its theatrical release in small town New Hampshire. I didn't know that almost nobody else had.
Never made it the Quad-Cities area or Kansas City.
The staggered release schedules of the time probably contributed. No national uniform release date. Movies working their way across country, even big movies. Some markets open on Wednesday, some Friday, some Sunday, etc.
Small markets that change movies twice a week.
Was on vacation in Estes Park, CO in 1968. The one theater had Ice Station Zebra for three days, Mon-Wed, and it was gone. Replaced with Disney's Peter Pan for Thur-Sun and it was gone.

In 1971 my dad took me with him to a convention in New Orleans. He was pretty busy with convention stuff so I had a lot of time to wander around the town on my own.
Saw an ad for Willard on the hotel room tv. I just had to see this movie. I assumed it was also playing at home and would have come and gone by the time we returned home.
I put on my truckin' shoes and hit the streets of New Orleans hunting for the theater playing Willard. Found it and saw the movie.
Back home, about a month later, I'm seeing the same tv ads for Willard. STARTS WEDNESDAY! or STARTS TOMORROW!
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