A Touchy Subject

Here is our objective:  Make going to the movies fun again.

We focus all of our energy and attention on selecting films that we hope people will want to see, providing the best concession stand options in the area, and running a top notch movie theatre.  Sometimes it takes a while for someone to figure out we are here, but — and I’m not tooting our horn here — much of the time we convert moviegoers to the Sun-Ray way.  We work hard and are proud of our theatre.

Now, Jacksonville boasts a strong arts community.  If you want to spend your weekend experiencing visual arts, dance, live theatre you can crack open any number of publications, turn on the radio or TV and get clued into what’s going on in these areas very quickly.  Cinema though?  Different story.

To be fair — many movies come with GIANT advertising budgets that a gallery opening doesn’t begin to approach.  If a local alt weekly doesn’t have an article on that show it’s not like the gallery is paying top dollar to advertise it during commercial breaks from The Bachelor.  But what about the films that don’t have enormous ad budgets?

Tim and I have lived and enjoyed movies in a number of cities.  Austin, Boston, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco…. some of these cities have larger populations than Jacksonville and some are even smaller but they all have strong film communities.  Jacksonvillians want (I think… I hope…) the same opportunities that folks in those cities do.  A Bostonian is just as “busy” as a person here, but somehow they get to be aware of a wider variety of films.

So what’s up with that?

We are making an effort to change that, publishing The Film List, a monthlyish publication that outlines the films and special events on our schedule.  We distribute our rags at the same places the publications that cover at least two live theatre events every week but can’t seem to give that same attention to film distribute theirs.  But do we get it out everywhere?  Nope.  Back to my first point — what OUR job is: make going to the movies fun again.

I don’t want to stir the pot here, but I’ll be honest and say how frustrated I get to have media outlets say, “Well why didn’t you tell us you were playing (fill in the blank)?”  I mean, isn’t it their job to figure that out?  We don’t keep our schedule a secret.

Recently I just about blew my lid when a publication said they neglected to review a film because we hadn’t written to tell them we were playing it.  We wrote it right to them — in the ad we submit weekly with a check.   They printed it, but they didn’t read it?

It’s not just us — oftentimes we at Sun-Ray lose out on “smaller” films because large theatre chains have more buying power.  A small distributor (sometimes thinks that he) gets the most bang for his buck by selling a picture to Big Name Cinema Chain for them to slap on all of their screens.  That’s fine, we can roll with that.  But in Minneapolis it STAYS on the screen because it gets the press, and here it opens and closes with not much more than a tumbleweed rolling down Beach Boulevard.

(We took this photo on our way to see West Memphis Three)

This seems to be a subject folks don’t want to discuss and maybe I’m a s&*t disturber but that sentiment says to me that we have a subject on our hands that NEEDS to be discussed.  So here’s what I want to know:

1) Where do you go to find out what’s playing in town?

2)  Is it too much work?

3)  Have you given up that you will find anything of any value in these publications?

We would be very interested in supporting a publication that isn’t simply interested in ad revenue but actually covering in more detail, film, art, music etc in this area. Maybe that sounds too pie-in-the-sky that some young whipper snapper will rustle up a new weekly or bi-weekly, regardless we will keep pushing forward while scratching our heads over this.