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By David Poland

A Survey Worth Chewing On

Former New Line web guru Gordon Paddison

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30 Responses to “A Survey Worth Chewing On”

  1. SJRubinstein says:

    Just read that twice. Interesting stuff, some of it confirming what might be intuitive, some other surprises (I am 32 and the Arts & Leisure section still dictates to me when it comes to the smaller films, some times), but all really cool when put together like that.
    And if I’m remembering right from my time as an online journo, Paddison was the first one to really understand how to use (and far more importantly, how to NOT use) the internet anyway, so cool that he’s still at it.

  2. IOIOIOI says:

    The teens are all about sharing and group-thinking? What the hell? That’s a freaky freakin statement.

  3. Wrecktum says:

    People always complain that movies are aimed to the lowest common denominator. That last statistic points out why. In a group environment, preference is driven by choices that the majority of people will agree with.

  4. IOIOIOI says:

    You could also take that stat as meaning, that people are scared to make a decision, and like to have their decisions made for them. Which has been studied, and proven pretty much true. There’s always one person in a group that picks something, and the rest of the group goes with it. It’s a part of the chimps we simply cannot shake.
    So, if you can get people to make a decision outside of there group. You could possibly make more money on crap films! WOOO!!!!

  5. I gotta agree about the friends/critics thing. While, for me, it’s not necessarily the friends I hand around with in the real world since I’m the movie guy in my circle of friends, but it’s more bloggers that I have been reading for a while and know the type of films they like. I’m more likely to take advice from them because, by and large, they’re the ones paying to see these movies.
    I basically tune out whenever a critic says “I had to see it twice to truly get it” or whatever. If I have to see a movie twice to get it then I won’t bother wasting my money on it one time.

  6. jeffmcm says:

    It’s kind of disconcerting that the definition of a ‘heavy moviegoer’ is one who sees 12 or more movies in a theater in a year. I think that the last time I saw that few, I was 11 years old.

  7. jeffmcm says:

    In fact, I think I saw over 12 movies, or close, every year since I’ve been 7 years old.

  8. LYT says:

    It’d be tough for me to answer the friends/critics thing, since the friends of mine who recommend movies tend to BE critics.

  9. LexG says:

    100-plus movies EVERY YEAR since 1987 in theaters.
    I really should get paid for this shit.
    (And props to McDouche for being the RARE L.A. dude who wants to be in the biz who actually GOES TO MOVIES. Can’t tell you how many wannabe screenwriters I’ve worked with and known over the last 15 years who hit age 26 and never go to see ANYTHING but somehow think THEY’RE the great undiscovered moviemaker of the world.)
    I’d declare that anyone who doesn’t see at least 50 movies a year has NO BUSINESS being in the biz, but per his last Letterman interview, Johnny Depp doesn’t go to any modern movies and barely knew who Christian Bale was, so there goes that.

  10. SJRubinstein says:

    I’d totally agree with LexG on that point. I feel bad when I miss a new release (I still haven’t seen “Extract”) and there’s no rational explanation for it other than I just love going to the fucking movies. You know what an off day consists of? When I’m done with whatever writing I was trying to get done that day, am not going to start anything new until the next day, but when I scan or whatever, there’s not a goddamn thing I haven’t seen (except maybe a handful of flicks at the Sunset 5 that I might feel would not be diminished if I Tivo’ed them off IFC in a couple of months).
    It gets sad when you show up and are like, “Yeah, I’ll see ‘All About Steve'” simply because you want to sit in a movie theater. It’s an addiction.

  11. Wrecktum says:

    Sure, if I was a lonely single guy with extra cash in pocket, I’d see 100 movies a year too. But I’m not, so I don’t.
    I’m lucky to see a movie a month and, you know what? I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.

  12. Wrecktum says:

    “Lonely” seems unduly harsh. Don’t want to start a flame war.

  13. jennab says:

    I’m in the 1-2 movies per month club, and it is different when you have work, kids, etc. But along the teen group-think line, I’ll be taking 11 13-year-olds to see Zombieland on Friday, courtesy of my son the organizer. Not sure I would see it anyway…in fact, hoping the time works so that I can see Whip It instead, even tho I’d be cool with ZLand.
    When we lived in L.A., and were DINK, I saw a flick every week @ the Century Theaters. I know it’s not the same, but when I find myself with an unexpected dividend of free time, I will watch something VOD…was wishing, for instance, that It Might Get Loud was available this way.

  14. SJRubinstein says:

    Heh – I’m married with a kid, just got a flexible job. I actually took a job as a film critic way back when I was single because I looked at my expenses, saw I was spending every loose nickel on movies and needed a way to see them for free ’cause I was broke.

  15. SJRubinstein says:

    And oh, yeah – that thing about fifty-somethings liking to avoid crowds and see matinees? You can find me seeing most movies at the first screening of the day at the Arclight/Grove. I don’t just like avoiding crowds, I like being the only motherfucker in the entire theater.

  16. Warning… this ended up longer than I intended.
    Before I became a parent, I was dead-set against the whole ‘same date for theater/video/on demand’ release ideas that were being floated around. Now, I’d kill for that option. I still love the movies and the theater experience, but with time commitments and the inconvenience that comes with having a family, I must concede that the primary reason I go to a theater anymore is merely to see a given movie as soon as possible so as to participate in the discussion with peers and on sites like this. But with that comes the occasional feeling of going to the movies as homework if you will.
    Do I still enjoy the experience of sitting in a theater and watching a new movie on opening weekend? Yeah, and I miss being able to do it without the inconvenience. But it’s usually a hassle especially when it’s something that the spouse wants to see too (so I can’t sneak off on a light work day, but we actually need to make plans with a babysitter and what not). For movies that don’t specifically demand a big screen experience (like Extract for example), I’d gladly pay ‘full ticket price’ to see it on my home system on opening weekend or even a few days after if that was the trade-off. For now, I’ll just wait for the Blu Ray and rent it via Blockbuster Online.
    The Air Up There may be one of the best films of the year, but the character-driven drama will probably be just as good (if not better I wouldn’t feel the burden of hassle and lost time) if I were to watch it at home on my 56″ DLP on its opening weekend. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but there are at least a few movies that I saw on screeners where I was kinder critically than I probably would have been had I had to go to downtown Hollywood on a weeknight during rush hour to see just days before the theatrical release.
    There will always be movies that demand a theater experience, but even those are in shorter supply, as seemingly every horror film, comedy, and action film has an ‘unrated director’s cut’ on the eventual home video release. And really, why would anyone see a documentary in a theater when they can wait for the DVD and basically see another hour or so of extra footage that could have made up a quasi-sequel to said film? For example, No End In Sight on DVD is basically two separate 105-minute features. So many studios are almost mocking the audiences’ willingness to throw down $10 for an arbitrary cut of a film when they know full well that the ‘real version’ will be available in just four months in the home format.
    I used to see 50-60 movies in a theater in a given year. Now I probably see around 20-30. And I genuinely do miss it. I can’t wait until the two-year old is able to sit through more than just second-run animated films. A slight digression, but if every bloody kids film weren’t in 3D, I’d be more willing to try first run. When the time comes, I’ll gladly take her to whatever craptastic kids film she wants to see. I can’t wait till she drags me to the midnight screening of Twilight part 6 or Sex & The City 3. But until then, I only see what I absolutely must see in theaters, along with ones whose theatrical runs coincide with slow work days.
    Finally (sorry about the length) being a parent has taught me two very specific things about moviegoing (well, I thought I already knew these things, but I didn’t truly ‘get it’). First of all, parents drag their kids to every terrible kids film because they don’t care if they enjoy it. Yes, G-Force in 2D second run was a terrible movie, but the kid loved every stupid second of it, so I was more than content watching her point at the screen and cackle. Second of all, there is a reason that dramas and ‘nutritious’ films don’t do as well as us film-snobs think they should. When you’re married with kids, do you really need to take time out of your life to learn what you already know? Do you really spend time away from your wife to learn that relationships are complicated and require hard work? Do I really need to spend money on a babysitter and not spend time with my daughter so I can go to the movies and learn to appreciate my family? It’s not so much theatrical experiences as ‘an escape’ so much as the need to justify spending the time and money to see or view something that you can’t get in your own life.

  17. Joe Leydon says:

    I hate to say this, but in terms of the percentage of how many people heed film critics: I don’t things have changed very much at all from 20 or 30 years ago. Seriously.

  18. J says:

    Mabye I’m not being cynical enough, but I don’t think that last stat necessarily indicates sheepishness or the inevitability of reaching the LCD. People use filmgoing as a social activity and want to be able to talk about what they’ve seen. They could always go see X film and Google up a review or discussion of that film, but if they’re already interacting with a group it makes sense to pursue a common experience so everyone has common reference points.

  19. Cadavra says:

    “62% of moviegoers now get review information online; this was consistent across all demos except the 50+ group, which also relies on newspaper reviews.”
    This is ambiguous. If I want to read a print critic from out of town, like Ebert or Edelstein, the only sensible way is to go to their papers’ websites. So does that make them “print” or “online?”
    BTW, Jenna, are you sure you want to take a 11-year-old to ZOMBIELAND? That R is there for a lot of reasons.

  20. LexG says:

    Yeah, plus the survey doesn’t address 79-90 year old motherfuckers like Cadavra, Christian, and JBD.

  21. “Sure, if I was a lonely single guy with extra cash in pocket, I’d see 100 movies a year too. But I’m not, so I don’t.”
    So true. Granted, the last few years I have ended up seeing close to or over 100, but a lot of those are on DVD. This year alone, however, at the cinema I have missed Transformers 2, Wolverine, T4 and plenty of other “blockbusters”. They just haven’t enthused me enough to take time out of work or friends or family. And then there’s the matter of money. Yikes.

  22. LexG says:

    Yeah, but don’t you dudes like Mendelson, Kami, etc…
    Don’t you get DISTRACTED watching shit on DVD?
    In a theater you’re HELD CAPTIVE, but on DVD, my mind wanders SO BAD knowing I can rewind at any time or check my email or grab a beer.
    Plus if I’m home, I’m drunk and thus barely paying attention. Plus TV is all small and shit and you have to keep the sound down so low you need the subtitles, if you have neighbors and thin walls.

  23. LexG says:

    As an example: (as if you care…)
    I try to see anything I’m even remotely interested in in a movie theater. People act like that’s THAT fucking hard and you must be some loner weirdo to spend that much time in a theater, but, really, here goes:
    Saturday morning, wake up, catch the 11:50 matinee. Done with it at 2pm and you still have your whole day to do WHATEVER you want.
    Sunday: Repeat.
    There, 100 movies a year, at 8-dollar matinee prices. Rest of your week totally free to have a life, family, friends, girlfriend, kids, WHATEVER.
    Also, again… I rented “I Love You Man” the other day. A movie I missed in theaters, where it would’ve been a breezy if mediocre painless 95 minutes.
    On DVD, with distractions and Internet and doing my laundry and phone calls and texts and drinking, this slight little comedy became a grueling, miserable, rewind-and-pause heavy FOUR HOUR EXPERIENCE, which surely kills the momentum that might’ve been there in a theater where you can’t budge.

  24. christian says:

    You’re bald right Lex? I have hair Geddy Lee covets.
    Thanks for your input “Old Man.”

  25. It’s a trade-off Lex. On one hand, the DVD experience isn’t as immersive, but on the other hand I’m not constantly distracted by all the other things I should be doing with my day. Since I can view it when the day is done and the kid is already in bed, I can just sit back and enjoy it. I do miss the regular theater visits, but it’s a trade off I’ve learned to live with.

  26. right says:

    As Wrecktum said above me, couldn

  27. right says:

    As Wrecktum said above me, couldn

  28. christian says:

    “I’d declare that anyone who doesn’t see at least 50 movies a year has NO BUSINESS being in the biz.”
    Nor if they haven’t seen THE SEVEN SAMURAI.

  29. Foamy Squirrel says:

    Arise, old thread.. ARISE!!!!

  30. christian says:

    Without coffy, I stumbled upon it thinking it anew…now thread BEGONE!

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon