A Letter to the Editor 4

In which The Author bemoans the booking policy at his local cinema

I haven’t got the exact date for this one, but it was printed in The Cynon Valley Leader early in 2000. I’ve had to reconstruct it from the printed version. In true local newspaper fashion, each paragraph consists of a single sentence. The original version is lost in the mists of time.
Prior to the Oscars’ ceremony in Hollywood, later this month, the good people of Aberdare have had the opportunity to see just two of the five movies nominated for Best Picture. These were Erin Brockovich and Gladiator.
Only recently, a gang of us were eagerly looking forward to seeing Cast Away, starring Best Actor nominee Tom Hanks. But it was withdrawn from the Coliseum at two days’ notice. Is it that the movie is doing such a roaring trade at the multiplex cinema complexes that there is no need to show it at smaller cinemas?
Last October, two of us went to see a film in Cardiff. By the time we got into the cinema, we had spent nearly £20 between us! A few weeks ago, two of us went to see a film at the Coliseum Theatre in Aberdare and had a couple of drinks afterwards – and spent just over £5 each!
We don’t mind having to wait a little while for the new releases to get to us – as long as they do eventually.
We seem to be at the mercy of the mysterious person at Rhondda Cynon Taff Council who books the movies in the first place.
Last summer, the Coliseum showed Stuart Little for two solid weeks (afternoon and evening) during the school holidays. The venue accommodates around 600 people. Did RCT council honestly believe that 6,000 local people would want to watch this film?
There were at least a dozen films doing the rounds at the same time, any of which might have attracted a paying audience. But they were not shown at the Coliseum – not even for one evening.
A few weeks ago, I asked why Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon had failed to make it to the Coliseum. At the time it was No 3 in the UK Box Office Charts. I was told that the people of Aberdare might not want to see it. It has now been nominated for 10 Oscars, only two short of Gladiator.
This is an unprecedented achievement for a subtitled Taiwanese martial arts movie. Perhaps the Coliseum will book it retrospectively.
In all fairness, we have had some little gems in the last year – Being John Malkovich, Magnolia, Run Lola Run.
For those of us who cannot afford to get to a cinema complex, the Coliseum provides the only chance of seeing recent films in a proper cinema environment. It is that, or wait for the video release six months down the line.
I fear that if the Coliseum does not have a level playing field on which to compete with the cinema complex giants, it will end up as just another wasted asset.
Now, back to the Oscar ceremony, in the world according to RCT.
And the award for Best Picture goes to … Stuart Little
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