Thursday, 30 July 2009

Comic-Con: The Geek WILL Inherit The Earth

So Comic-Con is over for another year and thanks to the panels appearing in Hall H, it is now regarded as important a date on the film calendar for major studios as the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals.
All the major blockbuster titles coming out over the next year previewed footage for the first time at San Diego (which of course if you are familiar with German means "A Whale's Vagina"): James Cameron's AVATAR, Tim Burton's ALICE IN WONDERLAND, IRON MAN 2, and of course TWILIGHT: NEW MOON (cue teenage screaming and fainting).
The main difference between San Diego and Cannes, for example, is that the footage is being screened to the fans, NOT press/critics/industry moguls/etc. The fans are the ones who will buy tickets for the films and spread word of mouth so it is important to give them something to get excited about.
Studios really began to take notice of the event following the massive success of IRON MAN in 2008 following its amazing reception at Comic-Con. Now any movie that is looking to reach a wide, mainstream (albeit slightly geeky) audience will showcase at the SDCC.
And after all the constant blogging and twittering from movie websites during this year's Con, I have decided I must be a part of it next year and I'm already looking into travel and hotels for 2010. Bring It On!
Favourite moments - Empire magazine with photos of David Tennant being confronted by three Predators asking him if he was Doctor Who and the terrific reaction that the Kick Ass panel received - Well Done Mark Millar.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The Digital Age Is Here

Having just watched Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince screened digitally, I feel compelled to wax lyrically about the benefits of digital cinema.

Some purists will always prefer the traditional 35mm format, and I have nothing against it. I have seen some of my favourite films this way and it can actually add character to old, classic films when the 'cigarette burn' (as Tyler Durden in Fight Club would call it) pops up in the corner at a reel change.

However digital cinema has so many positive aspects about it;

1) Quality - It is obvious as soon as you see a film on digital compared to 35mm, how much better the quality is is terms of visual and sound. It is like comparing Blu Ray and DVD.

2) Longevity - With a digital film it is uploaded onto the server and the quality is perfect, from the very first show to the last. You don't get the scratches and damage you would get from general wear and tear of multiple performances and making up and breaking down the print as it moves from site to site.

3) Affordability - We have noticed that many of the smaller distribution companies are issuing their films on the digital format. Rather than investing in producing several dozen physical copies of a 35mm print, they can make just a few digital drives that go from cinema to cinema being uploaded onto their central server. This will vastly reduce their costs, and is more environmentally friendly I'm sure. The only disadvantage is that with only one digital projector (at the moment) we can end up screening great quality films to a relatively small audience in our largest screen, either that or we do really well with Potter.

The result is that we will be screening a lot more films on digital in the future (so look in our brochure where they will be advertised as such).

Now if only I can get an IMAX screen into the cinema?!

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Review Of The Year: Part 1

So we are now in July already, where does the time go?
People have been saying that the cinema industry is "recession proof" during the credit crunch. That was certainly true during the first quarter of the year where admits were at all time high due to a bountiful award season with quality films like Slumdog Millionaire, The Reader and The Wrestler using their Oscars and Baftas to turn themselves into hits at the box office. Customers who repeatedly tried to see The Reader in Screen 3 will know how popular it was with us!

However now we have hit the summer season, things have started to move on a downward spiral.
Summer is never a good time for an independent cinema like The Belmont that prides itself on showing quality films like Let The Right One In and Fermat's Room, that the mainstream multiplexes wouldn't dream of screening.
This is because that the distributors for these films tend to go on holiday at this point, leaving the major studios to fight it out with the big, brash summer blockbusters that have varied from the fantastic (Star Trek) to the truly, diabolically awful (Transformers 2). While we do try to show the best of these options, the masses will normally tend to visit the multiplex for this type of film.
Another pesky problem we have encountered is that Aberdeen has decided to actually have some sunshine during the summer holidays. If you are from Aberdeen, you know that if you get a day of sunshine, you make the most of it, as you never know when you will get another one!
This has resulted in very low attendance, despite having some great titles like Public Enemies.

So until August/September come along and the foreign, independent titles start to sneak back onto our screens, I might as well put on my sunglasses, make the most of the sun, and think about taking a holiday before the battle begins when the new 10 screen Cineworld opens at the train station.

So for now I'll leave you with my Top 5 films of the year (so far):

1. Let The Right One In - An ethereally beautiful love story between a young Swedish boy and a 200 year old vampire trapped in the body of a 12 year old. This film strips back the horror to concentrate on character and delivers possibly the best vampire movie ever made.

2. In The Loop - The funniest film of the year and an amazingly topical political satire featuring a barnstorming performance from Peter Capaldi as the foul mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker. Possibly the most quotable movie since Anchorman.

3. Star Trek - The best blockbuster of the year (and the best since The Dark Knight). JJ Abrams breathes new life into the franchise allowing Pine, Quinto, Pegg and Urban to comfortabley slip into the shoes of the crew of the Enterprise. Great SFX, pulsating action, Old Spock and nearly a tear in my eye at the beginning. Shatner who?

4. The Wrestler - Harking back to my childhood days watching wrestling (who am I kidding? I still do!) Mickey Rourke bodyslams his way back onto our screens with his portrayal of Randy 'The Ram' Robinson, a down and out wrestler looking for one more shot at the big time (how much of this was acting Mickey?).

5. Public Enemies - Michael Mann's best film since Heat sees Johnny Depp oozing 0ld-school movie star charisma as the media-savvy criminal John Dillinger, whether it's stealing money from banks or the heart of Marion Cotillard.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Top 5 reasons to visit the cinema this weekend

One of my favourite parts of High Fidelity were the Top 5 lists that Rob, Dick and Barry kept making up to discuss while working in the shop. And the great thing about this blog is that I can do Top 5 lists about all sorts of movie topics.

The first is my Top 5 reasons to come to The Belmont this weekend;

1. Avoid sunburn - watching a movie inside The Belmont will help you avoid those harmful UV rays that Aberdeen has been catching this past week. I was out in the sun for 3 hours on Thursday and half of my body got burnt lobster red... I look like Two-Face from Batman!

2. Andy Murray has been knocked out of Wimbledon - so there is no reason to stay at home and watch the tennis.

3. Public Enemies - The new Michael Mann film starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale is terrific. A proper, grown up film during a summer of dirge like Transformers 2.

4. Air conditioning - It might be sweltering outside but our screens are fully air conditioned up to keep you cool during the heatwave, and you get to watch a film at the same time.

5. Public Enemies - Yeah, it's on the list twice but it really is that good (plus there are great trailers for Inglourious Basterds, Antichrist and Shutter Island in front of it).