Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This Year In Tickets: 2010

The official position of Jay's Movie Blog is still "Making Lists Is Stupid", so I'm offloading the year-end round-up to eFilmCritic. It's still not really a top ten list - it has 27 entries, goes back and forth between good and bad films, and is restricted not to films with an official 2010 release date, but covers anything I happened to see last year. Thus, it is probably the only year-end round-up you'll find on-line that includes three silent movies, digressions on how much fun it is to read Raymond Chandler, and contrasts I Am Love and The Good, The Bad, The Weird (no, I'm not letting go of that anecdote any time soon).

So, go read This Year in Tickets: 2010 over there, and then come back here for a quick rundown not of which movies I saw, but of where I saw them.


Back already? Well, here we go:

Landmark Kendall Square: 57 tickets

That number is boosted a little bit by the Boston Underground Film Festival - 17 films in seven days - and a little by seeing all three parts of Red Riding there one long Sunday. That this is on top is not surprising - if you live in the Boston area and like foreign/independent films, Kendall Square is your workhorse theater, with nine screens, fair warning on when things are only likely to run a week, and things tending to be handled pretty professionally.

An amusing statistical oddity is that, once you take the BUFF screenings out of the equation, which screens I see things on aren't close to evenly distributed. Somehow, I never saw anything on screen #8 at all, and over half of the remaining forty were either on screen #4 or screen #9. The latter, I get - I tend to see a lot of stuff last-minute, and so it's often migrated to the smallest screen - but I'm not sure why twelve of my forty non-BUFF trips there wound up on one particular screen. I'm guessing that's where the new releases tend to go, but not the big ones.

Brattle Theatre: 42 tickets, 10 for double features

Not necessarily all tickets - there's an IFFBoston show or two in there, as well as stuff like CineCaché where I don't necessarily get a ticket. Every time I go, I consider myself lucky to have the Brattle, a fantastic place to increase one's knowledge of film as a whole and see movies in the environment for which they were designed.

Concordia University, Theatre Hall - 43 "tickets"

Plus 31 at Salle J.A. de Seve across the street, and one at Place des Arts. Fantasia mades up about 22% of the movies I saw in a theater this year, which is a lot to cram into three weeks. And I'll likely do it again this year, and this time I'm going to go back to working in the office a little less and getting around the city a little more.

Somerville Theater - 40 tickets

I believe that all but one of those is special event related, whether it be SF/35, the Alloy Orchestra, IFFBoston, or the TerrorThon. It wasn't until November that I just went there to see a first-run movie, Love and Other Drugs. I suspect this will change in the new year, as they are on my way home from the new office space and have the best prices in the Boston area.

AMC Boston Common - 40 tickets

Roughly half of those are "AM Cinema" tickets that cost $6 (plus any 3D or "Imax" surcharges), because I am cheap thrifty. Unlike Kendall Square, these are pretty evenly distributed, although there are probably spikes around the 3D-equipped screens.

There's also some interesting outliers in what you'll find there; it's not just the mainstream stuff, but a few independent flicks, some foreign films (the Millennium movies all played there, for instance), particularly stuff aimed at the local Chinatown audience.

Stuart Street Playhouse - 13 Tickets

11 of those were for the Boston Film Festival, because I have a really hard time giving bad habits up.

Stuart Street is really the most frustrating Boston-area theater. It's a very nice room and lobby, the folks who work there are friendly and helpful, the snacks are reasonably priced, and I absolutely never go there because, despite proudly proclaiming themselves to be the only art-house theater in Boston proper, their programming is less adventurous than their neighbors on the Common (because it's a lot easier to take chances on one screen out of nineteen than one screen out of one) and their prices are still pretty high - $8 before 4pm, $10 after. That's especially irksome considering that these are often second-run films, stuff I've already seen somewhere else.

I wish I had good advice on how to make the place more enticing other than just being close. A friend suggested playing to the Chinatown audience (perhaps with cheap double-features one night a week) or the college kids. I think they need to update their website in a more timely fashion (it's often impossible to know what's playing that evening if you check the site on Friday morning). I hate the idea that a place like this perhaps can't be profitable, but I worry about it seeing 2012, quite honestly.

Coolidge Corner Theatre - 9 tickets

That's kind of crazy, to be honest - I think of myself as going there far more often, I know a bunch of people who work there, and I really like the place. I'm definitely going to get more value out of my membership this year.

Harvard Film Archive - 8 tickets, one for a double feature

I wind up going to the HFA in spurts, as they tend to have one or two programs be quarter that draw me in, and whenever I do, I think I really should get a membership and save some bucks. But, looking at the numbers, I don't really go all that much. Of course, if I had a membership and movies there cost a few bucks less, that would change the calculus, wouldn't it?

Regal Fenway - 9 tickets

Expect this to go up a bit in the new year, as I think their 3-D prices are a bit better than Boston Common's, their afternoon prices are about fifty cents less, and they are an easier walk home. The new RPX screen is also pretty nice, although I suspect it will take a particularly special occasion to get me to go there rather than the furniture store.

Entertainment Cinemas Fresh Pond - 4 tickets

Two Indian sci-fi musicals, two pieces of crap. I may go there more often this year, either because the Bollywood stuff continues to intrigue me or because they have decent prices and my new route home will have me changing buses at Alewife anyway, but probably not that much - it's got a lot of rooms set up in an unappealing fashion, with aisles down the middle and screens too high in narrow cinemas. It's a sad example of how partitioning large theaters can make for really crappy small ones.

Still, as much as I didn't like Echo's Pond and Ca$h!, I like the idea of them grabbing movies that don't fit the big multiplexes or the boutique houses well. Just find better ones (I have no idea why they haven't had the AfterDark HorrorFest there for the past few years). When I first moved to Cambridge, I went to this place all the time, but the new theaters that opened up at Fenway and Boston Common were worth the extra dollar. To get me to come back regularly, these guys are going to need interesting movies.

Institute of Contemporary Art - 4 tickets

Half for IFFBoston, half for Oscar shorts. I love going there, because the set-up of the theater is one of the coolest you'll ever see - curtains come down to block out the panoramic view of the harbor, and the suspended screen gives a sense of unreality - but they don't have many film programs.

Jordan's Furniture Reading - 4 tickets

The premium local movie theater experience, with the big, genuine IMAX screen, TempurPedic chairs, and individual "buttkicker" subwoofers for each person in the audience. The place to see big movies, although the trip to and from can eat the day.

Lincoln Center - 4 tickets

Done on one day, for the New York Asian Film Festival. I must admit to being a little disappointed at the move from the IFC Center, which is more conveniently located (or at least, it is for people taking the bus in from Boston). The AC was also going full-blast that day, too.

Museum of Fine Arts - 4 tickets

Like the HFA, I find myself going in spurts, as the programs grab my interest. I probably would have gone twice as often, truth be told, if they would program a few more screenings - just last week, I was talking to someone grumbling about how it was almost impossible to see Summer Wars there if you had a job.

That I missed the closest bus stop entirely on at least two occasions is entirely my fault, though.

New England Aquarium - 4 tickets

I love going here, either for the cool science docs they run during the day or the second-run IMAX films they run at night. Although, wow, they do keep some of the latter running for a long time. I was pretty sure that they would swap Inception out for Harry Potter 7.1 either when Tron: Legacy hit the other IMAX screens or Inception hit video, but so far, no plas to change that.

AMC Harvard Square - 3 tickets

One would think it would be higher, as they're an easy ten minute walk from me and a little cheaper than the other national-chain theaters, but the thing is, while the main screen is big and very nice, the other four have issues - as either converted balcony or backstage areas, they have funny shapes (the "balcony" theaters have the seats angled to face a larger screen) and spotty projection.

Chinatown Gate - 2 tickets

Well, shows, as "Films at the Gate" is an outdoor event that encourages audiences to grab snacks at local eateries before setting up in a vacant lot or park. It's always a cool event (weather permitting).

Paramount Center - 2 tickets

Despite some warnings about the Bright Screening Room, I like this new addition to the Boston film scene quite a bit; ArtsEmerson is curating interesting programs, including attempts to expose kids to a broader variety of film.

Two suggestions to those heading there, though: (1) There's no concession stand, so the nut roaster across the street is your friend. (2) If it's on video, sit fairly far back. That's good advice everywhere, but The Azemichi Road really didn't look great from my perch fairly close to the front.

Regent Theater - 2 tickets

Both for Spike & Mike shows. Prior to this year, I had no idea Spike & Mike was still a going concern; I though that its disappearance was one of the main motivations for Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt starting The Animation Show. The Regent is kind of a nifty venue, but their film programs are irregular, so you have to watch their site to see if anything good is scheduled.

Apollo Theater - 1 ticket

Easily the coolest place I've ever seen a movie, and likely the coolest place I ever will see a movie. I could kick myself for not getting my ticket earlier, as I wound up pretty close to the aisle rather than the center. When a publicist sends you information about a new silent film playing one night at a legendary venue with an amazing group of musicians accompanying, well, that's one of those situations where you should see the ticket confirmation email in your inbox an hour later with no clear memory of actually ordering it, because doing so is an entirely involuntary reflex action.

Arlington Capitol - 1 ticket

... and that was back in January. That will go up this year, as the 350 bus I'll be taking home from work starting in two weeks runs right past it, they've got an ice cream shop, and the prices in general (and 3-D in particular) are more than reasonable.

Liberty Hotel - 1 screening

There are a number of video-based screening series in the city, and I don't keep up with most of them because they're video and not always easy to get to. I got a specific invite to this one at the Liberty Hotel (an IFFBoston sponsor which is actually a former prison), and... well, I've got no idea what happened to the series afterward. It was a nice idea in a nice spot, but I was never really sure who it was for; it didn't have an "open to the public" vibe, but I don't know if the guests at the hotel are really going to be down for unreleased movies.

... and there you have it, 330+ movies saw before we even get into video (which wouldn't add that much; I almost don't know what I even own a Blu-ray player). I'm half-tempted to make averaging one movie seen in a theater per day a goal for the new year, but , well, that would be nuts. So, of course, I'll probably end up doing it anyway.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Make sure and check out this film project that I was a part of... Funny Or Die film (Will Ferrell's production co.) with Brandon T. Jackson...