Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Could OZ Help Save the Movie Industry ?"

I went down the " Yellow Brick Road " Wednesday night..
We went to see the showing of "Wizard of Oz."

As anyone who either knows me personally, or has read my blog over the last couple of years knows I am a big fan of classic movies. So when when I got the TCM email a couple of months ago, announcing the screening of of OZ, I talked to my wife and she went and prebought the tickets.

It was great. While I was not a huge fan of the movie itself, I did enjoy seeing it.
What really amazed me was the lines... The had 2 showings running at the same time, they had so many, The one I was in was mostly filled up. There were many older folks and yes quite a few kids. When Robert Osborne came on screen it was dead quiet after the applause....
He said his intro talking about the directors and the stars, showing clips as he talked. Even seeing those old black & White clips up on the big screen as amazing. Probably most of the clips he showed had never been blown up that big since they were first shown in theaters 70 years ago. When Mr. Osborne finished there was a applause. Theres was more applause when the movie started. The was no mention of the movie in the lobby, just a line forming, they told us which theater to go into, and the line was huge, they were still coming in to sit when the movie was just starting.. I was proud to see so many people come out to support this classic movie. For generations people have been watching this and other classic movies on a 27" tv, with crappy sound, and now to see it up where it and all classic movies belong was a beautiful thing.

I had read several places where folks were complianing that because it was all digital, it was not the same as the original film print. Who Cares?
When it was over the screen went blank and a windows toolbar came up on the screen bottom, My daughter was surprised, It was on a computer?

You know what she didn't care, it was a great movie, and execellantly restored to its glory,

No matter whether your a die-hard purist, or a tech junkie like me, a great movie transcends any medium, as dose great art of any kind.
There are volumes of material about both the orginial movie, and the rstoration of the movie, I won't try to be a historian about the movie, As, I have bigger fish to fry;;

The bigger point is they did it and people came,,

One perspective of this is; Will help open they eyes of many younger folks to the great movies they're missing and bring attention to film preservation, and restoration in general?

Of course thees a bigger picture. The bigger picture being the movie industry. For many years the movie industry has been complaining about loosing money to piracy There are major lessons to be learned here. That there is a major audience for classic movie in the major theaters. Is it possible that they may have discovered a way to bring folks back to the movie theater? Classic Movies.
I am not for one instant subjesting that they stop making new movies, and inventing new technologys to make the movies with, Far from it. However,, There is a very large untaped market of baby boomer's and even older people who have little or no interst in spending what money they do have on seeing the newest latest greatest movie of the week. On the other hand,, if they were to spend just one weekend a month showing classic movies on one or two screens they would draw them out,, and a whole new market share which has always been there, but been ignored would come out to spend. Of course it would take advertising, and possibility even doing senor specials and discounts. In the long run it would be worth it. Another possiblity, teaming with a national resturant chain to offer package deals with dinner and a classic movie,, I know its crazy,, bit if done right with the right promotion it could very well open up a forgotten market. In southern retirement states, it could go over very well.

Theres also another aspect of the Wizard of Oz that is equally important. Preservation and restoration of classic movies. The general public dose not understand how fragile out movies history is. How little it can take to start a film degrading, actually turning to dust if left in the wrong conditions long enough. Over that last 20-30 years theres have been several projects to preserve and restore our film libraries around the world. Rather then try to explain what happens as films slowly turns to dust I refer you to a film. a documentary actually, called "Keepers of the Frame" This film very clearly tell the tale of the film and why it is so important to preserve and restore our film libraries. Here are three links to material about "Keepers of the frame" ''

Please take the time to check out this extorinary film about films.

Hopefully all the attention that OZ is getting this next week with a release of Blue-ray and related material will focus interest on the possible comerical value of re-releasing classic films in theaters on a national and widespread basis with the supporting advertising so folks know that are being put out there again.

Judging from I have seen and read, this is a potionial serious money maker for the movie industry which claims to have been bleeding money for the last decade. This will help on at least 2 fronts, 1. Bringing in more revenue across the board, 2. In some ways more importantly, Giving classic movies a venues they haven't had for decades and exposing them to whole new audiences, which most if given the chance probably would at least check out the movies, Introducing theses movies to new audiences on the big screen will have a far different impact then seeing the same material on a 27' screen, or even on a huge flat screen tv. There is no replacing the experience of seing Bogart or other classic stars in a movies screen the size of a house.

Yes the" Wizard of Oz" was important in 1939, and it could be more important in 2009, 70 years after it was released. If it helps bring classic movies to the general movie theater on a regular basis, and bring more attention to preservation and restoration of movies, then it has more then payed for itself, both in historical value, and in saving the movie industry .

Ken lawson

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