From the Balcony

Scheduling Movies or Why It Took So Long to Get Star Wars

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened December 18. It opens at The Clyde on January 15. Why did it take nearly a month to get the hottest movie ever to South Whidbey? It’s about distributor scheduling and maximizing profits (quite understandably so).

The distributors want to ensure that a movie isn’t just going to be a flash in the pan (you know, like the Star Wars prequels), so if a theatre wants to show a big movie on opening day, they have to promise to show it for 4-6 weeks. Now, this isn’t a problem if you’re a multiplex, and you can shuffle it off to a smaller screen if the movie tanks and show the Next Big Thing in your largest auditorium. But, if you’re like us, and you only have one screen, it can put you in a tight bind.

Not even I want to see Star Wars every day (and sometimes twice a day) for 4-6 weeks, let alone everyone else on the South End. And so we wait. Usually, a distributor will release shorter-duration bookings after the first week or two the movie has been out, but not always. With a huge release like The Force Awakens or something like Revenant that is likely going to get a lot of awards considerations, sometimes they’ll hold off on short runs even longer to bring it back to the big chains on a second wave of interest.

It’s not always the big films that have delays either. Smaller releases may want to shop the movie to the whole festival circuit, and they won’t release it anywhere but LA and New York for weeks as they gather reviews and buzz for a wider release.

That’s all the delays on the distributor end, but there are also delays that sometimes come into things on our end. We keep an eye on school breaks, showing The Good Dinosaur when South Whidbey schools are off for winter break and kids are more likely to be able to stay up and watch it. That means that we can’t show another movie that might be first available to us during that break, which delays it’s Clyde premiere.

Then there’s holidays to think about, of course, like Hotel Transylvania 2 on Halloween, and… you get the picture.

So if you’re curious about why we haven’t gotten a movie yet, it’s probably because the distributor won’t let us have it yet, but it may well be that we’re waiting for the perfect stack, or to fit it in between specific other movies. You can always use the Contact Us button on the website to ask, and we’ll be happy to tell you if we’re planning to show it, haven’t been able to get it yet, or if we just don’t think it will fit the Island audience quite right.


And yes, Star Wars: The Force Awakens shows January 15-28.

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10 responses to “Scheduling Movies or Why It Took So Long to Get Star Wars”

  1. Patricia Friedman says:

    Hi! Will you be getting “Room” and/or “The Danish Girl”? We are interested in both.

    Thanks. Patricia and Brent

    • Lynn says:

      We probably won’t be showing ROOM unless Brie Larson wins an Oscar for it, but THE DANISH GIRL is booked now for February 16-18. In fact February will be filled with Oscar nominees–BROOKLYN, CAROL, THE BIG SHORT, and probably THE REVENANT.

  2. Peter O says:

    Waiting for big movies to come to our beloved Clyde has been part of the island experience for decades. It is one of the many things that make us different from over town. We get the movie eventually, and when we do, the privilege of seeing it at the Clyde makes the wait worthwhile.

  3. Jackie Gelston says:

    We love the Clyde no matter when you get movies! First favorite theater! 2nd is the Rose in Port Townsend…. just can’t do the multiplexes anymore. YIPPY for the CLYDE!!! We love you!
    Chris Burt and Jackie Gelston 🙂

  4. Jeanniemaria Barbour says:

    I saw Star Wars at the Grauman’s Chinese theater not because of the movie, for the flavor
    of the old place. I enjoy GC, but the Clyde is my home place. People I know, movies I
    enjoy, good popcorn. When I think of seeing a movie, I can wait.
    The Clyde and Grauman’s share history and good times.
    See you at the movies.

    • Lynn says:

      Certainly the first time the humble Clyde’s been compared to the fantastic Grauman’s Chinese Theater.Thanks, Jeanniemaria.

  5. Ziva N says:

    Do you know yet when Wonder Woman will be at the Clyde?

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