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Lost in Translation: Still Playing in Theaters!

 
 
Scot Gardner
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      02-04-2004
Yesterday, I read a letter from a reader in the SF Chronicle
entertainment section:

*** *** ***

"Editor -- I don't go to movies anymore. It usually takes only one
negative review, along with the memory of the decibel level for the
"previews of coming attractions," and I'm content to avoid whatever is
currently onscreen. Because the reviews were uniformly glowing, I made
an exception and saw "Lost in Translation." Can I get a refund?"

"Bill Murray has been playing comics for so long he has a stock
repertoire of facial expressions. As for Murray's relationship with
what's-her-name, bor-ing. After nearly two hours of it, I didn't give a
damn about either of them."

"The best part of the movie was seeing a few seconds of a great old
Fellini movie on the TV screen in a hotel room. It served as a reminder
that Sofia Coppola ain't no Fellini."

DIANE JOY, Berkeley

*** *** ***

Can I get a refund? Just how old is this letter? _Lost in Translation_
came out on DVD Feb. 3, and my Netflix rental copy arrived on
Tuesday. (Naturally, Bill Murray's performance in _Ed Wood_ took
priority, so I probably won't watch _Lost in Translation_ until
tonight.)

Then, this morning I saw this and realized that _Lost in Translation_ is
still playing in theaters all over the country:

*** *** ***

Lost in Translation plays it both ways.
From Variety: Film expands in theaters as it hits video shelves.

FEB. 3 | Lost in Translation has found how to have its cake and eat it,
too.

The critically acclaimed film--which has drawn an Academy Award
nomination for best picture and three other Oscar noms--will be
maintained in near wide release by Focus Features over the coming
weekend, even after hitting home video shelves Tuesday.

The double-dipping strategy has rival distributors grumbling that
exhibitors are playing favorites by changing a long-standing practice of
supporting films only until the home video release date. But Landmark
Theaters marketing maven Ray Price said his circuit's embrace of the
Bill Murray-Scarlett Johansson starrer makes simple business sense.

"If we were to take off Lost in Translation from some screens, we would
be taking off a title that was the highest-grossing picture in those
complexes," Price noted.

Translation, helmed and written by Sofia Coppola, has played especially
well in arthouses but has also crossed over into commercial venues. Last
weekend, the Japanese-set drama grossed $2.2 million from 632 theaters,
or $3,412 per venue--a notable haul considering the film has been in
release for 21 weeks.

Execs at Focus and parent company Universal considered pushing back the
film's home video release date as recently as two weeks ago but decided
against it. After all, the profit margin from DVD sales is superior to
late-run theatrical grosses, whose box-office splits favor exhibitors.

Overall, studios typically realize about 50% of box-office grosses, with
box-office splits late in a theatrical run favoring exhibitors and
opening weeks more distributor-friendly. The profit margin on each DVD
can range from 65%-85%, or $12-$18 per sale.

"We're not trying to defy gravity or upset anybody's cart," said Jack
Foley, Focus' distribution president. "What we're trying to do is make
money."

Exhibitors are happy to go along with the game plan, as a best picture
nom always spurs substantial patronage by moviegoers who want to see all
the nominees in Oscar's most celebrated category. That's why Universal
gave Seabiscuit a mini rerelease of 54 theatrical runs last weekend, a
month after hitting home video.

But the case of Translation is more unusual, as the film is expected to
play in about 535 U.S. and Canadian theaters during its 22nd weekend. A
run of 600 or more engagements is the accepted definition of a wide
release.

Similarly, it's not uncommon for studios to seek to capitalize on
Academy noms publicity with a quick DVD release. Indeed, home video
release dates are creeping ever closer to movies' theatrical openings
throughout the year.

But this is perhaps the first time a studio has sought to exploit a
film's Oscar bounce in theaters while simultaneously launching a
nomination-fueled home video campaign.

Meanwhile, it may be no coincidence that the Oscar season has been newly
truncated. Industryites said Focus' success in maintaining playdates for
Translation is attributable in part to exhibitors' interest in
maximizing box office from Oscar best picture nominees over a shorter
span of time this year.

Miramax is expanding City of God--nominated in four categories including
best director--in theaters while delaying the video release date,
originally set for Feb. 17.

Retail orders for Tuesday's home video release of Translation have
nearly doubled since the movie's Golden Globes wins and Oscar
nominations, according to Universal Studios Home Video, with 1.5 million
DVD headed to stores.

On Seabiscuit, Universal took advantage of pre-Oscar buzz by releasing
the horse racing drama as an awards contender during the busiest holiday
retail season for DVDs in December.

Of course, Universal's win-win on Translation is more serendipity than
shrewd planning, for no one would have bet the studio on the modestly
budgeted arthouse film securing a best picture nomination.

Or as Landmark's Price puts it: "This isn't a strategy. It's a
situation."

Reported by Daily Variety for Reed Business Information. Additional
reporting by VB's Scott Hettrick and Daily Variety's David Rooney

*** *** ***

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...DGAE4M2641.DTL

http://www.videobusiness.com/article...1&catType=NEWS



 
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Jordan Lund
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Posts: n/a
 
      02-04-2004
"Scot Gardner" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message news:<20040204100733.085$(E-Mail Removed)>.. .

> Then, this morning I saw this and realized that Lost in Translation is
> still playing in theaters all over the country:


I was walking through a mall last night, DVD in hand, when I saw it
was still playing at the mall theater.

I think they brought it back thanks to the Oscar nominations.

- Jordan
 
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Jim Fraas
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      02-06-2004
I would be selling DVDs AT THE THEATRE ITSELF!
As for LIT IMO it fails as a comedy but works as a drama.


--
A widescreen edition of a movie presents the film frame as it was seen in
the movie theater. This is the version that best preserves the filmmaker's
original intent.

End of story!
"Jordan Lund" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed) om...
> "Scot Gardner" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message

news:<20040204100733.085$(E-Mail Removed)>.. .
>
> > Then, this morning I saw this and realized that Lost in Translation is
> > still playing in theaters all over the country:

>
> I was walking through a mall last night, DVD in hand, when I saw it
> was still playing at the mall theater.
>
> I think they brought it back thanks to the Oscar nominations.
>
> - Jordan



 
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Jordan Lund
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Posts: n/a
 
      02-06-2004
"Jim Fraas" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message news:<Y6CUb.101154$U%5.505921@attbi_s03>...
> I would be selling DVDs AT THE THEATRE ITSELF!
> As for LIT IMO it fails as a comedy but works as a drama.


Well that's just silly... They should be selling soundtrack albums in
the theaters though...

- Jordan
 
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