TCM Classic Film Festival is Hit, and is Coming Back

by Anne Thompson
April 27, 2010 7:29 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood
Last weekend's TCM Classic Film Festival in LA was such a hit that it's coming back in 2011. TCM targeted an aging demo starving for classic movies and created an event feel, with Q & As and panels, from Danny and Anjelica Huston honoring their father and grandfather in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre to Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (which holds up really well, fresh as a daisy) and the Complete Metropolis accompanied by the Alloy Orchestra, which judging from the interest I'm gauging will do some business. (Leonard Maltin covered the fest like a blanket.)

Yes, this is what fests are all about. The TCM Fest proved that retro programming can lure audiences--especially with effective marketing and promotion. I was astonished at how many folks turned up on a Friday morning to hear location managers reminisce about their movie experiences.

The new Metropolis trailer is on the jump:

But Stephen Zeitchik goes overboard by suggesting that theaters should adopt this approach all year round. What does he think the New Beverly and its guest programmers, the Cinematheque at the Egyptian and Aero and the Landmark Theatre chain are doing? They're programming events and guests and speakers week in week out. Obviously, that's the way to pull audiences, with a news hook and public appearances from people they want to see. By necessity, repertory programming has already changed. But I would love to see TCM take this fest on the road to other cities. And it's a window into the future of the long tail, as WOM pushes old movies that are accessible via Netflix (DVD rentals and free-streaming) and DVD on-demand sites like The Warner Archive, which other studios must be examining closely.

The point I've been making for a while: why go out to crappy studio B-pictures when the best of cinema is available to you right at home? All I have to do is stick my Netflix disc into my PS3 (and X-Box and Roku have it built in) and 40 titles are available for instant streaming, from It Happened One Night and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to Across the Universe. This January through April season at the box office has been one of the most dismal in recent memory. How many people are playing their videogames and watching HBO and great cable shows like Justified (Timothy Olyphant is ready to be a star) rather than watching crap like Hot Tub Time Machine?

Thank God it's summer again. But while adult moviegoers may enjoy summer blockbusters Iron Man 2 and Toy Story 3, most coming attractions are targeted at the young demo. So smart-movie counter-programming from Fox Searchlight (Cyrus), Focus Features (The Kids Are All Right) and Sony Pictures Classics (Please Give) will offer an antidote to dumb popcorn fare. And if that doesn't satisfy, there's always VOD.

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  • Anne Thompson | April 28, 2010 10:32 AMReply

    it looked like your standard Academy audience--well-heeled, older, both sexes.

  • Brian | April 28, 2010 2:27 AMReply

    In terms of age and gender demographics, what was the audience at the TCM festival like?

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