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Crosscut Tout: 2010's Best Picture movie marathon

The 10 current Oscar film nominees are being screened in a 2-day movie massive dose at 3 Seattle suburban movie theaters.

With the 83rd Annual Academy Awards coming in less than two weeks, the AMC Theatres movie chain is giving Puget Sound movie lovers a chance to see all 10 Best Picture nominees back to back, and at a bargain price. 

AMC multiplexes in Kent, Woodinville and Lynnwood/Alderwood Mall will host the AMC Best Picture Showcase, a two-day movie marathon, spread over the next two Saturdays, Feb. 19 and 26, starting each day at 11:00 a.m.  (Why AMC’s Seattle city theaters such as Pacific Place or Oak Tree are not participating is beyond me.)

The films are “Toy Story 3,” “127 Hours,” “The Kids Are Alright,” “True Grit,” and “The Fighter” on Feb. 19; and “Winter's Bone,” “Black Swan,” “Inception,” “The Social Network,” and “The King's Speech” on Feb. 26.  (The Oscars are on Sunday, Feb. 27.)  Attendees will have in-out privileges, a theater manager told me.

Costs are $30 per day and include a $10 gift card: good for all the concession stand food that you'll engorge while those magic images dance by your weary eyes.  Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the theaters or online (and more expensively) through the Fandango movie ticket service.

Similar events are scheduled for AMC theaters nationwide.

Will this kind of event lure people back into theaters? Something needs to happen, according to a recent study of movie-goer habits conducted by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), essentially the major studios' trade organization.  According to the study, the problem is not "unappealing content."  The public's disaffection instead “reflects a dissatisfaction with the movie-going experience and increasing competition for the consumer's share of time and money.” 

A resounding 83 percent of those surveyed were content with the overall quality and substance of the films being distributed by the studios; the study noted, that the finding is "a notion that runs contrary to the predominant mindset of many in Hollywood.” An equally high percentage, 86 percent, said they would attend a movie if theater costs were substantially reduced. 

"We may be at a time when going to the movies should be more than just buying a ticket, purchasing an item from concessions, watching a film, and then going home. We may be entering an era where consumers want the movie-going experience to be more of an event rather than an occurrence," the study noted. So here’s one of those events, folks.

As a movie lover, I can only hope this experiment leads to showcasing lesser known but equally good films. 

The number of fine local independent theaters are few in number and they simply can’t expose all the less-publicized films that are nationally reviewed but unseen here.  We can wait until (or if) those movies reach us via DVDs, cable, the Internet, etc., but by then the buzz is virtually gone.  The tribal theater-going experience isn’t quite the same when you’re sitting on your couch, watching the movie on your TV, and eating takeout. 

If AMC and other movie chains are acting in concert with the thinking expressed in the MPAA study and developing a “movie experience,” and we don’t support it, then, sadly, we only have ourselves to blame for the endless Adam Sandler movies and "Die Hard" sequels stuffed into our local movie houses.

Skip Ferderber is a Mukilteo-based journalist given to fits of joy over technology that makes sense. He is a former Los Angeles Times staff writer, edited Millimeter magazine in the motion picture and television technology industry, and is a contributing writer for HD Video Pro Magazine. For many years, he owned a PR firm specializing in production technology, and still consults occasionally with industry clients.


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