Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Bits and Pieces

It’s been a far too busy week over here at the Legion, so blogging has suffered. I’m also still laboring with the CRTC “Decision”, which is actually a kinda proposal which may or may not still be up for revision come this Fall’s license renewals. But I promise to get on top of that this weekend and have a deconstruction by Monday.

cowboy and calf

One thing about the so-called decision confuses me, however. (Actually several things do, but one in particular) And it’s something I haven’t seen addressed in any of the press coverage (biased or non) and stakeholder reactions that I’ve read.

During the whole “Save Local TV” campaign, the networks all claimed they couldn't cross-collateralize their earnings to prop up their local stations. And we all know that if they did, their profitable specialty channels would more than offset the losses of those Free-to-Air stations.

Yet, what's now proposed is that they will soon be able to schedule their produced Canadian programming across all parts of their conglomerate, not placing any of it on their main networks if they so desire.

So --- how come the broadcasters are recognized as a whole herd of related channels when it's advantageous to them but seen as helpless stray calves when they need us to ride in and rescue them with fees for carriage?

It doesn't compute...

--- unless the Commission is once again abandoning its Parliamentary mandate and protecting broadcasters instead of the public.

But let’s leave all that for next week.

Meantime, I wanted to drop three little tidbits that crossed my computer screen today that you might want to consider or partake in over the weekend.

To begin, Telefilm darling, Atom Egoyan, will release his star-studded film “Chloe” today. According to the Box-Office Mojo website, this is the American theatre count for its debut…

new releases

What does it tell you about the kind of films Telefilm finances when Canada's foremost Auteur gets 2400 fewer theatres than "Hot Tub Time Machine" and 3700 fewer than a kid’s film?

Have any of their confabs on popularizing Canadian film ever considered that maybe funding a few low-brow comedies or family films might make it possible to have even more money coming in to spend on the Festival and Art House fare that doesn’t have a hope of ever making a dime?

Plus creating a thriving production industry and perhaps English language box-office to boot…

Although, when I suggested that the above image should be tacked up in every single Telefilm cubicle, a local wag, who’d probably prefer to remain nameless quipped, “No, they’d see it as a badge of honor. Look...306 screens! That's 300 more than ‘One Week’!"

Please see “Chloe” if that’s your taste or you feel it really will help turn the industry around.

But if you want to see some good movies in the “Art” category this weekend, slip on over to The Auteurs where you can stream nine past winners of the Cannes Film Festival for free --- after filling out a quick (and also free) registration form. The films include:

          Amacord (Italy 1974)

          L'Avventura (Italy 1960)

          Dancer in the Dark (Denmark 2000)

          Fat Girl (France 2001)

          Mon Oncle (France 1958)

          Harakiri (Japan 1962)

          Divorce Italian Style (Italy 1961)

          Tulpan (Germany 2008)

          Our Beloved Month of August (Portugal 2008)

This mini film festival is sponsored by Stella Artois, so maybe pick up a six pack of those delicious bevvies to accompany (and say thanks for) the streaming.

And finally, if you need to find me on Sunday night, I’ll be parked in front of the tube with a couple of cold Molson Canadians for a film that’ll probably never play the Art House circuit. CBC’s “Keep Your Head Up, Kid!” – the biopic of Canadian hockey icon Don Cherry airs at 8:00 pm.


I’ve had the good fortune to read the script as well as catch bits and pieces of the finished film and its makers need to be commended for not only telling a great ‘warts and all’ tale but of bringing realistic hockey action to the screen. Don’t miss it.


Trevor B. Cunningham said...

I'll skip 'What Lies Beneath 2'. I tried to suffer through 'Adoration' the other night. Instead, I went out back and watched and listened to beer bottles being sorted by my local collector in the alley.

Rusty James said...

And don't forget the horror genre Jim.

Buckets o'money to be made there.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,

Long time reader, first time commenter... You may want to know that Egoyan's "Chloe" was financed entirely by the French firm Studio Canal. No Telefilm money was injured in the making of the movie.

Post It Guy, Toronto

jimhenshaw said...

Thanks for the clarification, Anonymous, but I was speaking to the track record, not the specifics.

Anemone said...

I'm with you on funding more commercial fare. Has there been even one Anne of Green Gables film for the big screen? Even one?

But I'm surprised to hear people saying that you can make a lot of money with horror films. I have a five year database of films and the horror films in it didn't do much better than drama, unlike, say, action and comedy. Maybe "horror sells" is a myth like "sex sells"?

Anonymous said...

"Have any of their confabs on popularizing Canadian film ever considered that maybe funding a few low-brow comedies or family films might make it possible to have even more money coming in to spend on the Festival and Art House fare that doesn’t have a hope of ever making a dime?"

That SOUNDS good, but there are a couple of things you should think of first:

(1) Telefilm did try a few years ago to fund more mainstream movies ("Foolproof", "Going The Distance", etc.), and they were no better or worse than many high-grossing American films, but Canadians didn't respond to them in high numbers. Hollywood studios didn't pick them up for release in American theaters (you seem to be suggesting that Canadians should be making movies that appeal to Americans when you bring up movies like "Hot Tub Time Machine" and "How To Train Your Dragon" and state they are getting in thousands of American screens.)

(2) On the subject of family films, I should point out that Telefilm has funded a number of them over the years, but their fates have been bad. "Pinocchio 3000" didn't get released to theaters in Canada, "Jacob Two-Two" only got a small release, and "Goose On The Loose" (a.k.a. "Goose") spent several years on the shelf before being released straight to DVD.

As you see, there is the problem that even when Telefilm funds more commercial films, there is often the problem that Canadian distributors will do little with them on their release. I've heard "Pontypool" was a good commercial movie, but it was barely released and was gone in a couple of weeks. "The Snow Walker" was reportedly a good commerical movie as well, but its distributor did a lousy job marketing and releasing it. The reason is that since the distributors can get their money back and make a profit by simply selling the rights to TV stations, they have no incentive to push for a larger theatrical release.

I think the solution to all of the above is simple: Require that any movie applying for Telefilm funding have a distributor that will guarantee a release to a minimum number of movie screens. The more funding given to a movie, the more the distributor has to release the movie. This will not only push moviemakers to make more commercial movies, it will make sure these commerical movies will be properly released.