Rocky’s Review
Programming Movies

Programming Movies. I am often asked – and most often in the produce section at the Co-op – how I decide which movies play which venue, what determines the length of their engagement, and would I please explain it in my column.

     The process is a juggling act that happens every Monday morning. It’s a juggling act between three separate businesses – the Silverwater Café, which owns and operates the kitchen and bar in the Starlight, the Rose Theatre, owned by 32 shareholders, and myself as venue operator of the Starlight Room. The challenge is to make it equitable for all three parties. I know that what goes on screen in the Starlight directly effects their kitchen and bar sales, so although those employees are not my financial responsibility, I feel a responsibility towards them by programming films that support their livelihood. The other half of this equation is all about movies.

     I had every intention of holding over THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS. It sold out every show in the Starlight for a full week. But my Seattle booking agent, in his finely honed display of patience and exasperation with his long-time Port Townsend client said, “Do you really want to pass up CRAZY RICH ASIANS, the #1 movie in the country?” “Can I call you back in five minutes?” I offered. Five minutes being the amount time I needed to anguish over the decision. It’s hard to argue with a box office smash with a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

     Movies normally come off screen when their box office sales decline, but THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS got the boot to make room for CRAZY RICH ASIANS. And when you open a movie early in its run, one is prevented by contract from putting a second feature on the same screen. And last Friday I opened PUZZLE in the Starlight instead of the Rosebud because demographically-speaking it seemed like a perfect Starlight movie. 

     Tickets and passes go on sale next Wednesday (9/5) for the third season of the COMMUNITY ARTS FILM SERIES. It's a great line-up this year, and the first two events should not be missed. The series kicks off not with a film, but a lecture by esteemed University of Washington, Associate Art History Professor Estelle Lingo. Her lecture on sculptor Francesco Mochi was recently given at the National Gallery of Art. And the first film in the new series is a beautiful portrait of composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. "A portrait of an artist that is nearly as powerful and necessary as the artist himself." -IndieWire

     This newsletter come to you from 8,750 feet. It's my 20th year at the Telluride Film Festival, where I'm searching for more great movies to share with you.