My last two posts reflected on changes to how we see movies in cinemas. Here I’d like to focus on the inability to watch older films on the big screen.
I won’t for a minute pretend I like the classics – Casablanca, Citizen Kane and others of that ilk. I don’t dislike them, but I like the kind of movies around in my formative years – the kind where you could make out what the actors were saying without subtitles…
Of course, my preferences regarding movies are academic. It’s the principle I’m interested in. If you happen to be a fan of Casablanca but, like most people alive today, have never seen it on the big screen, wouldn’t it be brilliant if you could?
Well, very selectively, there are opportunities now, and I’ll explain how I first came across it.
As part of my love of cinema, I like to vary where I see films. A few months ago, knowing we were visiting Nottingham, I thought I’d check out what was on there. To my surprise, Titanic was showing. In fact, I was so surprised, I had to close down Explorer and start searching again to make sure I hadn’t somehow found my way to a long-defunct webpage.
When it was first released, owing to an injury, my partner had been unable to go to the cinema, so she’d only ever seen it on a TV screen. Although it’s not a film I craved watching again, I knew the spectacle it presented warranted viewing in a cinema. Frankly, it would have been tantamount to cruelty to deprive her of this opportunity. So we went and had a great evening.
The reason I mention this is because I saw the cinema concerned had a series of what they termed “Flashback” films – older movies people might be interested in watching again. Titanic had been one of them, and there are two more currently lined up over the next couple of months. If this has piqued your interest and you have a Showcase Cinema close enough, check out the link here.
As you can imagine, this is great news as far as I’m concerned, although none of the films currently planned appeal to me (I don’t watch any old rubbish – I’m very selective about the rubbish I watch). It looked, though, as if the opportunities would be limited.
More recently, a friend sent me a Facebook link about The Dambusters being shown this May to celebrate 75 years since the actual mission took place. As it turns out, conflicting pressures on time meant I couldn’t go, but its significance shouldn’t be overlooked. This might be a one-off, but it was another example of a direction cinema is going.
For me, though, the most significant news came a few weeks ago.
I was planning ahead for a long weekend with my partner and checked out what was on locally. My first check is to see what’s on in IMAX at Cineworld. (The merits of IMAX warrant a whole additional post, so I’ll come back to that another time.) I’d worked out which day would be best for us and looked to see what was on. The problem was, I was checking about ten days ahead, so they hadn’t filled in the schedule – apart from one movie. I had to double-check to make sure I was seeing right.
Back in 1973, when my dad was still trying to work out what to do with his children when he saw us, we often used to go to the cinema. One particular Saturday, we were debating the options: a Disney double bill or a James Bond double bill. No prizes for guessing where I was leaning and, from the look on his face, so was my dad. But I was the oldest of four, and the other three were girls, so we saw the Disney films.
That day I missed Goldfinger and Thunderball. I did manage to see Goldfinger in a double bill with Dr. No the following year, so all was not lost. But I never got to see Thunderball on the big screen. Until a couple of weeks ago.
By a long chalk, it’s not the best of the series and, watching it the other week, I was struck by how pedestrian it was compared even to most of the others. But I’m glad I’ve seen it, because it was better on the big screen.
My partner told me she’d seen all the Bond movies, but not many at the cinema so, like me, she was curious to see how it compared. Only it turned out that she hadn’t seen it at all. I envied her. The first time she sees Thunderball and it’s on the big screen!
Further investigation on the Cineworld website, and it looks like they, too, are showing old movies, only they’re offering them more often. I’ve included a link here so you can see a sample of what’s on offer. The bad news is that they only seem to be doing this in Sheffield at the moment. I can only assume they’re trialling it. Much as I believe the North has a lot to offer, I can’t believe Sheffield is the only place in the UK that wants old movies. If it’s something you want, it might be worth approaching your local Cineworld and asking why they don’t have it.
Nevertheless, this trend is encouraging – you can imagine how delighted I am. If you look closely, you’ll even see there’s a Ghostbusters double bill in there! Maybe all my wishes are coming true.