It seems as if the town of Outlook will be converted into Tinseltown this summer.
If you’re a fan of going out to the movies, there’s no need to go anywhere else as the Reel Theatre in Outlook is going to have the hottest tickets around as they get ready to play host to a pair of must-see premiere events.
The local theatre will screen ‘Men in Black: International’ on the day of its North American release on Friday, June 14, playing for seven nights in a row (including Sunday) and ending its run on Thursday, June 20.
As well, Reel Theatre will also premiere the highly anticipated Marvel release ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’, which opens on July 2. As of now, it’s scheduled to play for ten days (including Sunday) and wrap up on Thursday, July 11, but the exact length of its Outlook run has yet to be confirmed.
‘Men in Black: International’ stars Chris Hemsworth (Marvel’s ‘Thor’), Tessa Thompson (‘Avengers: Endgame’) and Liam Neeson (‘Schindler’s List’, ‘Taken’) in the third installment of the ‘Men in Black’ series, following the adventures of a new group of secret agents that are based in the United Kingdom.
‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ stars Tom Holland (‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’), Jake Gyllenhaal (‘Brokeback Mountain’, ‘Southpaw’) and Samuel L. Jackson (‘The Avengers’) in the latest cinematic adventure of the web-slinging superhero, and follows the events set after the recent worldwide blockbuster ‘Avengers: Endgame’.
It’s very rare these days for movie theatres in small towns to have the opportunity that Outlook’s has with these premiere events. As such, many people will drive elsewhere to see a movie that they would rather not wait to see in their hometown area.
But sometimes a good relationship with movie distributors has ways of paying off, says Nadine Ivanco of Reel Theatre.
“The representative I deal with at Sony emailed me saying they were allowing one-screen towns to open for one week only, but she would have to find other one-screen theaters to book for the additional weeks to fill their quota,” she explained. “We are lucky that she asked us first so that we could get opening night.”
You might think that with such a special pair of events, there might be a premium price on tickets. That would at least be understandable given what’s being offered to moviegoers, but that won’t be the case in Outlook. While Nadine anticipates that Sony’s take of the revenue percentage may be quite high, Reel Theatre won’t be charging any premium prices during each movie’s premiere run. It’ll still be $8 for adults, $7 for youths, and $5 for young children, with the discounted ‘Cheap Tuesday’ prices of $6 for adults and youth alike.
It’s an exciting endeavor to be able to offer such an experience for movie fans, who’ll be enjoying these two releases at the same time as millions across North America. It’s also an important one for business operators such as Nadine and her husband Garry; this kind of thing doesn’t happen often, so now that it’s a go, they hope the public will help them make each release a ‘blockbuster’ of a success.
“When we get offers like this it is very exciting,” said Nadine. “What we need to do is get our customers excited as well. This is a big deal!”
With movie theatres in smaller towns across the Prairies going out of business and becoming a thing of the past, it’s never been more important for people in their communities to support what they have if they happen to still have a local “movie house”. The one in Outlook has seen many faces come and go, as well as go through a name change or two (remember the Lyric Theatre?), but the business purpose has always been the same: entertain the masses with the best that Hollywood has to offer.
Without a doubt, there are struggles to operating a movie theatre in a small town, especially in Outlook. Nadine knows all too well that the allure of multi-screen movie theatres just an hour up the highway in Saskatoon draws people in, and in recent times, Reel Theatre has gone through peaks and valleys.
“So far in 2019, our average nightly attendance could be anywhere from 3 people a night to 10 people a night,” she said. “We have had the odd night, since January, where the numbers were higher. We had attendance like this in the beginning of 2018, but the nationwide problem of low attendance in 2018 (big cinemas, as well as independents) seemed to be in large part because of the lack of really good movies.”
People may enjoy going up to see the latest Hollywood release in the city, but it’s important they realize that their contributions to a business in their own backyard helps that business grow, and in the case of Reel Theatre, bigger attendance means better chances at seeing the newest movies, especially since Outlook submits nightly attendance numbers in their box office reports.
For those that continue to show up on a weekly, sometimes twice-a-week basis, Ivanco loves seeing the consistent, faithful customers that come into the theatre, but in premiering these two films, she hopes the support is there in droves from the public. Not only to help a local business thrive, but perhaps to show that small town movie theatres still matter in this day and age.
“So far this year we have had a couple of really bad movies, but we have had some good quality movies that have only brought out 10 people for the whole run,” she said. “There are many, many reasons why attendance is so low, but we have a large number of faithful returning customers from our community, the surrounding towns and surrounding area that can fill the seats each night for a week. The two movies that have been given to us for this opportunity might not be the preferred choice of all our customers, but we need each one of our customers to support us in this venture.”
Nadine shed further light on how the movie distribution scene works, and how the needs of theatre operators are recognized and met by higher-ups in the industry.
“There is a huge convention happening June 4th to 6th in Kelowna called Show Canada,” she explained. “It will have representatives from most of the movie distribution companies, equipment companies and a lot of the supply companies we deal with. I received an email asking the independent theaters across Canada to fill out a survey so the Movie Theatre Association of Canada can better understand the current challenges and opportunities facing independent theaters. The hope with this information is that MTAC and Show Canada will be better positioned to offer relevant support and effective programing.”
If all goes well with the release of these two titles, who knows what other cool events could be in store for the future? But it all starts with having ‘butts in seats’ and these movies being a hit during their runs at Reel Theatre.
“I believe so,” said Nadine, when asked if the success of the two movies could make or break the chances of having other premieres. “Hopefully, with a good turnout we will get more premiere dates. We hope this is the beginning of more opportunities like this.”
So when the Men in Black come calling and Spider-Man slings into town, it might be time to put on your evening best, grab some friends, and head for a night out as Reel Theatre is set to “go Hollywood.”