How do you stop a theater from showing movies you disagree with? The answer isn’t to stay away, but instead, to show up. We don’t pick the movies we show, so if you want a theater to stop showing certain films, you must cause Hollywood to stop making them. Here’s how and why:
Did you know that over 600 movies are released every year? We understand that not all of those movies are for everyone. Some people love movies. Others wait years for the perfect film. We understand that some movies create such righteous indignation that it is impossible to remain silent, just as some are so moving you cannot wait to shout it from the mountains. In our activist society, we are trained that assembling the masses and participating in a unified front will get a message across and create change. This is usually true, however, we must make sure that the action we choose will cause our desired result.
Let me explain why boycotting a theater will NOT result in the theater changing the movies it shows. Boycotting a theater is likely to cause the theater to close.
As we’ve discussed in previous blogs (http://athensmoviepalace.com/are-you-can-you-will-you-when/ and http://athensmoviepalace.com/christian-films-at-athens-movie-palace/) we do not pick the movies we show. As noted above, 600 movies are released every year. We might be lucky to show 100 of these. This means that for many of us, myself included, we must travel to other theaters to view some movies, or wait until they are available for home consumption.
It has never been the intent of Athens Movie Palace to show a movie hoping to influence, support, or discourage any type of behavior. Movies are meant for entertainment. Some raise knowledge of injustices, some help us become more culturally aware and informed. Some are meant to stimulate us. (Why else would people go into a dark room for 2 hours, knowing that something scary is going to have them screaming in terror?)
Hollywood makes movies with an interest in making money. They are constantly striving to tell unique and compelling stories or to entertain us with something mindless. They are attempting to appeal to all walks of life. Let’s not lose sight of that as we continue…
While a small handful of the 600 films produced account for a majority of the money made in the industry, studios do not put all of their eggs in one basket so to speak. Most of them produce many films over the course of the whole year. (We are talking about the majors here, not the smaller independents.)
When you decide to stop supporting a THEATER because it showed a movie you do not like, you are directly hurting the theater, not the studio responsible for producing the film. Yes, that particular film you are boycotting will not have your money, and it’s possible you influenced enough people to boycott that the movie had poor box office numbers, but then what? Most movies stay at the theater between 2 and 6 weeks. Then, we replace it with something else. This means that our product is constantly changing. Your boycott of our business is now extending into movies you feel are appropriate for you. You are no longer sending a message to the makers of the movie you boycotted. You are sending a message to all makers to all movies even the “good” ones. That message is “We don’t like movies. Stop making them.”
It may seem counterproductive to visit a theater when you blame them for perpetuating a message you disagree with. However, visiting the theater is exactly what you should do. Instead of organizing a protest, stage a sit in. Support the OTHER movies that are showing at that time. The effect will be that the sales for your boycotted movie will go down, and the sales for a “better” movie will go up. That’s what the studios are looking for. To be #1 at the box office. If enough people went to other movies, the headline will be “Movie flops…” If you boycott all movies, the headline reads “Theaters struggling to pay the bills…attendance is down”
Don’t shoot the messenger. Keep in mind that we are a small locally owned business and the theater industry is unique in that we do not produce or control the product we sell. When you boycott our small theater, the studio may not even notice. We are not sending in the million dollar checks like the corporate chains. Some weeks, we send the studios $30 for the 60-70% of ticket sales we had that week. Boycotting our theater is hurting local families. We employ 17 area residents in addition to the local services we use. We are frequently involved in events that are intended to benefit our community. We donate services, money, and products to causes to help them raise money. We provide school children with an affordable field trip option so that many of them can visit a theater for the first time in their lives. Our staff spends their paychecks at the businesses that write your paychecks. Boycotting our theater does not stop us from showing movies you don’t like. It stops us from showing all movies to everyone.
We are not advocating you view movies that you fundamentally disagree with, however, there are better ways to get your message across. We just hope that you will consider all of the facts before you choose to boycott our business over one film.