Thursday, August 7, 2008

Lionsgate, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

There are too many Hollywood studios for me to really keep them all straight and know what they all specialize in. I pick up on drips and drabs through loosely following the trades, I know about the whole Miramax/Weinstein debacle, I know that Marvel is the stock you wanna buy at the moment, and I can usually tell the difference between a Disney film and a Fox film. I pick some things up, but I admit I usually can’t tell you who produced what. Film companies only distinguish themselves to me when I start to notice a certain logo often appearing before movies I end up enjoying. This happened to me with books, when Vintage became the only Random House imprint I could pick out of a lineup when I realized half their backlist was sitting on my bookshelf. With movies, I noticed that the New Line and Lionsgate logos started getting positive associations in my mind. It helps that they’re responsible for some of the best horror films of the past two decades, since I am a horror movie fan.

Then New Line got hacked to pieces, which wasn’t a good sign. But at least Lionsgate was going strong and my horror fix didn’t seem in any danger of drying up. Until now.

I’d been looking forward to Midnight Meat Train for a while. I first heard about it via checking IMDB to see what projects one of my favorite actors, Bradley Cooper, had coming up. A horror movie, set in NYC, starring one of my fave actors? Sounded like a win to me. As the release date crept closer, I didn’t see anything in the way of promos, but I figured it was just a limited release.

Boy, was it.

After the release date, I pulled up the movie listings for midtown NYC. On 42nd Street, I could still see Sex and the City and The Incredible Hulk, but no Midnight Meat Train. I expanded my search to all of the city. Up in Harlem, at the AMC Magic Johnson Harlem 9, I could see TMNT, which was released in March 2007, but no Midnight Meat Train. It wasn’t playing anywhere in the city, which is weird as hell. This is a major, major city, we usually get all kinds of films here. I finally expanded the search and found that I could only see the movie if I was willing to drive 140 miles to Palmyra, PA, which, hey, I love horror movies, but not that much.

I’m not the only one a little miffed by this dumping of Midnight Meat Train into weird second-market theatres. It’s not that I’m that adamant that it be released into theatres. In fact, 95% of the horror movies I have ever seen have been in the comfort of my own living room, and it doesn’t bother me any. But it just makes me worry about the direction the company may be going in. A direction more geared towards mainstream “comedy” than horror. It also makes me worry they’ll dump Repo! The Genetic Opera into similar, odd markets like Kalamazoo. I mean, it’s like they’re actively trying to lose money on Midnight Meat Train.

Which sucks, ‘cause I think horror movies are more important now than they’ve ever been. When the going gets tough, I wanna see monsters and ghosts and vampires. Horror is a great escape for me. Recently, my dad was baffled when I told him that me and my friends like to sit around coming up with zombie contingency plans. “Wouldn’t your time be better spent making contingency plans for things that might actually happen? Have you thought about what will happen if they try to blow up New York again while you’re in it?” Which is missing the entire point. Figuring out how we’d outsmart the legions of undead is a way to cope with those other fears we don’t like to think about too much. (Also, our ZCPs are easily adaptable for most terror/natural disaster situations. “Stockpile firearms, food and water, and medical supplies, get into a basement, and barricade yourself in” is a pretty catchall plan.) I’m a very fretful person by nature. I worry about 9/11 Part 2, World War Three, and getting stabbed by random weirdos on the street all of the time. Horror movies are morbidly comforting, for two reasons. One, if at least one character makes it out alive, I can say, “See? It's possible to survive all that.” Two, even if it’s an Everyone’s Dead! ending, I can comfort myself by saying, “Okay, gas prices suck, I’m unemployed and cranky, and there’s a lot of bad in the world, but at least I’m not fighting off a pack of werewolves or being stalked by cannibals or haunted by vengeful ghosts.” That cheers me up a lot more than a feel-good movie where I have to watch happy frolicking people who are happier and more frolickful than I am.

So I’m hoping this Lionsgate Midnight Meat Train dump is a one time glitch and not a rumbling of changes in their market. Because they have come out with some damned fine horror movies in the past few years, which has done wonders for my mood. Ah well, at least I still have Mirrors to look forward to.

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