An(other) Open Letter to Southend Odeon

ron woodroof

Dear Southend Odeon,

I’d like to open by saying that I am a fan. I love film, and I love cinema as a medium for experiencing it. Most often I pass through your doors at least once a week. But sadly, I don’t expect to be gracing your establishment this week.

Why? Three words:

Dallas Buyers Club.

For the past few months you’ve been running trailers for Dallas Buyers Club ahead of many of your films — from memory, I think I saw the trailer before 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle. It looked powerful and engaging, and as a result I added it to my list of films to see. So as far as the advert was concerned, mission accomplished.

Or rather, it would have been. Except despite Dallas Buyers Club being released on Friday 7th February, it is not showing in your cinema.

Which is…disappointing. It looked like a good film, and you clearly agreed. You screened the very trailer which made me want to see it! Perhaps you watched the film and found it so awful that your artistic integrity wouldn’t permit you to sully your projectors with it. Though, since you deigned to show I, Frankenstein, I suspect that is probably not the case.

Or maybe, and more likely, you thought that people wouldn’t pay to see it. Which feels a little misjudged, if true. I would have paid it,and I doubt I’m the only film lover in the Southend area. There’s a Southend-on-Sea film festival, after all.

This feels a little familiar — a few years back I blogged a similar letter complaining about your failure to screen horror film The Awakening. That was, in my view, more understandable. Although it was a very good film, it was definitely towards the fringe edge of the mainstream.

Dallas Buyers Club is a different story. This is a film which has won two Golden Globes, and is nominated for six Academy Awards. It was Mark Kermode’s film of this week — though that alone isn’t a reason to show it; I didn’t expect, for example, you to screen a fly-fishing documentary when he favourited it.

But this is silly. We’re facing a very real situation where the Oscar-winner for best film won’t have been screened in Southend. Which is bad for film, bad for cinema in Southend, and bad for your own bottom line.

Yours disappointedly,

Matthew S. Dent
Film lover


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