From: Darryl Wiggers <[log in to unmask]>
MODERATOR'S NOTE: Darryl forwards the following from Screen-L...
From: Kino International Corporation <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
OK I have been somewhat quiet about this for a few weeks but I think the
AFI list combined associated with other factors is literally leading to the
end of classic film screenings in the US. Let me explain
For years prints have been disappearing at an alarming rate. Basically
rights holders HAVE NO INTEREST in actual film prints. They only care about
video, cable & other more lucrative rights. SWANK which now holds the
contract for all but one of the major studios has allowed their collection
to deteriote to the point were they have run out of hundreds of crucial
titles ( SHADOW OF A DOUBT, THE WIND, most Sirk films and on and on.)
Since the studios do not care SWANK simply does not replace these missing
films. Many major collections are competely gone including RANK, GOLDWYN,
and DEG ( these would include THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, THE RED SHOES &
BLUE VELVET among the hundreds in these libraries) The majority of Foreign
language films are actually in WORSE shape.
Most were on seven year contracts and when they expired either the American
or overseas company did not or could not renew the contract. Right now most
films by Agnes Varda, Wim Wenders are unavailable and hundreds of other
classics from MY BRILLIANT CAREER & RAN to PHANTOM OF THE LIBERTY &
LACOMBE, LUCIEN are probably gone for good. When and if these titles
reappear it will almost surely just be on video or if we are very lucky
maybe a 35mm print will be made but not likely. 16mm will NEVER come back
because no one knows what happened to the negatives.
Well if all of the above were not bad enough, Guess what? ALL TITLES ON
THE AFI list that belong to the studios ( about 90%) are being PULLED from
non-theatrical distribution. That means no college bookings on TAXI DRIVER,
No musuem shows on LAWRENCE OF ARABIA etc. SWANK is pulling em all at the
instructions of the studios. The studios plan to do an AFI tour of those
great multiplex theaters and do not want to be bothered by a pesky college
wanting to show CASABLANCA. ( I should add that good old CITIZEN KANE is
safe from this fiasco since WB DOES NOT OWN non theatrical rights and Kit
Parker can still rent those 16mm prins out). So in order to "Promote "
classic films but putting them in the very theaters that in most cases can
not even project them properly, no one else will be able to show them.
The saddest part of the above is the virtual elimination all the truly
great things done by Turner Entertainment before Warner Bros ate them. Turner
preserved and made widely available more prints than any archive could.
Within reason the were generous to Museums & film users aroung the country.
A few months ago they fired the head of the classics division and the new
head has told museums and even some rep theaters that they no longer care
about that stuff. Their only mandate is for putting big titles in as many
theaters as possible ( the AFI TOUR) and the rest of the collection is of
So the bottem line is that more and more films are going to vanish, most
forever some like the AFI list ones will probably come back in a year.
Meanwhile The AFI itself just gets the party line that they are HELPING
FILM & FILM PRESERVATION.
Please remember that the head of the AFI has already stated that repertory
film screenings are no longer necessary since we have video & cable.
Personally I think film screenings will become a luxury limited to the half
dozen or so
well connected institutions like MOMA, UCLA and I hope The Film Forum. The
"POPULAR ART" will become the most restricted art, available only to people
who live in major cities and go to the very select institutions that will
have access to prints.
I have heard people argue that no one WANTS to show film anymore, that
they prefer video or disc projection. This is NOT TRUE. Every day I have to
tell some poor professor, college film society programmer or museum
programmer, that the film they want is no longer available. The frustration
leval is reaching a peak and pretty soon, they may give up on trying to
I will spare you any more of my gloomy predictions, but I rather doubt than
anything can be done to stop the above. The only thing that would help is
if well connected film people and journalists really shed light on this
The Scorseses, Speilbergs et al have done nothing about this. There have
been no articles that I know of regarding the inability of colleges and
museums and theaters screen hundreds of crucial films.
Well gang thats it. If anyone out there knows a studio head or a film
writer at the LA TIMES go for it. As for me, I live in New York so I'll
still be able to see em
ALL VIEWS EXPRESSED ARE MY OWN
Kino International Corporation
333 W. 39th St. Suite 503
New York, NY 10018
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