Die Hard XVI and other crap: now playing Huntsvegas!

While in Atlanta, I took pains to route my schedule around movie showtimes. I've had a couple of people ask me why I'd do that; my initial response is to answer, "The lack of variety available in the Huntsville theatre market."At the current time, there are 4 theatres in the Huntsville area. The Carmike 10, located behind Wal-Mart; the IMAX theatre at the Space & Rocket Center; the Regal Hollywood 18 on South Parkway; and the Regal Madison Square 12 behind the mall. (I think you can guess which two of those theatres are owned by the same company.)

Caveat: I tend to throw out the IMAX theatre, as it usually shows nature-related movies or gimmick releases like "Fantasia."

You'd think that, with those other three theatres, that local moviegoers have a decent amount of choices available, right? You'd be wrong. In fact, from tallying up the movies available right now, there are only 22 movies available for viewing in Huntsville:

  • American Outlaws
  • America's Sweethearts
  • American Pie 2
  • Bubble Boy
  • Captain Corelli's Mandolin
  • Dr. Dolittle 2
  • The Curse of the Jade Scorpion
  • The Fast and the Furious
  • Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
  • John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars
  • Jurassic Park III
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
  • Legally Blonde
  • Osmosis Jones
  • Others
  • Planet of the Apes
  • The Princess Diaries
  • Rat Race
  • Rush Hour 2
  • The Score
  • Spy Kids,
  • Summer Catch

That's it. You'd think that with a total of forty screens, we would have more movies available than that, right? However, when fifteen movies (in bold) are being screened at more than one theatre—yes, fifteen!—then the total number of movies available is going to drop sharply.

In my snorting, boorish way, I have to congratulate the theatres for making me drive to Atlanta and Nashville and Birmingham to spend my theatre ticket money elsewhere. What am I supposed to do when I want to see movies like Hedwig and the Angry Inch and The Deep End? Both movies are in the top 25 right now. What about Made, which has been out for six weeks now? Apocalypse Now Redux—a classic film, finally being released in the director's cut?

Or, heaven forfend, if I want to see a movie—like, say, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which isn't in English? Jeff and I drove to Birmingham to see CTHD, because it wasn't available here. I watched the local movie listings in disgust to see how long it took for the local theatres to show CTHD—it was somewhere around a month before they got around to it.

I delayed my return to Huntsville for several hours and fought Atlanta rush-hour traffic to see The Deep End—and I don't regret a moment of it. When I go back next week I'm going to ensure that I see Hedwig and perhaps Apocalypse, since I have serious doubts about whether or not those movies will ever come to Huntsville at all.

At first I wasn't sure why I was so resentful of the local movie theatres' choices in movies. Eventually I figured out that I resented having my movie choices dumbed down. Anything 'artistic' or 'difficult' or 'not-mainstream' either shows up here for a paltry four screenings or never shows up at all. (Example: Memento, which I consider to be one of the top movies of 2001, never played here at all.)

I understand that art-house movies don't make as much money as summer action blockbusters. I can sympathize with that. But I know that my favorite theatre in Birmingham makes a point of reserving either one screen or some off-peak showtimes for art-house features (which is how we saw CTHD and I saw Memento); why can't local theatres do the same?

After years of showing nothing but mindless drivel, I suppose they've conditioned some of the local movie-watchers to not expect anything more—but I know there's more out there than the latest idiotic sequel to Rush Hour or Die Hard XVI.

Until the local theatres decide to show more than the current top-five grossing movies, I'll continue seeing movies in Birmingham, Atlanta, and Nashville. I want more than Die Hard XVI; I can't be the only one. Until the day that the local theatres figure this out, my money will go elsewhere.

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