Out-of-town decisions on movies

Monday, July 19, 2004

If you have a question, e-mail factorfiction@semissourian.com or call Speak Out (334-5111) and identify your call as a question for "Fact or fiction?"

Q: Is it true that there are people in the Cape Girardeau area powerful enough to have some influence over whether or not movies like Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" come to Cape Girardeau's movie theaters?

A: "Fahrenheit 9/11" has been in town for several weeks now. But we put your larger questions -- Who makes the decisions about which movies come to town, and do politics play any role -- to managers at both movie complexes. The response was that movie placement is handled by corporate offices elsewhere.

"We have a home office in Chicago that does the bookings there," said Emma Rieffer at Town Plaza Cinema, which is owned by Kerasotes Theatres. "There is no local input. We find out about a week in advance what movies will be coming."

Kevin Dillon, manager at Cape West 14 Cine, owned by Wehrenberg Theatres, offered a similar response. "Local management does not make the decisions on what movies are played. We have a film buyer at our St. Louis office who books all of our movies in. Politics do not play an issue. We are in the business of showing movies, and 'Fahrenheit 9/11' is a product on the market."

Why do some movies make it to Cape while others don't? "There are a lot of products that come out that don't make it here because we're considered too small," Dillon said. "We play a lot of products that receive 'wide release.'"

Q: Is it true that William F. Buckley, the founder of the conservative magazine, National Review, said that he is concerned about the war in Iraq?

A: Buckley addressed the issue in a recent column, "Should we have gone to war?" Here are a few excerpts:

"An open question: If the commander-in-chief has evidence satisfying to his intelligence systems (and to those of the British, the French, the Germans and the Russians) that a dictator who has used such weapons before -- and has twice invaded neighboring countries -- has such weapons now, is there a reasonable alternative to military action? Not in the judgment of those who believe the president must act on the most cautious probabilities. If later in the day, after the fighting has ended, one learns that the weapons weren't in fact there, how does this discredit the thinking that took him to war on the assumption that they were there?

"Reason fortifies the two positions: 1) that we should have gone to war, and 2) that we need not have gone to war.

"The single missing component here is what was implied in President Bush's speech to the National Security Complex on July 12: that a dramatic show of U.S. military strength was necessary to fortify the U.S. presence in the world. If it is true that [Libya's] Qaddafi came around because of what he had seen in Iraq, that point is carried. It is strengthened further by reasoning that North Korea may have been terminally persuaded not to proceed on an apocalyptic course by reason of the fate of Saddam Hussein.

"This does not vindicate the war as we have engaged in it. Knocking off Saddam Hussein was one challenge. A second was to devolve the responsibility for rebuilding Iraq politically."

Jon Rust is co-president of Rust Communications and can be reached at jrust@semissourian. com.

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