Adults should be allowed to watch any movie that they want without being restricted by marketing or region encoding. In a supposed melting pot of people, cultures and ideas, it should be an American right to enjoy all movies regardless to content and origin.
Repo! The Genetic Opera, which is described as our generation’s Rocky Horror Picture Show, hit theaters Nov. 7. However, it was only a limited release, meaning only fans residing in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York City and Austin, Texas can see the theatrical release. There was one live performance in Portland on Nov. 10 that was sold out weeks in advance, a sign that people in Portland enjoy weird movies such as the award-winning Repo! The Genetic Opera.
People that missed that one showing either have to drive over 10 hours to watch it in San Francisco, or have to wait until it comes out on DVD.
This is just one example of how restricted our movie options are in Portland. There are dozens of theaters in this city, but for the most part, they play the same movies. There are theaters that boast up to 24 screens but they overlook unconventional films. Instead of having 24 different movies, they show only about a dozen mass-marketed films.
It might be understandable if it was a bad film and a complete mess, but those lucky enough to watch the movie have given it stunning reviews. Most critics have panned the movie, but there are only certain people who are going to be delighted with a horror musical that makes Sweeny Todd look tame. There are definitely people who want to see this film, especially because it won the 2008 Fantasia Ground-Breaker Award.
More money could be made from Repo! The Genetic Opera if Lionsgate, one of the leading independent film entertainment studios, would expand to cities such as Portland, who have Buffy devotees eager to see Anthony Head as a legal assassin, Saw series fans of director Darren Lynn Bousman and people who have deep dark wishes to watch Paris Hilton’s face fall off.
Clinton Street Theater boasts that it has the world longest showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which has played every Saturday night (except for bad weather and holidays) since April 1978. What other market would be so perfect for a horror musical that’s bound to become a cult classic?
Although Repo! The Genetic Opera is my current obsession, there are hundreds of other movies that never make it to theaters. It’s difficult to see this American movie with an all-star cast. It’s almost unimaginable how difficult it is to see low-budget American films or foreign films.
Only once a year, in February, Portland holds a foreign film festival. During the rest of the year there is a token film that comes out once in awhile at one or two different theaters. Still, that leaves hundreds of movies that never reach theaters. Watching foreign movies is great way to experience another language and culture without having to pay for a plane ticket.
Even waiting for the DVD is not always an option. Only a small number of foreign films are available for American retailers due to region encoding. DVDs are encoded with different region encodings so that they only work on DVD players set to that region.
So, you can buy foreign movies from international Web sites but chances are that they won’t work in your DVD player. If you put it into your laptop, computers usually allow you to change the region encoding only a small number of times until it becomes stuck with a particular region encoding.
Blu-ray also has region encoding, although there are fewer regions. Unlike with DVDs, America is grouped within Japan’s region for Blu-ray. This is most likely due to the recent American fascination with Japanese anime. For years, Americans weren’t able to access all of the Japanese anime that they have available to them now. What else are we missing from other cultures?
If you’re a technological whiz, you can unlock your DVD player or Blu-ray player so that it can play all regions. However, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll probably just end up with a machine that doesn’t play anything and a voided warranty. Another option is to buy region-free players but they are about twice the cost of a normal player. The cost is worth it, however, to be able to enjoy all movies of all different cultures.
Just like any other art form, movies capture a culture’s global perspective, politics, religion, customs, humor and much, much more. To be a true open-minded movie connoisseur, more has to be watched than just what is marketed almost to the point of brainwashing.
In the midst of splashing Twilight advertisements everywhere they can think of, movie executives and theater gurus seem to forget that people still have very different motion picture taste buds.Making movies unavailable either due to a lack of area availability or region encoding is a form of censorship. And most of the time, censorship, especially in congruence with art, doesn’t make anything better.