4 October 2009

A complete waste of time

Watch this.

Looks pretty damn good, doesn't it?

In this age of Transformers 2, The Fast and the Furious 4, and Indiana Jones and the Fucking Kingdom of the Fucking Crystal Skull, it has become a rare and unusual pleasure to see a trailer which actually arouses your interest to the point that, for a brief foolish second, you seriously consider spending a tenner to sit in a dark, sweat-perfumed room with a clutch of braying chimps, watching as they fumble alternately with sugary treats and spray-tanned breasts while texting on their mobile phones despite clear instructions to TURN THE BASTARD THINGS OFF BEFORE THE FILM STARTS.

Thus it was that, breathless and filled with some perverse, oddly discomforting emotion that I can only imagine must have been what normal people call "joyful anticipation", my fingers nimbly brought me to the website of Odeon Cinemas, the largest chain of movie theatres in the UK. Feverishly, I looked at the listings.

GI Joe
GI Joe 3D
Ice Age 3
Ice Age 3 3D
G Force
G Force 3D

To my disappointment, it was becoming painfully apparent that my local Odeon were not showing Moon. "Joyful anticipation" ebbing, I decided to see which cinemas Odeon WERE showing the movie at.

Choosing 'Moon' on their irritatingly awkward website, I discovered that out of 108 potential cinemas in the Odeon franchise, only 8 of them were showing the film I wanted to see, and 6 of those were in London.

Now, I have nothing whatsoever against London, quite the opposite in fact. I find it to be a fantastic city full of wondrous exotica like 24-hour convenience stores, kebabs in wraps instead of pitta bread, and people who don't look like they've loped out of the green room at a taping of the Jeremy Kyle show and are about to start a fight with their own reflection because it 'looked at them funny'. London, in short, is great.

But, I quickly totted up the cost and soon realised that it was prohibitively expensive. £20 for the train, £10 for the cinema ticket, £10 for the inevitable alcoholic beverages, £5 for a taxi back from the station. "This film's gonna cost me a bloody nifty, you rubbish!" I exclaimed at the Odeon website, suddenly coming across all 'estuary' in my impotent rage.

Feeling my dander rising, I decided that there was little I could do except e-mail the Odeon and ask for, nay DEMAND, an explanation of why they weren't going to show this film. Sort of. Here's what I sent:

Could you please advise me if there are any plans to show 'Moon' at the Southend Odeon?

I'm extremely interested in seeing this film but, sadly, your company is only showing it at 8 cinemas out of 108 nationwide, none of which are close enough for me to easily, or cheaply, get to.

Thank you in advance.
To their credit, they responded pretty quickly, saying:

Please accept our apologies that we have not been able to screen the type of films you would prefer. Unfortunately, the range of films is not always within our control - it depends on the number of prints made available for use in the UK. Typically, blockbusters are released with over 600 prints however specialised films (such as "Moon") are only released with 50 prints for the whole of the UK. This makes it very difficult to obtain prints for some of our cinemas as the film distributors prefer to allocate these prints to special art-house cinemas as they will get higher attendance levels than at typical multiplexes.

However, we have our "Directors Chair" screenings allow us to show specialised films a few weeks after their general release. The details of the Directors Chair season is available by clicking on the Directors Chair logo in the “Now Showing” section, or going to


and selecting your local ODEON from the list.

Now, the Odeon group is the largest cinema chain in Europe but, apparently, they're unable to request additional prints of movies? Surely to Christ if anyone can request an additional, say, 50 prints it would be the Odeon?

I was left unconvinced by this message from them so found the contact details of the UK film distributor, which is Sony Pictures Entertainment Worldwide Acquisitions Group. That's rather a long name, so I'm going to abbreviate it to TWATS.

I sent TWATS an e-mail on 17th August which contained the following:
I am very disappointed that I was unable to watch this movie on the big screen, but would like to understand a little more about how distribution of such 'specialised' movies works. Accordingly, I would be hugely grateful if you could clarify a few issues for me:

1) Were only 50 prints of the movie released to the UK?
2) Why weren't further prints made available?
3) How many prints did Odeon Cinemas actually request?
4) Given that Odeon Cinemas are the largest cinema chain in the UK, if they had requested more prints would they have been provided?
5) Do you operate a policy of designating more prints for art-house cinemas?

As mentioned above, I would be extremely grateful for a response to these queries.

Many thanks to you in advance for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest opportunity.
It would be pertinent to clarify that, at this point, I was expecting to receive a reply answering my questions and thus enabling me to either 1) realise that Sony are twats, 2) realise that Odeon are twats, or 3) realise that I'm a twat with no real comprehension of how film distribution operates. The smart money was on option 3, but I was hopeful for either of the other two.

I waited, expectantly, for TWATS to contact me.

And then I waited some more.

Finally, after a prolonged period of waiting, I waited slightly longer then got bored and decided to e-mail them again, this time on 7th September:

I sent the query below on 17th August. To date, I have received no reply.

I'm sure that this is merely an oversight and not representative of Sony's customer service as a whole. Accordingly, I look forward to receiving a reply.
I then waited again, feeling that The Great Film Distribution Scandal I was about to uncover was slipping away from me. Thoughts of a Pullitzer Prize in investigative journalism gave way to more simple desires - like just wanting to watch a film that wasn't in 3D or designed for a roomful of people with a combined IQ of 6.

Finally, on 1st October, a staggering two months after my original e-mail to Sony, I received...precisely fuck all. Clearly, TWATS couldn't be arsed to respond to me.

I sent them one final e-mail later that day:

As you will see from the e-mails below, I wrote to you back in August with an enquiry regarding UK film distribution for the movie 'Moon'.

Despite a follow-up e-mail, I have not received the courtesy of a reply to any of my communications.

As a Sony customer who owns a number of your products, I'm extremely disappointed at Sony's apparently cavalier attitude to customer service.

It is with regret that I will now be taking my custom elsewhere in future, and will also be recommending that my friends do the same.

Clearly, Sony isn't interested in engaging with its customers. I consider that to be very sad.
I clicked 'send' with a smugly condescending shake of the head and went about my day.

Odeon at least had the common courtesy to send me a response even if I did consider the contents to be a bit iffy. But as for Sony, not a word. Apparently, when you're a company that big, you don't need to worry about the desires of an ordinary customer. The shite-hawks.

My journey was at an end. I wouldn't be able to see 'Moon' on the big screen because of several reasons:

1) Odeon only seem to show films that are going to make them a huge profit. Of course, I understand that's why one operates a business - to make money - but if that's their business model, maybe they should revisit their tagline "Fantatical about film" and change it to something more appropriate like "Give us your money and fuck off."

2) On the basis of my personal experience, Sony are complete TWATS. I can only assume that they are also TWATS when it comes to the business of film distribution so, accordingly, the reason I couldn't see 'Moon' was because, and I can't stress this enough, Sony are TWATS.

3) I'm unfortunate enough to live in Essex. It is highly unlikely that any film designed to titilate the cerebrum will ever be shown here. Just give us something we can gaze at while we toss popcorn into our gaping mouth-holes, vaguely wondering if there might be time for a quick fight after the film finishes.

So, to sum up:

Disappointment #1 - I can't see Moon.

Disappointment #2 - My desire to uncover a film distribution conspiracy is buggered up by Sony refusing to communicate with me.

Disappointment #3 - my local Odeon are now showing 'Moon' on Tuesday evening as part of their Director's Chair screenings, meaning that although I now get to see the movie on the big screen, all of the e-mails have been a complete waste of time, and this blog post is now completely redundant.

Sod it, I'm going to publish it anyway.

Oh, and did I mention that Sony are TWATS?

*Needless to say, my opinions of Sony and Odeon are precisely that - opinions. I'm sure they're lovely in real life and wouldn't dream of suing a blogger who only has about 3 readers anyway, and the fact that I've had to put this clarification into my blog post is in no way meant to suggest that they're the sort of companies that would partake in such actions, especially not attempting to curtail our much valued freedoms of speech although it would be rather nice to see them go to court and try to prove they are not twats*

*By the way, I've just noticed that this blog post is very sweary. Bad language is never an acceptable substitute for humour. I think we've all learned a valuable lesson today. Think on.*


Benny C said...

Oh, you are wrong sir. Sometimes only swearing will do. And Sony are historically proven to be lying twats. The whole "Ghostbusters" debacle springs to mind.

I too challenge them to prove otherwise. (With considerably less effort on my part.)

Dan said...

You can't let the Ghostbusters thing go, can you? I suspect it may become your Moby Dick, rather like Indiana Jones 4 is mine.

"Let it go, son..."