We've been here before, I'm afraid.
Odeon Cinemas has let me down on numerous occasions with regard to the choice of films available and now, sadly, they've let me down again with their rather inconsistent approach to customer service.
I decided, back in June, that I'd like to see a couple of films. Unfortunately, the Odeon in Southend has a track record of showing very little other than money-hoovering blockbusters, animated fluffery, and anything in 3D because, you know, everyone loves 3D (and we desperately need to make our money back on all the new equipment we had to buy, which has become an even bigger problem now that the appetite for 3D movies appears to be waning already according to a variety of sources).
I went to the Odeon website and, noticing that the films I wanted to see were not playing here in Saaarfend, I decided to use the feedback facility and ask them a question.
4th June 2010
I would like to know if the Odeon Southend are planning on showing either Four Lions or The Ghost at any point. Thanks in advance.
Now, Four Lions is a comedy from Chris Morris, one of the UK's most controversial and talented writers/directors. I do not think it outside the realms of sanity that the UK's largest cinema chain might support home-grown talent.
Additionally, The Ghost was directed by imp-faced sodomite Roman Polanksi who, whatever you may think of his historical sexual preferences (and subsequent flight from justice) can sometimes direct a rather good movie. Setting aside my personal feelings about him (and my astonishment that certain people in the entertainment industry are effectively saying "Yes, he raped a child, but it was a long time ago. Let it go." , I was rather interested to see the film.
Later that day, I received a reply.
4th June 2010
Thank you for your enquiry into films at your local ODEON Unfortunately it is impossible to say whether or not this film will be showing at your local cinema in the future. If the film is not scheduled into the cinemas weekly listings, then it is currently not available at the cinema. ODEON would love to be able to show all the latest releases and for as long as possible unfortunately, due to print availability, the amount of screens the cinema has, public demand and competing releases, this is not always possible. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
I re-read the message with no small amount of disbelief and quickly penned a response.
4th June 2010
Thank you for your generic template response.
It's a shame that Odeon Cinemas Limited does not consider their customers important enough to either send a bespoke response, or at the very least amend the generic template so that it mirrors the question.
I asked about two films and the reply said "this film". I'm perplexed as to how it's "impossible to say whether or not this film will be showing at your local cinema in the future."
Impossible? Really? Or just 'difficult'?
Perhaps Odeon has a weekly draw where it puts a number of film titles into a hat and then randomly assigns them once they're picked out. Under those circumstances, I can imagine that it would indeed be impossible to ascertain whether a certain film would be shown at a certain venue. However, I'm reasonably sure that isn't the case and there must be something vaguely approaching a system or strategy at work which decides, in advance, what films will be shown where.
I think it's a lazy response which fails to answer my question. Once again, it would seem that because I have the unfortunate bad luck of living in Southend, I'm forever destined to be offered nothing more than the latest big-budget, 3D, special-effects-laden nonsense, 8 times a day on two different screens while lesser known films are, if they're lucky, given a single screening tucked away on a Tuesday night.
As for actually being able to find out in advance what those screenings might be this is, sadly, "impossible".
Very poor customer service I'm afraid. I would, however, be interested in your comments.
I sat back and awaited their response with interest.
A couple of days later, it arrived. However, it contained a rather fascinating disclaimer at the bottom which reads thus:
"The email (and its attachment(s) if any) is intended for the named addressee(s) only. It contains information which may be confidential and/or privileged and/or exempt from disclosure under applicable law. Unless you are the named addressee (or authorised to receive it for the addressee) you may not read, copy or use it, or disclose it to anyone else."
Now, I'm not an expert in matters legal, so I really don't know whether I'm allowed to disclose the contents of the email here. It says that the email is intended for me only. But it then goes on to say that you may not read, copy, use or disclose it to anyone if you're not me. As I am me, does that mean that I can read, copy use and disclose it? Oh, the tangled web of confidentiality. How confusing it is to a simple soul such as myself.
Worryingly, by reproducing the disclaimer have I already committed a heinous act of breach of confidentiality for which I will be banged up in blogger's chokey? Who knows. Further, who cares.
So, I've made the decision not to present their email.
However, I can show you my response which should, hopefully, allow you to fill in the missing pieces.
6th June 2010
Thank you for your email. It's pleasing to receive an actual response as opposed to a generic template.
I'd also like to thank you for your thorough explanation of how to locate a film on the Odeon website. Unfortunately, I was already in possession of this knowledge and it really does nothing to address either of my previous emails.
Additionally, although I appreciate that both films did not go to national release, I note that in the case of Four Lions it is currently showing at Huddersfield, Leeds, Kingston, Manchester, Sheffield, Worcester and Edinburgh, amongst other towns. That seems like a reasonably 'national' spread.
Is there any particular reason it can't be shown at Southend, even as a Director's Chair special? The previous email from Odeon Cinemas Limited stated that it was "impossible" to tell if a particular film would be shown at a particular cinema. Is that actually the case? I find it very difficult to believe that Odeon Cinemas Limited is completely unable to clarify which cinema a film will be shown at.
All I really want is to be told whether or not either of these films will be shown at the Odeon Southend. I think it's a very simple question and I hope that, after sending three emails, I may finally get an answer. I look forward to your response.
I waited. And waited. And waited some more. Finally...
28th June 2010
I note that I haven't yet received a response to my email of 6th June. Are you in a position to answer my question please?
Miraculously, 2 days later I received a reply, again with the legal disclaimer/threat. I'm unable to reproduce it here, but it may possibly have said something about having no plans to show the films but that the Director's Chair season starts in September and they'll add the films to the list of possible showings. It might have said that, but I couldn't possibly confirm or deny either way.
Brilliant! So, come September I can, potentially, pay £7.50 to watch Four Lions at the cinema with £3 for a drink and £4 for some sweeties, totalling £14.50 or, alternatively, pay £10.99 to Play.com on 30th August to buy the damn thing on DVD. As for The Ghost, I can buy that for £9.99 on 20th September. I wonder which of these things I will do?
Just for the hell of it, here's the list of what the Odeon Southend is currently showing, along with my thoughts on each:
Cats and Dogs 2 - 3D (Fuck off)
Step Up 3 - 3D (Fuck off)
The Last Airbender - 3D (Double Fuck off)
Toy Story 3 - 3D (Brilliant! No, wait...Fuck off)
Inception (Hooray! Already seen it though and I shall write a blog post on THAT troubling experience shortly)
Karate Kid (Christ on a bicycle...)
Knight and Day (Oh dear God, why?)
Marmaduke (I refuse to even comment on this)
Salt (Angelina. Mmmmmm. OK, I'll pencil this one in)
Shrek Forever After (I don't think so, do you?)
The A-Team (Shudders)
The Expendables (Might be quite good fun actually. I'll let them have this one.)
The Sorcerers Apprentice (Apart from giving me the opportunity to snigger at Nic Cage's hair, I'll give this one a miss.)
Toy Story 3 - 2D (See: Toy Story 3 - 3D)
So there we have it. As a movie buff, my local Odeon has virtually nothing to offer me in the way of entertainment. Score 1 for turgid cattle-fodder, score 0 for the discerning customer.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, Odeon Cinemas needs to change its tagline. In my opinion, it is not 'Fanatical About Film' it is 'Fanatical About Making A Large Profit From Mainstream Frippery, Artistic Integrity And An Ethical Duty To Support Independent Films Be Damned'.