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Marketing the Tsunami Appeal.

Tomorrow, the big chain cinemas in Sydney (and I assume Australia) are donating all the money from ticket sales to the Tsunami Disaster...

As long as you go before midday.

Can't you just feel the kindness oozing off that? No. Well, I don't blame you. The money made from those ticket sales won't cost the chain cinemas anything. See, most of the cinemas will open around quarter to ten for the children films like Spongebob Squarepants, in which suffering parents will limp along to the mostly empty cinemas (the kids films currently showing are ending their run) but the adult films, which bring in the majority of the money, don't begin until eleven. What this means is that the chain cinemas will actually be donating the proceeds from only one set of sessions aimed at adults, and two from those aimed at children... and these proceeds will be gathered on a Sunday morning, which is traditionally a quiet morning as people sleep in, nurse hangovers, go to Church, fuck, and whatever else it is that you after the high spending of Friday and Saturday nights.

Doesn't the generosity want to make you weep?

A cynical person might suggest that the inclusion of the Cinema Chains into Tsunami relief means that the actual cause of getting aid for Tsunami victims has penetrated into the corporate marketing mind of big business. What I mean by this is that the words the Tsunami Appeal have because a form of marketing, a sign to the average person on the street to go and spend money so that they can help the victims... but, in truth, they're no longer doing it for the victims, they're out there to consume, functioning as consumers, with the words Tsunami Appeal having the same desired result as the words Half Price Sale, Post Christmas Sale, Half Yearly Sale, and Going Out of Business Sale do. The Tsunami Disaster is no longer the largest tragedy in our lifetime, but a marketing tool too.

Since I am a cynical person, this is exactly what I am suggesting. The inclusion of the Cinema Mafia Bosses, who rule Australia with iron firsts, and who have never been motivated by an ounce kindness, are the signal of this.

I say this because I worked in a cinema for five or so years. I have personal experience with the men who make the decisions. They had a easy, casual cruelty to anything that began with the word Art. Anything like that didn't make money. Art was stillborn in their world. The attitude was there when I began working in the mid nineties, right before the multiplex cinema burst across the landscape like a case of bad teenage acne, and killed off the old, beautiful cinemas. But worse, their arrival ensured an attitude of money now now now which came with the rise of multiple cinema booking for films. By this I mean placing a popular film into three cinemas to soak up as much cash in the first couple of weeks as it can, then kick it out and replace it with another mindless blockbuster. Bad for film culture because it doesn't give any room to films that slowly build with popularity, bad for film making as an attitude, bad for small independent films that struggled even more now to find space.

Along with this, I saw the trade that was a Projectionist given the swift and harsh boot of the Cinema Mafia so they could be replaced by ushers who were trained in a two week course, and who worked at a fraction of the hourly rate. I was one of those just out of High School casuals who ended up trained as a projectionist. I've heard about the mark up rates on popcorn (something like 200%), the slow increases of prices, the cutting back of staff, and a hundred thousand other little bits and pieces that has left me with absolutely no doubt that the big cinema chains in Australia are nothing but a corporate choke chain, strangling our cash from us.

Mark my words, the Tsunami Appeal is no longer about helping the victims. It's a marketing tool. Expect Tsunami Happy Meals any day now.

Comments

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future_conduit
Jan. 22nd, 2005 12:51 pm (UTC)
*sighs & shakes head solomly*

you hit the nail on the head, i'm afraid.

i think you have grossly miss calculated the mark-up on popcorn however.
say corn kernels cost, ooh, i dunno, a buck a kilo, maybe two when bought in bulk. a kilo of corn when popped would fill, i dunno, maybe half a wheely bin? we are probably getting closer to a 2,000% mark-up.

i know a $3 cappuccino costs around 70c to make, that's about 300% of a price hike. and making coffee is rocket science in comparison to the popping of corn.
benpeek
Jan. 23rd, 2005 03:50 am (UTC)
yeah, i think the markup on popcorn is somewhat larger. five hundred percent is a number in my head. not that there's much difference, mind you, since it's still astronomically priced. insanely so.

it disappoints me to see the tsunami thing being used as marketing now. there's a real problem out there, but i get the feeling that these days there isn't much giving to it. i'm not to sorry to be skipping waveaid, either.
future_conduit
Jan. 23rd, 2005 06:34 am (UTC)
yeah, there is a big problem out there. it's best not to think about it.

in umpteen billion years from now our whole planet will be devoured by the sun anyway. so enjoy it while you can.
bodhichitta0
Jan. 22nd, 2005 02:30 pm (UTC)
You're right. There's no doubt about it. amazon and the like got good press for doing a link right away and now other businesses are trying to hop in to score the good publicity. (Whereas the honest organizations--I believe I read on the Doctors without Borders' site that they had enough money for their specific tsunami efforts but if you still wanted to give, they could use the money in other countries.)
benpeek
Jan. 23rd, 2005 03:53 am (UTC)
yes.

meanwhile, is that a phantom of the opera thing you've got up there?
bodhichitta0
Jan. 23rd, 2005 01:32 pm (UTC)
Yes, paying mocking homage to the movie which I quite enjoyed in an 80s-over-the-top-musical-theatre kind of way. Lots of cleavage, loud music, hot phantom but a um, rather large suspension of disbelief. cleolinda wrote a very funny parody of it (where I got the icon). I'm going to link it in my journal sometime.
redlantern2051
Jan. 23rd, 2005 03:00 am (UTC)
You are on the money, Ben. Anyone who ever works for the cinema chains seems to have bad stories-the ticket prices are astronomical, (thankfully I get $10 tickets thru work) the "food" mark-up likewise, with quesus like something out of Communist Russia, and so it goes.

I have two friends who were projectionists who both got screwed over, in different states, by two different chains, both multinational.

The cinemas suck.
benpeek
Jan. 23rd, 2005 03:56 am (UTC)
i actually like cinemas, as a place. corporates aside, i like sitting int he dark and watching a film. i really do. but there's no need for movies to be that price, or anythingof the like.

in a way, the chains aren't to blame over the price of tickets. for the opening weeks of any kind of big film, they don't take much from the ticket price. the split might work at seventy percent to the distributer, thirty to the cinema, which encourages the chain to book in more to get more money in the short term. but, after a few weeks, that split dramatically changes, so it's not impossible even for prices of old films to drop dramatically--which you see cinemas do, btw.
redlantern2051
Jan. 23rd, 2005 05:27 am (UTC)
I like cinemas, in the sense I like GOING to see a film, but I don't like all the over-priced things that go with it. I must admit I am part of the brigade that buys their candy/coke etc from like the supermarket and putting it my bag!!!

Thats interesting what u say about the ticket split, I didn't know the %.

Do any of the main chains drop their prices in Sydney, do you know?
benpeek
Jan. 23rd, 2005 05:59 am (UTC)
actually, these days, i imagine the only thing a cinema can stop you taking in is hot food. they sell bottles now, so they've no reason to stop you with anything else.

the main chains have a cheap film, every now and then. you print out something from there website and you get a nine buck ticket to a film that is coming to the end of its run, but that's all. prices don't drop, won't drop, and in fact, will continue to climb until it's cheaper to buy the dvd.

which in some cases it already is.
future_conduit
Jan. 23rd, 2005 06:58 am (UTC)
i suppose that if ticket prices were variable, you'd get people flocking to the last week of a screening to save a pretty penny.

i have discovered there is one loophole to most multiplex cinemas if you have time to kill.

i call it the 2-or-3-or-4-for-the-price-of-1 scam. it involves purchasing one ticket and studying the screening programme very carefully.

here's how it works:

you see your first film and when it's over return to the hallway without going back thru the ticket gate. most big cinemas only check tickets out in the lobby.
you then enter your second film. you may miss 5 or 10 minutes of any given film, or you may be sitting in limbo for half an hour, but hey, you've just saved yourself a dozen dollars or so. repeat ad finitum.
i figure the film is screening anyway, reguardless of whether there are 10 or 100 people watching it. whats another pair of eyes?
if you feel guilty about ripping them off - you'll have to take that up with your conscience.

***********

i have a freind in melbourne who's folks own a cafe. there just so happens to be a function room/second bar in the basement. it just so happens that this particular cafe has a big-arse projector in this basement. so it wasn't uncommon for a handfull of us to sit down there after hours watching the latest new release DVD.
benpeek
Jan. 23rd, 2005 08:45 am (UTC)
yeah, i've known about the scam for a while. your mileage may vary depending on the cinema, and at what time you do it. (it's harder to do in an empty cinema complex, for example.) however, it's a scam i haven't done for years. there just aren't enough movies i want to watch to put in the work.

plus, i've found after a second film that i enjoy them less.
future_conduit
Jan. 23rd, 2005 09:43 am (UTC)
true, very true.

last sunday it was very hot. a freind and i decided to go to the cinema just to exploit their air-conditioning. we um'd and ar'd about what to see, as none of it seemed very appealing. after much deliberating, we decided on Neverland with Johnny Depp. but that wasn't to start for 20 mins or so. so we ducked into the nearest theatre door to pass the time. The Incredible's was showing. we ended up staying for the whole thing. i found it suprisingly sophisticated for a "kid's film".
benpeek
Jan. 23rd, 2005 11:51 am (UTC)
actually, i quite enjoyed the incredibles. it was fun, and i could've listened to holly hunter's voice for weeks.
future_conduit
Jan. 23rd, 2005 01:52 pm (UTC)
touche.

some of the computer generated textures, like the rocks in caves and rusty metal etc, were gobsmackingly realistic. unlike the fur on midnight the cat in catwoman.
benpeek
Jan. 23rd, 2005 10:39 pm (UTC)
now, you see, i never saw catwoman. i just knew better. (though that said, maybe i should've seen it instead of BLADE TRINITY, cause at least i would've got more attractive women...)
future_conduit
Jan. 23rd, 2005 10:47 pm (UTC)
yes, well. Halle Berry in black leather. ahem. even if her mask did make her look rediculous. actually it wasn't too bad a film... for a DC comic cash in.
benpeek
Jan. 23rd, 2005 11:05 pm (UTC)
i'll wait for tv.

however, i made a mistake and saw the punisher. i don't even know the reason. a friend said, hey, wanna see, and i said, sure. big mistake. if catwoman had been out then, i would've seen that.
ashamel
Jan. 23rd, 2005 10:57 pm (UTC)
There was a thing in the papers last week about GU refusing to allow any food in that hadn't been bought on the premises.
benpeek
Jan. 23rd, 2005 11:03 pm (UTC)
did they say what food they tried to bring in?
ashamel
Jan. 23rd, 2005 11:06 pm (UTC)
benpeek
Jan. 23rd, 2005 11:51 pm (UTC)
heh. there's a rule that staff aren't going to police for very long. just won't be worth the arguments.

i thought maybe it was a story about someone wanting to take beer bottles or pizza into a cinema. i've seen it happen. they rock up with a whole pizza, just bought, steaming, and look hugely pissed when they got told they can't go in with it.
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