Theater Should Cater To Variety Of Tastes



Mike Burkett was certainly on the money when he bemoaned the lack of quality programming at Payson's one and only cineplex (in his Feb. 16 commentary, "Oscar race won't run in Payson"), and the pandering to an audience which often matches IQ points with age demographics 15-30.

The problem is, this is true everywhere, not just in Payson, and while some pictures, like "Chocolat" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" do manage to find a way to a few local screens around the Valley, it's also the case that most of the really remarkable independent films and critics' favorites are seen in only one or two theaters in the metropolitan area, and even then for all-too brief a time.

This means that if one lives in, say, the Ahwatukee area, Gilbert, Chandler or parts of Mesa and beyond, the drive to Harkins' Camelview Theater, which specializes in such fare, is every bit as long and tiresome as it is from Payson possibly longer.

Which is to say that most of the audiences who are eager to see movies other than "Dude, Where's My Car" often have to wait until they are released on video. Therein lies the real difference between Payson and Phoenix; at least some video rental stores in the Valley carry these pictures. Payson customers' choices are far more limited.

Finally, what is required is nothing more than a willingness to reserve a screen or two for films that do something more interesting than grovel to teens and the teen-minded. Better yet, an adventurous new kind of platforming that allows for double features of less commercial cinema imagine a double bill of "Requiem For A Dream" and "Traffic."

When that, or something like that happens, exhibitors may discover that audiences are willing to come from miles around to see these movies, rather than having to drive miles away for a change of pace and a little adult-quality entertainment.

Henry Cabot Beck, Jr., Phoenix

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