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HughesReviews Special Report: The Disposability of Modern Movies

| June 7th, 2024

The Friday column will return to football next week! 


There has been a growing conversation on various social media platforms about the decline of modern cinema, but much of that conversation centers around the box office returns of various “failed” studio pictures, i.e. The Fall Guy and Furiosa. But there is a far more serious development than the changing patterns of movie consumption. Movies, through the misguided behavior of studios, streamers and distributors, have been rendered disposable.

For the sake of discussing the lack of cultural impact being made by modern cinema, we will need a film around which to center that discussion. As a nod to Seinfeld, a sitcom responsible for creating some of the most magnificent fake films in history, we will use its crowning achievement, Rochelle, Rochelle, a young girl’s strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk.

We start with Entertainment Weekly.

In the 1990s, the seasonal preview issues of EW were the Holy Bible for film fans. These issues laid out, week-by-week, every movie release expected over the coming months. Many, me included, would create our own calendars with a listing of the films we wanted to/expected to see. When I picked up the fall preview issue, I would identify that Rochelle, Rochelle was releasing in New York and Los Angeles on September 17. That moment, it’s listing in that issue, was the inception point, the beginning of Rochelle, Rochelle‘s cultural impact.

A release on September 17th in limited cities would not be limited to strictly New York City and Los Angeles, but also the New York City suburbs, which included Montclair, New Jersey, where I would have likely seen it at the Clairidge (pictured above). The film would be reviewed by all of the major critics and seen by all the serious film fans in those areas. If the reviews were good, and it did decent business, the film would expand to more theaters by around mid-October.

Rochelle, Rochelle is a small film so it wouldn’t be expected to gross hundreds of millions of dollars, but it could have a life in a few hundred theaters (or more) for those few months. Then it would fade as more titles emerged, and likely be out of theaters by the time the big Christmas releases. In early January, if it received Oscar nominations, Rochelle, Rochelle would return to cinemas with a new advertising campaign focused on those nominations. Again, it wouldn’t be expected to make a fortune, but it could play for a month or so before fading out again.

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