By • Aug 1st, 2003 •

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The Summer was weird, yes?, with its collection of big budget action films that toppled like nine-pins, one week after the other. Not that some of them weren’t good. THE TERMINATOR and THE HULK were polished pieces of work at very least, and intelligently layered at best. My guess is it’s more than just the booking policies, the line-up, the intense promotion of each successive one, and the quality of the films. Here’s what I think: I think the awareness of DVD release (which, unlike VHSs of yore, will look at least as good as they did in the theatres) has a strong impact on theater duration. Moreover, the DVD release date gaps are slowly being narrowed from six months to as little as three following a film’s theater playdates.

These latter two factors are fairly recent developments, and I think they’ve set a subliminal standard for movie attendance. I don’t think the distributors have realized yet what they’ve done….with the extraordinary quality of DVD, and with the proximity of DVD release to theatrical release.

News from the National Board of Review: Leon Friedman has stepped down as President (though he remains as Treasurer), and Sarah Eastman has stepped up. Lois Ballon and Victoria Wilson have stepped down from the Board of Directors, making it a tighter group, but I’m sure that’ll change.

Screenings galore remain the order of the day, many attended by the filmmakers. Most recently Claude LeLouche and his young wife (who co-stars in several of his films) appeared and chatted with us at a screening of AND NOW LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, a film he explained is based on people he really knows, embellished by his screenwriter’s imagination. This is the best kind of screenwriting – one half story, one half memory – and another recent example of it is Roman Polanski’s THE PIANIST. LeLouche’s film leads the pack for me for the best film of 2003.

But the year is still pregnant with possibility…

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