Meanwhile, Back in Illinois …

Filed under:Movies,Priorities — posted by Anwyn on September 29, 2006 @ 9:19 pm

… at the theater where I was honored to organize viewing/costume parties for The Lord of the Rings, all three films, owner Greg Boardman shut down The Lorraine for two weeks rather than show Jackass 2 or Beerfest. From the article, it appears that some folks backed his decision and some folks whined that he took away entertainment from the children (“Won’t someone PLEASE think of the CHILDREN?!??”):

Hoopeston native P.J. Clingenpeel [hell no, I’m not making that up] said the projectors should never have been turned off in the first place. He said the two-week shutdown only hurt children in this town where Boardman’s movie houses and a skating rink are about all they have to do outside of school and sports.

“All he did was ruin a lot of kids’weekends. That’s why I think he’s a crybaby,”said Clingenpeel, a 30-year-old welder.

Excuse me? Who’s a crybaby? The theater owner so disgusted with the product he has to sell that he loses a little money rather than sell it, or the parents of children so bereft of something productive to do that their weekends are spoiled when they can’t watch Johnny Knoxville do … whatever the hell it is that he does? As the article points out, the movie was playing in Danville, which is 25 miles away. Quite a haul. Poor parents, having to listen to their kids whine all weekend because they couldn’t make the 50-mile round-trip to see either of two movies exalting the best of the human spirit.

What a crock. The Lorraine is a beautiful theater with a kick-ass sound system. Greg is a good guy who cheerfully hosted hordes of us breathless Lord of the Rings glassy-eyeds, provided us with a lovely historical venue for our celebration so that we didn’t have to deal with a gumshoed multiplex that was going to make its money either way and couldn’t have cared less that LotR was anything other than a run-of-the-mill set of popcorn flicks. Yes, it’s in a small town, and yes, this action affects the residents more than it would have at Greg’s other theater in Champaign. But I don’t pity the residents of a small town without many resources for entertainment. I pity residents anywhere who are so poor in resources of the mind that the loss of a couple of mindless movies sends them into a tailspin over The Lost Weekend. After all, as small as it is (and I’ve been there), Hoopeston does have a library.

Well done, Greg. Not because I know anything about either movie, though I’m quite willing to take your word for it that they’re garbage, but because you certainly are not required, for anybody’s sake, to take whatever the studios hand you and be nothing but an unthinking conduit. So far, I’m not really grooving too hard over Aaron Sorkin’s new TV offering, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, but something Amanda Peet’s character said on this week’s episode went down just fine with me. Asked how she would pick programming for the network, she answered that she’d ask herself three questions: 1) did she like it, 2) would her parents like it, and 3) would she let her kids watch it. If the answer to any of those three were yes, she’d air it. If the answer to all three was no, she wouldn’t.

Simple and fair enough for everybody. Or should be. Good judgment: It’s not just for studios any more.


  1. There’s always Scrabble for those nights when a theater owner decides to close shop. His property. His choice (so long as he isn’t contractually obligated to screen a title.)

    And if Scrabble won’t fit the bill, is there no cable TV or DVD rental available in that town?

    I intend to rent Jackass 2 when it comes out on DVD next month. Can’t stand going to the theater but I love watching grown men (and one shorter man) cause themselves pain on purpose. Good times, good times.

    Studio 60 has Bradley Whitford in it, so I sort of have to watch.

    Comment by Allen — September 29, 2006 @ 10:15 pm

  2. Bradley Whitford does rock hard, it’s true, as does my boy Matthew Perry. I love SportsNight and loved the first few seasons of West Wing. Now, though … eah. I’ll have more to say about Studio 60 when I start my fall TV rundown … better late than never. ;)

    Comment by Anwyn — September 29, 2006 @ 10:32 pm

  3. As one of those glassy-eyed LOTR fans and assistant organizer for the parties at the Lorraine, I can only say, HUZAAH to Greg Boardman. He is a stand up guy, who despite being 3000 mile away from his hometown and theater, still has concern for what is shown on HIS screen. As I read in the paper, he said, “that is not what the Lorraine is all about…” For those of you unfortunate enough to not be within driving range of the Lorraine, you are missing one of the absolute best places to view a film. I have been going there since I was a kid and have been to many other places but if I what to see a film the way it is supposed to be seen, I save it for the Lorraine. All the other drivel I see on my TV or at one of the wide screen TV sized multiplexes. And I think it is time for another party at the Lorraine, but unfortunately, there aren’t any movies that deserve celebrating their release for! PETER JACKSON… WHERE ARE YOU!!!???

    Comment by Deane Geiken — September 30, 2006 @ 10:56 am

  4. Good judgment: It’s not just for studios any more.

    That’s probably the only sentence of this post I can agree with. Where I come from, good business judgment means giving the public what they want, not what you want them to want. “The customer is always right” – unless the business happens to be run by a puffed up twerp who’s convinced himself that he’s always right. Let him buy a cinema in Fresno and try the same stunt there, or anywhere else where consumers have a real choice where to go to the movies. Then he’d find out the hard way that shutting down for two weeks to avoid showing “drivel” is not just an insult to those customers who wanted to see those movies, but to every other customer who likes to make decisions for himself. I would never patronize a place like that, even if the owner’s definition of “drivel” coincided perfectly with my own.

    Comment by Xrlq — October 1, 2006 @ 7:30 pm

  5. In a bigger market such as Fresno, he wouldn’t have only two screens. He wouldn’t have to take whichever two movies were on top of the studios’ list that week or else nothing. He could show The Illusionist instead, or something else he liked. Actually, I’m pretty curious as to why he didn’t show different movies–the implication is that for some reason he couldn’t. But regardless, he’s a schmuck for giving up some money rather than sell something he dislikes? I can’t get behind that.

    Comment by Anwyn — October 2, 2006 @ 12:32 am

  6. As a teenager I had to drive into a different state to see a movie.

    Uphill. Both ways. And we liked it.

    /Grumpy old man, but serious about the state thing

    I got the impression that Boardman was presented by some contractual difficulty from showing alternative fare–he had to run what the distributors sent him, or nothing.

    XRLQ, he could probably have packed the theater had he shown the Screech porno film instead, but that doesn’t mean it would have been the right thing to do with his theater even though it was economically the most rational.

    Comment by See-Dubya — October 2, 2006 @ 1:52 am

  7. Anwyn, I’d agree that not showing movies he doesn’t like wouldn’t make him a schmuck if running a cinema was some sort of hobby, as opposed to an alleged business. But business is about giving the customer what he wants, not peddling whatever it is you think a more cultured public would want. That’s why he’s a schmuck, and shouldn’t be in business – and but for the lack of a competitive market in Hoopeston, probably would not be.

    See-Dub, your point about porno is taken, but not for the reason you seem to think. Ordinary cinemas do not show porno movies, ever, and would lose big on their reputations if they tried. If this guy wanted to run a “family friendly” cinema that drew the line at R instead of X/NC, that would be different. His theater runs Rs all the time; just not the ones that he personally disdains. Screw him.

    Comment by Xrlq — October 2, 2006 @ 6:35 am

  8. The article says where he drew the line–“people vomiting on screen.” I’d editorially add “for no good reason,” as it appears clear to me that it was the stupidity and tawdriness he objects to, not just vomiting. So he drew the line someplace other than the MPAA rating system.

    But I said “giving up some money rather than sell something he dislikes” doesn’t make him a schmuck. You said “not showing movies he doesn’t like [makes him a schmuck because it’s a moneymaking business].” Difference there. I.E. he’s calculated what he’s likely to lose and is fine with it. He may have miscalculated, but it’s his risk to take. He’s a movie store owner who decided, when those two movies came up in the rotation, that his store doesn’t sell those movies. Would a magazine store owner who sells a goodly line of products but refused to stock US because it’s a tawdry celebrity gossip rag that probably prints an outright lie every now and then come under the same fire from you?

    All of that said, I will grant one of your points: The article said Greg is trying to sell the Lorraine. At this point it probably is more of a hobby than a business for him and he’s getting so disgusted with what he has to do to keep it running that he wants out.

    Comment by Anwyn — October 2, 2006 @ 7:48 am

  9. One angle on this loser’s story that is not being reported: what about the employees? Did they get paid for the time they were willing and able to work?

    Comment by Xrlq — October 2, 2006 @ 1:28 pm

  10. The manager was paid, the linked article says. It doesn’t mention the other employees.

    Comment by Anwyn — October 2, 2006 @ 1:36 pm

  11. Maybe they did play the movie and no one recognized the name.

    Comment by Allen — October 3, 2006 @ 11:15 am

  12. Just scrounging the net. His other employees were not paid as per the interview with Melissa Block on NPR. He said that he just thought they wouldn’t need the money because they were part time and that they would appreciate the time off.

    Just a note, Boardman could have kept the cinema open and shown something else instead. It would have cost a lot less money than Jackass to bring back some classic film that everyone in the community might enjoy. He’s certainly welcome to stand up for his beliefs and not show certain films – but closing down business and putting all his part time employees out of work for two weeks with little notice is not necessarily the best way to go about it.

    Of course the publicity generated from this may increase attendance.

    Comment by Mike — December 31, 2006 @ 7:04 pm

  13. I’ve been to the Lorraine Theatre. It would have been an embarassment to run that crap on it’s spectacular sound system and bright, clean picture screen.

    Comment by Jack West — March 19, 2007 @ 7:11 pm

  14. fyi jackass… If you woulda got the whole quote from me I said that there were plenty of other movies that could have been shown. i also stated that he could have shown an already ran film for a cheaper price. So for someone who wasnt even there take your opinion and shove it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by P.J. Clingenpeel — October 2, 2011 @ 11:00 am

  15. Hi P.J. A few points:

    1) Thanks for reminding all of us that if we assiduously google ourselves, we too can call a stranger a jackass five years later.

    2) You and other commenters seem awfully sure that Boardman could have showed another movie. Since you know so much about how the movie business works and are dead certain he must have had a choice about what movie to show but was just shutting down to be mean, why don’t you open your own theater? Since you clearly know how it works and all.

    3) I trust that you never, ever comment on news stories about anything, from the Iraq war to congressional debates to the school board meeting, since you “weren’t even there.”

    Comment by Anwyn — October 2, 2011 @ 11:48 am

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