When one reviews movies, as I have for more years than I’d like to admit, you get lots of questions—and often pointed comments…
It almost never fails when I get introduced, I get the usual, "Aren’t you that guy that does movies on radio?"
Yes I am, and the German accident is a dead giveaway.
Just to clear the air, the accent is not fake. I AM a former refugee from the East Germany who immigrated to the United States LEGALLY. My home town is Leipzig.
So what is the most frequently asked question? Hard to say, but one of the more frequent ones is where I and fellow local critics view movies?
That’s changed considerably through the years.
When I first got started we saw a good number of them at private 35mm screening rooms. Mostly the Commonwealth Theatres screening room on Old Film Row at 215 West 18th Street in Kansas City and the Midwest Films screening room one floor below the Leawood Theatre at the Ranch Mart Shopping Center in Overland Park.
Today most movies are pre screened at regional theaters, many with recruited audiences for reaction—especially comedies which play much better with a large crowd. The biggest percentage of these showings are evening screenings with probably the # 1 theatre used by distributors being AMC’s Studio 30 Olathe.
After that it’s usually a tossup between AMC’s Town Center and AMC’s Mainstreet theaters. Every so often though the studios select Cinemark’s Merriam complex or Plaza location. Sometimes they even send us out of the way to the Northland for a screening at AMC’s Barrywoods. Thankfully not too often.
And yes, the studios reserve our seats so we don’t have to get to the theatres an hour before showtime. Nice perk.
For daytime screenings the most frequently used venues seem to be the Screenland Crossroads followed by the Mainstreet and Glenwood Arts. Daytime screenings are usually only for critics without an audience.
Following the screenings, studio reps grap us before we can duck out to get our takes on the film we’ve just seen.
We may even volunteer a quote which they then forward to the respective film company and which then could possibly show up in national ads.
Hello, Shawn Edwards!
So do I have a favorite screening theater? Well you can’t beat AMC’s Mainstreet. After all it’s got great digital projection, perfect seating and plenty of leg room. And for good measure you get the vibrating theater chairs which activate during action sequences.
They’re almost as good as dropping quarters into those old vibrating motel beds- at least that’s what Hearne tells me.