Movie About Movie Theaters Offered Free to Movie Theaters

By  · Published on March 23rd, 2013

As you may know from our weekly Movie Houses of Worship feature, we love to celebrate cinemas and the act of seeing films on the big screen. Part of that column focuses on these favorite theaters’ repertory programming. Most of the businesses and non-profit organizations we showcase play classic films, some of them solely doing so. And that’s because so many of us like to see these oldies on the big screen and with fellow cinephiles ‐ even titles we own on Blu-ray and/or have seen a million times. We hate to see any of these cinemas close down (see tomorrow’s MHoW), and we love to see communities band together to save and re-open local theaters, both for the preservation of the history and the continued experiences that shall happen there.

Fans of the feature and hopefully other readers will be interested in a new documentary titled The Rep. It’s about those independent repertory houses and the struggle they deal with in order to keep the pastime of moviegoing alive. In addition to theater owners and patrons (mostly those of the Toronto Underground Cinema), the film features interviews with Kevin Smith, John Waters, George Romero and Edgar Wright. Following a world premiere last fall at the Austin Film Festival, The Rep is now ready for a theatrical release. And its distribution plan is quite uncommon: filmmaker Morgan White is offering the doc to any movie theater interested in booking it free of charge.

That’s not free to the audience, however, and it’d be interesting to see how many places take the risk of scheduling a movie that might sell fewer tickets than something else that could be shown in its place. And would a repertory house even want to screen a non-repertory film even if it’s about screening repertory films? I could see a lot of places holding a special one-night event but maybe not giving it a full week-long run. Getting a free booking is one thing, but running a film has costs outside of just the rental fee. Here’s White’s reasoning for giving his movie away: “I want to see these theatres survive. And so… [I’m] letting them keep 100% of the profits to put back in to their business. Maybe they could put the money in to programming an awesome rep flick, or put it towards upgrades to their theatre. What ever they see fit is A-Ok with me!”

Not having seen it, I can’t entirely advocate on The Rep’s behalf as necessary viewing, though I am interested. And if my local indie/rep theater decides to get it, I’ll certainly check it out. But then, I’m into theaters and documentaries.

According to the film’s website, the next screenings lined up are at the Winnipeg Cinematheque in late April. White asks that we movie fans tell our local theater we want to see The Rep. There’s no additional info or instructions, however. Just hope your theater knows what to do, especially with a movie they’ve never heard of, I guess.

Here’s a trailer for The Rep from last year:

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.