This past season at the Pickwick Theatre we averaged nearly 400 patrons a month. We opened last September with The Searchers, and we ended in May with You Only Live Twice. Opening Night and Closing Night are always big events in town, but what about the other seven shows in-between? Regardless of numbers, every show is a success in the sense that there are always patrons who come up to me after the movie saying they had never seen the film before. Sometimes these are younger fans who came away with a new appreciation of the movie, or sometimes these are older people who were impressed with a film they normally might not have watched, as was the case with the Bruce Lee screening. The most rewarding film of the series was The Searchers. Not only did we honor the film’s 60th anniversary, but we had a star from that film, Lana Wood, with us in Park Ridge. That’s not going to happen every day. But in terms of audience turn-out, there were some surprises.
The biggest success of the entire program was our April screening of Singin’ in the Rain. We had nearly 700 in attendance. Given the high demand, you can be certain we will return to the musical next season.
Our second-biggest hit was our February screening of Vertigo, which brought in 550 patrons. Once again, we will call upon the Master of Suspense when Season 5 kicks off. You can never go wrong with Hitchcock; his films are always a delight to see on the big screen.
Our Halloween show did well, but we had less than two dozen kids for our costume contest, so we ended up giving all the participants two treat bags that night. Since we are planning on having a special guest for Halloween ’17, we’ll be skipping the “Parade of Ghouls” altogether this year.
Besides the films that we know will bring in big crowds, we try to work in some “experiments” from other genres. Unfortunately, the lowest-attended film in the entire program was Enter the Dragon. That was most likely our first and last excursion into the martial arts genre. We were hoping to attract the cult film audience as well as college students, but neither came out to any great extent. We got by only because of our loyal regulars who were there every month regardless of what was on the marquee. So unless Chuck Norris wants to visit us, don’t expect to see The Way of the Dragon any time soon.
Spartacus had just over 200 patrons in December. This was the second year in a row when we did “centennial” celebrations of particular stars, and neither one was a big hit. Next season we will simply return to the “Christmas movie” in December… regardless of who turns (or turned) 100 years old!
Once Upon a Time in the West did slightly better than Spartacus, but we had hoped to get 600-700 fans for what we believe was one of the outstanding films in the entire series. Those who did attend raved about the film, but regrettably, many in Park Ridge did not come out. The film has a lofty reputation as one of the great works of cinema, but apparently not many in our community were aware of that fact. Regardless, seeing the Sergio Leone film on the big screen was one of the highlights of the entire series. We had great success with the spaghetti Western genre the previous season with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, so this is a genre we could return to at some point in the years to come. Unfortunately, it might take a guest like filmmaker Quentin Tarantino to help attract the kinds of crowds we feel these films deserve.
We are working on some spectacular events for the 2017-2018 year. We hope to continue to build upon what we started back in 2013 with the Pickwick Theatre Classic Film Series. Some of the films will be deliberate crowd-pleasers while others will have a personal resonance for me, including my favorite movie of all-time.
We’ll see you mid-September!
Your Program Host,