|By Allan Webb||Prev | Next|
The big hit in the U.S. was The Blair Witch Project, which in my opinion was a complete rip-off. It opened okay but died very fast. I was pleased to see it go after three weeks.
Pokemon was a big matinee film for that time of the year but Schwarzennegger's End of Days was a bomb.
Christmas and the New Year (2000), once again, was not all that strong and February and March were quiet months, establishing a pattern that had emerged over the past few years that at the beginning of the year, due to school expenses and tax payments, things were pretty quiet. There seems to be a lack of strong product after the holidays which exhaust all of the big films.
Every now and then something comes along that works for some reason or another. We were asked to put on a premiere for the Altrusa Club and Mark Croft at Hoyts recommended October Sky. I arranged to have a preview and a small group of us, as well as two Altrusa members, came along to see it. It really and truly did something to me. My heart was pounding and I was crying with joy. It was absolutely wonderful and it had affected everyone else in the same way. It became one of my most favourite films and I believe I have seen over 10,000 films at cinemas in my lifetime. After the Premiere, the reviewer for the local paper recommended it to the Principal of the College and it was arranged that every pupil should see it in three days. We had to arrange for another print and screened it simultaneously in the two largest theatres. I took out a couple of advertisements in the public notices columns in the local paper, in the form of a letter to Mark telling him of my reaction. I decided against his advice to put it on for a few odd sessions where I had a gap before the April School Holidays. It was in the small theatre and we turned away a lot of people the first day. I put it into the middle theatre for the remaining three sessions of that week and they were all just on full. I squeezed it to the 4pm slot (the grave-yard shift!) for the holidays, which was the only place left to put it and it did well every day and played after the holidays. Little did I expect it to continue in to the next school holidays, but it did and ended up being a terrific winner and all at a film hire of 25%. All in all it ran for over four months. The film did not work at any other theatre, anywhere else in the world. There was no trailer or printing for it either. Those school holidays were excellent with Stuart Little for the children and Erin Brockovich for the adults.
It was at this time that Cinema 2 had its floor revamped and changed from a raked floor to a stepped floor with the same seating as Cinema 1, thus improving the sightlines.
In Cinema 1, the old curtains which made up the proscenium were removed and a frame was erected and covered with hardboard, then covered with royal blue carpet and floodlit in blue. Some of the lighting was changed around to provide a wonderful overall effect. I had two more of the wall light fittings from the Cameo in Grey Lynn spare, so placed these on the blue carper at the sides of the proscenium. The two large chandeliers that were installed in the 1970/71 alterations but taken down since, were rehung. After removing the large ones, two small original chandeliers were hung in their place and these are now at the front of the Theatre.
At the end of this year, Dolby Digital sound was installed in Cinema 1 and Cinema 2 had the SR cards from Cinema 1 placed in the processor.
Business held well until the next school holidays which were about half that of the preceding ones.
Gladiator marched along very sturdily in July and gave us a lift for that time of the year.
The September holidays were fairly quiet.
I was asked to attend the Chamber of Commerce Business Awards although I had no idea why. As it was held one evening during the school holidays, it was difficult for me to attend but the two people who were organizing the event were persistent and they said that I should try to be there. I was not a member of that organization and was more than surprised and humbled to find that the last award to be presented that evening was an inaugural and special one (and has not been repeated again since) and was presented to me. It was a Certificate of Commendation for Outstanding Contribution to the Community. The Te Awamutu Courier on Tuesday July 18, 2000, mentioned this on the front page under “Other Category Winners: Allan Webb of Regent 3 Cinema (Outstanding contribution to the Community – a special award)”. In the center spread of the same paper there was a picture of myself with this caption: “New Award. Outstanding contribution to the community. For committing to the community and passion for his industry in a changing environment.” For this, I felt great gratitude.
Pre-Christmas was extremely slow. This year the Olympic Games affected the level of business throughout the world and we were no exception. From the Games and until the end of the year, the theatre performed poorly and things did not appear as though they would pick up again. Each time there have been the Olympic or Commonwealth Games the Theatre is affected badly. Events like the America's Cup and the big Rugby and Crickets matches devastate our business as never before. Since the TAB has been taking bets on all of these games the interest in them has become more intense.