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The Mysterious Art of Film Programming

07 Dec 2021

When screenwriter William Goldman stated “Nobody knows anything” he was urging writers to stand by their ideas, that you can never predict what will be a hit. Here at New Park Cinema we have a fair idea of what will be successful and popular with our audience but we also have a lot of blind spots. Every season there is a surprise hit we never saw coming; a film that we could have screened more – a missed opportunity.

This season we had faith in ‘Mothering Sunday’ and ‘The Colour Room’ which has proved correct. ‘House of Gucci’ is a couple of weeks away but will it justify our decision to screen it twelve times? ‘Becoming Cousteau’ is selling well and may have evaded our hit detector. Another documentary that defied expectations in the spring was ‘The Truffle Hunters’. Who knew that 84 minutes of mischievous old Italian men and their wonderful dogs would sell out?

One of our first films after re-opening was ‘Love Sarah’ a gentle drama centred around a cake shop. Middling reviews and a lack of star power would suggest meagre numbers but no, audiences lapped it up. ‘Dream Horse’ and ‘The Secret Garden’ exceeded expectations. A surprise hit is just that – a surprise. There seems to be no correlation between reviews, stars, director or even subject matter that indicate potential full houses. Perhaps the unmeasurable ‘word of mouth’ is the catalyst. As for next season I would have a flutter on ‘Boiling Point’, a gripping one-take film set in a restaurant kitchen.

Richard Warburton