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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Donald Trump rents movie theater for campaign screenings of "13 Hours"

Author Topic: Donald Trump rents movie theater for campaign screenings of "13 Hours"
Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 7046
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000

 - posted 01-15-2016 01:58 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Story = Trump has rented a screen at the Carmike in Urbandale, IO, to play the Michael Bay Benghazi movie, 13 Hours, and is giving away tickets to anybody who wants them.

The forum rules here are very clear - no discussion of politics. So I am absolutely not trying to start a debate on the events portrayed in the film or their debate as an issue in the Presidential election campaign.

I am, however, interested in people's thoughts on the movie exhibition industry becoming a part of the campaign like this. Last fall we rented one of our theaters for a Bernie Sanders fundraiser, which I thought was possibly sailing a little close to the wind, given our 501(c) status. But I presume that we would very happily have taken a rental from any of the others (schedule permitting), from either party, if they'd come to us, which so far none of them have, which I'm guessing puts us in the clear.

Would you take rental from, and/or play a movie linked to, a political candidate or organization whose message you knew to be unpopular among your main customer base? Would you do so knowing that it would be popular and/or make you serious money, even if you had problems with it personally? Do you or would you play political ads?

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Frank Cox
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1978
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011

 - posted 01-15-2016 02:27 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Doing something that will offend your customers is a counter-productive action.

Is this not as obvious as I assume it is?

Having said that, if this theatre is already playing Movie X and Joe Schmoe shows up with a chequebook and says "I'll buy everyone's ticket tonight", then that's a different thing than bringing in Movie X just for Joe Schmoe's outfit.

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Justin Hamaker
Film God

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From: Lakeport, CA USA
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 - posted 01-15-2016 03:49 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
To the best of my knowledge our theatres has never been used for any kind of a PUBLIC political forum. We have hosted meetings for local government issues - such as a recent forum on a proposed annexation.

We have played a number of movies with a very distinct political bias. This includes both uber liberal movies like Michael Moore 'documentaries' as well as ultra conservative fair like the 2016 movie. We have also played a variety of religious themed movies from various ends of the spectrum - including Bill Maher's Religioulous (?sp).

On controversial topics we have always taken the position of playing anything that will put butts in the seats. There have been a number of movies we've played that I personally objected to for political or religious reasons.

As for 13 Hours, I have heard the movie is absent any political message. I'm not sure how we would handle the idea of a political candidate buying out a show and handing out tickets. We would probably do so as long as it was not tied to any political message beyond "Paid for by X".

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Mike Blakesley
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From: Forsyth, Montana
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 - posted 01-15-2016 05:13 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Justin Hamaker

On controversial topics we have always taken the position of playing anything that will put butts in the seats.

Same here - we played "2016" but we also played the very liberal-leaning "An American President."

We do have a pretty conservative population here though so anything "red" themed will do better than something "blue" themed.

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

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From: Montgomery, AL
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 - posted 01-15-2016 05:38 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As a 501(c)(3) we have to be careful, but as long as we rent to everyone equally, and do not appear to be endorsing a candidate, it's not a problem.

So yes, we've rented the theatre for political events, and have had politicians here as speakers. In the long run, I think it helps us.

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James Westbrook
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From: Lubbock, Texas, Usa
Registered: Mar 2006

 - posted 01-15-2016 09:04 PM      Profile for James Westbrook   Email James Westbrook   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A competing multiplex in Lubbock has run the televised Republican debates on one of their screens and a local politician buys the ones who show up to see it a small bag of popcorn. I don't believe this was done on the last debate (as I didn't hear the radio spots on the station that also sponsors the event) probably because Star Wars, but it probably is lucrative for the owners. Tickets are free.

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James Wyrembelski
Film Handler

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From: Beaverton, MI, USA
Registered: Sep 2015

 - posted 01-15-2016 10:54 PM      Profile for James Wyrembelski   Email James Wyrembelski   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As long as people had their wallets open and ready to hand money over. I would never refuse service to anyone simply because I might disagree with their standpoint. They have every right. Anyone has the right to hire my long as its legal [Big Grin] As far as customers...I would treat it like anything else. If you don't want to see it, then don't come and see it.

An old boss in a restaurant I used to work at pandered a lot to customers fearing major backlash and boycott. It hurt him more in the long term doing so.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 01-16-2016 01:08 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks folks. I get a sense that the theater end of the movie industry is perhaps going to get dragged into this campaign quite significantly, as we've already had two high profile films that have been the subject of attention in relation to it (The Hateful Eight and the police boycott, and now Trump promoting 13 Hours to his supporters), and so I'm guessing that it'll be an ongoing issue as the year progresses.

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Stephen Furley
Film God

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From: Coulsdon, Croydon, England
Registered: May 2002

 - posted 01-24-2016 07:54 AM      Profile for Stephen Furley   Email Stephen Furley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Leo, what do you mean by
quote: Leo Enticknap
two high profile films that have been the subject of attention in relation to it
I find it difficult to imagine how 'The Hateful Eight' could be in any way related to the present political campaign.

In relation to Mr Trump, or any other candidate, hiring a cinema to show a film, I can see no objection to it. Is this just the screening of a film, or will there by any activity of a campaigning nature, handing out leaflets, speaking to the audience about the campaign, or screening a video featuring Mr Trump for example. What is the film, is it a normal film which happens to support similar policies to Mr. Trump, or is it something which was produced by or for him? I think this should be made clear in any publicity for the screening, Something along the lines of ''The Donald J Trump presidential campaign presents ...' Would be suitable, I think.

I can't really see how this is different to a political campaign renting billboard space for example. Religious groups have rented theatres for their events, and the political left in particular long ago used film to promote its policies. I see little difference between that and the Trump campaign hiring a cinema for a screening.

What is shown during a private hire of a cinema is not the business of the cinema, as long as they're not showing child pornography or terrorist recruiting films, or something similar. For a political candidate to screen a film seems perfectly legitimate to me.

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Scott Norwood
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From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
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 - posted 01-24-2016 01:23 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think that the concern here is that the viewpoint of the politician who rents the theatre may be taken by the public to be the same as the viewpoint of the theatre's owners and/or management, even though it is just a rental.

For those who rent to all groups equally, would you really want the public to associate your theatre with a political group with generally offensive views (extreme racism, for example)? Obviously, this should not imply endorsement by the theatre, but I can see where patrons might mis-interpret the action.

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David Buckley
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Oxford, N. Canterbury, New Zealand
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 - posted 01-24-2016 03:26 PM      Profile for David Buckley   Author's Homepage   Email David Buckley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Not having been aware of this movie, I headed to Wikipedia for information, and must confess, had a thorough chortle at the section "Partisan Marketing and Box Office Implications".

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 7046
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000

 - posted 01-24-2016 10:29 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In answer to Stephen's questions:

Hateful Eight - Shortly before the release, Tarantino made a speech in support of the "Black Lives Matter" movement, in which he attacked the police. In response to this, at least one police representative organization issued a call for the public to boycott the film.

13 Hours - Donald Trump has appropriated the movie in order to draw attention to Hillary Clinton's role in the event it portrays. Whether the filmmakers themselves had any intention of going there or not is a whole other debate, but Trump certainly is, and is renting cinemas in order to do it.

My point was simply that we've now seen two instances in recent weeks of the cinema exhibition industry being dragged into frontline politics, something which (with the exception of censorship rows around individual films) hardly ever happens anymore.

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