Who decides which movies are going to the cinema?

I ask this question because recently when I was at http://www.imdb.com I looked up some actors and found that some of the movies they have recently been in I have never heard of. Bruce Willis has been in a couple of movies lately that haven’t even made it to the big screen.

I just assumed that when a high profile actor/actress is in a movie, then it will definitely make it to the cinemas.

What’s the story? Why are some movies not shown?

Also, who pays for the previews you see before a movie. The cinema, in an attempt to draw you back to see the movie, or the movie makers?

First, the previews are paid for by the studio. It’s just more advertising, like what you see on TV. The movie theater doesn’t really care what you see, just that you see something.

Second, Bruce Willis has been in some really crappy movies. I think “Breakfast of Champions” got an F in Entertainment Weekly, and the “Story of Us” was just listed as worst movie of the year. So a movie like that might come out in a few urban locations, not do any business, and go right away. Or it might even open everywhere, and disappear the next week, and if you aren’t paying attention you miss it. So I guess my answer is, a lot of them are shown, they just might not be shown near you, or shown for a long enough time for you to be aware of it.

Which movies would that be exactly? The only one that hasn’t appeared theatrically in the last decade was a documentary short (which would automatically preclude it from distribution). If you don’t live in a large city, this may account for why some films escaped your attention.

To answer your OP question: The answer is almost always the studio, and the reason is almost always because they don’t think the movie will make money. This used to be a big problem in the past because that meant an asset in which they invested quite a bit of $$$ was just sitting on the shelf. With the advent of video, however, they’ve got an easy-out. Preview the film in front of test audiences, get a reaction from a specific demographic, and if it doesn’t look good, send it straight to Blockbuster (better that than spending tons of money on marketing, distribution, and print copies if you think the film’ll tank).

Again, always the studio. The exhibitors are open to the idea because the idea of 200-500 people using the concession stand without being counted as paying customers automatically raises the theatre’s “per head” (concession revenue/total attendance)–possibly the most important single financial figure a theatre tracks.