Why is The Road not in my theaters?

I am in Bloomington, Indiana. I have been waiting literally for years to see The Road - and yet, it has not opened in theaters here. When I searched Google to try to find out when it was going to come out, all of the answer sites I saw said “November 25.” Well, that day has come and gone and The Road is still absent from the two local theaters here. Furthermore, I called both theaters and spoke to the managers, and they didn’t even KNOW when it was going to be in. They said, “at this point, we just don’t know when we’re going to get it.”

What the fuck is this shit? That piece of dogshit Twilight movie is showing on like 6 separate screens, but The Road isn’t even in the goddamn theater?

Has anyone else tried to see this film only to find that their theater wasn’t showing it - even after the official release date?

It’s in theaters in Chicago, so if you’re up for a road trip…

I just checked, and it is at several theaters in Kansas City, but all of them are larger multiplexes, a dozen screens or more. Have you visited IMDB’s Showtimes and Tickets section and put in your zip code? There may well be a showing, but I wasn’t able to find anything in a 50 mile radius of Bloomington.

You might check if there are some art house theaters around. They sometimes don’t report their showtimes to the big web sites, expecting you to look at their own web site.

I bitched about it in the other thread. for some reason it seems to have been released in an even more limited fashion then the standard limited release. I haven’t been able to find any info scheduling a wider release. I’m waiting till next weekend and if it doesn’t find its way into my local theaters I’ll be heading into Boston to catch it.

It’s not in Chattanooga, either. The closest theatre showing it is in Atlanta, over a hundred miles away. The book won a Pulitzer, it’s starring Viggo Mortensen, and McCarthy’s last adaptation won the fucking Oscar for Best Picture, but it only seems to be playing in cities of over a million people. It’s bullshit.

What the fuck?! Is there some way to protest this shit? Who do I send my angry, Hogg-quotation-filled letters to? The theater chains? The studio that made the movie?

I hate to put it this way, but dude, you’re in Bloomington, Indiana, square in the middle of the Midwest. I’m sure Bloomington is all progressive and such in comparison to the surrounding area, but it’s probably not high on the list for distributors who hope to make some kind of return on their investment, and it isn’t as if this is “the feel-good movie of this holiday season,” that is going to appeal to more than you and the five other people in the area who may go see it some time before Christmas. Most movies like this get fairly limited distribution, and what there is goes to the major markets first (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco) then around to the mid-sized quirky college towns and secondary big city markets, and finally to the tertiaries and thence to DVD (if it hasn’t been printed by then).

It sucks for everyone, especially the filmmakers who rely largely on word-of-mouth advertising (as this film does) for whom effective mass distribution represents the difference between breaking even and going bust on the profitably DVD sales market (primary distribution is a loss-leader which at best may break even with a high profile film), but for cinemas who have to balance thinning profit margins against filling seats, it just doesn’t make sense to give priority to a film like this when they can pack the crowds in to see another Jim Carrey shitfest. One of my favorite movies, and a great Christmas film, is Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a movie practically no one has ever heard of and received almost zero distribution outside of the Big Three, but which everyone I have introduced to has thought it a fantastic film.

Thank your stars at least for this; it’ll probably be on DVD by February or March, and you can watch it in the comfort and convenience of your own home, without some asshat with his iPhone glowing brightly in front of you, texting his friend on how bad the movie is.


Studios (with a few exceptions that are mostly TV adaptations and animated films) typically don’t make movies anymore, and heck, many of them don’t even own actual filming studios, or if they do, they’re used for more mundane purposes than main sets for feature pictures. Movies are made by production companies which may or may not receive some financial backing from a studio for pre-production and principal photography. Post-production costs are frequently absorbed by post-pro companies in exchange for points on the end, as it is really hard to budget for post-pro. Marketing and distribution costs generally come from the studio side, which also means that the studio may market a film in a completely different way and to a different audience than intended by the filmmakers. (See Sideways as an example of this.)

The cinema chains are just trying to make a buck, and frankly don’t give a fuck whether you enjoyed their selection of films or not. Given the kind of constraints they are under (many of them self-imposed as they’ve expanded and tried to modernize to compete with other chains, while at the same time cutting costs and corners), the only vote they look at is the one with a dead president’s face on it. They’re more than happy to fill cinema after cinema with utter dreck in order to show a profit this quarter. There are a few independent chains which market to the independent film crowd, like Landmark and Laemmle, but they’re as much at the mercy of distributors as you are.

The distributors are who you should direct your ire at, though again, they’re trying to make money in an increasingly unprofitable industry. Some distributors are joined at the hip with studios, but many are effectively independent, and it is a negotiation between studios and distributors as to how many prints get made and where they go with what priority. The cinemas are just the end user, and they’re lucky if they don’t just get an unmarked box with random reels that they have to splice together into a coherent film.

All of this should make direct-to-peer digital distribution completely appealing to the end consumer (even those who have a philosophical disagreement with digital formats), but of course, no one in the above loop wants that, as it will very rapidly winnow out the commercially and critically successful products from the vast bulk of crap, and quickly undermine the inflated price structure of both the cinematic and home distribution markets.


A movie like this demands to be watched on the big screen in a theater, at least the way I see it. I like watching some things at home but any epic adventure like this movie appears to be is going to be much more impressive to me in a theater, and I’m willing to ignore the downsides of movie-going. I’ve always liked going to see movies and I’m not of the new breed which is abandoning them completely in favor of home-theater.

It’s not playing in Indianapolis, Columbus, or even fucking Cincinnati! Is it ever going to come here, you think, or is the only way to see it to either go to a bigger city or wait for it to come out on DVD? There’s always the other option, which rhymes with “Lawrence” and a city in California, but the video quality wouldn’t really be good enough for the experience I want to have. I have really been excited about this film so I want to really enjoy watching it.

…'cause you’re not going to a drive-in…?

Interesting account. But wouldn’t Bloomington count as a mid-sized quirky college town? In which case you are saying the movie might eventually appear there? Or are you deeming Bloomington to be sub-mid-size. (I don’t know either the population of Bloomington or the definition of a “mid-sized” town.)

It was supposed to come out a while back and was delayed until November. Many times when movies are delayed it means the movie is not good.

It has a 71% on RottenTomatoes and a critic score of 90 on Metacritic, while the user score is 8.2 on Metacritic and 8.3 on IMDb.

The consensus seems to be it’s a good movie, and a pretty faithful adaptation of an amazing book.

Sometimes, not even Chicago. Some films get reviewed on “At The Movies” that never open in Chicago, and the only screening must have been for the film critics.

Luckily, this played in Chicago. For a week, if I recall.

Sadly, the Landmark in Chicago, the Century,took the title “Most Uncomfortable Theater in Chicago” when the Village finally closed. Terrible design, terrible seats, one theater that shakes constantly due to the health club above it…it takes a really exceptional film that is playing nowhere else to be me to that shit-hole.

I have access to one of the most technically advanced theaters in the world, the AMC Mainstreet. It features six 4K digital auditoriums, 11 channel sound and the best picture I’ve ever seen. They could show a wide range of films, they could dedicate one theater to art films without the costs of shipping and assembling prints. But they don’t. Nope, they’re showing Twilight.

It’s hardly showing anywhere. Be glad you’re not in Montana - you’d have to go to Seattle or Denver or Minneapolis to see it. I’ll bet there are some places that are 800 miles away from the closest showing.

I really don’t know what the problem is in getting this movie onto the screens. First, endless delays upon delays (wasn’t it originally meant to come out last year?), now this apparent semi-arthouse release, and whaddaya know, there isn’t even a bloody date set for it to come out in Germany, beyond a vague ‘probably 2010’. Is this being set up to bomb on purpose?

Yeah, I’d expect it to show up in Bloomington, and Madison, and Ann Arbor, and Austin, and all the other beacons of culture that are in located in the midst of cow pasture. It might even show in Dayton or Huntsville, especially if it wins any Oscar nods. But these just aren’t primary markets and so aren’t high on the list for distribution. It may be, too, that distributors or studio execs know that the movie will be squeezed out in a holiday season full of hacktastic but popular fare, and are doing the bare minimum to assure that the film has its best chances of getting an Oscar nod (and thus justifying wider distribution) rather than pouring a lot of funds into it now. It may also be some ego-mashing between studio execs (which appears to be what killed Kiss Kiss Bang Banb) rather than anything to do with the actual financials.

Not always. Often it just means that the studio simply doesn’t know how to market it, or to whom. This is not a particularly market-friendly film; it doesn’t have the gratuitous violence and nudity appeal to the 18-26 market, it doesn’t have a romance angle to bring in the chick-flick crowd, it’s not a bombastic ends-with-a-big-rousing-speech that gets the older folk; basically, this is is movie for people who read the novel and are curious to see how the hell someone can adapt Cormack McCarthy in the film medium. Adaptation was a brilliant film; it’s also nearly impossible to describe to someone at any length, much less in a 90 second teaser format, so it got basically no distribution.

I hear you; I love to go to the Arclight Hollywood, 'cause it is a very comfortable cinema with good ambience, a nice layout, and professional-grade projection and sound quality. But they fill the screens with a lot of crap, and only an occasional independent or festival showing. But hey, they need to justify their vig, and for a lot of people, that is crowd-pleasing pap that passes for entertainment…like Twilight or Transformers. On the other hand, occasionally they show something really great, like the festival showing of a restored print of Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm projection. That’s business for you.


I don’t know why everyone is getting so worked up. Isn’t this he standard M.O. for Oscar-bait films? Limited release in December or late November (to ensure Oscar consideration for 2009) and then wide release after the word of mouth and end-of-year best lists build up demand. Hell, it will probably get a second wide release after the Oscar nominations come out. Maybe a third wave if it wins a bunch.

This is just how the movie game is played. Just because it is not out NOW, doesn’t mean it’s never coming. If you want to see movies the instant they’re released, move to New York or L.A.

Bingo. Potential Oscar-bait movies like The Road are usually given a staggered release first into the major markets (e.g., New York and LA) to see what the initial critical and audience reaction is. If it’s generally positive (like it seems to be in this case), the film will be given a wider release within a few weeks. However, if the reaction is lukewarm at best, there’ll be no nationwide release and the film will go to DVD about two or three months later.

And, for the record, The Road has not yet opened in Spokane either.

San Antonio TX is the seventh largest city in the country with a population of around 1.5 million. The Road is showing on ONE screen in ONE fucking theater.

I’m just astonished that it isn’t even showing in Cincinnati. I think any city with a major-league baseball team would be “important” enough for this movie!