December 17, 2003
Return of the King Spreads Discord, Flames
ASSOCIATED PRESS – As the sun rises over the smoking wreckage of thousands of theater complexes, the wisdom of running every first-run movie on dozens of screens without a test screening is questioned.
It is unclear how, exactly, every audience was compelled to burn their theaters to the ground, but reports of the terribleness of the movie contine to pour in. “I knew it was going downhill when they had that Aragorn guy’s long lost evil twin show up, but after the third character got amnesia, that’s when I realized what had to be done. People just started to light things on fire, and I helped,” said one theater-goer. “I don’t know what happened,” he continued, “the copy I downloaded from the internet a few weeks ago didn’t have any of that in it.” The 18 Multiplex out on Vine lasted longer than most, due to the passion of Tom Winters, who kept the crowd in check: “I knew they were taking some liberties with the plot, but I tried to calm people down in my theater, despite the continued veiled references to Gandalf’s homosexuality. But when they showed that ‘It was all-just-a-dream ending, I just lost it. ‘Fuck it,’ I said, ‘Torch the place!.'”
The story is the same all over America.
In fact, nearly the only theaters that weren’t affected were small arthouse affairs and theaters so unpopular and outdated that they didn’t bother to run Return of the King. Speculations as to why New Line released such a craptacular film to audiences are running rampant, but one thing is clear; this was an intentional act. Reports are unclear as to how widespread the release was, but smoke is blotting out the sky of nearly every strip mall in America.
Some believe that New Line is preparing to monopolize the theater business itself and that this was just the first move in a massive campaign to render other theaters unprofitable. “Well, sure,” said former area theater owner Mitch Andrews, “You’ve got to look at the worldwide simultaneous release as a kind of catalyst. Before, a movie might hit a few thousand screens, but they could never have taken out all of them. This is first-strike capability we’re seeing here.”
The oversaturation of the movie theater market during the past decade has left many theaters in financial trouble. With theaters desperate for new revenue, the movie-going public has seen ticket prices soar nearly as high as those for popcorn, and has been greeted with ever-lengthening advertisements before each feature. Theaters have also been forced to cut costs in any way possible, including moving to imitation fake butter and, in some cases, charging for restroom use.
In the wake of this disaster, few independent theater owners will have the necessary funds to rebuild, leaving the industry ripe for an outside influence to gain substantial market share.
At time of publication, New Line Cinemas CEO Robert Shaye could not be reached for comment.