After several months since Willow Creek quietly concluded its second go around of the retros, and after meetings and discussions, the burning fan questions are finally being addressed: What’s the deal with the retros? What’s happening with them? Will they come back?
[For the duration of this blog I will be referring to Willow Creek in the first person, because as the Social Media Manager for the theatre, I was part of all discussions surrounding the retros.] The truth of the matter is that nobody knows what the future looks like. Our hope was that after the retro resurrection in October 2012, that it would’ve built enough steam and enough talk to keep going indefinitely. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. Even though we built up anticipation mid to late August 2012 with various video teasers and posters, the enthusiasm never seemed to reach the point of total euphoria; it never seemed to match the excitement from the original retro series [October 2009 to September 2011]. Even with the announcement that the retros would play at 11:30, instead of midnight, there was something uncertain in the air.
What were the issues? Part of the issue was consistency. Why do midnight movies work at places such as Uptown and Riverview? They’ve been doing them for years, without stopping, they keep going and going and going, no matter the turn-out, no matter what. Two months of preparation before the return was not enough time to rally up the fans.
Part of the issue is location. Being a theatre tucked away in Plymouth doesn’t work in our favor; and we’re not even in the heart of Plymouth. Everything in Plymouth closes around 9pm, and because of that, [sometimes] asking our fans to come all the way out to our theatre three hours after the neighborhood has gone to sleep was a challenge; especially in the winter.
Part of the issue is facebook. While we currently are nine ‘Likes’ away from 1,400, it’s a challenge to reach all of our fans. Any given post will average around 250 to 350 total views, and while that number is high, that doesn’t mean everyone will see it. Many times I would have to re-post the same thing over and over again, which only caused us to lose people.
Another issue was the movies. The first film we played in October, Scarface, was not our first choice -- hell, it was never on any retro list. Our fans rarely requested the film, but we had to play it due to movie theatre politics. That film over its two nights only saw ten total customers. Ten! That number is/was embarrassing, and being the Social Media Manager, I felt entirely responsible for the movie failing. The two other movies after Scarface did much better, The Shining and Galaxy Quest, and the last one, The Fugitive, didn’t do very well either -- however, we picked that film.
This second round was supposed to be the retro re-birth, but it came and went, and we scratched our heads. Why didn’t this perform better? Aside from some of the issues listed above, a major factor was the exclusion of Retro Greg. For those that aren’t familiar with who this is, all you need to know is that he was the person originally responsible for bringing the retros to Willow Creek.
Greg had a great following, and always opened the retros with a bang, with trivia, with news, with a sense of fun. Greg was unfortunately unable to be apart of retros 2.0, and not because he didn’t want to. I tried to figure out ways to bring him back, but the decision to start the films 30 minutes earlier at night when he had to work at his own theatre in Delano, MN, posed many problems. I know people were disappointed that Retro Greg wasn’t there, and many fans voiced their opinions. One woman stated, “I came all this way tonight to listen to Greg’s speech.” Greg was known for giving very exhilarating, voluptuous speeches. Why? Because the man is madly in love with movies.
So what does the future hold? It’s still very unclear. There have been some small talks about if they come back, they would only come back during the summer. Summer is the obvious choice, as it’s warmer out, and school is out. And if the retros do come back, we want to make sure they draw in large crowds. Large crowds not only for the sake of making a profit -- which the retros need, because it’s still expensive to show the movies -- but because movies are fun, and I want everyone to have a great time. To quote a retro fan, “I know I’m not speaking for myself when I say that movies are a piece of culture, and that celebrating culture is important.”
If the retros do return, what films would you like to see on the big screen?