Steven Spielberg’s 2021 Disney-produced remake of West Side Story has garnered glowing audience and critical acclaim. Although it has had a less than stellar box-office performance (for many reasons not having to do with the film’s quality), it is up for several Oscar nominations. It would definitely be an audience favorite during The Naro’s annual big screen rotation of Academy Award candidates and winners, but alas, we are unable to present this film during this period.
A few years ago (pre-pandemic) Disney bought and took over Twentieth Century Fox studios. Shorty afterwards they required theaters to declare whether they wanted to be a “first-run” theater, which includes movies that may be weeks or months old, or a “repertory” theater showing both older classics, foreign and independent films. Since our programs are an eclectic mix of old and new films, we had no choice but to be registered with Disney as a repertory house. As a single-screen cinema, this designation also give us more flexibility to rotate several movies during the week, whereas being “first-run” usually forces us to show that one film exclusively at all times, possibly for weeks on end. (And yes, that still sometimes happens based on a particular film’s terms for exhibition.)
But in the case with Disney, we cannot show any of their current releases until they move over to their “classics” division, which could take 6-8 months or more. It is such as stupid rule- that is the only way to describe it given the current market climate for both distributors and exhibitors-but we must comply. Obviously we have complained, but to no avail so far.
Hopefully a national grass-roots effort by independent theaters will one day resolve this ridiculous situation. The fact is that there are very few Naro-type movie theaters that have survived that can help, especially after the pandemic.
As always, the patronage and community support of our audience for The Naro’s continued operation is appreciated beyond measure.