Kevin Smith’s Smodcast Cinemas is Struggling

In 2022, Kevin Smith and some friends bought Atlantic Cinemas, a movie theater in Atlantic Highlands near Smith’s hometown of Red Bank, New Jersey. The idea was to preserve a treasure of his youth, and since rechristening it Smodcastle Cinemas, Smith has played classic movies – along with some of his own, of course – and staged many special events with various celebrities. George RR Martin, the Russo Brothers, and James Gunn have all made appearances, for example. But now comes news that Smodcastle Cinemas is in some financial trouble, barely keeping itself afloat, with Smith hosting an auction of various memorabilia from his films yesterday, which netted $37,000 for the theater.

What’s interesting – though it shouldn’t be surprising – is the reason for Smodcastle Cinemas’ dire straits. According to Smith, who spoke to about the theater’s financial troubles, the older film screenings and celebrity events do quite well; it’s the day-to-day theater offerings that are struggling to fill seats. In other words, it’s the same problem every movie theater is having: nobody wants to see the modern garbage. Of course, Smith does what everyone in Hollywood and the entertainment media have been doing and blames COVID for the downturn in attendance:

“Theatrical distribution is in the toilet… We’re selling stuff to stay alive until May… Brand new movies struggle at our box office… Post-COVID, the box office has yet to fully recover… Barbenheimer helped but it’s our premium shows with guest stars (Jason Lee, Joey Lauren Adams, the Russo Brothers, Justin Long) that pay the bills.”

I’m rooting for Smith and Smodcastle, but come on, he has to see the flaw in his reasoning here. Does he believe people think COVID is somehow made inert by excessive pink and feigned atomic explosions? Do celebrity guests offer immunity from an airborne virus? Or is it possible that people don’t want to see most of the movies Hollywood is offering nowadays? Barbie and Oppenheimer got people out because they were films that attracted an audience. Older movies do that as well, as do Smith’s events. Here’s an example: look at some of the older films Smith has lined up for this month at Smodcastle Cinemas; three classics and a Clerks marathon with a Kevin Smith Q&A. Now, look at what’s currently playing: a needless prequel to a beloved film, a cartoon about birds, and a drama about a rowing team that looks like a snooze. Would any of them bring you out to the movies like The Thing, Spaceballs, or Batman Returns? And keep in mind that Maestro, which looks like the best of the modern bunch (although it also looks like a thousand other biopics), is also streaming on Netflix. COVID is not the problem here, and I believe Smith knows this; say what you want about him as an artist or personality, but he’s not a stupid man. But he also knows what the Tinseltown party line is, so COVID will take the blame while Hollywood continues to eat itself.

Comments (2)

January 7, 2024 at 9:11 pm

This doesn’t surprise me much at all. The overwhelming majority of new release movies seem to be complete garbage, but there are couple of gems in the batch…like the new Godzilla movie. I will say that I love seeing the classic movies in the theater for stuff like that Fathom events and I wish that the theaters did them more frequently.

    January 9, 2024 at 4:00 pm

    Absolutely. I live close to an Alamo Drafthouse, and they’re always playing older movies. Before that, I used to go to arthouse theaters in Manhattan that showed classics on the weekend. I’ve seen some greats on the big screen that way, and it’s always a terrific experience because the audience is made up of real movie fans.

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