The Globe’s gone indie: Where to go from here

Image taken from the Calgary Herald article

Photo via the Calgary Herald, used without permission, but hopefully they won’t mind too much

This is sort-of an addendum to the film piece I wrote in Fast Forward the other week. When I wrote that, the state of the Globe was very much up in the air–in fact, I had it on good word that they were about to announce their closure–but fortunately they’ve worked out a way to keep the theatre open, albeit without Landmark’s support.

That change is bound to provide some challenges–I’m sure the buying power of a national chain is at least some help when the Globe is booking its films–but hopefully that doesn’t provide too many obstacles. At least the lack of the Landmark branding isn’t going to hurt the public perception of the theatre, given how many Calgarians didn’t even realize it was a part of a chain. I have never heard anyone refer to the theatre as anything but The Globe, so on that front, people might not even notice the change.

But here’s the thing: They should notice it, and the theatre should make sure that they notice it. This is now an absolutely ideal time for The Globe to try to get more buy-in from the public, and I don’t mean that in some guilt-inducing “look how close Calgary came to losing yet another theatre” way. I know that the folks behind the scenes at the Globe are eager to work with local film fests and groups to provide the best experience possible (and that they’ve already been pushing at the boundaries of what Landmark allows to help accommodate things like CUFF’s liquor licence); now’s the time to really embrace that community spirit.

In my view, the first step should be a major sprucing up of the theatre. It’s a great space, but there’s only so much you can do when you’re running on a shoestring and I’m sure the owners wouldn’t disagree that it’s gotten a little worse for wear over the years. That’s where the community involvement comes in: putting a campaign up on Indiegogo or the new InvestYYC platform would be a fantastic way to both raise some money to make that revamp possible and to create awareness that The Globe is now more of a Calgary theatre than ever. Make sure to give people a reason to invest, too–I saw an Indiegogo campaign for a Vancouver restaurant recently where all the money pledged gets you gift cards for an equivalent amount once the restaurant opens. That might be excessive, but saying that a $50 donation gets you two movie tickets in addition to whatever other incentives they come up with would make sure that people come in to see where their money went.

The other thing I’d love to see the Globe move towards is embracing more of a repertory model. It’s something that the Plaza has been trying over the years (and events there like the recent Jurassic Park Beach Party definitely bode well, although I unfortunately missed it), but with two screens, it’s less risky of a move. You can book the first-run art-house movie you wanted to and still throw on a Douglas Sirk melodrama for the classic cinephiles. It’ll take a while to find the balance–and it may turn out I’m totally wrong, and that’s not what the public wants at all–but taking the time to figure out what people in Calgary actually want their theatre to be is going to be a major part of making The Globe work as a truly indie theatre.

If I were them, I’d be keeping a close eye on the experiments that have been going on within the film community. The Calgary Underground Film Fest (which, full disclosure, I’m on the board of) has had some great success lately pairing meals with movies in more offbeat venues, with cannibal movies and extra-meaty menu items at the Oak Tree in Kensington, and more recently a sushi-horror double feature at Costellos, and it’s always trying to find ways to deliver new film experiences. The Cinematheque has been trying out different venues, with a recent screening at the Glenbow. The Plaza’s been doing more event screenings. GIRAF has its Log Drivers Waltz. Each one of those (and plenty more events, too) have lessons to teach about what gets people interested, what works, and what doesn’t.

Honestly, I’m excited to see what the Globe does now that there’s no leash. I’m sure they have ideas, and I’m also sure that others in the community have their own thoughts. But if this switch is handled right, it really could be great for Calgary’s film scene.

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