COLUMN: Shooting for awesome

If this film is entertainment, and it certainly is, in an undeniably edge-of-your-seat way, it’s also a discussion about society.

“The second Hunger Games is coming to the Civic?” she said, eyes lighting up. “The first one was awesome.”

“Not only that, it’s right on the break. At midnight,” said her friend. School was out, and they were leaning across the café table. “You wanna go?”

You’d be forgiven for assuming these were a couple of LVR students talking about The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, premiering across Canada on Friday, November 22 and at the Nelson Civic Theatre the second the clock strikes midnight on the Thursday/Friday cusp.

In fact, the speakers were closer to 60 than 16: my friend and fellow Civic volunteer Margaret — on a break from the clay studio at Kootenay School of the Arts — and I were gabbing over our weekly coffee at Oso. Which goes to show you that good movies are for all ages, and you can’t make assumptions.

Nevertheless, The Hunger Games movies are clearly marketed at the teen crowd as opposed to fossils like me and Margaret (sorry, Margaret). Based on the YA novel by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games I (2012) was a massive box office success, grossing over $691 million worldwide. Just for fun, the Civic will show the Hunger Games at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, a nice recap before Catching Fire.

The Hunger Games story combines elements of the past — think gladiators — and present — think reality tv — in a dystopian future in which citizens of a totalitarian nation watch televised “games,” a strange and brutal sport with a deadly outcome.

If this film is entertainment, and it certainly is, in an undeniably edge-of-your-seat way, it’s also a discussion about society and human nature.

Our smart, savvy teens are also thinkers, which is why movies like this are so popular. The Civic wants to be a place for teens, with The Hunger Games one of many great flicks we’ll show that speak to teen sensibility. Non-teens can go as well, of course, if we promise to behave ourselves and not embarrass anyone.

Getting Catching Fire (The Hunger Games II) on the break — immediately upon release — and running for one week is a coup for the Civic thanks largely to the advocacy of our Toronto theatre booker Mark Satok.

For buzz films such as Catching Fire, distributors are usually unbendable about run-length, and a film such as this would normally have to run two weeks with nothing else shown, a bit too much of a good thing for a town this size.

That’s why most new-release films you’ll see at the Civic screen a few weeks late. By showing late first-run films we can take advantage of relaxed distribution rules and better respond to the eclectic tastes of Nelson movie-lovers.

For now, this creative approach is working, with occasional frustrations when a distributor changes the rules at the last minute based on box office spikes.

Once we have three screens, variety and choice will be ours — and yours. Besides film variety, additional theatre space means more live theatre, presentations, workshops, discussion forums, stand-up comedy, or even sweet-16 birthday parties. Hunger Games III anyone?

There is tremendous work to be done to get there, not the least of which is major fundraising, but our Request for Proposals from architectural firms is out and our fundraising committee continues to attract Nelson’s foremost movers-and-shakers.

The success of the digital conversion campaign, more than $180,000 in two months, tells us Nelson can do anything it puts its mind to.

Meanwhile, we’ll keep creatively programming for 16s, 60s, and everyone else, and doing our very best to be awesome.

Anne DeGrace is the past president of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society. Large Popcorn, Extra Butter runs every two weeks.  If you have a Civic Theatre memory to share please email anne@civictheatre.ca. Find out about movies and more: go to civictheatre.ca.