Taking the "art" out at Keystone

June 25, 2008
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I've got a pretty broad definition of art. And a pretty broad definition of art films.

But "Get Smart"? "You Don't Mess with the Zohan"? "Indiana Jones"? "The Happening"? "Sex in the City"?

Such is the lineup at Landmark's Keystone Art Cinema, who's website still claims that it "present a wide array of movies, from independent and foreign language films to documentaries, restored classics and non-traditional studio fare."

Admittedly, art films are a tough sell--especially in the summer (See Philadelphia's take on the problem here). But here's hoping this the relationship between Keystone Arts and mainstream Hollywood is just a summer fling and not a long-term relationship.

Your thoughts?
  • I hope they don't go the way of mainstream. There are so few places to see good films. Mostly I end up Netflixing them. I would like it if they did have a classics series. I would go to that all the time, but I've never been aware of that kind of line-up there.
  • Lou, I know exactly what you're talking about. I logged onto MoviePhone.com last week, hoping that the Indie film Bigger, Stronger, Faster was playing at Keystone Arts. I saw Little Miss Sunshine and No Country for Old Men there last year, so I know that it's a great place to catch a good Indie flick. I was shocked (and saddened) when I saw that not only was my film NOT being screened, but it was being replaced by all of the movies that you named above. I hope this isn't a sign of things to come for the theater. Surely the City of Indianapolis can support at least one decent Indie film house, can't it?
  • Have to agree. With so many other theaters screening these movies--including Kerasote where you can see them for $5--it's sad to see Landmark doing this.
  • I don't feel like this is permanent. They tend to go through cycles and show popular non-indie films when new releases are slow to come out.....
  • I'm with Firewoman: I'd love to see a classics series there. Landmark is a wonderful place for adults and teens who can act mature and keep their cell phones off to see a thoughtful movie. We can see Indiana Jones anywhere. I feel old sometimes, but I'm finding it tough to adjust to a world where it's OK to have an audible conversation or take a call in a movie theater.
  • I have been in communication with Lisa Bunnell, VP Film, Landmark Theatres on this very topic and she has assured me that this is a temporary situation due to a seasonal lull in independent/arthouse fare. Independent film distributors are not in the best financial situation lately, so product is slower in getting to a third tier market such as Indianapolis. I grilled her hard on this topic and she was forthcoming and quick to respond to my concerns. The Keystone Arts Theatre still needs to make money and showing the mainstream films during the summer gives the theatre money to stay in business until more lucrative independent films are available.

    She provided a list of films coming in the next few months:
    6/27 - Reprise (Miramax)
    7/2 - Standard Operating Procedure (SPC)
    7/11 - The Wackness (SPC)
    7/18- Flight of the Red Balloon (IFC)
    7/25 - Savage Grace (IFC)
    8/8 - American Teen (Vantage)
    8/15 - Man on Wire (Magnolia)
    8/22 - The Last Mistress (IFC)
    8/29 - Hamlet 2 (Vantage)
    9/ 5 - Frozen River (SPC)
    9/12 - Burn After Reading (Focus)

    I hope she lives up to her word and gets Keystone Arts back to its independent/art house roots. In the meantime, they still have to best popcorn in town, so if you feel the need to see a mainstream film, go there and get the yummy popcorn with flavored popcorn salts. Delicious! (no, I don't work there, I am just a movie-lovin', popcorn-eatin' girl). My husband, son, and I did see Indiana Jones there and it was a pleasant experience due to the more mature crowd (including some kids).

    If you wish to write Lisa Bunnell yourself with some of your good suggestions, like the classic film series idea, her email is: LisaB@landmarktheatres.com
  • Just to be clear, I am not advocating the continued screening of mainstream films at the Keystone Arts theatre, just reporting what I have heard. I am hoping strong fare comes back to the theatre soon so I have something worthwhile to see. After reading the article referred to in this blog, I am hoping Ms. Bunnell gives films longer than 1 weekend to garner viewers. She did state that Mongol will probably hold its own at the theatre and 'The Visitor' was definitely worth seeing. Sometimes I think these large theatre chains have the bottom line too much at the forefront of their minds whereas independent theatres have more opportunity to be flexible. That being said, it looks like Key Cinemas on the south side is struggling to bring in movies - they're 'coming soon' section is very sparse. Maybe you all need to venture down to the south side and support their owner who really is running an independent theatre.
  • I have noticed this too and it is why I haven't gone to Landmark as much as I usually do. They usually always had a mainstream movie in there, but usually it was in better taste. Seeing Grindhouse at Landmark was one of the best theatre experiences I've had. Yet to see You Don't Mess With the Zohan or Hancock is just a bit depressing. Landmark has proven to be a nice haven and a reminder that there are true film fans in the area. I was at a full screening for Volver, the latest Pedro Almodovar film. Everyone responded wonderfully. The audience laughed at the right moments and responded well to the dramatic ones. I hope I can have experiences like that again soon in the theatre.
  • The lack of true indie films at Landmark is exactly why I support Key Cinemas on the southside.

  • Right on, Lou! Just because there's a lull doesn't mean you can't be creative. Remember how the old art house in Castleton would put on film festivals (Jack Nickleson, Alfred Hitchcock, etc.). There's a lot of stuff I've been throwing on my Netflix queue that I've never seen before and should (...Cuckoo's Nest, The Great Escape, Butch Cassidy..., etc.) that I'd really love to see on the big screen. Seeing Lawrence of Arabia at the IMAX a couple of years ago was tremendous.

    While I'm frustrated at how long it takes the pride of Sundance to reach our fair shores, if at all (take the movie Brick, for example), there's no reason for an art house to sell out. I can see the blockbusters anywhere.
  • I'm gonna be the voice of dissent here and say mainstream summer films at Keystone Art Cinema is good thing. Summer is the season for blockbusters and this summer has been especially good... and The Dark Knight hasn't even dropped yet.
    Why shouldn't we have the opportunity to see these films in a more adult venue? I saw 'Indy 4' at Kerasotes and lord knows having some alcohol available might have helped that one.
  • Maybe the closing of the Clearwater movie house and the opening of Castleton has altered the mainstream moviegoing landscape to the point that Landmark feels it can capture a niche market if it shows mainstream films.

    Take me, for example: I used to go to Clearwater all the time for first-run movies but since the move to Castleton, it's too far for me considering the high gas prices, the increased cost of seeing films and, of course, Hassle-ton itself. But I might consider the Keystone Art Cinema for a first-run mainstream movie because I do like the venue better than Glendale, which is actually the closest cinema house to me.

    I know that Landmark has to make money somewhere else in order to keep showing the less-lucrative art films, which is primarily why I go to Keystone. But it still galls me that when I am in the mood for an art film, Keystone has cut short the run for the one I want to see in order to show Get Smart. They should at least keep to the better mainstream films, not the junk.
  • I'm so glad that this is a temporary thing. I was just commenting to co-workers yesterday how frustrated I was with the situation. Thanks for the info Nancy; I can't wait to see Savage Grace!
  • Glad you brought it up, Lou. Having enjoyed a selection of thoroughly
    Indie Landmark theaters while living in Denver, I was a bit worried we
    were Hoosierfying the one here. Relieved to hear the situation is temporary.

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