If New Films Were Treated Like New Plays in the 21st Century

Anthony J. Piccione

Imagine you walk into a movie theater one day. 

It’s classic movie week. 

Lots of movie theaters have them. Quite often, Turner Classic Movies – for example – hosts “TCM Presents” at certain movie theaters.

Some of these movies you might just be discovering for the first time, while others you might not have seen in awhile, but are dying to see again…or at least, you’re not sick of them enough to not want to see them again, just yet.

Next, I want you to imagine that these classic movies – with maybe a few exceptions – are all that’s playing in the nearby big movie theater that you attend, and that newer films are either part of a small minority of those shown in big movie theaters, or can only be seen in smaller, independent theaters.

Now I want you to imagine that this is how it is whenever you go to the movie theater each and every day, with many of the same classic movies being shown over and over and over again.

Not that there’s anything wrong with these classic movies, of course. Many of them we love, while a few others might simply be guilty pleasures. Nonetheless, for some of us, it’s hard not to get bored by this, eventually.

At some point, we will want to see something fresh and exciting.

That’s why not every week at the movie theater is classic movie week, and the vast majority of films shown there are new releases.

For many reasons, however, that does not seem to be the case in much of the American theatre community, where older shows – whether we’re talking about Broadway revivals or about community theaters that keep producing the same shows that they just saw someone else do – seem to be consistently dominant, with each new year bringing a relatively small number of new notable shows to receive their world premiere anywhere in the world that are culturally relevant enough to have been heard of by nearly everyone, with Hamilton being the big one for this past year, for example.

I don’t believe there is one specific reason for this, and in this particular column, I will not try to propose any one solution for making sure that other newer plays get more attention and more productions – and in more theaters across the world – in the future.

I simply thought this is something worth pointing out. There’s nothing wrong with loving the classics, either in theatre or in film. In my own free time, when I can’t find time to actually go see a new show or film, I love nothing more than looking back on video clips of some of my favorite classic shows or films.

Having said that, it doesn’t change the appetite that many audience members – myself included – often have for something different, every now and then. So when you keep seeing people attending movie theaters all the time while consistently not supporting their local theatre organization, I personally wouldn’t be surprised if a big reason was because of this never-ending “classic theatre series” that seems to keep going on in the theatre community, yet not in the film industry.

Just a little extra something for you to think about today…if it wasn’t already on your mind.

This column was written by Anthony J. Piccione: Student, playwright, actor, poet and blogger currently based in Connecticut. To learn more about Anthony and his work, please visit his personal blog at www.anthonyjpiccione.tumblr.com. Also, be sure to like him on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AnthonyJPiccione.OfficialPage), follow him on Twitter (@A_J_Piccione) and view his work on the New Play Exchange (www.newplayexchange.org/users/903/anthony-j-piccione).