Citing “the cost of film rentals and insurance” and “really low” attendance, Mike Reid, director of the Open Cities Film Society, announced that the organization was discontinuing its New York City Film Series at Davenport’s Figge Art Museum, nine weeks and eight films ahead of schedule.
The final movie in the series was shown October 9.
The decision of the Open Cities’ board of directors, which was made on October 5, also meant the cancellation of the group’s planned Southern Film Series, which was to screen 12 titles at the Figge between January 8 and April 16.
Reid said that the cost of individual rentals ran at “about $225 to $250 per 35-millimeter film,” and although he admitted that “that doesn’t sound like much,” the total cost of a dozen prints for the September through December screenings was deemed unfeasible considering audience turnout for the Sunday-afternoon series’ first three weeks. (Rental expenses were covered solely by Open Cities, although the Figge, said Reid, provided the necessary space and equipment, including a new 35-millimeter projector.)
With an admission price of $6, the movies in the New York City Film Series would have had to lure roughly 40 people per film for Open Cities to break even.
It didn’t happen.
Reid said only 20 people attended the series’ September 18 debut presentation, Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence, and turnout for the two Woody Allen films that followed indicated that it’s just as tough to get audiences to Allen’s works at a museum as it is at a multiplex: 15 people came out to see Hannah & Her Sisters on October 2 – “and that was with some stragglers coming in late,” said Reid – and a mere five attended the September 25 showing of Allen’s Radio Days. Alfred Hitchock’s Saboteur – the series’ final presentation – drew 15 people.
The Open Cities director said he didn’t know how to account for the seemingly minimal interest generated by the series. “Whether it’s people just not coming out or it’s the weather, I don’t know,” Reid said.
He did, however, make clear that the “hard and fast” decision for ending the series prematurely was made solely by Open Cities and not the Figge. “They’ve been good to us,” Reid said, adding that the New York City Film Series was advertised in brochures promoting the museum’s current exhibit, The Great American Thing, as well in as postcards sent to those on the Figge’s mailing list. “So they’ve done their part.”
Reid said he’s hopeful that the experiment can be resurrected at the Figge. Open Cities, he said, is “in the talking stages of possibly going to Friday-night screenings” in January of 2006. Before that decision can be made, however, Reid said his organization “has some serious fundraising to do,” and the group is currently evaluating how best to raise the necessary funds.
Further information on the Open Cities Film Society is available by e-mailing Mike Reid at (