Why don’t Movie Watching Clubs get the same love and respect as Book Clubs do?
It was a smart move when booksellers started to leverage the concept of the Book Club to promote their wares. (And Book Clubs that champion reading are good things, of course. There was a time when booksellers promoted the installation of built-in book cases in new housing construction so people would buy more books. Never mind the reading part.)
But maybe booksellers are a little hungrier. There are less than 1 trillion books sold every year. In contrast, almost 3.5 trillion videos will be viewed through on-line streaming alone this year. The movie industry doesn’t really need to create and nurture an audience. The audience is already there, willing, ready, and able, remote control in hand.
Movie Watching Clubs are simple to organize, especially with the help of online tools like Facebook, where you can easily create an event notice and a group to facilitate communication. All a movie watching club needs is a host who enjoys selecting the programming and creating the event. It doesn’t matter if the movies are shown on a plain old tv or in a high-end home theater. The key element is the shared human experience. (Cue the Home Projectionist credo: It’s More Than a Movie.)
Johnny C., fellow Home Projectionist blogger, hosted his first group watching experience on his big-screen television back in the day when a big screen tv weighed about the same as a refrigerator. The night was a hit. “Let’s face it: SHOWGIRLS is an absolutely bust if you ever watched in the theater or on tv. But when I watched with a group, it was absolutely fabulous.”
He hosted a Sunday Dark Shadows group, which was featured on NPR’s This American Life. Listen Here: Dark Shadows
“Once I bought my first LCD projector and installed a 10-foot screen, I would just say ‘I’m watching this tonight and if anyone wants to come over….’ And it turned into a situation where a lot of people would come over.”
Fast forward, and the group of John’s movie-watching friends institutionalized their group with the name (courtesy of club member Daniel Starr), the “The ‘Bleeping’ Ravenswood Manor Film Society,” also affectionately known as the TBRMFS.
The first season of the Film Society featured only made-for-tv movies from ABC’s Friday Night at the Movies because, according to John, “They were only 72 minutes a piece. We could show more than one on a week night and it wouldn’t always turn into a late, late evening. But then again, we did watch SECRET OF HARVEST HOME, clocking in at three hours long, which was crazy.”
In those early days, the TBRMFS crew convened to watch a number of eighties’ treasures like DAWN: PORTRAIT OF A TEENAGE RUNAWAY followed up with THE OTHER SIDE OF DAWN; SAVAGES; DUEL; PRAY FOR THE WILDCATS ; THE LEGEND OF LIZZIE BORDEN; TRAPPED; SATAN SCHOOL FOR GIRLS; DYING ROOM ONLY; and CURSE OF THE BLACK WIDOW.
In its current iteration, the TBRMFS features Random Noir Nights for smaller groups and Saturday Night Themed Double Features such as “Women in Trouble Night” featuring Doris Day in JULIE and Barbara Stanwyck in JEOPARDY.
We humans are social animals who have a need to share collective experiences. Movie Watching Clubs deserve a little more attention and a little more love.