When Brad Anderson’s “Transsiberian” opened three Fridays ago at Neighborhood Flix, it was the first time ever that the independent movie house debuted a film the same day the movie launched in major theaters. Since opening its doors in November 2007, Flix has been relegated to showing movies two or three weeks after they’ve made their Denver premieres. This setback costs Flix the precious first- and second-week viewers who put money into a movie theater’s bank account. Such is the nature of the film industry. The unspoken studio standard, says Flix theater manager Leeanna Marsh, is to sell the same film to competing theaters only if they are more than three miles from one another. And, Flix is having a heck of a time trying to change that mindset so it can get access to the same films that Landmark’s Esquire or United Artists’ Denver Pavilions might show. “Because of Landmark and Regal’s market seniority, the studios are hesitant to sell us first week films,” Marsh explains . So, even as the studios gear up to release their Oscar potentials, Flix finds itself struggling to survive. “We are hoping to make it to the one year mark,” says Marsh, who acknowledges that if the situation doesn’t improve for Flix, the cinema could be out of business long before then.
To buy itself more time, Flix has two fundraising campaigns on the horizon. Through December 1, the theater will sell two-for-one, $10 movie coupons. And a $100 ticket to their October 9 gala buys cocktails, appetizers, and a special showing of “The Pursuit of Happyness,” starring Will Smith. With the extra cash, Flix plans to cover its operating costs as it continues conversations with studios, and perhaps even seek legal assistance. We at 5280, myself especially (I’m prone to Sunday-evening movies), hope their plans work. After scouring the city, Flix, along with the Mayan, was our 2008 Top of the Town pick for Denver’s best art-house movie theater. Plus, the theater’s sticky sesame-ginger sweet potato French Fries are irresistible. Even if Flix looses its battle against the big dogs, hopefully, it will consider revamping its business plan to find a way to keep its doors open to the Denver community.