The Rugby World Cup was supposed to be a boon for the whole economy, the thousands of excited guests soaking up our food, wine, culture and hospitality. Ask any cinema (or theatre) owner what’s really happening and you’ll get the inconvenient truth – the Rugby World Cup itself is soaking up all the attention and most of the dollars. For at least one cinema owner numbers are down 30–40% on this time last year. This shouldn’t be news – even in my day running the Paramount we knew that a Saturday night All Black game meant it was hardly worth opening – a 7.30 kick-off killed your two best two sessions.
Night rugby has been a disaster for everybody except Sky TV and the bars that show it. At least in the days of afternoon games people could watch their team and go out for dinner and a movie afterwards – the interests of whole families could be accommodated. Those days appear to be long gone.
This week we see that New Zealand’s film distributors have thrown in the towel and dumped the year’s worst product in a week no one was going to the pictures anyway. For my sins I sat (mostly) alone in picture theatres all over the city to help you decide how best to (cinematically) escape Dan Carter’s groin.
To be fair to Zookeeper, I was far from alone at the Saturday matinée screening – it seems portly comedian Kevin James (Paul Blart: Mall Cop) is a popular figure here in New Zealand. In The Dilemma he showed that there’s some nascent dramatic talent lurking beneath the lazy choices he’s been making but there’s no sign of it here. James plays a lonely but caring Boston zookeeper who thinks that his smelly occupation is holding him back, romantically-speaking.
There’s something quite interesting going on with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time that isn’t immediately apparent from the publicity. Somehow, screenwriters Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard (there’s also a story credit for Jordan Mechner who created the original video game series) have snuck a clever little parable of George W. Bush’s presidency into a big budget action-adventure, past the Disney gatekeepers with the unlikely connivance of blockbuster producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean).
Now, I’m not suggesting for a moment that this political allegory makes Prince of Persia worth seeing – the rest of the film is so stilted I couldn’t possibly do that – but it does make for an interesting diversion while one is forced to sit through some of the poorest action directing in any recent big budget film.