Theaters feel ripple effects of attacks

Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2001

Movie theaters across America depend on a well-coordinated network of couriers and air transportation to distribute films. That network has been crippled in the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

"We're all linked by the same courier system," said Dorain Gross, president of Gross Alaska Theaters. "We have to fly more than they do (in the Lower 48), but the prints have to move."

Woody Allen's "Curse of the Jade Scorpion" and other new movies scheduled to open Friday in Juneau are stranded in Anchorage. In addition to Allen's new film, the opening of "Bubble Boy" and "O" will be delayed.

"We're going to display what we're supposed to be playing," said Curtis Sowers of Gross Alaska Theaters. "We'll show what is currently playing if we don't receive the new films."

The films "Summer Catch," "Rat Race," and "American Pie 2" were scheduled to close tonight and leave the state. Sowers said people can call 463-3549 or check for updates.

Gross has been told that cargo such as films is not a priority. She said they may arrive sometime this weekend.

The terrorist attacks on Washington D.C., and New York City have affected film distribution for another reason as well, Gross said. The opening dates have been postponed for a number of films because studios are concerned that some content in those films could be objectionable in the wake of Tuesday's tragedy.

Gross said the releases of "Big Trouble," "Spider Man," "Training Day" and "Hard Ball" have been postponed. "Hard Ball" was sensitive because of a scene with a shooting in downtown New York, Gross said.

New films coming to Juneau are normally routed through Seattle or Anchorage. A feature film is a 65- to 70-pound package, generally of six reels containing almost a halfmile of film on each reel.

The films arrive a day or two before the Friday night openings. Gross Alaska projectionists inspect each film the night it arrives, splicing together the reels and screening the film to ensure the print is not damaged or faulty. If the films do arrive Saturday, Gross Alaska will not have the time or the available screens to check the prints.

"We'll have to take our chances and just put them together and run them," Gross said.


Riley Woodford can be reached at

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