Sunday, June 19, 2011

Will Netflix Finally Kill the Grandin Theatre?

It's difficult to guess how much pressure Netflix is putting on arthouse theaters and those who call themselves that, but often fall short (like the Grandin in Roanoke), but after seeing "Even the Rain" tonight, my guess is the pressure is growing.

This is a powerful Spanish movie of the type you'd expect to see at the Grandin. It was nominated as Best Foreign Film by the Academy Awards in 2010 and stars Gael Garcia Bernal ("The Motorcycle Diaries"). It has all the elements of a movie that should have been at the Grandin. But it never made it. Instead, we got a string of second-rate mainstream movies that we could have seen at the multi-plexes and gems like "Even the Rain" were left to Netflix.

I normally don't watch much television because commercials offend me, but now, when I get a few moments and want to see a good movie without commercials, Netflix has my profile and can recommend movies like "Even the Rain," me a delightful surprise  for less than $10 a month The Grandin's prices are over $8 for a movie, putting it in the same price range as theaters with far more amenities and often the same movies.

Last week, I found "Easy A" through Netflix' suggestions and I'm sure many more will come when I want them. It's a brave new world, one that is taking advantage of the fact that a part of the old world that could have a wonderful niche--movies like "Even the Rain"--prefers "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Kung Fu Panda 2."

It's a damn shame because this neglect and competition are going to ultimately close the doors of a Roanoke treasure and I don't see anybody in a position to do something about it getting up off his ass and moving.


  1. Dan, what have you done to support this institution and other art institutions in the community? This is an honest question that needs to be asked of a lot of people in Roanoke. We have a tremendous amount of great arts available to us and we all have to support as much as we possibly can or they will all go away. People that use these opportunities have to support them with either time or money.

  2. Phil:
    And here's an honest answer:
    I was on the board of directors that brought the Grandin back to life. I bought a star on the walk, had one given in my name and bought two chairs inside the theater. I directly sold a number of stars. I have reviewed Grandin movies consistently on my blog for quite some time. I have taken every opportunity to promote the theater and to tell the truth about its operations--even the bad stuff, which people have a right to know.
    That enough?
    Dan Smith

  3. Phil:
    By the way, I am on the board of or have been a board member of the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge, Virginia Museum of Transportation, Preservation Foundation of Roanoke Valley and have actively supported (financially, as a volunteer and in a number of other ways), Center in the Square, the History Museum of Western Virginia, Studio Roanoke, Mill Mountain Theatre, Clean Valley Council, and a number of other organizations.

  4. Dan, I think you took my question/comment as a personal attack. If that is correct you took it wrong. The point to my comment was a lot of people in the area use and seemingly appreciates the great number of arts we have, but do not contribute either financially or with their time.

  5. Phil:
    No, sir, I did not take that as an "attack," but as a thoughtful observation. I simply answered it because I didn't want the impression left that I was flapping my mouth without doing something personally to help the situation.

  6. BTW, I took my grandson to the VA Transportation Museum this summer, and was very impressed. It has made a wonderful comeback since the flood.