British Columbia

Why isn't La La Land playing in Ryan Gosling's hometown?

La La Land is leading the pack for Oscar nominations, but many Canadians still haven't had the chance to see the movie — including those in star Ryan Gosling's hometown.

The reason Oscar-nominated films aren't at your local theatre and how to change it

La La Land took home seven Golden Globes and is nominated for 14 Academy Awards. (Dale Robinette/Lionsgate)

La La Land may be even better on a second viewing, as Variety Magazine critic Owen Gleiberman has argued, but audiences in smaller Canadian cities haven't had the chance to see it even once.

"Come on @CineplexMovies, Why isn't LaLaLand playing in Cornwall [On.], where Ryan Gosling grew up?" asked Twitter user Jane McGregor shortly after it was announced the film was leading the pack of Oscar nominees.

In the running for 14 Academy Awards, the movie — which stars Cornwall's Ryan Gosling — is tied for the most nominations ever, alongside Titanic and All About Eve.

Critical acclaim doesn't necessarily translate to blockbuster success, though, and the owners of Canadian theatres have to make a lot of decisions about what will and won't play on the local silver screen.

"We're trying to find a balance between showing the most movies that we can in a community and also making as many movie lovers as happy as possible," said Sarah Van Lange, director of communications for Cineplex, which runs 164 theatres across Canada.

The ongoing success of a movie like Rogue One: A Star Wars story can stand in the way of smaller films coming to cities with limited theatre screens. (Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm)

Speaking to CBC Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk, Van Lange explained the process that decides which movies should play where.

​"Every Monday morning, we have a film team here at Cineplex and they get into a room and they look at all of the films that are coming for new release or have recently been re-released, and they strategize where they will go, auditorium by auditorium," she said.

Listen to Sarah Van Lange explain how Cineplex decides which movies play in which cities.

The team weighs factors like which movies have typically performed well in different cities and whether it's time to pull an existing film out of the theatre.

"So, for example, Rogue One is a movie that has mass appeal so it's actually been in Prince George [B.C.] for a number of weeks now," she said.

As long as the movie is attracting audiences, it's difficult to pull it out before everyone has had the chance to see it.

(From left) Janelle Monáe, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer star in Hidden Figures. (20th Century Fox)

Distributors also usually want movies to run for certain lengths of time in each market, making it difficult to bring in niche films for a single weekend.

"It's a very complicated process."

Van Lange said there are factors that can change a decision over whether to show a certain movie, including if it performs well at the Academy Awards.

"Definitely, the distributors are looking at a second round [of theatres for La La Land]. We've had a lot of feedback especially today," she said, adding the other movie Canadians seem to want to see is Hidden Figures.

Van Lange said the other way to get more movies to come to a given city is as simple as talking to the local theatre manager.

"The general managers have a direct line to the film team, and they're able to share that feedback," she said.

"We can't make everyone happy, so we do our very best."

Andrew Kurjata on Twitter: @akurjata.


For more stories from northern British Columbia, join the CBC Daybreak North community on Facebook.

now