Cineplex’s Flashback Film Festival returns February 2-8 featuring classic sci-fi, action, and comedy favourites in Canada’s only coast-to-coast film festival. I recently had a chance to chat with Brad LaDouceur, Vice President of Event Cinema, Cineplex about the festival going into it’s ninth year, some of the films in this year’s lineup and what to expect from the fest in the future.
SB: Tell us a little bit about Cineplex’s Flashback Film Festival.
BL: The film fest in now in its ninth year. Originally it was called the Great Digital Film Festival and it was launched at a time when cinemas were moving to digital projectors. So we said, “How can we educate our customers across Canada with the idea that digital brings back these films that aren’t scratched any longer?” For years repertory theatre had run old scratched prints of classics. We decided to create a brand new festival that showcases fan favourite films of all genres and to get them into our auditoriums for that big screen, pristine digital presentation. It evolved from there and we’re in our 9th year. The festival is in 27 cities making it Canada’s only coast-to-coast film festival and we have 15 films in this year’s lineup.
SB: It’s amazing how time flies. Can you believe that it’s actually in its 9th year?
BL: It has gone by very quickly. There have been lots of favourites though. It’s been so great and I’m really proud of the team here at Cineplex that programs the festival. It’s all about their passion for film as well.
SB: I took a look at this year’s lineup and there are some great films. How were the films chosen?
BL: Every year we look at what the studios have been putting out digitally or remastering. A lot of them are remastered in 4K these days and we get to a list of about 100 titles. Some of the films we’ve run before, some we haven’t and from there we begin to whittle down the list. Because the festival runs over seven days we try to create a schedule where the films have more than one screening. They’ll get an afternoon and an evening show throughout the week. That gets us to around 15 to 17 films, depending on run-time and this year it was a real internal decision to try and showcase a few films that are going to be featured in the upcoming Steven Spielberg film, Ready Player One based on the novel by Ernest Kline. We actually started out with Back to the Future, Gremlins, Iron Giant, Monty Python and the Holy Grail and WarGames as five that we wanted to lock in right away. From there it was, “What do we want next? What kind of action or comedy or sci-fi would we want to do?”
BL: Yeah and y’know I think that secretly we’re all watching movies from the 80’s anyways. What it really has done is made it cool to read and talk about it. What’s great is that they talk about the past but they are really so far into the future. I love that huge time gap of 70 years and they are celebrating films like Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
SB: That film is a classic (laughs).
BL: It really is a film for as long as I’ve been in the Toronto area, which goes back to ’84, where there was always an evening showing somewhere in the city. Someone was always playing Holy Grail on a Friday or Saturday night and so for us it was great. For a lot of teenagers who’ve never seen it, or may know about it and certain references but maybe haven’t seen the entire film, (the festival) is a great way to see it.
SB: For films like that which are now part of our cultural cannon it’s one thing to see them on the small screen or on DVD at home. But to actually get the audience experience and a chance to relive the film in the way it was intended is what makes the festival so special.
BL: Yes. It’s a sense of community. It’s people who love going to the movies getting a chance to share the experience together. To be in a sold out auditorium watching The Terminator and just sharing those magic moments and classic lines with audience members are great.
SB: I remember going to see Terminator 2 at a midnight showing on Yonge Street way back in the day when it first premiered. It blew my mind with the special effects and the new Terminator so I can imagine what it’s going to look like on the big screen again.
BL: We’re going to pair The Terminator with the newly remastered T2 in 3D. I don’t think that there is anyone out there that that does 3D better than James Cameron. He took Terminator 2 and remastered it in 3D last year for Judgement Day so we are pairing those two up back to back.
SB: That will be a great double feature. How can anyone who is interested in going to the fest get tickets to see their favorite films?
BL: Tickets are on sale now at www.cineplex.com/fbff and what’s great about whether they want to see one film or see multiple films, is that as they are going through their selections if they pick multiple films their price keeps going down. So if you want to see one film it’s $8.99, if you pick three or more it’s $7.99 a film. If fans are really ready to geek out and sit through 15 films you cans see them for what works out to five dollars per ticket. We want people to come and choose the Flashback Film Festival week as a chance to celebrate those films. You might be able to go on Saturday afternoon and see the Cornetto Trilogy, sit through all three and then come back on the following Thursday night and see something entirely different. The festival is really a bit of a roller coaster ride of genre films.
SB: With Iron Giant you have a family friendly film, not that Back to the Future and Gremlins aren’t but it’s one of the few animated family flicks that’s in the lineup.
BL: Yeah and we know that families are looking for something to do on a Saturday afternoon so for us it was ok let’s get Iron Giant in there which is a great tie-in to Ready Player One. As well you could see Back to the Future, Gremlins and Iron Giant and if you’ve got some teenage kids you can go see A View to A Kill, the Roger Moore James Bond film.
SB: He was one of my favourite Bonds.
BL: That’s great. It was sad that we lost him last May and when we were going through titles we said this is the year we get to celebrate Roger Moore. I’m a big fan of music and Duran Duran’s A View to A Kill is one of my favourite Bond themes so it was a really great film to choose.
SB: What else does Cineplex Events have in store for movie lovers this year?
BL: We have three or four programs where people can see films all year long. We have our Classic Films series, which runs every single month and currently we’re featuring Charade and in April we have Grease. Every single Saturday we run Family Favourites where films are discounted for families who want to get out and do something on a Saturday morning before they go off and head to grandma’s house. Coming up we’ve got Lego Ninjago, Wonder, The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Space Jam. For our 19+ audience, we’ve been doing a new program in our VIP auditoriums called One Nighters. One Nighters is really a great celebration of fan films. Right now we are doing a ladies night out theme and we just ran Spice World. We’ve got Moulin Rouge coming and so every month or two we bring another fan favourite to VIP. Tickets are only $10 so on Monday night it gives people who’ve never been to our cinemas the opportunity to experience what it’s like to sit in a smaller auditorium with a massive screen, huge reclining seats and it’s fully licensed too. People get to sing along and quote along to some of their favourite films.
SB: It sounds like a fantastic experience.
BL: We love movies and through these programs want to bring them back for fans across the country.
SB: Considering how comic book and sci-fi movies have exploded over the past eight years or so where do you see the festival going into its tenth year and beyond?
BL: For us it’s continuing to listen to our fans. Through hashtags and social media the last five or six years they’ve been able to talk to us directly. We just want to keep listening to what the fans want to see next. That’s where the initial 100 films really comes from. At the end of the festival this year we’ll say thanks for coming and ask them what they want to see next year. We’ll write down all of their suggestions and based on what movie lovers want we can deliver that for the festival in it’s tenth year and beyond.