My open letter to Universal because they cancelled Les Miserables

I wrote this letter to Universal because of how they snatched Les Miserables from us this past spring.

We are currently waiting to hear if Paramount has done a similar nasty to us with The Great Gatsby – which is supposed to be playing this Friday.  If they have I will start a social media movement to communicate our concerns. 


Dear Universal

I’ve wanted to write to you for months now but have left it in the hope I’d be  calm and reasonable.
I live in a small isolated town on North Vancouver Island called Pt McNeill.  A couple of years ago I started a Not for Profit Organization to help nurture, support, educate and celebrate the arts.  We are located in an old theatre in a strip mall right in the heart of our small town.  We are now a charitable organization and we show second run movies as a social enterprise to help keep our doors open.
Let me describe what it takes for us to get to a ‘real’ theatre.
First –  it’s 200 kilometers away.  Yes, 200 – not 20.
Second – the 200 kms are all mountain, forests and NO CELL coverage.
Third – we’re north of the 50th parallel – that means during the winter our days are much shorter than the 90% of Canadians that live 100 kms from the border.
This adds up to a high percentage of movies released at Christmas time being unavailable for most of us to see at the ‘real’ theatres – even though we drive those big 4 wheel drive diesel trucks that Kyota hates – (sorry – I thought I could write this email without the sarcasm….) black ice, darkness, snow storms, and no cell coverage are a major deterrent.
My point is that our community was very excited to have Les Mis booked for the opening day of the Pre-Release – very excited….but then it evaporated when you decided to NOT release it to the second run theatres but re-release it to the big ones.
Essentially you screwed us.  If you’ve never lived away from the 90% – or have never worked in the resource sector of our country – you have no appreciation for the sacrifices the 10% live with to make the wheels of our country go around.
Look at the GNP – is it Starbucks or the movie industry? No – it’s resources. And we keep getting screwed…..I’m sorry – I really thought I could do this with little to no emotion.
Do you know why I created an organization to encourage, educate and support the ARTS? Because they’re on life support in our schools…because we don’t live in a major centre. Because to get to a symphony or live theatre or an art museum – is a 5 hour drive – and there’s little to no money for field trips.
To have been cut out of the loop for Les Mis was disheartening – not only for our organization – but also for our community.
We would have lost money showing the film (it costs us 250.00 minimum to show your films) as our ticket prices are 5.00 including tax – but we were willing to eat it in order to bring such an important piece of art to our community.
You know there are people – all over the world – who illegally down load and watch movies even when just released – this angers me on many levels – morally, socially, fiscally, artistically – that is why when I started this venture I was – and am – committed to paying the price to legally show movies and submit to timelines and release schedules from the powers that be….however, just like the average person during the days so beautifully portrayed in Les Mis, there are limits to which people can carry on feeling used, abused, ignored, undervalued etc.
At this point I’m steering clear of your movies – I’m that angry.
Terry R Eissfeldt

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