Article by Zachary Schunk. Photo by Zachary Schunk.

For over a decade, Huskies Cinema has been a vibrant hub for students to unwind, connect, and immerse themselves in the magic of film. In an exclusive interview with event coordinator Sasha Xiong, and staff advisor Margret Schroeder, we delve deeper into the intricate workings of this cherished monthly event.

In previous years, newer films are chosen within a three to four month range from their national theatrical release. Starting this year, Huskies Cinema has been opting to highlight more throwback movies, alongside the newer titles. The throwbacks in their current monthly screening block include The Godfather and The Hangover. Back in October 2023, on the SCSU_Events Instagram account, a poll was posted asking students what throwback films they would like to see; The Godfather and The Hangover were two of the most popular answers they received. The popularity of that poll, alongside direct messages to the account since its posting, has helped decide all throwback selections for the semester thus far. It’s also important that the staff are aware of what students watch on streaming services; that way they can provide a service that streaming cannot.

When deciding what films to showcase, Huskies Cinema utilizes a company called Swank Motion Pictures. Margret Schroeder is responsible for contacting Swank and finalizing Huskies Cinema’s screening blocks each monthly cycle. Schroeder explains: “They are a company that I’d say about 95% of colleges use for screenings. When movies come out, they come out in theaters. Depending on how well the movie does in the theater, they will shovel the rights to streaming services like Netflix, but also Swank. We do a contract each year to determine how much we’ll show in the year. It could be one every weekend, or it could be one a month. Having the rights is super important because if you play a movie you don’t have them for, the production company can automatically sue you for a ton of money.” Swank also sells screening rights for films not yet in theaters. For example, Inside Out 2 is set to releases in theaters on June 14, 2024, but if Huskies Cinema pays for the screening rights, they can show it as soon as August 28, 2024.

Acquiring screening rights often has its roadblocks. “We had an issue with Barbie and Warner Bros because they wanted to keep it in regular theaters for longer,” says Xiong. If a film is exceptionally successful, and stays in theaters longer than expected, the date on Swank will be pushed back. Being that there’s only so much time in a semester Huskies Cinema is forced to choose upcoming films wisely. Basing their choices on student interest. When discussing previously shown films this semester, Xiong elaborated: “We considered showing the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie, and when we talked about it, the franchise was at a high. By the time we’d get the rights, the attendance would be down. We instead showed Migration, an animated film, since it would appeal to those who just want to see an animation movie.” Schroeder continues this point by saying: “We want to get Dune Part 2, but we can’t screen it till June, when there will be little to no students on campus.”

A primary reason for the focus on throwback films at the moment is the price of screening rights. According to Schroeder, contracts for screening newer films range from 800-900 dollars; As for older films, they can range to about 400-500 dollars. Gauging attendance from past screenings of older and newer films, plus responses to the October 2023 poll, show that students are more interested in seeing older films.

International students may be disappointed to learn that Swank provides little to no films produced outside the U.S. According to Schroeder, if Huskies Cinema wishes to screen an international film, they are often required to contact the production company itself. But, the production companies often say no, or never respond.

Huskies Cinema aims to host screenings every other Thursday to Saturday. Preparing for next semester, Huskies Cinema is considering removing Saturday screenings. This is due to Saturdays only having a fraction of attendance compared to Thursday and Friday screenings. Xiong and Schroeder explain that removing a day of screening could help their budget, and lead to a wider variety of films being shown, just less frequently.

Sasha Xiong isn’t just apart of deciding the screening lineup, she also sets up the projector and table at the entrance of every screening. While some theaters receive a hard drive with the film in the mail, Huskies Cinema utilizes a program called Cinelink. Cinelink acts as a bridge between Swank and the projector, delivering the film completely digitally.

Huskies Cinema is screening The Godfather on the fourth through the sixth of April, and The Hangover on April 18-20. Students who arrive early can sometimes enjoy a 30-minute preshow, including upcoming screenings, trailers, and behind the scenes featurettes. Students are allowed in for free, and are allowed to bring up to two guests for free. Tickets for non-students are 10 dollars. Every screening includes free popcorn, candy, and soda. Huskies Cinema hopes to see more students enjoy the world of film, and to let them know what films they should showcase in the future.

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