I was living in LA/Venice in 1977 when my friend came to drag me to the new Star Wars movie that had just opened at the Westwood cinema. I wasn’t really into space movies and I was even less enthused when we got close enough to see the line around the block and beyond. When we reached the box office the cashier announced that the seats they were selling were in the FRONT row.
The film had opened less than a week before but John had already seen it five times. We scrunched down in the seats craning our necks back at the screen which was about five feet in front of us. Remember the first scene of the first Star Wars? Remember those lines of text flying over your head ? It was terrifying but I must have gotten used to it because I lived through the film.
Fast-forward to a few years ago when the most recent Star Wars movie opened at the Broadway Cinema. I am a fan but not a fanatic, which is why I couldn’t tell you the name of the last one without looking it up. Okay, I looked it up- it was Revenge of the Sith, 2005. So my friend and I- we both hate crowds- were trying to figure out how to see Revenge of The Sith in as empty a theater as possible. We figured to go on the very last night and waited several weeks, then on what was advertised as closing night we went down to the the Broadway expecting to saunter in to an empty theater. WTF? The place was packed!! What went wrong?
When I got a chance, I took a meeting with The Consultants. The Consultants hang at the candy counter and they gave us the straight skinny. The formula, they said, was E-3, where E is the Ending Date, you count back three days and THAT’S when you go. Last days don’t work because that’s when all the nuts come out, and the folks who’ve seen it eight times and just want to sneak in one more.
So there you have it: E-3. I’ll see you down there. In March or so.
Well, the phones are down anyway so we’re checking out early. Enjoy the weekend, drive carefully and if you haven’t seen it yet, “Straight Outta Compton ” is surprisingly enjoyable for those of us who aren’t big hiphop fans. Good performances, and it’s helpful to us oldsters that Ice Cube’s son- who plays Ice Cube-actually LOOKS like his dad. And of course the music is great. Recommended. See you next week.
Have you seen “Captain Phillips”, which was deservedly nominated for Best Picture of 2013? You can still catch it on pay-per-view and it’s powerful. Did you know that the line “I’m the Captain now.” which has become the season’s catchphrase and was referred to by the New Yorker as an “iconic line” was IMPROVISED? Improvised by a Somalian taxi driver who had never performed in a film before? Here’s the story:
Barkhad Abdi was six years old when war turned his native Somalia into an inferno. The family fled to Yemen, where his father taught math and eventually settled in Minneapolis, where there is a sizable Somalian community. Abdi was working as a limo driver for his brother’s company when the word came that auditions were being held at the local community center for Somalis to act in “Captain Phillips”, directed by Paul Greengrass (who filmed United 93 among other major films) and starring Tom Hanks as the skipper of the Alabama Maersk, the cargo ship that was attacked by Somail pirates in 2009. Abdi and half a dozen other Somalis were hired by Greengrass.
When they started filming the scene where the pirates have boarded the ship, Abdi felt that the point wasn’t being made clearly enough to Hanks and/or his character that things had changed. So he came out with the line, “Look at me. I’m the captain now,” which sends chills down your spine every time you see it. Greengrass kept the line in. He knew gold when he saw it.
As an employer, do you encourage creative improvisation in your company? You don’t have to be Steve Jobs or Paul Greengrass to do so. When your people come up with something wonderful, tear up your script, throw out your business plan and go with your gut, like Greengrass did. “I’m the captain now” is a classic line on the level of “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” or “Nobody’s perfect.” The genius is in knowing when to dump your carefully laid plans. The proof is in the watching.