The Cornell Cinema, located in the basement of Willard Straight Hall, is a campus icon

Sun File Photo

The Cornell Cinema, located in the basement of Willard Straight Hall, is a campus icon

January 31, 2019

Behind the Movies: Cornell Cinema’s Film Selection Process

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Although Cornell Cinema shows 10 to 15 movies per week, the planning procedure for selecting these popular movies starts long before the lights dim.

Each semester, after months of polls and surveys, Cornell Cinema creates a schedule of films that will be presented throughout the upcoming semester. This spring will feature popular films such as Bohemian Rhapsody, BlacKkKlansman, A Star Is Born and Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.

“The fall calendar gets put together in the summer, usually around June, July,” Douglas McLaren, Cornell Cinema manager told The Sun. “We’re collecting requests throughout spring semester and putting that all together in the summer. For the spring, we’re working [on] that in October, November, December.”

The extensive selection process takes in a variety of input from the community.

“We send out a survey to folks on our listserv and Facebook followers, listing out various films that we are thinking about showing for the semester, and ask them to weigh in as to whether or not they’d be interested in seeing it,” McLaren said.

Cornell Cinema also has a student advisory board which polls itself for interest, according to McLaren.

The calendar does not just exist for planning purposes — it is part of an intentional effort where “we try to make a broad, inclusive calendar that tries to serve as many communities as people,” Mclaren said.

Reflecting on the school year so far, McLaren noted the popularity of Crazy Rich Asians as a significant force.

“For last semester our biggest seller was Crazy Rich Asians,” McLaren said. That was one that as soon as there was a release date announced for that movie, we thought that would be a huge hit.”

Their prediction was right. “We brought it back in December, and we just brought it back for Welcome Weekend committee last week and it did well again,” McLaren said.

Other films determined by the evaluation process include Boy Erased, the story of “the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town [who is] pressured into attending a conversion therapy program,” and Rafiki, a Kenyan lesbian drama that was banned in Kenya before the ban was overturned by the courts, according to the movies’ respective websites.

Regarding the choices, “there was quite a bit of interest from both our student advisory board and also the survey that we sent out,” McLaren said.

Other upcoming films include Ralph Breaks the Internet on Feb. 9 and Feb. 10, A Star is Born on Feb. 28 and March 1, and Mary Poppins Returns on March 9 and March 10.

A Cornell Cinema schedule could be found on their website. Price for general admission is $9, and students pay $6.50. There are a variety of other prices and weekend deals which can be found on the ticketing website.