Thursday, March 31, 2005

What does it take to get banned?

Greenville News | Some IMAX theaters not screening volcanoes flick
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- The IMAX theater in Charleston and several others in the South have passed on showing a science film on volcanoes because of concerns it might offend those with fundamental religious beliefs.

"We've got to pick a film that's going to sell in our area. If it's not going to sell, we're not going to take it," said Lisa Buzzelli, director of the local IMAX theater. "Many people here believe in creationism, not evolution."

Buzzelli said while the Charleston theater doesn't rule out showing "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea" in the future, she considers people's religious views when showing films.

The film makes a connection between human DNA and microbes inside undersea volcanoes. Buzzelli said the handling of evolution was considered in her decision.

IMAX theaters in Texas, Georgia and the Carolinas have declined to show the film, said Pietro Serapiglia who handles distribution for Stephen Low, the film's director and producer who is from Montreal.

"I find it's only in the South," Serapiglia said.
We're never going to outgrow this reputation for being Dukes of Hazzardland at this rate. (See also CNN.)

But wait: That's the filmmaker and distributor talking, and they might have an ulterior motive for beating the publicity drum. Fernbank has made a statement, too:
Centre Daily Times | IMAX documentary gets cold shoulder
LOS ANGELES -- Some IMAX theaters have declined to show "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea" -- but is it because of debates about evolution, or is it just a so-so movie?

Filmmakers behind "Volcanoes" said executives at some Southern IMAX theaters told them they worried the movie might rile conservative Christians partly because of its references to the way life may have evolved.

...Executives at several Southern science centers said test audiences disliked the film's music and narration, found the tone too academic, and the deep-sea images lacking in color.

"The scientific team and research on the film was top-notch," said Anita Kern, dean of science at Atlanta's Fernbank Museum of Natural History, whose IMAX theater chose not to run "Volcanoes." "But when you're doing IMAX films, you're doing it for the general public. What you want is to educate people in very entertaining ways. This film just didn't do it. It was slow moving and a little dry."
Wow. A movie filmed at the bottom of the ocean is a "little dry"? That really hurts. I guess they can't all be "Nemo".
Kern said she did not recall anyone in the museum's test audience making comments about the evolution theories presented in "Volcanoes."

"Volcanoes" filmmaker [Stephen] Low said science centers are calling it a "lousy film" so they do not have to admit they bowed to religious sentiment.
Low could just as easily be blaming lost bookings on "religious sentiment" so he doesn't have to admit it's a lousy film. But goodness knows plenty of lousy films get bookings.

Whatever, it worked: Now that Low has made his accusations, the film is getting enough notice that the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, for one, has changed its mind and plans to run the film after all.

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