Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Moviegoing Milestone Passing

In 2001 I started keeping track of how many films I saw theatrically. (It's possible I left out some as I didn't begin the list until July 18, 2001 and hadn't made any edits to the list after December 21. I just added RUSH HOUR 2, which was accidentally omitted.) That year I finished with a respectable 238. It's interesting to look back and see what films I had more or less forgotten. Whether I disliked them (JUST VISITING, WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?) or liked them (BORN ROMANTIC, HEARTS IN ATLANTIS) didn't matter.

In 2002 I kept more thorough records, including my grades and the dates and locations of the screenings. I also listed some DVDs of films I saw for the first time. (For what it's worth, I don't believe the DVD list to be exhaustive.) My total for the year increased to 260.

My 2003 list should include everything I saw, whether I'd seen the films before or saw them on television, screener tape, or DVD. The yearly total grew to a personal best 270.

Take a peek at my 2004 list and it's safe to say that my 2003 total will be toast. I passed the 2001 total on September 30 when I saw SILVER CITY. Last night I passed my 2002 total when I saw the new remake of ALFIE. 2003 may fall before October ends. There's an outside chance that I could reach 300 before December.

I realize that many will consider such movie gorging a tremendous waste of time. For those people it probably would be. For me, expanding the number and types of films I see helps refine my opinions.

OK, enough numbers talk. If I get my act together, I'll finally post a long moldering review of EVERGREEN and hopefully complete my write-up of I ♥ HUCKABEES.


  1. Mark,

    Do you have a list for how many DVD reviews you've written each of those years? Ooh, cheap shot, sorry ;-) I don't know if you've seen it yet, but this entry makes it really relevent - you should definitely see Cinemania if you haven't already. The people in those movies probably have you beat by at least a few times, possibly as much much as six times. At least from the film, it seemed they might average somewhere between four and eight movies PER DAY! Scary! On the one hand I'm envious of them (and you) for being able to see so much, but on the other hand I feel like it's a losing battle. No matter how many movies you watch per day (or to an even greater extent how many books you read), you will never end up getting close to having seen most of what's been made. How many films are produced per year including all the indies? It's probably in the thousands, right? There simply isn't the time in the day. Even worse is the blogosphere where you end up with probably the equivelent to 100 thick books worth of content (maybe more) being spewed out per day, and this will just keep growing as films and books at a high rate. I guess future generations might get to download this stuff directly into their skulls in an instant, and will laugh at their funny ancestors spending 3/4 of their lives reading mere hundreds of books, seeing a couple thousand films, etc. Oh well...

  2. I realize that I'm in a somewhat unique position of being able to see as many films as I do. Sure, other critics are in the same boat, but I tend to be more active than most in seeking out films that don't screen for the press here or may play just once or twice. Call it curiosity or obsession. It's probably both.

    Seeing 300 in a year may sound high, but it averages out to 25 a month, or 6.25 a week. Any fulltime critic worth his salt is probably seeing four a week anyway. That doesn't include festivals or times of year when releases come in bunches.

    That number is obviously out of reach and undesirable for the average moviegoer. I'll also add that a regular person would get sick of seeing that many films because of the time demands and the percentage of bad films factored into it.

    For what it's worth, I haven't seen CINEMANIA. I think it's in my Netflix queue, though. If these non-critics are seeing six to eight a day, they desperately need help. Even I couldn't keep up that kind of pace year-round. Nor would I want to.

    My intention is not to see every film ever made, a quixotic quest at best and a worthless one at worst. (For example, I'm not going to rent the third POKEMON film just because.) I'd guess that the number of feature films produced every year reaches over a thousand. Seeing even fifty percent of a year's output strikes me as unattainable.

    Don't focus on what you won't be able to see or read in your lifetime. (I think I can make a pretty good dent in it as far as films are concerned.) Think of me as one of your filters. :) I'm choosier when it comes to watching DVDs.