Allen Theatres introduces arthouse film series
FARMINGTON — Local fans of newly released independent, foreign-language and documentary films who have had to travel to large metropolitan areas to get their fix now have the chance to see those genres one day a week at the Animas 10 theater complex.
For the past few weeks, Allen Theatres, which operates the Animas 10 and Allen 8 cinemas here, has been showing so-called arthouse films on Wednesdays at the Animas 10 complex. Vice President of Operations Russell Allen said the company, which has corporate offices in Las Cruces, has been showing such films as its theaters in Las Cruces and Durango, Colo., for approximately three years and recently decided to add Farmington to the list. The company calls the offerings the Wednesday Humpday series.
“One week, we show a documentary, another week we show a foreign film, and another week we show an independent film,” he said, explaining the company’s approach.
Film enthusiasts also have the chance to request movies they would like to see by visiting the Allen Theatres website and clicking on the Wednesday Humpday link, where they will be directed to an email link through which they can submit their favorites.
“There’s a group of people that, for each type of movie, there are going to be some that want to see them,” Allen said, explaining that most of the films in the arthouse category typically don’t draw enough of a crowd to make them economically feasible to show for a full week.
“We understand it takes a pretty good population base to do it (on a regular basis),” he said. “You usually get small numbers for these types of movies or we’d play them all the time.”
The only other regular local forum for arthouse films is the Cinematheque series at San Juan College, which features such movies on a monthly basis in the college’s Little Theatre. That series was restarted in 2014 after a six-year absence and has featured such films as “CitizenFour,” “The Wrecking Crew,” “Cheatin’” and “Chef.” SJC officials said in May the series was averaging approximately 30 patrons each month, down from an average of 50 before it was eliminated because of budget cuts in 2008.
The Wednesday Humpday series is Allen Theatres’ way of catering to the tastes of arthouse fans without making a major commitment to films with limited appeal. Each film is screened twice on a Wednesday, once in the afternoon and once at night, and admission to those movies is discounted to $5.50.
Since its introduction here on Jan. 6, the series has featured such films as “Flowers,” a foreign-language drama; “A Ballerina’s Tale,” a documentary on African-American ballerina Misty Copeland; and, most recently, “Truth,” a Robert Redford-Cate Blanchett film about a 2004 CBS News investigation into the National Guard service of then-President George W. Bush. The Wednesday, Jan. 27 film is director Anton Corbijn’s “Life,” starring Robert Pattinson and Dane Dehann. The drama focuses on a Life Magazine photographer who is assigned to shoot James Dean who was a rising Hollywood star in the 1950s.
Allen said the Wednesday Humpday series was started in Las Cruces and Durango because company officials recognized that with relatively large, public colleges and universities in those towns, there was probably a significant portion of the academic community that would respond to those offerings. It finally occurred to company officials that it didn’t make any sense to leave Farmington out of the series, he said.
“It was kind of ridiculous we are making that kind of stereotype judgment,” he said of the notion that there wouldn’t be an audience for the series here.
Allen said the series is not a money-making proposition, but it is an attempt to serve the needs of all kinds of film buffs.
“Now, we’re hoping people will enjoy this unique type of product,” he said.
The company also is offering its Event Cinema series, which features once-a-month live broadcasts of operas, ballets, concerts and theater productions.
Allen said he had no information about how the Wednesday Humpday series has been received here so far, but he indicated the company will stick with it for a while.
“My guess is we can do it at least a year,” Allen said. “It takes quite a while for people to get in the groove.”
He said the series has developed a pretty good following in Las Cruces.
“We appreciate their support, and they appreciate the product they’re getting,” Allen said.
But he said local arthouse fans will need to turn out for the series if they want to see it remain here for the long run.
“If you want something unique in this small New Mexico town, you better show up every time,” he said. “If the population doesn’t support it, we’re going to have to move on to something else … It’s all about economics.”
Mike Easterling is the A&E editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.
If you go
What: Allen Theatres’ Wednesday Humpday screening of “Life”
When: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27
Where: The Animas 10 theater, 4601 E. Main St. in Farmington
For more information: Visit allentheatresinc.com/wednesday_humpday/