Cinema: Behind the Popcorn Popper

Hollywood may shout about a movie and New York critics rave about it—but Main Street can still give it a cold shoulder. Theater owners generally listen to Main Street, where most of their paying customers live. Before booking a movie, many a cautious exhibitor scans the pages of Boxoffice and Motion Picture Herald for the thumbnail reviews by exhibitors who have already shown the picture.

The exhibitors judge a film's merits with occasional asides on such local influences as blizzards and basketball games. The opinions have little to do with cinematic art, but they go to show that Hollywood has a hard...

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