Edwards Hogs Hogwarts
Why Harry Potter didn't open at the Egyptian
The fourth film in the Harry Potter series opened last week at the brand-new Edwards Theater in the BoDo shopping center, even though the Egyptian Theatre had hosted the previous three films and had posted advertisements promoting the Goblet of Fire in its windows for weeks prior to the film's release. So was Boise's oldest theater simply teasing its loyal fans? On the contrary. In this case, the theater was a victim as well. It's a common policy of major film companies to give blockbuster films to a new theater in an area.
In such a situation, ostensibly meant to keep theaters competitive, the Egyptian is left with second-tier releases, said the theater's executive director Martin Scifres. He said Harry Potter isn't the only main blockbuster the Egyptian will miss out on. They'll also get skipped by The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong. It's up to the individual film company to decide when the preferential treatment is over and give blockbusters back to other theaters. He said he is certain the next Harry Potter film, tentatively set to be released in 2007, will be shown at the Egyptian.
After the weekend release, Scifres said Harry Potter's absence had no impact on the Egyptian's business. "I'm not nervous about having a theater in the BoDo complex," he said. "You have to realize that before the Edward's 21, there were many first-run theaters in Boise, so we can support it quite easily."
But on Friday, many theatergoers were overheard lamenting the exclusivity agreement. Devlyn Wood, who saw the movie at the downtown Edwards theater Friday night, said she was upset about being forced to see the film at a national chain instead of the local theater.
"I would rather support the Egyptian at any cost. I was thinking at first of just not going to Edwards at all, but Edwards has a monopoly on the movie as it's only opening at the now four Edwards," she said.
While Wood said she feared the new cinema would hurt the Egyptian's business, Gordon Wilnoth said he'll continue giving his business locally first. "I saw my first movie at the Egyptian, and I'll continue giving them my business," he said. "Any film I want to see, if it's playing at the Egyptian, I'll see it there."
Carol Skinner at The Flicks would not comment on the challenges of having a new theater in the area. Scifres saw a positive side to having more than one theater downtown that plays Hollywood blockbusters. "It will draw more people downtown and get them used to coming here to see movies," he said.
Kesler Ernest, another movie fan at Edwards on Friday, said from his perspective in the audience, the long-term impact of a major movie theater might be worse than Scifres estimates. "My daughter and I were looking forward to seeing Narnia in the Egyptian, and on a personal note, it won't be that exciting of an experience for her," said Ernest. "What I'm upset about is once again corporate America is coming in and pushing out local business. The Egyptian will be impacted because while they're not in the running for the high-end movies, people will go to the BoDo theater. We're creatures of habit and once that period of time is over, people who really enjoy the Egyptian for what it is will migrate back. But overall, that's not the nature of capitalism and I think people may continue going to Edwards."