Turner Classic Movies Announces Fourth Annual TCM Film Fest, April 25-28, 2013 in Hollywood

The countdown has begun. Turner Classic Movies has announced the dates for the next installment of the hugely popular TCM Classic Film Festival: April 25 – 28, 2013 in Hollywood.

The Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Blvd. will once again serve as TCMFF command central, home to the “Club TCM” special event space, a pop-up memorabilia shop, and a fully equipped television studio facility, wherein primetime host Robert Osborne will conduct interviews with celebrities and film historians. Screenings will take place at the historic Grauman’s Chinese and Egyptian Theatres, and the not-at-all-historic Chinese 6 Theaters multiplex, with additional nearby venues likely to be added. (Events were also held at the Cinerama Dome and the Avalon Hollywood in 2012.) At least one screening also usually takes place by the Roosevelt Hotel pool, weather permitting. (Last year’s screening of HIGH SOCIETY had to be moved indoors due to high winds.)

Passes go on sale in November. (I asked for the exact date, but no luck.) Celebrity guests have not yet been revealed. In past years, those announcements have been staggered in the months and weeks leading up to the Festival. Guests in 2012 included Kirk Douglas, Debbie Reynolds, Kim Novak, Mel Brooks, Robert Wagner, Angie Dickinson and silent film  star Diana Serra Cary, aka “Baby Peggy.”

The 2013 theme will be Cinematic Journeys: Travel in the Movies, promising to “explore how movies can carry viewers beyond their hometowns to distant or imaginary locales, where they can be transformed by great storytelling.”  No titles have been announced, but  selected films are expected to focus on modes of travel, “road movies” and “cinematic worlds both familiar and new.”

Discounted room rates are offered for TCMFF attendees at the Roosevelt and the Loews Hollywood Hotel in the Hollywood & Highland Center (across the street from the Roosevelt). In 2012, TCM also recommended seven other hotels in close proximity. You can see that list on the 2012 website.

You may need that discount next year, because passes have risen in price, by as much as twenty five percent. The top tier Spotlight Pass reflects the largest increase, with a jump from $1,299 to $1,599. Pass-holders in this category are promised “priority entry to all events” (but not guaranteed entry) as well as admission to the gala opening night party (sponsored in past years by Vanity Fair) and daily opportunities to interact with Osborne, TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, and “TCM Friends.”

The Essential Pass, which grants full access to all TCMFF events (excluding the fancy opening party) has increased from $599 to $699. The Classic Pass (everything except the opening night screening at Grauman’s) increases to $549 from $499. And the Matinee Pass (for all screenings before 6 PM) from $299 to $349.

When asked about the substantial price hike, a TCM spokesperson replied to me with the following statement

“As you know, we have had an overwhelmingly positive response from classic movie fans to the first three TCM Classic Film Festivals and we announced our commitment to make the TCM Classic Film Festival an annual event in April 2012. In order to make this long-term commitment, we made some adjustments to our pricing structure. Given the slate of world-premiere restorations and rediscovered gems we screen in Hollywood’s premier movie theatres, the line-up of special guests, exclusive presentations and meet-and-greet events for passholders – all while surrounded by a community of classic film fans from around the globe – we’re confident attendees of the festival will feel satisfied with the value of their purchase.”

For the budget-minded among us (and who isn’t, really) TCM has introduced a new pricing tier: the Palace Pass. At a cost of $249, this pass grants access to all movies at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the Egyptian. Considering that most of the high-profile, can’t-miss screenings are presented in these venues, this is clearly the best deal. (At the first TCM Film Fest in 2010, every screening I attended was at one of these two venues.)

Same-day tickets are available for almost all screenings, once registered TCMFF attendees have been accommodated. This would be a good option for Palace Passholders who may want to see a particular film playing at the Chinese multiplex. It’s also a great alternative for Los Angeles-area locals, with the caveat that certain popular events will likely be filled to capacity. This happened in 2012 with a few of the popular film noir screenings, such as Robert Siodmak’s CRISS CROSS (1949) and Anthony Mann’s RAW DEAL (1948). Additional screenings for these, and other “sold-out” films, were added to the schedule on Sunday.

In past years, TCM has been extremely supportive of the classic film blogging community, offering media accreditation to active bloggers who wish to cover the proceedings. These credentials allow for complementary admission to all screenings and panel discussions, excluding the opening night film at Grauman’s. In addition, in 2012, bloggers were given access to Osborne and Mankiewicz at a press roundtable the day before the Festival began. (I attended this and got an opportunity to ask Mankiewicz a question.)

In 2012, applicants were asked to fill out a media accreditation form and submit it approximately one month before the Festival, with notification coming a week after the due date. A similar protocol will likely be in place for 2013, but there’s one catch: the application process begins long after most (if not all) passes are sold out.

What happens if you don’t buy a pass, and are not approved for a media credentials?

Here’s my advice: buy the Palace Pass for $249 when tickets go on sale in November. Then, if you apply for credentials in March and are not accepted, you’ll still get in to most noteworthy events – and you can supplement with walk-up tickets to the Chinese 6 multiplex screenings, as needed.

And, if you are approved for a press pass, you can request a refund on the pass you have purchased.

In 2012, refund requests were due by February 17 for the event, which began on April 12. This would make refunds a challenge for bloggers who purchase a pass and and are approved for press credentials less than four weeks before the TCMFF 2013 launch date. However, a TCM spokesperson has indicated that consideration will be offered to bloggers for the 2013 event, insuring me that TCM will “make sure they (bloggers) are notified a month out at least so they can get (a) refund” if they are credentialed.

This is one of the many reasons I love Turner Classic Movies.

For classic film bloggers who are considering applying, I suggest you review the 2012 accreditation application and insure that your site content is consistent with the indicated requirements. You can ignore the request for a “letter from your assigning editor,” but if you don’t have “coverage of the 2011 TCM Film Festival, recent coverage of another film festival, or a film-related story, film review or arts/entertainment story written or produced by you,” you have plenty of time to get busy.

About willmckinley

Will McKinley is a New York City-based writer, producer and classic film and TV obsessive. He’s been a guest on Turner Classic Movies (interviewed by host Robert Osborne), Sirius Satellite Radio and the official TCM podcast. Will has written for PBS and his byline has appeared more than 100 times in the pages of NYC alt weeklies like The Villager and Gay City News.
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11 Responses to Turner Classic Movies Announces Fourth Annual TCM Film Fest, April 25-28, 2013 in Hollywood

  1. I don’t mind to increase in price at all, and infact wouldn’t mind an even larger increase, if it means a little better system in running the screenings. The whole line system for regular non-credentialed folks is slightly choatic and massively time consuming, eating into a lot of time that could be spent in other screenings.

    Which is why the Palace Pass is great. You can go to the “big” stand-in-line-for-hours-to-see screenings, without blowing $500 bucks on an all-inclusive pass and then miss most programming. Plus if you come from far, like we did, we really wanted to spend most of our time in those landmark theaters- The Chinese, The Egyptian- which can’t be experienced anywhere else and make the traveling expenses seem worth the while.

    Your totally right, with recommending it. I’d also recommend EARLY hotel bookings. Specifically for ones within “steps” walking distance- The Roosevelt, Loews, Avalon, etc. We waited until a month before to book in 2012 and got stuck out in Universal City for the closest reasonable rate. (Closer places had similar rates, but were sold-out by the time we got around to booking.)

    • willmckinley says:

      A.C. – I agree with you on the price increase. For the pass I would buy (the Essential), a $100 increase is not going to be a deal breaker. And my position is, if it allows them to keep doing this at a high (or even higher) level of quality, it’s well worth it. That’s why I’ll buy a DVD from the TCM Shop, even if it costs more than Amazon. If you don’t support the business, the business may not be around for ever. And I want them to be around for ever.

      Also agree on early hotel reservations. I called the Roosevelt five minutes after the announcement was made yesterday. It doesn’t cost you any more to plan ahead.

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  3. Backlots says:

    Thank you so much for this! I didn’t want to risk applying for a press pass last year because of the difficulty you outlined in not hearing of your status until passes are sold out. I really wanted to go last year, so I bit the bullet and purchased a pass. But this year, with the price increases, I’m not going to be able to afford it if I don’t get credentials, so it’s all or nothing for me. Fingers crossed!

  4. idawson says:

    This is great advice Will. Last year I was unable to attend and am looking forward to doing so this year. Hopefully I can score a media credential.

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  6. Laura says:

    This was a great overview, Will! Thanks for taking the time to provide it, especially as you are the “voice of experience” attending the festival.

    I really liked the addition of the Palace Pass for the two biggest theaters, although as a local, I will probably try standby again next year if I don’t receive media credentials. I’ll just plan to stick to the Egyptian or the Chinese for that and not attempt the Chinese 6 again, after being first in line for the first showing of CRISS CROSS last year and still not making it in! (Grin)

    In terms of the medial credential application, do bloggers simply need to submit links for samples of past coverage, or actually attach a sample as a file? Just curious what procedure you recommend since the form doesn’t specify. Fortunately I already have plenty of relevant samples I could submit including coverage of GUN CRAZY at last year’s TCM Fest or coverage of the Noir City Festival. :)

    Hope to see you again this spring!

    Best wishes,
    Laura

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