Turner Classic Movies hopes film buffs won’t do the same with the TCM Classic Film Festival, which today announced its seventh annual edition, scheduled for April 28 – May 1, 2016 in Hollywood.
Still, the network appears to be taking no chances, revealing the date far earlier than in the past (last year they announced in October for a March event) and holding the line on ticket prices after a $50 hike at all pass levels in 2015. TCM has also assured fans that beloved on-air personality Robert Osborne – the face of the network since its 1994 launch – will return as “official host” after missing the 2015 event. The 83-year-old film historian was also absent from the channel following treatment for a “minor health procedure” earlier this year, but has (thankfully) returned to his duties.
Films and guests have not yet been announced and likely won’t be for some time. But the historic TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s) and Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Blvd will once again be key venues and the Roosevelt Hotel will again serve as home base, with a schedule of daily happenings at the “Club TCM” event space. Discounted guest rooms are also available at the Roosevelt, but they’ll be gone by the time you read this. (More hotel suggestions are here.)
Passes for the 2016 TCM Film Fest go on sale November 19, with an exclusive online-only pre-sale for Citi cardmembers beginning November 17 at 10 a.m. (ET).
The top tier Spotlight Pass (aka The Charles Foster Kane Pass) offers “priority entry to all events” (thanks to a separate line) as well as admission to an “exclusive” opening night party and meet-and-greet events with Osborne, fellow host Ben Mankiewicz, and celebrity guests for $1,649. The Essential Pass provides full access to all TCMFF events (excluding the opening night party) for $749. The Classic Pass gives you everything except the opening night red-carpet screening for $599. And the $299 Palace Pass grants access to Grauman’s, the Egyptian and poolside screenings at the Roosevelt Friday through Sunday. (Walk-up admissions are also available to some screenings, but usually not to the panels or special events.)
The 2016 theme will be Moving Pictures, promising a collection of rousing, inspiring movies “that set our love of cinema in motion.” According to TCM’s press release, selections may include coming-of-age pictures, tearjerkers, sports dramas, and religious epics that elevate our spirits.
If you read this site or follow me on Twitter you know I’ve attended every TCMFF since its inception, and that I’m relentlessly vocal in my support of it (and pretty much everything TCM does). But the 2015 TCMFF was my least favorite so far, and, based on both attendance and conversations with other longtime attendees, I don’t think I was alone in that sentiment.
While the 2014 TCMFF sold out in record time – Essential passes were gone in just five hours and Spotlight a week later – passes were still available just days before the 2015 event began. (TCM doesn’t release the number of passes sold, so I can’t do an apples-to-apples comparison.) Smaller crowds were to be expected after the excitement of the network’s 20th birthday celebration in 2014, but some of the fall-off in 2015 may have been preventable.
And so, here are 5 things TCM can do to keep the Seven Year TCMFF Itch at bay.
I have enormous respect for the TCM programmers; they consistently make my life a better place. But, in my opinion, the 2015 theme History According to Hollywood became more of an intellectual exercise than past organizing concepts have been.
For most of us, TCMFF is an emotional experience, an opportunity to leave the real world for four days in another time and place. Past themes like Family (2014), Journeys (2013), Style (2012), and Music (2011) were malleable enough to be all-inclusive, while still providing necessary programming structure.
Happily, the 2016 theme Moving Pictures is similar. It has the potential to be more magical than literal, because we can be moved in a variety of ways. And that’s good news, particularly for someone who found fewer difficult choices in 2015 TCMFF schedule than ever before.
“In the right context, there is no cutoff,” TCM’s Senior VP of Programming Charles Tabesh said at the 2015 TCMFF when asked to define classic.
“(It’s classic) if Charlie says so!” general manager Jennifer Dorian added, cracking up a bunch of film bloggers who know how controversial a question that can be.
I agree, but for many of us who spend thousands of dollars to immerse ourselves in a live, in-person TCM experience, we don’t want “contemporary” films intruding on the party, even if they make good intellectual sense.
For the record: I love movies from all eras, and I would enjoy watching any film that has ever played at TCMFF (with the possible exception of GREASE, particularly the singalong version). But there’s a particular type of film that makes an Old Movie Weirdo want to fly across the country (or the world) to watch with like-minded friends, and a handful of titles screened in 2015 did not fall in that category. (Again, just my opinion. Feel free to disagree in the comments.)
Along the same lines, the cinematic “deep cuts” at TCMFF (like rare noir and Pre-Codes) are often relegated to the smallest auditorium (the 177-seat Chinese Multiplex theater 4), creating an inevitable mad rush among the hardcores every single time, while higher-profile films play to half-full theaters. And while we may get a second chance to see some of those rarities in the TBA slots on Sunday, it’s often without the special guests that appeared during the scheduled screening.
Technology allowing, I’d like to see more “discoveries” play in larger rooms. Just like with TCM’s brilliantly curated on-air programming, this is an opportunity to create new fans, not just play to the base.
Each year, TCMFF becomes more about the personal connections I make – both among my fellow attendees and the 300+ people who work behind the scenes.
It’s great to spend time with those folks at opening and closing night parties and while waiting on line for screenings, but TCM needs to work more opportunities for dedicated social interaction into the schedule. Events like the opening day trivia contest are great ways to make screening buddies and find new friends with similar interests. We need more of those, and more creative methods of interaction throughout the weekend, like the trading card swaps at the recent Disney D23 convention. (Hat tip to Laura Grieve for her D23 coverage.)
For many of us, this is the only weekend off the year when we can share something we’ve loved our entire lives. TCM needs to make the most of that.
In 2015 I saw 20 movies at the Festival, 15 of them projected entirely or in part on 35mm film. In fact, TCMFF has screened more movies on film than digital formats every year, and the number of film screenings actually increased this year compared to 2014. Where else do you see that happening?
“(We’re committed to) showing films on film,” festival managing director Genevieve MacGillicuddy told me at the 2013 TCMFF.
That’s a huge selling point for many purists, and I hope it continues. And while they’re at it, upgrade the projection capabilities at the Roosevelt Hotel poolside screenings, where films are presented on DVD. Unless it’s GREASE, then I don’t particularly care.
See you all in Hollywood in 2016.