CONSERVATIVE VALUES IN THE MULTIPLEX
Nerve has just put up their new film issue, and a centerpiece is Justin Clark’s portrait of businessman Philip Anschutz, the conservative theater chain owner and film financier (The Chronicles of Narnia, Ray). The article is an interesting look at Anschutz’s various business interests and how some of them intertwine with his conservative politics. Of the latter, Clark writes:
A heavy contributor to the Republican Party for decades, Anschutz helped fund Amendment 2, a ballot initiative to overturn a state law protecting gay rights, and helped stop another initiative promoting medical marijuana. More recently, he helped fund the Discovery Institute, a conservative Christian think tank that mounted a public relations campaign and financed “research” into intelligent design. He has also supported the Media Research Council, the group that generated nearly all the indecency complaints with the FCC in 2003. As a friend of his told Fortune, Anschutz “has a latent interest in doing something significant in American Christianity. He is working deliberately and diligently on it.”
Clark’s piece is not an expose, just a story discussing the various interminglings possible and already achieved between Anschutz’s personal philosophies and his business ones. The article discusses Anschutz’s dominance in various exhibition markets around the country, predicting the possibility that his influence could dissuade studios from making R-rated movies. Or, if they do, to perhaps provide alternate cuts:
In 2005, PG-rated films outperformed R-rated films in the theater for the first time in two decades. Conservatives have touted weak theater attendance as proof that the heartland isn’t interested in Hollywood’s licentiousness and liberal politics. The Dove Foundation, non-profit advocates of “wholesome family entertainment”, published a study showing that G-rated movies are eleven times more profitable than R-rated flicks. Indeed: as a co-producer and financial backer of Oscar contender Ray, Anschutz reportedly insisted on altering the details of subject Ray Charles’ life, downplaying his drug use and womanizing to obtain a PG-13 rating.
Although Hollywood didn’t heed the Dove Foundation’s advice in 2005 — the key Oscar nominations were all low-grossing films that are very political — studios have begun looking into releasing PG versions of their R-rated fare, an innovation made possible by the advent of digital cinema. The double release would allow theaters to play the cleaner version during more lucrative screening times earlier in the day, and the director’s cut later on.