Movie theaters are a key locale for communal experiences of horror and comedy, a trio of high-profile Hollywood directors told a receptive audience of the nation’s theater owners.
“What makes you laugh and scream is a communal experience,” noted Guillermo del Toro, who appeared Wednesday at Cinemacon’s “The Ever-Changing World of Filmmaking” panel with Sam Raimi and Oliver Stone.
Raimi, who received the RealD Innovation in 3D Award for “Oz the Great and Powerful” at the event, said during the panel discussion that the scariest film he’s ever seen was 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead” and added that horror remains a communal experience that’s not unlike ancient men being chased by saber-tooth tigers.
Del Toro explained that making an audience laugh or scream requires the same narrative structure of setting up expectations and then delivering a surprise — along with pushing the limits.
“In every horror film, I want to have at least one ‘walk-out’ moment,” del Toro asserted. “You cannot make a cozy horror film.”
Stone said that he no longer goes to horror movies and stressed the importance of making films that generate a strong reaction — even it’s a negative one, such as Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life.” Personally, Stone said the film improved considerably on second viewing
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For his part, Raimi said, “I don’t ever expect to make a film that is universally liked.”
Stone was also highly critical of the repetitive nature of action films.
“It becomes a form of torture for the eyes,” he noted. “CIA torture: I’d make you watch GI Joe 3,000 times. Just kidding.”
He also complained that theater owners do not do enough to ensure that sound and projection bulbs are up to standard at theaters outside Los Angeles.
“There’s no projectionist in the booth, or the owners are shaving money and they don’t use digital bulbs,” he added. “If we can bring theaters back to being movie palaces, that audience would be loyal to you forever.”