Oscar Movies as Food: 'Social Network' Is a Steak, 'The Town' a Hamburger
If movies were meals, Black Swan would be grapefruit, jests Jeff Wells. But today's Wall Street Journal reports that theater food is about to transform movies for real.
Wells' transformation of Oscar hopefuls to their food equivalents is the greatest gustatory cinema essay since my debate with Anne Thompson on the 2010 Oscar smackdown between manly "steak eater" fans of films like The Fighter, The Town and True Grit and "female vegetarian" types who might abhor 127 Hours and eat up The Kids Are All Right.
Here is Wells' Oscar menu:
The Social Network: "Specially seasoned grade-A ribboned steak served ina top-ranked Cambridge restaurant." Alternatively: "Roast herbal chicken served in a nice, inexpensive Cambridge cafeteria, filling and nutritious."
The Town: "Hamburger with sauteed onions and large fries with a little paper cup of mayo on the side."
Black Swan: "A breakfast of grapefruit and one lightly-boiled egg."
Winter's Bone: "Organic vegetable salad, except the person eating it is unshaven and only showers twice weekly and is wearing a flannel shirt and has a bad smoker's cough."
The King's Speech: "A well-prepared meal of roast duck and rice pudding served at Rules on a Tuesday night."
For me, The Social Network is vegan, or at most it eats takeout sushi; The King's Speech is tea-sipping. 127 Hours is, I regret to report, pee-sipping. (Spoiler alert: when you're trapped in a canyon by a rock, your beverage of choice is limited.)
Pundits' food fights are fun, but food is going to change the filmgoing experience, the Wall Street Journal notes. The dominant Regal Entertainment Group theater chain is transforming ten percent of its 375 movie theaters into restaurant/theaters serving more than stale popcorn. About 300 to 400 of 5,750 US theaters serve restaurant food, and the Journal says it's about to become 600 to 800.
"I am one hundred percent sure that these theaters are the future of movie-going," Dreamworks' Jeffrey Katzenberg tells the Journal. After 3D fans are satiated, what else could be the next box-office booster besides serving actual repasts instead of toxic candy? Viewers don't seem to mind shelling out extra.
This would alter the movie business profoundly. Filmgoers might live longer by munching fewer jujubes. And theater execs said, "Horror movies don't play quite as well in the format because consumers apparently don't enjoy eating while watching blood and gore."
Man, does that sound bad for Saw VIII. In the current Oscar season, diner/theaters would surely have hurt 127 Hours: if the pee sipping didn't get them, James Franco's urgent order of arm tartare would.
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Scott, whose THR coverage appears both in print and online, is one of the film industry's most experienced and trusted awards analysts, and possesses one of the strongest track records at forecasting the Oscars. His best showings came in 2006 and 2013, when he called 21 of 24 winners; he was also the only pundit to project long-shot best picture nominations for The Reader (2008), The Blind Side (2009) and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011). An alumnus of Brandeis University, he previously ran "The Feinberg Files" blog for the Los Angeles Times. He is now a voting member of both the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, and is writing a book about film history for young people for which he has interviewed more than 350 high-profile Hollywood figures.
Gregg contributes awards news, features online, and "The Race" column in print.
Tim contributes awards news and features, both in print and online.