Midwest cinema chain Marcus Theatres is at odds with Paramount Pictures again, this time over the booking costs for Cloverfield. You may remember that Marcus failed to reach an agreement over the cost of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and ended up not playing the film during its first couple weeks in wide release (the chain is now showing the movie). Of course, people in the Midwest are used to waiting for arty movies like Sweeney Todd around this time of year. Marcus patrons could have just told themselves it would be just like waiting for No Country for Old Men or The Diving Bell and the Butterfly to hit their 'hoods. However, Cloverfield is a whole different kind of movie, a kind that will likely affect Marcus' business in a bad way.

See, in case you didn't read Erik and Scott's ravings about Cloverfield, you should be aware that this monster movie is a must-see-right-away kind of event. But it's not just that the movie is apparently awesome that makes it necessary viewing on opening weekend. An awesome movie can be seen anytime during its release. But Cloverfield is one of those kinds of movies you have to see before your friends ruin it for you. And by friends I mean internet bloggers, forum posters and Facebook acquaintances. And by ruin it I mean commenting on what the monster looks like, how (if?) it's killed, and other plot points and spoilers. By the time Marcus does reach an agreement to show Cloverfield, it may be too late. Nobody's going to be seeing this movie in its third week or beyond.

Obviously that first-run appeal is the reason Paramount can be such a bully with its more-steep-than-usual off-balance box office percentage split. The studio knows that cinemas are going to have a great weekend in concession sales, so it can ask for more money from ticket sales. But the problem is, cinemas still need some money from ticket sales, and with a movie like Cloverfield, which will have a very, very significant drop in box office following its opening weekend, cinemas are not going to be making any of that ticket money. And Marcus won't be making any money at all -- not even that great concession dough -- because it will miss out on the first run of the movie. But I applaud the company's decision to keep strong with its stands against Paramount and Hollywood bully-booking in general. And while I'm sure I'll be alone in this decision, I plan to boycott Cloverfield until Marcus is able to afford to show the movie -- even if that means I won't want to see the thing anymore once I permit myself to.