Celebrated Classics & Theatrical Firsts, Fathom 2023 in Review
Written byon Dec 28, 2023 10:53 AM
Lights. Camera. Reflection! With the new year rapidly approaching, it is time to celebrate the honored tradition of retrospect!
2023 has been a year of swings for the film industry. We saw significant strikes change the Hollywood landscape, concert films dominate the box office, and arguably one of the most historic double features in cinematic history: coined by critic Matt Neglia, “Barbenheimer” sweep across the globe.
Beyond that, this year marked a significant milestone in Fathom’s history. Our focus was to bring more classics, nostalgic animation, theatrical firsts, and groundbreaking proshots to audiences nationwide. As a result, 2023 became the highest grossing in our company’s history, and thus we wanted to shine the spotlight on the amazing theatrical experiences we shared with each of you this year. Sit back, relax, and as Doc would say, “where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”
Classics are a staple of the moviegoing experience, and this year we saw their demand skyrocket. Fathom’s Big Screen Classics 2023 lineup was met with unforgettable enthusiasm, as viewers relived the nostalgia of their favorite movie while sharing the magic with a new generation. Titles like The Birds, Roman Holiday, Casablanca, and the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski (during which we partnered with The Thirsty Whale to create a White Russian inspired by the film), alongside standalones such as Back to the Future, Heathers, Godzilla 2000, The Last Waltz, and The Way (Emilio Estevez’s inspiring journey down the Camino de Santiago), embodied our commitment to bringing something for everyone to the big screen.
Furthermore, our third annual Fathom Fright Fest tested even the bravest of hearts as murderous cars, exorcisms, and invading alien consumerist races permeated outside the walls of local theaters. The 35th anniversary of They Live stirred interesting comparisons between our contemporary culture and the world John Carpenter created on our socials. Christine segmented Stephen King purists and film enjoyers, who debated which version of this iconic story is better. The 50th anniversary of The Exorcist sparked a heated debate over the director’s cut, and the passing of William Friedkin made this screening resonate with fans even more.
Rob Zombie’s masterpiece, House of 1000 Corpses, brought Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters and Madmen back to screens to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Overall, the demand and passion for cinema was felt, and we could not be more thankful for the memories we created with these celebrated classics.
From the collective works of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli to LAIKA’s re-colored and remastered version of Henry Selick’s Coraline, the nostalgia of these timeless features reignited audiences’ love for classic animation.
Studio Ghibli has always been an innovator in the anime space, and this year’s festival was a tribute to the legendary auteur, Hayao Miyazaki. The director consistently transports viewers to magical worlds filled with complex characters and themes, and his body of work is one of the most nostalgic and cherished in animation, making this year special. We collectively relived our childhood, shared these memories with our loved ones, and crossed off any unwatched films in his library. It was truly the perfect way to celebrate this legendary studio.
Coraline, the stop-motion masterpiece from LAIKA and director Henry Selick, became our biggest classic movie of all time thanks to the incredible fanbase that continues to share the adventure too weird for words. The constant support and debate between fans of which version is best (the 3D or the remastered 4K version), warmed our hearts and reminded us of the enchanting nature of animation. Plus, the fan-made video from Victor Haegelin reminded us of the skill and care that goes into the beloved medium.
The sentiment is evident this year; moviegoers love rich storytelling and creative worlds, which builds even more excitement for next year!
The demand for independent, inspiring, and non-traditional Hollywood-crafted theatrical firsts has continued to grow throughout the years. In 2023, we brought the murderous rampage of Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, Fathom First: Golda, The Journey: A Music Special from Andrea Bocelli, The Chosen: Season 3 Finale, and now our company’s highest grossing film of all time, The Blind, to the big screen.
These films helped redefine the mold of specialty distribution, offering inspired storytelling that reached different audiences. Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey took our childhood characters and turned them murderous. Guy Nattiv created a riveting depiction of the Yom Kippur War and the decisions Golda Meir faced as Israel’s first female Prime Minister during this time. The Journey: A Music Special from Andrea Bocelli took audiences on an unforgettable musical odyssey through the Italian countryside. The Blind shared the untold true story of the Robertson family and Phil’s road to redemption that led to the creation of a dynasty.
Overall, the overwhelming support for titles like these had a direct influence on the box office allowing these diverse types of stories to continue reaching audiences nationwide.
A proshot, or a “professionally shot” live recording of a stage production, as outlined by Broadway World takes place at the theatre where a show is taking place, filming it from different angles and scenes multiple times to be able to provide audiences with a unique and never-before-seen look at their favorite performances.
The magic of this type of event is in their spontaneity, which only a live stage production can bring. In 2023, we had the pleasure of bringing multiple groundbreaking proshots to fans nationwide. Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award® – winning animated feature film, Spirited Away, came to life in its first-ever stage adaptation. It was filmed at Tokyo’s historic Imperial Theatre and featured both Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi as Chihiro. Spirited Away: Live on Stage blew us and audiences away as our second title in Studio Ghibli Fest 2023.
An inspiring, fresh perspective on the story of Christ, John and Sarah Bolin brought their dynamic and emotionally charged stage production The Thorn to theaters nationwide for the first time. The cinematic experience boasted talented acrobatics, dancers, martial artists, and movement artists from around the world, which created a fresh perspective on this story of life, loss, and the human spirit. Viewers compared the live show to the theatrical experience, finding it to be 2 excitingly different iterations of The Thorn.
The highly anticipated Waitress: The Musical baked its way into viewers’ hearts, who took to socials to rave about their experience and provide their thoughts on how the proshot was better than seeing it live on stage. Boasting a nearly all-female creative team with Diane Paulus as director, Sara Bareilles as composer and lyricist, Jessie Nelson as book adaptor, and Lorin Latarro as choreographer, Waitress: The Musical proved that theatrical runs of proshots are here to stay.
From iconic classics, nostalgic animation, theatrical firsts, and groundbreaking proshots, this year has been one for the books. Our continued growth and exploration in curating content for everyone is our resolution for next year. 2023 is winding down, and 2024 will bring even bigger surprises for fans nationwide.
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