Coffman movies attract U students

by Naomi Scott

Watching movies is a growing phenomenon on campus, said film organizers for the Minnesota Programs and Activities Council.

The group picks and shows movies in the Coffman Union Theater, and only estimates attendence figures. But, organizers said, some recent showings have filled the 402-seat theater.

Samantha Schubnel, the council’s films committee co-chairman, said students are claiming films are much more popular this semester than in the past.

Not all of the scheduled films have been shown in the theater this year. Michael Moore’s controversial film, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” was shown Thursday in Coffman Union’s Great Hall. Approximately 75 students attended.

The biggest crowds for movies typically attend Friday nights, Schubnel said.

First-year student Ivory Taylor said she thinks the films are popular because they are new releases and free to students.

“Also, you can go as a social group with friends,” Taylor said.

Schubnel said the council’s films’ recent successes are because they’re free, in a convenient campus location and have prevalent advertising.

Journalism junior Kay Steiger, a community adviser in Comstock Hall, said she saw “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Mean Girls” and “Saved!” at the theater this year.

“The films are free, and they’re so close,” Steiger said. “Why not go?”

The council’s co-chairman, Justin Scott, who is also a Minnesota Daily employee, said a committee of volunteering students brainstormed possible movies to show at the theater earlier this semester.

After discussing cost and possible dates to show them, Schubnel and Scott order the films, which typically cost from $700 to $800 to show.

Schubnel said the council’s films committee has $70,000 per year for showing rights, advertising and marketing showtimes.

Additionally, the Thursday event and the student film festival in the spring will use a large amount of the committee’s funds.

The most expensive film the committee played this year was “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” which cost $850 to show, Schubnel said.

With the help of the film-selecting committee, Scott said, the group has tried to select mainstream movies and independent films. It also tries to pick movies that market to both sexes, he said.

Both Schubnel and Scott noted that students are interested in seeing independent films but do not want to pay to go see them.

The council’s films have built a following, Scott said, and some people return to the theater week after week to watch movies.

Hopefully, Scott said, students will see films at Coffman Union that they won’t normally go to because of the films’ genres.

Some students said they feel the council’s films this semester have appealed to specific audiences.

Architecture sophomore Adrian Chan hasn’t seen any of the event’s films this year but said there’ve been too many “girl” movies.

“I wish they had more action movies, like ‘Spiderman 2,’ ” Chan said. “But I think I might go see ‘Shrek 2.’ “

Scheduled upcoming films to be shown include “Starsky and Hutch,” “The Bourne Supremacy,” “Super Size Me,” “Collateral,” “Dodgeball,” “Garden State” and “The Notebook.”

The council is co-sponsoring a dodgeball tournament that will coincide with the showing of “Dodgeball” in November. The tournament will be held in Coffman Union’s Great Hall.

Films are shown nightly from Thursday to Saturday in Coffman Union, and Tuesday and Wednesday in the St. Paul Student Center Theater.