What happened to double feature?

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AS I wrote in last weeks review of ‘Wreck-it Ralph’, it was accompanied by the great short animation, ‘Paperman’. Before this, the last time I saw a supporting presentation at the cinema was the documentary ‘A Magic Year’, preceding Queen’s ‘Hungarian Rhapsody’, back in September. This got me thinking; what happened to the double feature?.

For decades, the double feature was a mainstay of the cinema experience. Feature films would often be accompanied by a B-movie, newsreel or cartoon. It was a regular practice. However, sometime around the 60s it began a steady decline, eventually becoming obsolete. It seems likely that audiences grew less inclined to watch a film, as well as a supporting film they may have had little interest in. Theatres stopped showing them and that was that. In 2007 Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarintino attempted to bring it back with ‘Grindhouse’. Comprising Rodriguez’s ‘Planet Terror’, Tarantino’s ‘Death Proof’ and fake trailers made for the film, it was a throwback to the exploitation double features common in the 70s and ran over three hours long. The run time turned audiences off and ‘Planet Terror’ and ‘Death Proof’ were released seperately overseas.

Currently, other than Pixar, there are no studios that continue to produce short films regularly. If you go to the cinema as often as me, you quickly grow tired of seeing the same trailers and adverts. It takes up time that could be easily used for a short, which would be a nice addition to any cinema trip. It could be a platform for young artists to have an independently made short seen and would be excellent exposure. Unfortunately, this is wishful thinking.

The double feature sees no immediate signs of return. Considered a nostalgic symbol of yesteryear, it is perhaps destined to be just that.

By Kelan Headley