Brigham Young University's Varsity Theater is getting a mildly favorable response to a new policy that curries "My Fair Lady" over a cleaned-up "Pretty Woman."
Patrons of the campus movie house have been fickle in the first month of a trial run featuring classics from the golden age of the silver screen, said Carri P. Jenkins, university spokeswoman.
Suspense flick "Wait Until Dark" packed the 400-seat theater during a three-day run. But the World War II movie "Guns of Navarone" was largely shunned by students of the school owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"It very much depends on the movie," Jenkins said. "Some have filled the theater every day. Others have not had that kind of draw."
A Katharine Hepburn film-fest drew substantial crowds last week, she said.
But she's no Julia Roberts at BYU's box office. Available seats were rare last year, prompting students to crowd around the ticket booth when it opened at noon to nab up to six tickets of that night's showing of a recently released movie.
Administrators at BYU decided to halt the longstanding practice of snipping profanity and nudity from blockbuster films for campus shows immediately after Paramount studios ordered an American Fork theater to stop editing the Academy Award-winning "Ti-tan-ic."
"Discussions with suppliers of films and film companies have made it clear that BYU will not be able to secure formal approval to continue edit-ing films," according to a formal statement, issued by Jenkins. Movies cut for content have not been shown at BYU since Aug. 4.
LDS Church leaders have advised church members not to watch films with profanity, nudity or excessive violence.
Varsity Theater editing policies had been under scrutiny by university officials for about six months before Hollywood's backlash against Towne Cinemas, Jenkins said.
An evaluation of the films showed at the theater stemmed from recent controversies, most notably Steven Spielberg's refusal to allow parts of his 1994 Oscar winning holocaust epic, "Schind-ler's List," to be snipped by university film editors.
BYU also opted last January not to show Spielberg's "Amistad," which depicts a slave mutiny aboard a 19th century Spanish ship. About the same time, BYU received a letter from a film company asking that its movies no longer be edited.
Attendance figures are being watched by officials. Even though the admission price was dropped from $1.50 to $1 this year to attract crowds to the new offerings, the theater needs to at least break even financially to continue operations, Jenkins said.
"It's really experimental right now," Jenkins said, adding that not all coming attractions are from an early era of moviemaking. "Some current good shows will be shown."
Nearby Utah Valley State College has started showing airline versions of smash hits to please the student body, a dominant number of which belong to the LDS Church. An edited "Shawshank Redemption" was shown Saturday night at the public college.
Bob Rasmussen, director of UVSC student programs, said the cut prints are expensive to lease, running from $300 to $1,000, depending on the popularity of the show.
Jenkins said "airline versions are in BYU's pool" for future consideration. Current film policies will be evaluated throughout the year to determine if there is enough demand for the types of shows now being screened, she said.