OGDEN — The Captain was right. Some men, you just can’t reach.
Just ask Ann Reeder, theater event manager at Peery’s Egyptian Theater in downtown Ogden.
It’s the classic line from “Cool Hand Luke,” the 1967 film starring Paul Newman. Strother Martin’s character, the Captain, tells the prison chain gang he’s supervising: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate. Some men, you just can’t reach.”
Well, whether or not it’s a communication failure, Reeder admits men have been difficult to reach with this year’s film series.
The theme for the 2019 offerings at the historic theater has been billed as a battle of the sexes. Each month, films alternate between a “chick flick” (a movie aimed at female audiences) and a “bro-vie” (one for the dudes). The gender with the highest attendance at each film gets to participate in a prize drawing before the screening.
“On bro-vie nights, the men win the night, but only by a small number, like, maybe five,” Reeder said. “On chick flick nights the women kill. We’ll have just a few men, and lots and lots of women.”
The series began Jan. 23 with “The Dirty Dozen.” In February, it was a “Grease” sing-along, followed a month later with “Mad Max.” Reeder says attendance among males has been low.
“What I’ve learned is that men don’t go to movies, unless their women bring them,” she said. “The chick flicks are doing great, but yeah, I haven’t had the numbers for the bro-vies like I thought we’d have.”
Reeder said they were lucky to get 50 people at each of the first two bro-vies. The chick flicks, on the other hand, have been packing them in. She estimates about 300 people were in attendance at “Grease,” and she expects double that at “Mamma Mia” this week.
“For ‘Mamma Mia’ on Friday, we’ve already pre-sold about 400 tickets,” Reeder said. “Last year we had 650 people come to the sing-along, so I’m expecting over 600 this year.”
And this month, Peery’s Egyptian Theater is presenting both a chick flick and a bro-vie, all in less than a week.
Reeder said it’s a scheduling glitch brought on by a busy theater at the end of the year.
“I can’t schedule films in December because we’re so packed,” she said. “We had to get an even amount of male and female films in, so we’re offering two this month.”
On Friday, the chick flick will be the “Mamma Mia” sing-along. Then, next Wednesday, the bro-vie will be “Cool Hand Luke.” Admission is $5 to each, but the opposite sex is always admitted free into the other gender’s films.
Both events start at 7 p.m. at the theater, 2415 Washington Blvd.
For Friday’s “Mamma Mia” sing-along, Reeder said attendees are encouraged to dress up. And, she says, theater staff will be giving out feather boas to the audience — “much to the chagrin of our housekeeping services.”
Despite the low attendance, Reeder said even the bro-vies have been a success. She just wishes more men would take advantage of them.
“We’re doing classic movies here,” she said.
Reeder suspects it may be a generational thing, since most of the guy shows are from decades past. For example, in a recent staff meeting Reeder asked who was familiar with “Cool Hand Luke,” and nobody under 35 knew anything about it.
“This is a classic, and they just didn’t know,” she said. “I was really hoping younger people would take advantage of this and come see a classic old movie on the big screen.”
Reeder says she once gave her children a list of classic movies and told them, “Here’s what you need to see.” It included films like “The Godfather” and “Cool Hand Luke.”
Reeder holds out hope that men will surprise her for next week’s bro-vie.
“They can still come back,” she said. “We still believe in them.”
And although it’s a bro flick, “Cool Hand Luke” has something for both sexes, according to Reeder.
“For women, it has Paul Newman in it,” she said of the longtime leading-man heartthrob. “And for men, it has all these great lines in pop culture. Like, ‘What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.’”