Access: Permitted? Denied!

In addition to wrestling with how portions of Permission have lodged themselves in my psyche, inspiring me — through the sheer force of will that is artistic brilliance — to reevaluate my own (if I may say so myself, quite happy) relationship, I’m now also left wondering why the movie didn’t receive a proper theatrical release.

Or, really, any release at all.

In New York City — the art house capital of America (Hollywood might be located in Los Angeles, but most of the real cinephiles — you know, the ones who actually frequent movie theaters — live in New York City. COME AT ME, LEFT COASTERS. And yes, I’m aware LA’s traffic convinces many potential theatergoers to stay home (also one of the reasons live theatre never really took off there, despite the bursting population of quality actors). But if a few cars can keep you from experiencing a movie how it’s intended to be seen — in a MOVIE theater — then you’re not a real cinephile at all. And if anyone who wants to cite the price of movie tickets as an inhibiting factor over streaming, allow me to introduce you to Moviepass…)


Where was I?

Ah yes:

In New York City, Permission played in only one theater…for a mere week (and it was the rat theater at that!). This is where I’d report its national box office take…BUT BOX OFFICE MOJO DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A PAGE FOR IT!!! That’s how insignificant of a release it received. But if it adhered to past rollouts, one-week engagements at the Rat Theatre rarely find their way to other cities. If they do, it’ll be for one-week, tops.

And, to be frank, in the case of Permission, that’s a damn shame. Yes, most people prefer to stay in the comfort of their home theaters, and streaming services love to boast about how they provide easy and widespread access to all such small and intimate fare. But, if that’s the case, why has no one seen Permission?  Simply put, theatrical releases garner more critical fanfare, which inherently raises their profiles, which in turn will allow more curious viewers to become privy to their existence.

Should the onus fall on entertainment journalists to notify their readers about streaming products to the same degree as tentpole blockbusters? Speaking for myself, I refuse to support any company striving to diminish the cultural currency of communal experiences, a tradition under siege. To that end, I’m sure most of you had never even heard of Permission, even if you love Rebecca Hall and/or Downtown Abbey’s Dan Stevens. And why would you have? Theaters screen trailers for movies they actually plan to book.

I feel like there’s this general, largely unspoken belief nowadays that adult dramas more reliant on dialogue than spectacle should fall under the purview of peak tv. And yet, there’s something to be said for watching Permission, given what it’s about, in a movie theater, in public, under the cloak of illicit dark, surrounded by other people, who, if given the chance, could all be possible affairs waiting to disrupt the complacent contentment of your current relationship. That subtle, insidious notion simply couldn’t be elicited by a multi-episode series binged in a few hours.

And movies with as much cinematic craftsmanship as Permission fall through the cracks more and more nowadays. I’ll try to keep writing about them to inform you of their existence, dear reader. But there’s only one way to ensure that such flicks actually see the light of a projector bulb:


My work here on Permission is done, but the real Great Work begins now…

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