MovieBob - Intermission
MovieBob's Re-Tales II: Tales From The Table

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 3 May 2013 16:00
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And then I got it.

Bullet-Proof was black. That was the noteworthy difference between C.O.P.S. and every other 80s action cartoon: It was the only one where the leader/star (the Optimus/Duke/Lion-O of the group) was black. To me, that had been no big thing. But to this guy? The guy holding a DVD like it was the Rosetta Stone for his own memories? Obviously, this had been a landmark. Thinking on it, Bullet-Proof probably would've been one of the only black cartoon heroes ("This dude was the Black Superman!," as he subsequently explained to his girlfriend) he would've had to look up to.

At the checkout, the guy practically skipped to the door. His partner looking vaguely embarrassed, but it seemed like she "got" it.

The next day, I came in to find out that something like 70-80% of the C.O.P.S. DVDs that had sold so well that first day had been returned. The reason? People had thought it was the first season of COPS, the prototypical police ride-along reality show. Funny, and a running joke in the store for a few weeks after; but I know one guy who got the version he wanted... and I really hope it held up for him.

SLEIGHT OF HAND
One time, a district leader of some sort showed up unannounced, took a tour of the store, and later that day I got called into my supervisor's office. Never a good sign, though for a change I had no idea what the issue could be, and there were two of them in there which was an even worse sign.

"Bob..." he was using the Fake Concerned Voice. This was going to be a long one. "Bob... the district guy thought it was weird there was a bunch of weird older stuff on The Table instead of new product that's supposed to go there..."

"We try not leave empty spaces when stuff sells out, sir." I just wanted to get to the point.

"Yeah, well, Bob... we looked up the numbers on some of the titles and it doesn't add up."

"Doesn't add up how?"

"Doesn't add up like stuff is selling TOO well. It looks off."

Unbelievable. I'm exceeding expectations, and that makes me suspicious. "What do you mean, off? What do you think I'm doing?"

The second guy is more to the point. "Are you doin' stuff to the inventory?"

"No. And why would I?"

I never got a straight answer on that, but I suspect that they somehow thought that my being The Movie Guy on payroll that I'd try and make certain things look like they sold better than they did. How I was supposed to benefit from that, exactly? Your guess is as good as mine.

One supposed anomaly was a higher-than-other-stores rate of sales for a certain recent(ish) Godzilla movie all in one week. I explained to them that the movie featured a popular MMA Fighter in a lead (human) role, and I'd tabled a few copies of it on a week when UFC had a big DVD release on a whim. Turned out my instinct paid off.

"What about this one... 'Shinobi?" He pronounced it "SHY-NAW-BEE."

I explained that Shinobi: Heart Under Blade was the live-action version of a popular anime (then I explained what anime was) series, and that it sold well because when I put it on the table with the other new releases instead of directly into the back shelves, its fanbase saw it and bought it.

Their final questionable issue was regarding us selling out (or close to it, this was awhile ago) of foreign action movie called Nomad which didn't sell well... anywhere, really. It was kind of terrible and no one in the U.S. heard of it, but for some reason its distributor did a big first push. This one, at least, I could see them at least thinking might be a mistake.

"Y'know Borat?" I ask them.

"Yeah?"

"Well, Nomad is actually a movie from Kazahkstan. The country Borat was supposed to be from."

"Seriously?"

"Yeah. It's the biggest Kazakhstan movie ever or something like that. I figured put it on the table next to some copies of Borat, so when people ask what it is you can point to Borat and say 'It's a movie from Kazakhstan - the real place!'"

Blank stares: "And people bought it for that?"

"Well, they also did the cover to look really similar to 300, so I'm sure that helped... but yeah, I think a lot of people were surprised it's a real place."

At that point they let me leave. In case you're wondering, no; not only did I not get any kind of credit for moving all that product, I didn't get any kind of apology for effectively being accused of some kind of dishonest shenanigans in the course of doing my job.

Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.

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