People obviously talk to you a lot about the political stuff, but what do you do when you're not making movies?
MM: I spent the better part of the last year or two restoring a 100-year-old movie palace in the town where I live, and ended opening it up and operating it as a movie theater, and trying it as an experiment as to how to bring people back to the movies. Trying to show how a movie theater should be run. It has been an incredible experience. It's called the State Theater, and it's in Traverse City, Michigan. We've been open about 90 weeks, and of those 90 weeks, about a third of them, we've been the number one theater in the country, box office-wise, for the film that we're showing that week. And nobody's really written about this; it's kind of a "best kept secret" sort of thing. If you look at the grosses of -- like, when we had Lars and the Real Girl, we were the number one theater that week. We've been in the top 10 definitely more than half the weeks we've been open. We've been in the top 10 in the country, box office.How have you been able to do that?
MM: Well, there are a number of ways. First of all, I've created a wonderful movie theater that's comfortable to sit in. The projection and the sound is perfect. It's a fun place to be. It's a single-screen theater decorated in a 1940s motif; the ushers wear usher uniforms. It's non-profit, it's volunteer, pretty much volunteer-operated; the majority of the workers are ushers. The popcorn and pop is $2 each, and you can get candy for a dollar, so there's no rip-off prices. There's no commercials before the movies other than trailers, and cell phones are banned -- if we catch you on a cell phone or a blackberry, you're banned from the theater for life. You can never come back in.
Also, on an entirely unrelated note, Baked Frito Lay Chips are baaad. They taste nothing like the original and the texture is slightly better than those cardboard-y Wasa crackers. After I'm done with a munch session, there's all of the guilt and calories, and none of the smug satisfaction. I think I'll stick with the originals and just indulge once in a while.