How mystical is moviegoing? Vigorous marketing campaigns for bad or humdrum or otherwise misbegotten films never seem to matter all that much. They open and people just don’t go. Or they do. Why? Because they know. Because they can smell the hits and the tanks before they’ve read the aggregate review sites, and sometimes even before they see the trailers. A certain percentage will pay to see crap even though they know it’s crap. Why? Because wildebeests just want to see the crap that they want to see. Either way all marketers can do is fan the flames of embers that have already begun to glow on their own.

Question: Anyone can pick the big upcoming hits and misses, but which films in the 2014 Oscar Balloon will have to struggle to get off the ground?

“Director Fred Zinnemann was in Los Angeles when From Here To Eternity opened at New York’s Capitol theatre on August 6, 1953. He was a bit worried about an August opening since it was very hot and muggy and the Capitol had no air-conditioning back then. For whatever reason Columbia chief Harry Cohn had decided to open the film quietly. ‘No premiere, no limousines, nothing,’ Zinneman later recalled.

“And then Marlene Dietrich, whom Zinnemann barely knew, called from New York at 9 pm Pacific. ‘She said it was midnight there but the Capitol theatre was bulging,’ he said, ‘and that people were still standing around the block and there was an extra performance starting at one in the morning. ‘How is that possible?,’ Zinneman asked Dietrich. ‘There’s been no publicity!’ And Dietrich said ‘they smell it.’” — from an August 2011 HE riff called “They Just Knew.”