Just As I Thought

This Is (not) Cinerama

Gizmodo has a good rant about the decline of movies. The film industry seems to be in decline, and Hollywood wants us all to believe it’s because of pirated movies; in fact, they’re churning out crapfest after crapfest and theatres are making it more and more unpleasant to go.
Just last week, I went to see “Hitchhiker’s Guide” in a run-down theatre where the seats didn’t even face the screen properly, where the outrageous $9.50 charge to get in had to be paid in cash leaving no money for popcorn (no plastic accepted, sorry) and I was subjected to endless commercials before the film started, out of focus.
All I could think was that I would rather be watching it at home on my nice 50″ plasma screen, with snacks and good sound.
What happened to grand movie palaces, the places that were destinations themselves? The theatres that made it a fun and entertaining evening out? When did theatres become extensions of the television culture with small screens, commercials, and lowest-common-denominator surroundings?
What’s more, when did our televisions at home become so much more appealing?

3 comments

  • Its about money, its always about money. Charge more, yet deliver less. Smaller screens are cheaper to build. Square rooms are cheaper to build than palaces. Don’t worry about long term profits! How much can we make TODAY. $7 popcorn! Get a grip, the tub cost .18 and its 5 times the cost of the popcorn inside. The drink cup cost a nickel and that’s ALOT more than the cost of the soda inside. They can’t lie to me, I ran restaurants for 30 years, I know what a drink cup cost. I’ve ordered millions of them. And I can assure you I paid more than the large chains do because I couldn’t order in bulk.
    Movie theaters are choking themselves to death. All in the name of quarterly profits. If theaters continue on the downward slide and home theaters continue to get better (and I believe this is happening) theaters like the ‘drive in’ will slowly die and fade away. Soon movies will be released directly to the internet and you’ll pay a download fee and watch it on your plasma screen. And they’ve no one to blame except themselves because from pricing to commercials they have made the entire movie going experience worse and worse.

  • T Kevin is correct, the two sides to this problem “the quality (or lack) of the movies, and the quality (or lack) of the theater environment.”
    But my belief is both are related to money.
    To get a movie made (financed) someone (the writer/Director) needs to make a pitch to the big studios. They need to ‘sell’ the movie even before production begins. During the selling of the movie decisions are made about the movie regarding not the movie but rather how to change it to bring in more money. For example.
    Change this scene and we’ll have better sales in Japan.
    Rewrite this scene and the Muslim’s will watch it.
    Drop it from an R to a G or PG and we can market it to airlines for in-flight movies.
    At this point the Director’s vision is moot. The studio is telling him what kind of movie to make. And Directors with enough power and clout to make the movie their way are few and far between. And even then, if they have one or two flops all that changes. A flop is any movie that brings in less than projected, without regards to popularity. If its projected to bring in 65 million at the box office and it brings in 50 million its a flop and will hurt the ability of the director to secure financing in the future.
    And after all that and the movie gets made the studio will show it to a ‘test audience’ and go back to the director and have him re-shoot the ending because it will sell better. So now we have movies made by committee with story lines written for profit. (Its a wonder any movie gets made)

    What is far easier to get made is any movie with a built in base, a movie based on a popular TV show or comic book already has X number of people ready to go see it and because of that we end up with Batman, Spiderman, Hulk, Bewitched and so many more. Also movies based on a series of movies are easier to finance. Lethal Weapon, Dirty Harry, Herbie, 007 Bond , Again because the audience is built in.

    If you look at all the movies released in the last year and crossed out all the movies from comic books, TV shows, series movies or remakes of old movies, what you’ll find is there is very little new original movies being produced. The reason? No one is wiling to take that risk. There’s not enough money in it. Its too big of gamble. We can’t guarantee box office sales. We have a duty to our shareholders, blah, blah, blah.
    All of these things conspire to produce bland over written stories with too much time spent on how we can market it and how many products can we place in the movie, That the movie, the original movie pitched to the studio by the director has changed so much it hardly reflects his (or her) vision at all.

    And I’m old enough to remember ushers at the movies, any one talking or causing a disruption quickly had a flashlight pointed at them. And you knew, you KNEW if that light hit you a second time you were asked to leave. How I long for the days when they threw the trouble makers out!

  • We’re talking two different things: the quality (or lack) of the movies, and the quality (or lack) of the theater environment.

    I rarely go to the movies any more, and where there is something I really want to see in a theater, I’ve gone when I thought it would be deserted so as to avoid the most annying thing to me: other people talking. When I went to see the Fellowship of the Ring, I took off work. The theater was virtually empty, except for two old ladies who sat RIGHT behind me and one proceeded to freakin’ explain the entire movie to the other as it happened. I finally turned around and asked them politely to please be quiet. They looked offended but shut up.

    I went on a weekday morning to see Revenge of the Sith. Theater almost empty, except for a guy who brought his TODDLER, who talked the entire time.

    Why bother?

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