Monday, June 06, 2005

THE STATE OF CINEMA

Recent articles discussing the sad state of movies feature studio executives blaming new digital technologies for their poor business. While they concede that the quality of movies has declined in the last few years, TiVo, DVR, Netflix, and On-Demand take the brunt of the blame. No one seems willing to mention the real culprits behind the recent decline in movie business.

The first of these is something I'm sure everyone can agree has become quite intolerable. The movie theater says the movie starts at 8 pm. So you show up at 8 pm. Does the movie start? You think so, until you realize you are at the movies watching, of all things, COMMERCIALS! Isn't this the point of movies? That there aren't any commercials? So now you're stuck sitting through 15 minutes of extended television commercials.

Ok, surely NOW the movie will start. What's this? Trailers! I understand that trailers have always been shown at movies, but back in the day, you only had to watch one or two trailers. Now it's more like 5 or 6. And with the admittedly poor quality of movies nowadays, it's about 4 or 5 horrible trailers and one halfway decent one. Now it's about 30 minutes after start time, and FINALLY the movie is starting.

There's nothing you can do to protest those commercials either. If you show up late to skip them, you're still paying full price and now you're attempting to find a seat in the dark, which is both awkward and embarrassing. This recent addition of commercials brings me to another point. By showing these long NATIONAL commercials before movies, the theaters are making a lot more money. Have they lowered the ticket prices because of this? NO!!! They've RAISED them!!

Then there's movie snacks. A popcorn and a soda are now pushing $10! And the prices are like super-sizing, with a quarter separating a small and a large. So now you have a gallon of soda and a barrel of popcorn, you should be set for the movie right? Usually, but now by the time you sit through the commercials and previews, you look down in horror to realize you've somehow FINISHED all of your snacks, and the movie hasn't even started yet!

This is the main reason I feel movie attendance is rapidly declining. When movies like Jurassic Park came out, an evening show was probably in the ballpark of $6 or so. Now it's $9 or $10!! With the questionable quality of so many movies now, why should movie-goers risk that much money for a potentially ok movie? This is the real reason why people are turning to digital technologies. They're MORE AFFORDABLE, and if it turns out I don't like what I'm watching, I haven't lost much.

Furthermore, I'm tired of hearing about how every year there is a new box office record. Of course there is, theaters keep raising the prices! CDs don't go platinum when they make a million dollars, it's when they sell a million copies. Why aren't movie records based on ticket SALES and not ticket PRICES?

Folks, this stuff isn't going to change if we keep going to the theaters for so-so movies. My suggestion is this: Stop going! Unless it's a movie you've been dying to see, or that was MEANT to be seen in theaters (a la War of the Worlds), DO NOT GO! Studios will keep putting out bad movies if people keep PAYING TO SEE bad movies! And theaters are going to continue to charge outrageous prices if people continute TO PAY OUTRAGEOUS PRICES!

Studio executives can complain all they want about digital technologies, but they only have themselves to blame.

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