Friday, July 22, 2005

Movie Theaters Used to be Cool

I stumbled across this blog entry over at The Big Picture talking about how it’s not piracy that will kill the movie industry, it’s movie theaters. From the article:
5 factors are hurting theater revenue:
1) Social factors eroding theater environment (talking, cell phones, babies crying, etc.)
2) Sacrificing long term relationships with theater-goers for the increase in short term profitability (commercials, no ushers, etc.)
3) Higher quality experience elsewhere (Home theater)
4) Declining quality of mainstream movies
5) Easily available Long Tail content alternatives (Netflix, Amazon)

I agree so completely that it’s almost uncanny. I really love movies and I’ve been watching a lot of them recently as I’m on a movie kick again, but I find myself more apt to rent a movie and kick back at home than go to a theater.

The first reason provided is the one I agree with least. Here in Rochester or Austin, I haven’t noticed more unruly movie goers than I used to recall when I was younger. The one thing that is more prevalent, though, is people who don’t turn their cell phones off. It’s annoying, but I notice most people will quickly turn off their cell if it starts ringing so I assume it’s usually just a slip of the mind.

The second reason is also not as prevalent here in Rochester but it is starting to get to the point of a larger annoyance than it should be. We have probably anywhere from 1-5 minutes of ads before a movie, which isn’t too bad, but we also have the annoying slide reel thing that plays all the way up to the movie’s start time on the screen. It’s always the same local ads and the same boring movie trivia. I wish they’d just go back to the good ol’ days when they’d just have the radio on. If there gets to be too many more actual advertisements that are shown before a movie, I’ll probably be a little more miffed.

Reason number three is a biggie with me. See I have my own home theater at my house. 57” widescreen high def television. 300 watt dolby surround sound. A nicely broken in and comfortable couch. Convenience. No one to bother me. I love watching movies at home with that setup. The only movies that I really feel I have to see in theaters any more are the special effects laden sci-fi flicks that come out, like War of the Worlds or the upcoming Serenity. Any other movie that I don’t have a real strong urge to see I’ll just wait until they come out on DVD and watch them at home.

Number four is a problem. A big one. Over the last few years it seems that moviegoers have been content to watch movies that sucked as long as there was action, sweet special effects, or fart jokes in them to spice it up. Personally, I find myself more and more disappointed by every big budget movie I see. More often than not, I’ll find myself fascinated by smaller indie pictures that never hit theaters, like The Machinist or Primer or Mean Creek for example, rather than the latest blockbuster, such as Fantastic Four or Stealth.

I will admit, I have been impressed by a few of the movies I’ve seen in the theaters lately (Batman Begins, War of the Worlds, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), but I find there’s a much higher crap to masterpiece ratio when going to see Hollywood blockbusters that are in theaters in comparison to smaller indie studio productions.

Reason five might be the one that eventually kills movie going as we know it. It costs me $5 to go to a matinee or $7 to see a regular showing of a movie in the theater, which is relatively cheap in comparison to other venues in the US, but still seems a little spendy, especially if you get pop, popcorn, or candy. For the same price as a regular movie and refreshments you could rent like 3 movies from Hollywood Video (I hate Blockbuster, by the way, and try to avoid them). When you think about it, for the same price you could often BUY a dvd. Maybe not a new release, but you could easily find a dvd you’d like to watch to buy for that price and with most dvd’s you’ll get way cool extras (or at least just some ok extras).

With the used dvd market in full swing as well, it’s pretty darn easy to find movies you want to own for cheap. I do a lot of movie trading on and I’ve recently been scoping out used dvd’s at Gamestop since they’ve had tons for $5 and also have buy 2 get 1 free sales. It’s just so much more cost effective to buy or rent dvd’s than it is to go to movies. There’s also a much higher variety of movies on dvd than there are in the theater. I see this as being a monstrous problem for theaters. Let’s just hope that the MPAA can change their business model a little quicker and friendlier than the RIAA is changing their business model.

No comments: