Saturday, April 16, 2011

Are Previews Spoiling Your Movie?

So you want see your favorite actor or actress and you watch the trailer thinking it will inspire you to see the movie and then BAM you're hit with a barrage of images, fast cuts, and clever editing sound effects meant to confuse and entice you.

You curiously watch,  and by the end of the trailer you get the picture. You really get the picture! Hook, line and sinker. The sinker is America's impatience for all things to come and the media's obsession with spoilers, and literally ruining the theatre experience, from movies to Broadway shows and even TV shows.

Take for instance "Spider-Man: Turn Off  the Dark." Plagued by trouble from the start, the Broadway musical seemingly turned off it's own lights when it allowed sneak previews and audiences in to see Spidey's 'dirty laundry,' in this case, wardrobe failures, technical catastrophes and bad music. In my humble opinion this should have never happened. Since we live in a world of intense competition, every movie studio and production on earth is vying for our attention and will do almost anything to get it, even ruin their own releases in the process. Julie Taymor, who was fired from the production as its director and visionary, never got a chance to bring her finished project to the table. But that's partly her own undoing. She should have never let the public in until she got all the kinks out.Now, an overhaul, cast changes and even diminished roles for some key characters are imminent until it re-opens in mid May.

On television, just before a commercial, a talk show, or even the Maury Povich show producers reveal so much, it basically doesn't make sense to continue watching. Last week, I watched a show where they were cutting to a commercial and the voice over said "when we get back, will Robert be the father of the Keisha's baby?" The clip showed Keisha mouthing " I told you, I told you, I told you were the father." What are producer's thinking? Thanks for ruining the entire piece!

A few nights ago while watching the show "Heavy," where obese people are sent away to fat farms for months, I was shocked that they had shown the subject's transformation several times before the show reached its reveal. Again, what's the point in watching?

Yes we are impatient, yes we need to be enticed, but don't spoil the program for us in the process.

Let's go back to the day when we heard a movie was coming months away, then only a few weeks ahead of time, we'd see a cleverly done preview, where in lieu of telling the whole story, we simply got teased. They were effective, not too revealing, and they really led us to the theater.

This month "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One" is released on Blu-ray. Disturbingly, it comes with a "first look" at the opening scene of the finale (Part 2), set to come out this summer. What is the point of this?  Every scene, every photo, and every trailer released, some of them minutes long, is ruining the theater-going experience. I don't need to see the opening scene!
So to avoid the temptation, I'm not buying that Blu-ray either... Marketing FAIL.

As a movie lover,  I now refuse to read certain books, read magazine articles and even have to turn my head when watching TV for fear that I will see too much. If the point of these spoilers is to entice your audience, and get them to fill seats at the theater, you're going to lose at least this one guy right here.

How do you feel? Does it bother you? Am I over-acting, or do you feel the same way?

Let me know by commenting below!

Written by Paul Brighton

Monday, April 4, 2011

Why People Don't Go To Movies!

So, I'm about to direct my first feature-length film, and there's all this talk about the fall of the movie theater as an institution and vehicle for viewing films. It's time for me, as a person with his finger on the pulse of emerging technologies, to sit back and figure out what the heck is happening!

What we're seeing is people loving the comforts of home even more, while going back to more interactive experiences with watching movies with friends. At home people can stop the film, go to the bathroom, take a snack break and resume watching at will. At the theater you're likely to explode if you have a small bladder, or if you have an even lower tolerance for people with diarrhea of the mouth. It's almost always connected to bodily functions– eating, drinking, urinating, passing gas, diarrhea of the mouth, a bodily function that has no place in the theater.

On top of this pile of obstacles to ensure a positive theatrical experience, we have the cost of food at the concession stand to blame for the imminent demise of the movie theater experience.

The prices of candy and popcorn in the theaters is bordering on rape. My butt actually hurts as I walk away from the concession stand, and those uncomfortable seats in some theaters do not alleviate this infliction. But what if they charged an extra two dollars for a ticket?  Would people feel as violated? I don't think so.

I was once a hardcore film goer. I'd see 20 films a year in the theater. I loved the experience, but now it's a circus and a "sensaround" experience that borders on the nauseating.

With theaters expanding their menus to include pizza, tacos, and burgers, going to a theater and sitting next to someone eating a pizza is NOT only an unpleasant experience, but a major deterrent for many people. Cheese smells much like vomit unless you're eating it.

I also feel strongly that children aren't raised with the same level of discipline I was raised with. There's texting, talking, game-playing and way too many distractions that make the movie experience less than a moving experience. People are rude, and so self-centered they feel they are now the stars. Why who wouldn't be  a star if they were sporting an iPad 2 in row 3.

We cannot simply make comparisons between watching a movie at home or the theater and place the blame on technology. We must embrace the fact that movies are now best enjoyed in the home, as a matter of convenience, tolerance, and the reinfoced idea that it's simply more comfortable!
If "Video Killed the Radio Star," then  Pay Per View and the internet killed the theater...flat dead.

As a new filmmaker this frightens me. I much prefer the theater.  I love the big screen and the rumbling sound and larger -than-life experience,  but I fear while some theaters are spending millions to upgrade their systems, people like me are opting for the big screen on the wall in my den, by the bathroom and kitchen....oh...and in peace and quiet!

Paul's Tips to the Movie Industry:

Heed these suggestions or face the same fate as the 8-track cassette.

A. Lower the price of food at the concession stands.  If you charge more for tickets people are more likely to appreciate that then paying 9 cents per kernel of corn. Really now. Enough is enough.

B. Stop serving Taco's and smelly cheesy foods at the theater! "Dinner and a movie" does not mean eat and watch a movie in the same chair for 2 hours.

C. Require all phones to be turned off and placed in lockers at the theater. Here's a novel idea!
Charge .50 to place the phone in the mini locker. There goes a whole new revenue stream.
If people don't pay the .50 they have a choice to go back to their cars and put their phones away where  they can be stolen.  Get it?

D. Offer "Movie Day" passes that allow theater goers the ability to see 3 films in a theater per day with one $20 ticket. Why isn't this happening already?

For an industry based in creativity,  they'd rather succumb to the advent of technology than to fight it.

Shame on movie theaters for their lack of "vision."

Paul Brighton is a writer and Filmmaker in Connecticut.
His directorial debut is "Brilliant Mistakes" Filming in September.
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