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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