Friday, December 30, 2011

Watching Movies

Roger Ebert's put up a post articulating his reasons why people aren't going to the movies like they used to. You can read his take at the link:

Some of his complaints include high ticket prices, crummy theaters and noisy crowds. Well, I went to a brand new Imax theater up in Portland during the Christmas break to catch the new Mission Impossible movie. Tickets were $16.50 each, but the projection was perfect (this was digital Imax), the sound was roaring, the seats were new and reasonably comfortable, and you couldn't hear the crowd over the racket if you tried. $16.50 didn't strike me as that crazy a price for all those "pluses."

No, what I think has been hurting movies occurred before Mission Impossible 4 started. I'm talking about the previews, which were a numbing collection of ear-shattering explosions, slo-mo action and the same repetitive low-bass tone "brown note" signaling you're about to see something of devastating import. Usually another explosion. I can't tell you which previews I actually saw because they all seemed the same...

Now, two points before going forward. One, naturally you would attach previews for big action movies to something like Mission Impossible 4. Promoting "The Iron Lady" to this crowd would make about as much sense as promoting a Hostel movie before "We Bought A Zoo." Second, I'm pretty sure the action-packed movies being advertised will all turn out to be vaguely dissimilar from on another. But you'd never know it from the cookie cutter previews, which hit all the same (very low) notes.

Oddly enough, the best action sequence in Mission Impossible 4 featured no CGI blasts, but instead was a visually clever and dynamic sequence set inside a mechanized parking lot (!). So there ARE still ways to change up the formula. Maybe if the previews reflected some of this ingenuity as opposed to making every friggin' movie look like the same ol' same ol', attendance would go up!


Blogger Muldfeld said...

I remember ticket prices in Toronto at a nice cinema being $14 in 1999. Now, they're $12.25. Very reasonable and they've returned to discounts on Tuesdays.

While I think you make good points, I must say I agree with your summary list of Ebert's reasons.

In Canada, the drop in price came at the expense of showing tons of really annoying ads -- and by that, I don't mean trailers, which can be really annoying if you go to the cinema often and keep seeing the same ones, but ads for products.

Also, the popularity and accessibility of technology hasn't kept up with etiquette. More importantly, and especially in my folks' working class town (and I find this among less elite cinemas in Toronto, too), people aren't quiet in the cinema; they talk incessantly, especially girls imitating Paris Hilton/Kim Kardashian or, to a lesser extent, guys who think they're mooks from Entourage. The other day, watching "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (US version), my mother and my seats kept getting kicked. The woman behind us denied it, but I think she was lying.

I think the single biggest reason, though, may be my generation's shameless desire to get everything for free without respect for the artists who make the work they love. I think this might explain why there's been a steep decrease in showing foreign films and documentaries in Toronto, which probably can't bring in the viewers they used to because people would rather download illegally.

There's this silly embarrassment about going to the cinema alone. Back in 2002, when my idiot colleagues in my dorm refused to see a thoughtful drama instead of "Phonebooth" one night, I made the decision to never let that hold me back. So, I see most films in the cinema alone. I really enjoy it.

11:39 PM  

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