1. Food & beer/wine served with movie -- convenient and much preferable to overpriced popcorn.
2. Cellphones must be turned off.
3. They take talking seriously, and preface each film with a strongly (and amusingly) worded statement to that effect.
4. No babies allowed except on specified baby nights.
5. Creative and fun special events, such as quote-alongs, sing-alongs, live comedy (Master Pancake, which is sort of like live MST3K), movie/food pairings, etc...
I pretty much refuse to go to any other theater, and judging by their crowds, they seem to be doing quite well with this formula.
In their main theatres they now have stroller screenings where the volume is reduced and the lights stay on low. They've done the sing-alongs. They also let you rent out the theatre to have xbox gaming with Halo or whatever you want to play.
Sadly the general theatres aren't great at policing the cellphones or no talking. Although I've heard several times that they're interested in the cellphone jamming, but it's illegal to jam 911. I have heard, and noticed, that in a lot of the newer theatres you get really poor reception in the general theatres. It could just be coincidence from them being out of the way and all the steel, but I do appreciate it nonetheless.
And I paid extra for this?
Doctors go to the movies, too.
Think about this: A doctor is on-call, meaning that at any moment they might be called in to come to the hospital to save your life.
They have a cell phone which is the only way they can be reached when they settle in to watch a film in the local multiplex. The same multiplex that jammed cell phones without telling anyone (because multiplexes hire idiots).
You come in to the hospital and need the doctor immediately. So they are called.
And the doctor's cell is dead.
And so are you.
(The ensuing lawsuit will totally bring you back to life.)
I know when I was on pager rotation, I was very aware of when I lost service, and governed my location accordingly.
Actually, I'm not on Internet Operations Pager Duty anymore, and I can _still_ tell you that the Old Spaghetti Factory in Redwood City results in my iPhone losing Data - I get very nervous while I'm there.
Net-Net - the doctor argument doesn't hold water, there are a ton of other reasons why you might lose service beyond a theater jamming - and you need to be aware of all of them and take appropriate measures.
The prices --while still obviously above raw cost-- are fair in comparison to the traditional competition. Four dollars for bottomless coke; six dollars for popcorn. They have a gigantic selection of brews and wines. There are various entrees available at the same price of a typical restaurant.
The pre-show entertainment isn't just a thinly veiled sequence of advertising. It can be hit or miss --apparently they're _all_ edited by two fellas in an office somewhere-- but it's nothing like the "LOOK AT THIS AWESOME PRODUCT!" strategy. Regal FirstLook, I'm looking at you and don't particularly care if the tablet survived a thousand foot drop from the sky or not.
Finally, they are able to cater to various crowds and match the atmosphere and the expected behaviour. Traditional movie-going? STFU and watch. "Quote-alongs" for the hits of the recent past? Feel free to revel in your shared heritage of Big Lebowski references, (polite and relevant) chatter welcome. Movie Marathons? Be prepared for Harry Potter supersaturation for the next 24 hours as you go from Sorcerer's Stone to Deathly Hallows. Don't have cable television but still want to enjoy The Walking Dead? There's a screening for that.
Oh, and regarding their no talking and texting rules. Think they don't take it seriously? Think again :)
Every time I sit down to see a Drafthouse movie, and I see the montage of that month's events, I inevitably find myself saying, "I want to come for that!" at least a few times.
This month's for the Austin area Drafthouses: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBQNmmoEirc
If I just want to watch movies, I can sit at home and Netflix my brains out. The Drafthouse makes movies events again, and that's what gets me excited and wanting to come to the theater.
I'm a little fanboyish for the Drafthouse, I must admit. It was one of the things I was most looking forward to coming to regularly when I moved to Texas.
For those of you not fortunate enough to get to Austin, the seating was not regular theater seating, you had some space and a table area for your food and/or bucket of beers. They often showed silly movies like Halloween I, where people will yell out things like "Don't open the door!" There is also wait staff, so you placed an order and they brough it to you. And they had a mix of films, from current movies to niche films.
From their website looks like they have expanded and are showing more first-run movies, but maybe it's still similar. When I started going there, there was only 1 theater downtown on 4th street. Ah...the good old days.
So far, Portland has a couple of theaters I've been to that serve beer/pizza, but you buy it at a regular snack counter and take it with you to your seat. Just not the same.
I like Alamo, don't get me wrong, but there are downsides to the model.
My guess is Houston will be looking up...
I haven't been myself (since I like Alamo just fine and only go with friends) but you might want to check it out.
But at any rate, you're making my point for me. :)
McMenamins in Oregon does similar things:
- Couches in some theaters
- Order food and beer from their restaurant
- special events (like Monday night football)
are there local announcers over a game-sound-only feed?
I have always thought having free announcers who could say whatever they want would be way better than ones who are restrained by having to keep relationships with the players coaches, and networks who pay their salaries.
1) Always been more upclass than competing theaters (and more expensive).
2) Far less seating.
3) Beer, Food, salads, wraps, and traditional snacks.
4)Located in the "Brewery District" or "Arena District" This means there were never any children there because the area doesn't lend itself to it.
They always stayed busy.
Here's what's showing right now
Food is quite good, service is impeccable. It's a more intimate affair, only two people per booth - and there's only 30 or so seats per house. They do drink & entree specials themed with the films, which is pretty cool I guess. They helped get state law changed in order to serve cocktails and beer in the actual house.
In-between the featured presentations is curated from local (often quite good) film artists.
Definitely a good place to watch a movie, and I think Ebert is spot on.
Reserving a seat (just like on airplanes, for those who haven't seen it) is so awesome.
customer: I was texting and you kicked me out; whine whine whine
alamo: gtfo and don't come back
(So my answer is yes.)
But the most important thing is, the enforcement of the rules behind the scenario in the voicemail is unflinchingly real. And given how much that clashes with the over-entitled brat crowd, I have little doubt that there have been voicemails like this left on the Alamo machines.
I had to check this claim, because inflation and purchasing power can fog people's memories. Using average U.S. ticket prices adjusted to 2010 dollars, I get the following:
Year | Price | 2010 price adj. w/CPI
2010 | 7.89 | 7.89
2005 | 6.41 | 7.15
2000 | 5.39 | 6.83
1995 | 4.35 | 6.22
1990 | 4.22 | 7.04
1985 | 3.55 | 7.19
1980 | 2.69 | 7.12
1975 | 2.03 | 8.23
1971 | 1.65 | 8.88
1967 | 1.22 | 7.96
1963 | 0.86 | 6.13
1958 | 0.68 | 5.13
1954 | 0.49 | 3.97
1948 | 0.36 | 3.26
Assuming my calculations are fair and correct, it appears that movie ticket prices quickly outpaced inflation until the late 60s, saw a peak in the 70s and then began a steady decline until the mid 90s. Since then they've been on a march upwards again.
So prices aren't historically high - that honor goes to the 1970s. And compared to sports events and concerts...?! I don't have the data, but I'd bet tickets for those have risen even faster, both of which, incidentally, suffer from the same competition movies do: high quality home theater setups and internet streaming. Which of course is the real problem - ticket prices need to drop against inflation, because entertain distribution options are not the same in 2011 as they were in 1971. The movie theater or concert venue does not have a monopoly on high definition entertainment any more.
At the end of the day, Hollywood is asking us to drop 30-40 bucks to see yet another disposable experience. On the value vs cost curve, Hollywood is losing.
Meanwhile, Netflix streams to all my computers and my Boxee. Vudu too. I think I can wait a few months until its on Vudu or On-Demand for a fraction of that price. Even then its still not a compelling experience. I'm in my 30s. Where are the Scorsece's, Allen's, Spielberg's, and Coppola's of my generation? I'm not sure, but they aren't getting work in mainstream Hollywood.
They seem to be calculated by taking the box office takings and dividing it by the number of admissions.
I suspect the big influence on that price is "family" tickets and children's tickets and other concession tickets which push the average price down.
Senior Monday - 4.75
Matinee, Child, Senior - 5.75
Adult Evening - 7.50
Adult Weekend Evening - 8.00
3D - add 2.50
It works if it's crowded, but if not, she'll ask for your ID :)
EDIT: Please ignore this comment. See reply below. Sorry for missing the point here.
Like the grand-parent, this does not fit with my experience. When I got to a new release I usually pay around $13 per person at a decent theater in Las Vegas, and up to $18 per person for Imax 3D.
But the other thing that may skew the results is budget or "dollar" theaters that show older releases. I frequently take my kids to those for around $2 per ticket.
I actually agree that the average ticket price is way below what I'm used to paying here in Los Angeles. At the same time, I suppose that's the point, to take into account both the high and low ends of the pricing spectrum.
That said, I'd gladly pay $7–8 for a movie!
Add to that the cost of "renting" 3D glasses (a new phenomenon) and the higher ticket price for the "IMAX Experience" (not necessarily new, but much more widespread lately) and your average ticket price is definitely higher than it was historically.
I agree that a mean loses a lot of information about how ticket prices are distributed. It would be very interesting to see how these numbers trend over time for various percentiles - 5th for cheapo tickets, 50th for median, 95th for high end...
Live events shouldn't be so easily compared to movies and home entertainment. While you can wait for a movie to come to DVD for a similar experience, it's not the same for a live event. Watching a concert on YouTube isn't nearly as much fun as going to watch it live. Going to a live event is an experience.
Sometimes I like watching a movie at home, other times I'm looking for a chance to go out. Dates will probably always involve movie theaters for my girlfriend and myself -- even if I have a very nice home setup.
That being said, I think the film industry is in for secular decline due to the compound effects of high quality home theaters with streaming content, some piracy, unrealistically high ticket prices ($32 for two tickets?!) and high quality television production.
I do think the most significant threat is high quality television productions though. Downton Abbey, Mad Men, and many other cable dramas are produced with extremely high artistry both in production and story values. Several times I have found that rewatching these TV series on Netflix has been far more rewarding than the latest 90 minute theater affair.
I agree. Sometimes I feel I could pay $3-$5 if I could watch the movie from home on opening day.
Now, before you pull out "too old" or "don't be a wuss", I'll say that I'm only 29, and I play in a _loud_ rock band, and go to many loud concerts. I am no stranger to loud things, and have permanent tinnitus to prove it. I still enjoy concerts as much as I ever did, but I've found myself bringing earplugs to movies. They can be downright painful at times.
I don't like to bring a coat and a set of earplugs with me to see a movie.
I think I only saw 1 movie in theaters this year, and I saw about 5 or 6 last year. A large part of that for me is that the quality of the actual screen & sound sucks at the local theaters by me.
I saw Transformers II, and Sucker Punch. I couldn't understand the translation, but it's not like the plot really suffered.
Except for 3D. But how much of an effect is 3D having? Most movies aren't 3D.
I'll say this: I went to see Super 8 at an old 60's-70's style theater in the far-out suburbs, one almost identical to the ones I saw movies in when I was a kid. No stadium seating. Simple seats. No cupholders. Massive screen. Minimal concessions. Maybe it was just the movie I was seeing --- like how watching South Park on your computer enhances the experience --- but it was awesome.
Ultimately, my bet is that the problem with theaters is simple: for the core market (the family of four that wants blockbuster mainstream product), the substitutes are just too good now. Mainstream consumers have, relative to 1995, spectacular home theater setups, and diverse options for feeding content to them. Is it any wonder theaters suffer?
Netflix streaming wasn't around in 2002. This (and similar services) is the biggest factor in theaters losing market share.
Its nice to be able to pause and go to the bathroom at home. Do I miss some of the movie theater experience? Yeah, but not having kids kicking my seat, or people talking during the movie/etc... basically makes me not care about the plight of pre streaming movie distribution.
"Competition from other forms of delivery. […] Netflix alone accounts for 30% of all internet traffic in the evening. That represents millions of moviegoers. They're simply not in a theater."
Ebert didn't really tie it into the overall argument as well as I would have liked, but he did bring it up.
They can raise the price all they want for their empty theatres, I'll never complain.
But I don't think texting is nearly as much as a problem as the outsized ticket price increases for 3d films
(If you don't have a good wall to project on, you can make a screen out of two metal poles, blackout cloth, and staples, or spend a wildly variable amount on a manufactured screen - from 100 to 1000 and up)
* They have a massively improved home viewing experience, which is something they were doing already with television.
* They have a massive improvement in convenience (they don't have to leave the house to see it).
* They have a "good enough" (still "very good" overall) AV quality experience.
This is how displacement by substitutes works. It's hard to see it coming, because it's hard to know where to draw the line for "good enough". But we've probably crossed it for movies.
Then there's the indignity of being forced to watch lame commercials thinly disguised as a "First Look"
This is what I get for $12-$15 at an upscale cinema. When I complain I am told there are no refunds. I walked away from this. The simple fact is my theatre at home is vastly superior to even the best cinemas in the country right now, because those cinemas are all absolutely horrible experiences sold at rip off prices and incredibly inconvenient.
This industry is dead. It is completely unrepentant of its sins of horrible customer experience. They are not selling a quality product, nor are they selling at a reasonable price.
There are better options and many of us have taken them. Too bad. I also liked drive in theatres, but they are also obsolete and as long gone as movie theatres will be in a few years.
The movies should be an escape from every day life. The theatrical experience should be a sort of sacrament, otherwise there's far less incentive to leave the house and pay 10 times as much to watch a film a few months earlier. Luckily there are still a lot of theaters in my town that are not so aggressively trying to capitalize on their captive audiences. Mark Cuban gets this, but I'm sure whoever he sells Landmark to won't. I'm done with going to see movies at the megaplexes though.
I pay a good deal of money to see a film in which I am so bombarded with ads beforehand that its ruined the film experience. The last film I saw had a full 15 minutes of ads and trailers before it started! My girlfriend asked me if we could just leave and get our money back.
I feel like it's never actually been that good, but I think it has actually gotten worse than it used to be. Possibly doesn't help that I remember actually being interested in movie trailers, whereas mostly now I'm just bored by them. That ties in a bit with Ebert's point the first, but to me it feels like it goes further; most of them look rubbish and any exceptions I've normally already heard about via an internet.
The problem across the board really seems to boil down to "megaplex chains are bad for movies." There are a lot of specific line items but they all end up sharing the common denominator of "this wasn't a problem until the rise of big box multiplex theaters."
I've told my parents that I like movies but I hate going to movie theaters before and I think this might be why.
If we were more than 10 minutes late, we'd just go to the mall or arcade or something instead.
They even provide an RSS feed of new trailers.
(Yes, I'm being somewhat snarky, but I'm also genuinely interested in your take on Flash-based sites. Is it an issue of "Flash is already installed and QuickTime is not" or something beyond that?)
At some point, research was commissioned by movie industry types to find the viewers' "time of highest alertness", i.e. when to deliver the best scene. It turns out that viewers are most focused in the first 20 minutes, which is consistent with most research efforts in other fields (see the usual stuff about 15 mins presentations etc).
Trailers were already being shown in that timeframe, to allow for latecomers, so adding regular ads was a no-brainer.
Simple way out is to walk in to the cinema hall about 15 mins after the scheduled start of the movie - works for me every time.
1. Kids get bored quicker, This year, I've left the cinema four times before the movie finished because the kids were bored. This makes me less likely to go back, they prefer to stay home on the xbox/lappy or go out for pizza/bowling instead.
2. Mass appeal movies are shit. There's just no quality or focus anymore, every movie is trying to be everything to everyone and ends up crap.
Don't get me started on the overuse of CG.
Instead of learning from filmmakers, the CG guys picked up tips from animators, that's why every CG creature walks and talks the same, with over emphasised, unrealistic, and ridiculous movement patterns that don't fool anyone and ruin the moment. You know why Jurassic Park is still awesome? and ghostbusters, and all those other heavy animation movies? Because they don't look obviously fake.
Then there's going to a 3D movie. It might as well be a punishment. Making kids watch a movie with giant glasses that fall off their face and strain their eyes is just cruel. My son complains that his arms hurt by the end of the movie because he's tried keeping those glasses on the whole time. Then, of course, the movie had no right being 3D. Adding cut scenes of flying through a 3D town or a cat flying at the screen does not justify this awful experience.
Really? I look to Jurassic Park as what CG should look like in movies. The opening reveal of the brontosauruses is still amazing, especially when you think of when the movie was made. What hasn't aged well?
Other movies from the mid-to-late 90s, on the other hand, have not aged well. Many of these used CG for the sake of having CG and did not take any care of ensuring it integrated into the rest of the shot.
Honestly? I may even be up for a 3d conversion... If anyone's able to do them well?
Or is it that the kids couldn't get through the movie because it was actually boring to them? Isn't it possible that movie-makers are just out of touch with the demo?
Honest question here. I've left boring movies before, too, and it's been awhile since anyone called me a kid.
The protagonist is put into a situation where he is drawn from a position of security and is force to embark on a journey to resolve the situation.
The journey exposes the protagonist to a foreign environment and they must learn how to deal with the new situation. Often given tools to master their destiny.
After some time the new situation goes bad to due to the protagonist failing to understand the exact nature of the new environment, mistakes are made and the protagonist is put at some level of emotional or physical danger.
Some miraculous event occurs which breaks the protagonist out spiralling chaos.
Turns out people don't like stories that which fail to follow that pattern :)
- Lonely woman meets strange man,
- Man drags woman around,
- Woman is *mildly inconvenienced*, this is key, causes conflict,
- Situation is somehow happily resolved.
Gahhh. No wonder I haven't set foot in a movie theater for years.
It might be awesome but you're not on reddit now; downzoat.
Basically I'm still at a loss as to what you felt you were adding to the conversation?
 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth
A great point, but I would venture to say it is not just kids.
People who are now in their 20s and 30s, with money to spend on movies, grew up in the "MTV generation"; accused of having no attention span as a result of the format used by MTV. I count myself as one of them. Thirty minutes into a movie and I am ready for it to be over.
I'm not sure the majority of the population want to completely fixate themselves on a screen for hours at a time anymore. At least at home you can stop or shift your focus as you see fit.
As for the CG, the best effects are always in moderation. The more you can leave to the imagination, the better. I honestly think a big part of it is budget, too: ie, no money for hand-crafted animations true to the character... let's motion capture this thing and be done with it in two days. In the old days, the question was whether you spent the time to make a fully articulated puppet or you just put a guy in a gorilla suit. Most CG these days is the later, done digitally.
"Everyone you speak to" is probably a group of people very similar to you. That's how most peoples' social groups work, and it's hard to notice because your experience of them tends to factor out the similarities and focus on the differences.
The value of a potential moviegoer is almost a binary function of movie quality: the looks good enough to be worth the price of a ticket, or it doesn't. The marginal value of added quality past that point is slight, at least from a box office perspective. So to maximize revenue, you want your movie to exceed that threshold for as many people as possible. This is why the highest-grossing movies in any given year tend to be family-friendly comedies.
It's getting a lot harder to "con" people into making a movie a blockbuster via advertising.
For every person who loved the original "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," there are 1000 who just want to see Michael Bay spend $300 million on 120 minutes' worth of animated explosions for a 4th, 5th, and 6th time.
Anyway, french movies seem more interesting lately. And you can always vote for (with your money) alternative forms of art.
I bet you walked to school uphill, in both directions, in 3ft of snow in 110 degree heat!
Kids never change. You have.
Kids have always had shorter attention spans than adults, though. That's why children's movies are usually just over an hour while adult movies can be 2-3 hours.
Take for example
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937): 84 minutes
Bambi (1942) runtime: 70 minutes
Toy Story 3 (2010): 103 minutes
However, these days going to the movie theater gives me an immense amount of anxiety. Despite the cost going up, my moviegoing peers seem to care less and less about actually watching the movie they paid to see. If it's not blinding cell phone screens, it's people talking way too loud and way too often.
As a result there are very few movies I'm not willing to wait for watching it in my own home.
Plus, most of the movies I hear about are ridiculous sequels or odd sounding takes on old properties. A Battleship movie? Really?
I wish I could say the studios were wrong and that people vastly prefer a movie with just a great story rather that 3D explosions, but sadly I'm not sure that is the case for most movie-goers in America.
edit: Down voted already, eh? Do you disagree or am I way off base here?
You are correct about branding, but the movie studios decided to make these big budget movies. They are gambling big for a big payoff when they certainly could make great movies significantly cheaper.
I bet if you looked at studio executives' compensation packages, you could draw a link between their compensation and the 'go big or go home strategy'. I would bet they make a lot more money in bonuses if the studio has a huge year than one with good year over year growth. Add that to very little downside if they create flops (just blame the pirates!) and you have a recipe that likely explains the current behavior of the systems. Just a guess.
You are right that movies don't have to be expensive, but I do believe to get the kind of revenue that the big studios want, the studios believe the movies need the big name actors, the explosions and special effects, and 3D. The indies and docs were a bright spot in terms of enjoyment for the movie goes, but I do not know whether the studios believe they are a bright spot or not.
Also, if you look at the actual costs it's not hoard to find advertizing more than 50% of the budget for mildly expensive films. Because advertizing is effectively a huge fixed cost they are incentive to make expensive movies with big stars and or explosions that they can leverage to make their advertizing less expensive.
EX: Jurassic park and Avatar could show Dinosaurs and so did not need big name talent to get people into seats.
I think the problem is that studio's have too many incentives to increase budgets and few reasons to trim them. I'm sure they could make the same movies they make today for a fifth of the budget, if they reorganized themselves around doing that.
Tarsem's "The Fall" is a great example: the guy spent tens of millions of dollars of his own money making a pretty interesting film, had no marketing, and did just a few million at the box office, despite moviegoers liking the film.
The niche audience liked it just fine, but I don't know how they could turn it into recouping those millions.
They pour more and more money into in-cinema ads (where else to you get movie-goers?), which kills the incentive to go to the cinema. But the cinemas don't really care if overall number go down a bit, as long as they get the advertising dollars. And the distributors don't really care, as long as they can push their movie to the #1 spot, even if overall numbers are down.
* Lord of Rings
* The Matrix
* Pirates of the Caribbean
I'd say for the most part that money has been made back.
Sometimes the results aren't too bad, Batman, Ironman etc., but other times they are just phoning it in.
Yes. When movie prices were at around $6/ticket when I was younger, I went to watch a movie about once a week or two. Now, at $14.67 per general admission ticket (after tax, at Scotiabank Theater in Toronto) and $21.46 per IMAX 3D, it's almost impossible to justify going to a theater, rather than downloading a movie.
I don't know any other industry that raises prices in a seemingly elastic market, while competition increases and gets cheaper.
On the one hand, this suggests that sequels are successful. On the other hand, the total revenue of those sequels was much lower than other top films of comparable prior years (just change the year in the URL and do some custom math), and if you account for ticket price inflation it's even worse. I think this points to studios not wanting to take on as much risk; sequels (and the proliferation of remakes... another Superman series already? really?) are low-risk because there's already some sort of existing awareness/fanbase to tap into... but I think they are also proving to be lower reward as people get burned out and don't care about going to see these sequels/remakes because the other reasons (prices, experience, etc) outweigh existing possible interest.
There were no commercials or PSAs, and only 4 trailers before the feature started. A nice woman politely told us to turn off our cell phones, as opposed to an annoying loud surround sound gimmick. The tickets were only $11 for a 3D film. Parking was free. And the film was absolutely perfect.
There was a time that the movie experience was bad. Theaters built during that time are still bad. But the new ones are fantastic.
On top of that, I most of the time I get out a book or dvd at the same time, also free. Right now I'm borrowing a Richard Feynman book and 4-Hour Body, just because I saw them lying there at the library ... and they're free. If I don't get around to reading them, no big deal.
I have to wait for movies to arrive at the library, but that turns out to help me. Without the opening hype, you choose more based on quality and other people's reviews.
I should be careful talking this way, though. The movie and book people might shut the libraries down.
Anyway, there are reasons the cost of living in Manhattan is worth it. Culture is more convenient than cars here.
The cost is almost as much as buying the Blu-ray on launch week from Amazon or Best Buy, I'm not including the beverages or popcorn and candy (I don't ever buy those anyway). I can own it or I can watch it once in an uncomfortable, cold, dirty cineplex. Hmm, I've waited this long, what's a couple months more.
The comfort level at all the theaters around me make this an unpleasant experience. Chairs don't recline and are much to upright to sit at for 2+ hours, it's sticky and dirty all around. I get dried out soda and candy on the bottom of my shoes. Usually the air conditioning is set so cold you need a winter coat.
It's just not worth the cost to not have an enjoyable fun experience. I just wait for the Blu-ray.
Watching a 2 hour movie at home takes, 2 hours. Watching one in a theater is 4 hours (getting ready to go, going there, waiting in line, waiting for it to start, sitting through the ads, going home), and going there with a group cost $$$$.
Besides, having "movie night" with friends at home is so much more fun. You can drink beer and make loud, snarky remarks about the movie, pause if someone needs a potty break, replay the naughty bits, fast forward to see if the piece of crap movie gets any better, adjust the volume so if you aren't already deaf the movie won't make you deaf, etc.
The movie theater is going the way of the drive-in.
I see a deeper issue though, most of the directors/script writers who Hollywood desperately needs to inject life into its lifeline are off creating movies with all the cheap/newly accessible tools outside the system. Think iOS/Android app developers who left Apple/Google
Plus HBO/Showtime/FX who need a reason for people to subscribe now that movies are accessible elsewhere, so are enabling these independent teams by funding them. I haven't seen more creative TV or stories than I have the last few years on premium cable. The budgets are minuscule, but the teams are well adept at running slim already.
The creativity is there, it's just untamed and Hollywood is scared of it. Ebert blames the theaters themselves, but if there are great movies, people will go see them.
No need to go any further.
Actually, it's the distribution channels that block other kinds of movies from catching audiences. They only want "safe" blockbusters. Eventually, that will be their demise.
Some reality check, they maximized things for profit so much that:
1. Most Hollywood movies suck to a extraterrestrial degree.
2. The food sucks and its expensive.
3. Say whatever you want, 3D still sucks comparing to the default 2D experience.
4. Way too expensive for what the experience provides.
5. Niche theaters with quality stuff are always sold out.
6. 15 min of commercials.
7. Noisy teenagers.
8. Most of these movies are a 1 hour long product placement
Finally: if they decide to compete with the home, they loose, my TV is huge, my speaker set is awesome, my food is better, my sofa or bed are more comfortable.
They need to find other ways to convince me to move my ass, pay $$$, and be there.
When RIM had their outage a few months ago, everywhere (in real life) was packed. People actually left their lying down position and went outside, visited friends and the movies. It lasted for all of 3 days then things went back to 'normal'
PS: Nigeria is a VERY BlackBerry centric country.
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
3. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
4. The Hangover Part II
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
6. Fast Five
7. Cars 2
9. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
10. Captain America: The First Avenger
Yes, every single one is a comic book or a sequel. That's why they get made, they're what people pay to see. Everyone complains about it, everyone sees 'em.
If you want different movies to be made, go see different movies.
With that premis I'd make a new one.
Or.... Huuuuge screen, maybe good maybe bad sound (definately played way tooooo loud), sticky/wobbly/uncomfortable chairs, crappy overpriced snacks, and a room full of obnoxious self absorbed strangers, watched when and where the theater tells us, all at $12 (plus snacks) per person.
Yeah, boggles my mind why movie revenue is dropping.
id rather spend the same money as two theater tickets a month for HBO / Showtime and watch Homeland, Game of Thrones, 24/7 etc.
Example: Girl with a Dragon tattoo would be an unreal premium TV series. A 2hr 40min movie seems rushed and messy whereas a 12-18 episode TV season could do this and other amazing books justice.
For me, it's always been the quality of the content. SO many movies are such garbage, and, at least to me, that was more true in 2011 than in recent years. Look at all the reboots that came out this year and think how many of them were worth seeing at a premium in theaters...
Ebert came close to hitting it with that point, especially at the end, but missed it a little. I don't think people prefer indie, foreign and documentaries because of what they are, nor because of the theaters they are shown in. Those movies have better turnout because they are better than most of the big Hollywood titles.
I won't pay twelve dollars a ticket to watch a movie in the theater when it probably will be just as enjoyable at home. That goes for a lot of comedies and movies that lack the cinematography to justify seeing on the big screen. I'll still see the ppv movies and pay to do so, but not at the cost of going to the theater.
The blockbusters mentioned in the article - Batman and Avatar, were blockbusters largely because they were worth seeing on the giant screen and even worth dealing with the cost and hassle of 3D. I'll keep going to films with big visuals, but not the rest.
This is by far the biggest reason.
All of my peers own Netflix streaming accounts and watch most of their movies this way.
Flat screens measured in feet and thinner than a ream of paper and surround sound (all digital) are now within reach of a large segment of the population. The higher quality of picture and sound at a theater, relative to a home setup, no longer outweighs the negatives, many of which have gotten worse in the last ten years (price, distractions, miscellaneous theater rigmarole).
IMAX is pretty much the only theater experience I still leave the house for. The screen size and sound are still novel enough to draw me in, and I find that the audiences tend to be more focused on the movie-going experience as opposed to being obnoxious.
People don't care if a movie is domestic or foreign, so long as it is well done. I think the popularity of independent films is due to the fact that a higher percentage of the best independent films show up on netflix vs the percentage of popular Hollywood movies.
Its obviously going to be much easier to negotiate a contract with an independent studio that needs the money than it will be to do the same with a movie studio executive that hates the fact that your business even exists.
It isn't just the context, it's the content too.
That's becoming harder and harder, because all sides of the equation have been getting hit. On the pricing side, it goes without saying that higher prices place a greater burden on entertainment value. But on the entertainment side, we now have a) alternatives (Netflix, video games, etc.) that are increasingly attractive, inexpensive, and readily available, and b) movie offerings that have, at best, held steady in their general entertainment value.
Interestingly, the theater-going experience itself has been improving over the past few decades. But at the heart of it all, customers aren't there for the window dressing; they're there for the content. A juicy piece of IP, such as Harry Potter, would drive people to a run-down shithole of a theater if they had to go -- but conversely, a shitty product wouldn't attract people to the nicest theater ever built. So, while we can all applaud the efforts of theater chains to improve their general offerings -- atmosphere, food, dining, etc. -- we shouldn't believe that such improvements are wholly sufficient, or ever could be. (At worst, if the cost of such atmosphere, ambience, furnishings, services, etc., eventually leaks into the ticket prices, then theaters are making the game even harder for themselves).
In summation, I place the burden for the future of the big-screen movie business primarily on the shoulders of the movie studios. Not the exhibitors. Studios can't keep rehashing the same, warmed-over crap each year and expect anything more than a dice roll from the outcome. They need to place bigger bets with breakthrough IP. They need to wean themselves from the largely mistaken belief that uber-expensive movie stars drive box office attendance (overseas, they do; domestically, there's almost zero correlation). And they need to go all-in on the bets they do place. No more licensing, buying, or developing 100 properties to produce 2. Borrow a page from the Apple product philosophy, and launch only the titles you are dead serious about supporting. Fewer, but better.
Finally, as a whole, the industry needs to stop being so stridently anti-consumer. Enough with the war on piracy, the DRMs, the 50 super-uber-ZOMG-uncensored-platinum-edition releases of every title on DVD and Blu-ray, and so forth. Studios, you are product companies. Focus your time, your attention, your budgets, and your people on your products. And make every product count.
I hate to tell you this, but the formula of using big movie stars for oversees growth won't be changing anytime soon: Hollywood had another record year in their _actual_ growth market, which is the foreign box office.
I'd love to see a more robust domestic box office, but wishing won't make it so. At the cost of films these days, global box office results will continue to dominate, and I expect 2012 to be even more lopsided.
Before the decade is out, I expect the US to be down to less than 20% of total worldwide box office.
But I wonder how long the era of one-size-fits-all product for all territories can last. Eventually, specialized studios for each market could swoop in with better localized product using the same stars. It's tempting to think that the era of globalization will give us a homogenous set of middle-class consumers worldwide, all with roughly the same tastes. In practice, though, local culture and preferences still matter in a big way. The question is whether local culture is on its way out with globalization, and accordingly, whether local tastes are simply artifacts of the pre-global marketplace. Or, frankly, if a new global homogeneity is emerging, how likely that standard is to be set outside of the US. Twenty years from now, which consumers will be deciding what's cool for the rest of the globe? The US middle class seems like a largely spent force in that role.
Of course i guess this is a different situation in urban areas where some cinemas certainly cater to interests like mine. However if there's anything to 'the Long Tail' mainstream cinemas are of course still losing audiences. These cinemas serve the purpose of showing big films for a very short period of time before they rapidly become meaningless. With the growing the popularity of on demand services like Netflix, iTunes, amazon and so on this time frame doesn't matter any longer. People can dive into special interests, classics and films that once were only catered to a niche audience and see them immediatelly. So the limited selection and the instant availability from alternative sources hurts those mainstream cinemas twice.
That said, the cinemas I know wouldn't see me even if I lived just across the street.
It's worse in America, which you would expect, given relative sizes and population densities: My nearest cinema is only about 8 km (5 miles), but that's a small four-screen place with very few interesting films. After that, it's 160 km (100 miles) to the next larger cinema, which still isn't that much larger. It's almost 600 km (350+ miles) to the nearest cinema that might be showing a film that isn't one of the week's designated 'blockbusters'.
> I enjoy movie that are a little off the radar and those cinemas don't just have little to offer in those departments, there is simply nothing for people interested in documentaries, indie films or other movies that just don't fit into the whole blockbuster concept.
Same here unless you're in a fairly major urban center. Out here we don't even get all the 'blockbuster' mainstream films.
I am very happy to have the Internet, a good video rental place, and Turner Classic Movies on satellite TV.
"historically the movies have been cheap compared to concerts, major league sports and restaurants. Not so much any longer."
I'm not experiencing this. The cheapest concerts in my area are generally $40, with older popular bands going for at least $80. Sports games start at $20 for crappy seats for crappy teams during regular season, more like $100 and up if you want at least one of the good things (seat, team, playoff game). I'm all for bringing movie prices down and I think it will help (which may be Ebert's real point), but comparing them to other things isn't doing him any favours, even going back historically.
As for concessions, dear lord, I never buy food at the movie theatre. And I still think it's kind pricey. Well, at least the base price; you can easily buy coupons for Cineplex/Famous Players that reduces the original price by 30%.
And frankly, I can't recall the last time I was annoyed by the other patrons at the theatre. Is it because I only go to the latest showing? (Speaking of which, I would appreciate a return of 11pm and midnight showings... may not be as cost effective, but keeps up interest in theatres.)
So I think the winning arguments go to home theatres being way better, intense sequelitis this year, and as Ebert says lack of choice.
I was watching the Harry Potter part 8 movie and teens came with their dad. They talked on and off for the first half of the film. Their dad did nothing. It wasn't until I turned around in my seat and told them to shut up that they actually did.
Flash back about 10 years. Maybe a bit more. There was a projectionist. There was often a staff member sitting by the entrance of the movie. Some kids would mess around. The staff would wait to see if it settled down for a minute or so then a flash light would come on and out would go the talkers.
I forget what film it was but there were 4 major distractions where staff had to come in and order people out. As we left staff members apologised and handed out vouchers because they knew the screening had been ruined.
I don't mind people gasping or saying "Oh no he didn't!" during scary films. There have always been idiots at the cinema. They have only started ruining films of late because cinemas have lost the will to deal with these people.
Would you not watch more movies at theater prices if you could watch it on your couch at 12:01am Friday morning?
I think the problem is at the theater, the companies get $12/person, $12 PER person.
How can we come up with a solution where they still get their dollars, but I don't have to leave my couch to go sit in a dirty, loud theater to watch it?
I think there's just way too much inefficiency in Hollywood -- the video game industry provides much better entertainment value-per-dollar (in terms of hours of entertainment, at least). That's partly due to the medium, of course, but I can't help but imagine that if someone could develop hollywood-like films without actually being part of the hollywood apparatus, they'd be poised to really disrupt that market.
- I stand corrected. I think you just might be right.
"I think there's just way too much inefficiency in Hollywood -- the video game industry provides much better entertainment value-per-dollar (in terms of hours of entertainment, at least). That's partly due to the medium, of course, but I can't help but imagine that if someone could develop hollywood-like films without actually being part of the hollywood apparatus, they'd be poised to really disrupt that market."
I agree. However, is not Netflix trying to go this route as a content producer? I hope they succeed.
Some people are saying "but this is what makes the most money!"... weren't we just complaining that revenues have fallen? They may make the most money of any of their other offerings (which are just more of the same!) but they're making less over all.
People still try to have the movie experience as we have for so long but then why pay so much? I can watch a well made series on free TV and then I only need to wait a week to see the next episode instead of 2-3 years.
I love going to the movies. I love the experience, the big screen, the large sound system, etc.
But it's a luxury that can easily be discarded when it's too expensive. Lower the price of movie tickets to what they were 5-10 years ago and watch Hollywood smile, as more people start going back to the theaters. Drop the price of concessions a bit, same result.
Let me reiterate: I LOVE MOVIES. But movies will never be a necessity, always a luxury. The sooner Hollywood understands this, the sooner they can stop complaining and start brainstorming solutions to what is really a very simple problem.