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I'll tell you why movie revenue is dropping... (rogerebert.com)
521 points by benjaminfox on Dec 29, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 278 comments

I think Alamo Drafthouse in Austin is doing it right:

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.

Cineplex here in Canada is getting much better. They've started opening VIP theatres, which because of the drinking age here in Ontario means absolutely no-one under 19. People paying the extra couple bucks don't use their cellphones and don't talk during the movies.

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.

The Cineplex VIP theatres I've seen are very, very, small, show what looks like a weird digital transfer rather than the original print, and have poor seating arrangement which combined with the small screen makes only the middle two seats in each row any good.

And I paid extra for this?

Also, there are a handful of VIP theatres. And when I've utilized them, they've always been packed. I'd welcome the price increase if it didn't feel like I was just trading a problem for another.

Instead of jamming, couldn't they cover the theater with foil?

> Although I've heard several times that they're interested in the cellphone jamming

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.)

One would hope that a doctor on call would monitor their pager/cell phone to ensure they have service.

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.

if instead of jamming they chose to build the theatre out of lead and posted a sign that said "cell phones don't work in here" then the result would be that people on call should not attend movies.

your logic is flawed. there are plenty of activities that can make you unreachable. one example pops up ..if you are a hiker, professional or for leisure , you know you will hit spots that have no cell phone coverage.

I'm a fellow Austinite and will vouch for the Drafthouse as well.

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 :)


#5 is what makes the Drafthouse for me.

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.

Alamo Drafthouse was great last time I was there (crap...6 years ago?).

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.

The alamo ritz (the one downtown) has showings and events closer to the old alamo. The south lamar one has the larger events (film festivals, etc.) and the same feel. I only go there for movies now, especially since dinner+movie ends up about the same as dinner elsewhere and then a movie for a better atmosphere. They also care about film and use appropriate brightness and sound, unlike most other theaters.

A surprising number of the old Portland theaters serve beer and food. The one I've been to (haven't visited them all) that serves you at your seat is McMenamin's Mission Theater at 16th and Glisan. I haven't been to Living Room Theaters on 10th, but they serve you at your seat, just not while the show is in progress.

The only McMenamin's theater I've been to is Kennedy school, might have to try out the Mission Theater, will have to look into the Living Room. Also, the Hollywood Theater on Sandy now serves beer, but they only show indie films, so I haven't gotten my wife to go there yet.

I went to an Alamo in Houston and while I liked the concept, the theater was a bit dank (which I worry is an inevitable result of serving beer and food) and not a place I'd prefer taking my kids --- which is relevant because "family of four" seems to be the core market for blockbuster films.

I like Alamo, don't get me wrong, but there are downsides to the model.

The Alamo Drafthouse in Houston was a franchise location and not run by the same owners. In the past year or two, however, the parent company purchased the franchise locations outright and shut down the franchisee concept.

My guess is Houston will be looking up...

In Houston there's Studio Movie Grill in City Center which offers a similar concept but more targeted to families/a bit more "corporate".

I haven't been myself (since I like Alamo just fine and only go with friends) but you might want to check it out.

I doubt it's inevitable. The Movie Tavern is a chain with a similar concept. Food, beer, etc. served with the movie. They've got a location here in Denver that I rather like. Not sure exactly how long it's been around but I've been going there several years and they've managed to keep it pretty clean and nice. I like taking my kids to movies there. They get shakes, I get beer. We all have a good time.

I don't think you could take your kids to Alamo unless it is a special event. It is 18+ only.

One of their household rules is that "Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian". http://edition.cnn.com/2011/SHOWBIZ/Movies/06/10/alamo.draft...

We saw "Ratatouille" there, at around 5 in the afternoon. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. Maybe it's 18+ after 7:00PM? Maybe it used to be? I don't know.

But at any rate, you're making my point for me. :)

Why is there nothing like like this in the SF Bay Area? It seems to me a theater that served beer and decent pub food would do well in SF and I'd pay a premium both for the movie tix and the food, but at the same time similar quirky places like the Red Vic shutdown.

Kabuki theater At Geary and...Fillmore (japantown)? in SF has assigned seating (pick when you purchase), a bar/lounge, nice captains chairs, and beer/wine in some of the theaters in the evenings. They also have a good mix of movies.

The Kabuki theatre in japantown does a decent approximation for this. Seeing a movie there is a quite enjoyable experience.

There used to be one in Oakland.

That was Oakland's Parkway Speakeasy Theatre, now closed. :(


Good news! They've signed a lease at a new location.


The Rialto in El Cerrito serves beer and will bring food in to you.. It's quite a fun experience!

Never been but sounds awesome.

McMenamins in Oregon does similar things:

- Couches in some theaters

- Order food and beer from their restaurant

- special events (like Monday night football)

Oops, forgot about the McMenamins, but their beer/food isn't really very good imho. Also, I would like it if they had more table areas, I had to sit my beer on the floor. They do have awesome buildings, though.

Was just about to mention them! I have been there twice when visiting my sister in Bend and loved the experience and the campus-like layout (thanks to its history). If I wasn't planning to move out west already I would be considering opening up something like that in one of the counties north of NYC.

do they turn down the sound during commercials?

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.

I'm a big fan of Alamo Drafthouse as well. I think their model really brings back a sort of "event" feeling to going to the movies which helps differentiate away from going to an ordinary theater or watching at home.

There is a theater in Columbus, Oh Called "Arena Grand Theater" it's a mix of a traditional thatre and something like Alamo... A few points about it.

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.

In the suburbs of Columbus in Upper Arlington there is the Movie Tavern, which is a chain with a few other locations around the country. They take a very similar approach, with tables in front of each seat.

Or there's the Wexner center which is the type of place that shows 'Satantango' (450 min. runtime) and often has double features for $7 (and less for students/members). I now regret having missed even a single film while I was nearby.

Don't forget Studio 35 just northeast of campus, where they have a HUGE beer selection, a great staff, and monthly productions/showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The Prince Charles Cinema in London, UK [1] is also doing this kind of thing and is about the only place I can be bothered to go see a film these days.

[1] http://www.princecharlescinema.com/

There's quite a few independent cinemas in UK cities, all doing that sort of thing - many of them are non-profits as well. Fewer screens than multiplexes yet a more eclectic choice.

And like the Alamo Drafthouse, the Parkway and the Cerrito Speakeasy in the East Bay were doing something similar...though they closed in the economic downturn.

The Electric on Portobello Road[1] is nice too.

1. http://www.electriccinema.co.uk/experience.php

Might as well give a shoutout here to the Cleveland Cinematheque. It's a humble operation in some ways, but run by folks with an incredible amount of passion and devotion to film (film on film to be precise; none of this digital nonsense) and to the craft of showing and curating the art. I could probably go on and on about what they do, and how special it is, and how it changed my life. Cleveland is really one of the best cities to live in if you're a film buff.

Here's what's showing right now http://www.cia.edu/extended_film_schedule/

For the NYC crowd, there's a spot very much like this in Williamsburg: www.nitehawkcinema.com

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.

Exactly, a good night like that is awesome. We recently had a Horror Night in the back room of a pub, so we had pies and ale delivered to us (I literally ate two pies as they were fairly priced and goddamn awesome), and it was a lovely atmosphere, everyone sitting around on chairs, the odd technical hitch providing a smoking break. Absolutely awesome.

At the Alamo Drafthouse in San Antonio, they play a slightly modified version of this before every movie I've seen -


Definitely a good place to watch a movie, and I think Ebert is spot on.

I wish their chairs were more comfortable but other than that I totally agree. I always check to see if movies are showing there first.

Reserving a seat (just like on airplanes, for those who haven't seen it) is so awesome.

Never been to the Alamo, but I imagine the process of kicking someone out who is using his/her cell phone during a movie must be quite distracting to everyone else, no?

Maybe, that one time. But if it gets the word out that the theatre /does not tolerate/ cell phone usage during a show, and that you really /will/ get kicked out if you do so, then it should make for less distractions overall for regular/repeat patrons in the future. I fucking hate people who use their goddamn phones during a movie, because of how insanely distracting their bright screen and bleepy feedback noises are in an otherwise most dark and sometimes quiet room. Heck, I would gladly sit through one of these fuckheads being noisily ejected from the theatre simply because they've /already/ ruined my enjoyment of the show, and deserve nothing less. That it will hopefully make phone use less likely in the future is just the cherry on top.

I love the Alamo for all of those reasons. Regarding #2, I have read on the Alamo site about some enforcements of that rule. Love it.

Nitehawk in Brooklyn and Living Room in Portland doing similar things.

TXJS was at the Drafthouse last year. Best conference venue ever.

This video Alamo posted to youtube of an angry customer bitching about getting kicked out for texting is amazing.



customer: I was texting and you kicked me out; whine whine whine

alamo: gtfo and don't come back

Do you believe this is real?

If you've ever been there — which, if you have the chance, you should, it's great — then you would.

(So my answer is yes.)

Have been there. Like it. But this is a bit... "perfect".

I have a hard time imagining Tim League fabricating this. It would seem out of character from the way he runs the rest of his business, at least.

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.

KXAN Austin News believes it is real and interviewed the CEO about it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeMEr_vBzBk

it's fun to imagine it is, and it's great advertising either way...

Agree! Wasn't complaining; genuinely curious.

2. Ticket prices are too high. People have always made that complaint, but historically the movies have been cheap compared to concerts, major league sports and restaurants.

I had to check this claim, because inflation and purchasing power can fog people's memories. Using average U.S. ticket prices[1] adjusted to 2010 dollars[2], 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.


[1] http://www.natoonline.org/statisticstickets.htm

[2] http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl

7.89 for movies? What? Where? I'm guessing this data is skewed by the low prices of rural and suburban centers that are underpopulated. Here in the urban world where most of the population lives, movies start at 11 or 12 dollars and then there's a 3D surcharge of a couple bucks. When my gf and go to the movies here in Chicago its about 30 dollars before any snacks. Toss in a few bucks parking too. Oh, want to order online? That's another two dollars per ticket.

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.

7.89 for movies? What? Where? I'm guessing this data is skewed by the low prices of rural and suburban centers that are underpopulated. Here in the urban world where most of the population lives, movies start at 11 or 12 dollars and then there's a 3D surcharge of a couple bucks.

They seem to be calculated by taking the box office takings[1] and dividing it by the number of admissions[2].

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.

[1] http://www.natoonline.org/statisticsboxoffice.htm

[2] http://www.natoonline.org/statisticsadmissions.htm

Prices at the 12 screen theater in Ames, Iowa (college town of 50k people):

Senior Monday - 4.75

Matinee, Child, Senior - 5.75

Adult Evening - 7.50

Adult Weekend Evening - 8.00

3D - add 2.50

It's pretty common for me to pay 7.50 in Lansing MI (almost 500,000 in the metro area). That's mostly because I always get a student discount (hooray college town where they assume everyone under 30 is a student).

My sister works at a movie theater, and she gets so annoyed because everybody under 30 wants to take advantage of the student discount..

It works if it's crowded, but if not, she'll ask for your ID :)

The prices he lists are “…adjusted to 2010 dollars…” based on the linked calculator.

EDIT: Please ignore this comment. See reply below. Sorry for missing the point here.

2010 was last year (Ok, it will be the year before last in a couple of days, but...), inflation is not sufficient to effect it that much when compared with this year.

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 just realized that I misread the comment, and for that I apologize; I totally missed the boat with my reply.

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!

The price in 2010 in 2010 dollars is listed as $7.89. drzaiusapelord isn't complaining about previous years.

Taking your "average ticket prices" data from the National Association of Theatre Owners is a bit disingenuous. I imagine they're averaging over time (rather than per-theatre-attendee or something), which would tend to favor the cheaper, daytime prices. When people go to the movies it's usually after work and on the weekends when ticket prices are $10+. I've seen prices well above $10 everywhere from small town Iowa to downtown Chicago and Minneapolis and they've definitely been higher in the last 5 years.

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.

The "average" is the mean of gross revenue ($10.6 billion for 2010) over audience numbers for the year (1.4 billion). This would include both 2D and 3D movies, plus matinee and child ticket prices. It's not clear if they include 3D glasses "rental", but my main assumption is that NATO has always calculated the average this way and they are always truthful with their totals (could be a big assumption).

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...




"both of which, incidentally, suffer from the same competition movies do: high quality home theater setups and internet streaming."

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.

Concerts maybe not, but watching sporting events at home can usually be a better view and watching experience. Yes, the atmosphere of a home game for a passionate fan base cannot be replicated, but for casual fans who just want to watch the game in comfort, HD TV, comfy couches, and regularly priced food and drink is an attractive alternative compared to going to the stadium.

You'd think so, but you have no idea just how much you miss by watching TV. At a football or soccer game, you can follow all 22 players at once, not just the half dozen around the ball. And a baseball game in the summer is as much a warm day spent outside with friends as it is a sporting event. Also you get to see more of the game, since you see how the fielders are positioning themselves and how the base runners are positioned to possibly steal a base, whereas TV just focuses on the batter and pitcher.

Having been to football and baseball games, I do have an idea of just how much I miss. I prefer watching on tv (at least for football, baseball is more fun in person because I find it boring as hell but at least in person I'm there with friends). Obviously this is just personal opinion, but I think there are probably a lot of people who don't care about what everyone is doing and therefore the TV views are more than adequate.

Media entertainment is one of those areas where inflation is hard to calculate, the price of watching a movie at home has been deflating from impossible, to $1000 VCRs, to $8 Netflix on a machine you have anyway.

When I want to go to the theater near me (Metreon in SF, local mall's theater in NY), the price you cite is a little over half of what I would have to pay for a single ticket. Its usually closer to $11-$12. And thats without imax or 3d.

Costs me $13 in NYC, $15 if I order tickets online. Rarely worth it.

wow, they charge you a fee for buying the tickets online? Ridiculous...

The chain theaters tend to use Movietickets or Fandango for online & phone ticketing, and both charge an extra dollar or two per ticket.

Makes me sick every time to pay it too, I've gone to a lot less opening weekends where I would have to reserve online to make sure I could get a ticket.

Here in Germany, tickets usually cost around 8 Euro now (10.36 USD) ...

I like that some independent films are beginning to branch out in their strategy. For example, one of the best films of the year -- Margin Call -- was released on a variety of streaming services the same day it was available in theaters.

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.

Not to mention HBO, which is a more direct challenge to theaters in the "you give me money, I give you high-quality content" sphere than, say, AMC, which is still ultimately banking on selling advertisement.

Totally agree on the TV. The Christmas episode of Downton a few days ago was encroaching on the length of a movie and much more interesting than nearly all of them. Let alone the fact that it's free to watch and we could record it etc.

Come on, Christmas episode of Downton Abbey is a disappointment: annoying dude popping up all the time when Mary was talking to other dude, predictable Bates story, ghost of the dead bride wishing Mary and annoying dude happiness, and most of all, mixed servant-master ball (after two self-served events, because servant had time off)?? Seriously? What's up with that?

For example, one of the best films of the year -- Margin Call -- was released on a variety of streaming services the same day it was available in theaters

I agree. Sometimes I feel I could pay $3-$5 if I could watch the movie from home on opening day.

They are experimenting with that and pricing it more as a PPV event, $30-$50. Not a bad price if you consider a family of 4 or if you have a good spot to gather some friends together.

My own personal reaction is that $50 to see a movie is not "not bad" unless it's spread out across quite a few people as you mention, then of course collect each person's share, say have 30 people over, charge $5 each, that's $150, $100 profit after expenses, plus the proceeds from popcorn sales. This could be a nice home business, OK, I'm convinced.

One thing that's become an issue for me, at least at my local theater (and I admit I may be in the minority here), is volume.

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'll see your loudness and raise you that the theaters are freaking cold!

I don't like to bring a coat and a set of earplugs with me to see a movie.

Sounds like a bug in your local theater's sound setup. The local theaters here seem to have it set up about right: loud when it should sound loud, quiet when it should sound quiet, and never painful.

I thought so too. In fact, I complained multiple times at one movie. They said they have no control over it, and couldn't turn it down if they wanted to. I'm not sure I believe it; _someone_ must be able to turn it down, but I may believe that the average employee on a random Saturday may not be able to.

I think that just goes back to quality. When I go see a movie in a theater the screen better be right and the sound better be right. If the screen is so dark it is unwatchable and the sound is so loud it hurts, I am better off just watching it at home. And if the movie or sound cuts out, that is a big problem.

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.

Go to a cinema in China, where they seem to not have any noise control laws. It's shocking.

I saw Transformers II, and Sucker Punch. I couldn't understand the translation, but it's not like the plot really suffered.

I guess... and of course I defer to Ebert on all things cinematic... but these are all critiques you could have leveled with equal force in 2002. There've been good years in the preceding decade.

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?

> these are all critiques you could have leveled with equal force in 2002

Netflix streaming wasn't around in 2002. This (and similar services) is the biggest factor in theaters losing market share.

Don't forget Amazon and iTunes rental streaming. Since I've gotten my appletv 2 I have found that waiting for it to stream on iTunes has replaced netflix and most of my theater trips.

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.

And Xbox Live streaming (or 'Zune' as it's called)

I agree, but that's not Ebert's critique.

It was his fifth bullet point:

"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.

Also, many people have home theaters that provide a very nice movie-viewing experience. So whereas a family of four might go see a special, well-reviewed movie like "The Muppets" in the theater, they may wait to see "We Bought a Zoo" when it comes out on video.

Doh. Thanks!

Not to mention that tickets were $6 in 2002 and are now $11 where I live.

It seems that at any given time about 1/3 of my local theater's screens are 3D. Also non-3D movies have broken the $10 mark, which I think is a fairly important psychological barrier.

Non-3D here in Australia can be US$17pp. Don't complain too much!

Hey I'm not complaining at all. I'm perfectly happy watching at home on disks I borrowed for free from the library, or traded with my neighbors with large collections.

They can raise the price all they want for their empty theatres, I'll never complain.

One quibble, in 2002 people weren't texting like mad on their bright white 4+ inch smartphone displays.

No, they were texting like mad on their little Nokia dumbphone displays. Also, LASER POINTERS.

Not in the US they weren't, at least not _nearly_ as much as they are now.

But I don't think texting is nearly as much as a problem as the outsized ticket price increases for 3d films

At least those weren't as bright! :-)

Not so bright, and not so big-ass screen. We're actually using those screens as flashlights nowadays. Flashlights.

Yeah, I generally enjoy going to the movies, but in the past couple of years, a setup that puts most theater experiences to shame has become pretty affordable. A fairly good high def DLP projector is in the ballpark of $1k. Add a $100 Roku or Apple TV and a $300 set of 550W Logitech speakers (including amp), and you've got a great general purpose theater for less than $2k, and without the hassles.

(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)

That's 200 movie tickets for a decidedly worse experience. Could be a factor but I suspect small.

Or, in other words, for a family of four who would have ordinarily gone to the movies every other weekend, the cost of 2 years worth of movie tickets before concessions.

In return:

* 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.

To be honest, I like the AV quality better on that setup I described. Too many theaters are poorly configured and are actually losing on the quality front - too loud, too cold, technical difficulties.

Then there's the indignity of being forced to watch lame commercials thinly disguised as a "First Look"

I agree with you. 3D movies are dark. Darker still are regular movies where the 3D lens was left on because the theatre owners all like to save a few bucks by not hiring a projectionist who knows how to swap out and calibrate the normal lenses. Often surround sound isn't even working and is just turned off with sound coming through the three speakers in the front, or sometimes only the center speaker is working. Often a speaker will be blown and be crackling. It's not uncommon to have 30 minutes of advertisements and previews at the beginning.

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.

Don't forget "And it's useful for a lot of other things other than movies", which is what really tipped it over the edge for me. Video games, streamed TV, second computer monitor, family photo viewings, etc. We're getting pretty close to "optional monitor for your cell phone", too, in the slow-but-inevitable substitute-replacement of your laptop by your cellphone.

I'd say "I just talked myself into upgrading my home theater setup", but we never go to the movies. We just watch them when they become available to download from iTunes. It's great. We make better popcorn, too (secrets: paprika bloomed in the butter, microplaned parmesan cheese, Spice House cheese powders).

If you want better popcorn, you might give gourmet popcorn a spin. It tastes better and is more tender.

Plus choosing their own movies and not letting in that guy that chews popcorn really loudly.

For me plus one, it's $30 for tickets and then $15-20 for popcorn+soda, so it's about 40 trips. And the AV is decidedly better at home - I have a hell of a subwoofer, the dialogue is crystal clear, the picture is gorgeous, and the AC is never cranked way too high. And it gets used for video games and TV as well.

In addition to ridiculous ticket prices, the actual movie doesn't start until 15 minutes after the scheduled showtime. While you're waiting, you're expected to watch advertisements. I don't have any concrete data to back this up, but I feel it wasn't always this bad.

I timed it recently, and it was almost 16 minutes of straight ads (not trailers for unreleased films mind you, ads for movies coming out on bluray, newspapers, an anti-piracy PSA, etc.). This is in addition to having to sit through countless still ads for dentists, car washes, advertisements to advertise at the theater, etc. etc, before the scheduled start time.

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.

Not sure why you've been down-voted, but this has infuriated me more than any other single thing.

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 don't so much mind seeing trailers before a movie. It seems like a tradition, and trailers can be fun to watch. However, ads for other stuff like cars, or soft drinks cheapens the experience. I'm at a damn movie theater, don't remind me that it's really just a big TV screen.

15 minutes isn't even so bad any more. The last movie I went to see was 30 minutes of ads (seriously, I checked) and about an hour 40 long. That's a broadly similar proportion to TV, which doesn't make a good case for paying £8/person for it.

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.

Theaters which "do it right" (bright projection, good sound, more varied programming, anti-talking/texting policies) also tend to show fewer ads before a screening.

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 went to a movie a few days ago for the first time in months. As soon as the advertisements started for other movies/consumer good I had to walk out. I couldn't bear to sit through 10 minutes of all that advertisements anymore.

I've told my parents that I like movies but I hate going to movie theaters before and I think this might be why.

Growing up, I lived about an hour from the nearest theater. I remember we used to use 10 minutes as the rule of thumb for the movie to actually start after the posted showtime...no commercials exactly, but 3 or 4 previews in those days.

If we were more than 10 minutes late, we'd just go to the mall or arcade or something instead.

I love movie trailers. That 15 minutes is one of the reasons I go to a theater instead of streaming something at home.

You might like this: http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/

They even provide an RSS feed of new trailers.

Ugh, Quicktime. Of all the movie trailer sites, this is the only one that expects you to install some slow, clunky software first.

You're joking, right? How do all of the sites that require Flash also not fall under this same statement?

(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?)

Yes, Flash is already installed. It also opens instantly and is never slow. It doesn't open up weird framed windows that don't match the chrome of the rest of the OS. It doesn't try to trick me into installing iTunes to download it, and it doesn't try to trick me into installing iTunes and Safari every couple of days when its separately installed software updater pops itself up. Quicktime (and iTunes) are just terrible software on Windows -- they perform poorly, make no attempt to act like Windows applications, and are almost on the level of malware when it comes to the updater.

FWIW Apple received lots of hate for making the updater install other software by default, and changed it promptly.

I've always wondered why movie theaters are showing ads, when you are charged to watch the movie. Aren't ads supposed to be an alternative to directly charging your customer?

Any additional revenue stream is good for papa!

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.

15 minutes? Seriously, in the UK it's like 40 minutes of ads and trailers sometimes.

I don't live in the UK, so I'm going to ask -- is this serious? I know in the US there's about 15 minutes of previews/commercials after the presentation starts, but for the 30 min prior to the screening there's the "First Look" or some other less preview/ad thing running. That would make 40 minutes but only if you came significantly before showtime.

I've been to cinemas in a few places around the UK, and it's been The Twenty[0] - 10 mins of ads, then 10 mins of trailers, from the time the show is scheduled to start, before the movie - for well over a decade. However, of late at my local multiplex, it's definitely stretched out to more like 15/15, with 30 mins between the posted start of the show, and the start of the actual movie.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twenty

[In London at least, not sure about other places] Ranges from 20 to 40 mins of ads and trailers, although I've only heard of people complaining about the upper extreme and never personally experienced it.

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.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they raised the timeframe from 20 to 30/40, and probably factored some randomness in, just to defy that sort of strategy.

I'd add two more:

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.

Completely agree with "kids get bored". It's to the point we don't bother going. My kids literally groan if I mention going to a movie over the weekend.

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.

I actually find it very difficult to watch Jurassic Park these days. The CG has not aged well at all. With Ghostbusters, the effects look terrible in a few scenes (the claymation dogs spring to mind), but it's not so jarring in the context of a comedy.

> The CG has not aged well at all.

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.

No one is disputing how awesome it looked when it first came out, but the same thing could be said for quake 1. As our eyes adjust to the ever increasing details in movies and games, what used to look awesome begins to look awful. Here is the scene with the Brontosaurs While it seemed photo-realistic when it first came out, it now looks choppy, grainy, and artificial. Most low-budget T.V. shows have better CG now. But that's just the way computer animation works.


I appreciate the link, but I definitely disagree with you.

I have to agree with you. If any film needs a special edition, it's this, not Star Wars or E.T.

Honestly? I may even be up for a 3d conversion... If anyone's able to do them well?

I actually feel the exact opposite of this. I recently rewatched both and thought Jurassic Park held up amazingly well (at least the first one) and Ghostbusters looked far worse (as it should being that it's nearly 10 years older than Jurassic Park).

Kids these days?

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.

Better question. Can you remember the plot of the last 5 movies you went to see?

Yep, I believe the majority of films I have ever watched has this plot:

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 :)

In romantic comedies...

  - Lonely woman meets strange man,
  - Man drags woman around,
  - Woman is *mildly inconvenienced*, this is key, causes conflict,
  - Situation is somehow happily resolved.
Not sure about everyone else, but I am sick of movies where the likes of Jennifer Aniston spend too hours boggling at mild inconvenience.

Gahhh. No wonder I haven't set foot in a movie theater for years.

Its generalised quite well with this theory http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth

Go listen to track 6 of the new Patton Oswalt album...

Because? Also, you could actually name the track. Even better give a link for us to listen to it?

It might be awesome but you're not on reddit now; downzoat.

Um, because I thought posting the link to the pirated YouTube track would be a bit more tacky. But whatever.

There are plenty of ways to link to music, Amazon previews, bands website, official/certified vid on YouTube, etc., that don't involved copyright infringement.

Basically I'm still at a loss as to what you felt you were adding to the conversation?

This basically fits the idea of the hero's journey[0], an idea by Joseph Campbell. Joseph Campbell believes that many myths follow this hero's journey through 3 phases: departure, initiation and return. It's startling how many myths fit this almost perfectly.

[0] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth

"1. Kids get bored quicker"

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.

I think you are on to something about the loss of focus. My kids seem to always need two screens going when they watch something at home. I'd fight it more, but I'm bad about it too.

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.

"1. Kids get bored quicker" I think that's related to multitasking, it's kinda sad kids today can't even do one thing at a time. The hole attention span issue.

Which movies were these? I find Rotten Tomatoes a decent indicator of quality and most mass marketed movies get very poor ratings. Even the "amazing" movies (90%+ critics and 80%+ of audience liked it) can have some slow parts you could consider "boring".

The number one reason is your second point (without the CG). The problem is that it's total crap. There's lack of content, bullshit scenarios, nothing entertaining. It's not the overuse of CG, but that it's the only thing they're selling anymore.

Here's the thing, everyone I speaks to agrees that modern movies are mostly crap. But...why, with their big focus group budgets and such, are the movie studios not listening to this? Or is their output really the best they are being pitched?

Well, two things:

"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.

WRT marginal quality, I don't think that word of mouth buzz from great quality can be ignored - one of the ways to build a massive (and massively profitable) franchise like the Dark Knight/The Matrix/Toy Story is by making a really, really good movie.

It's getting a lot harder to "con" people into making a movie a blockbuster via advertising.

WRT marginal quality, I don't think that word of mouth buzz from great quality can be ignored - one of the ways to build a massive (and massively profitable) franchise like the Dark Knight/The Matrix/Toy Story is by making a really, really good movie.

Gah, stupid phone... sorry about this.

Because the most money is made from appealing to the lowest common denominator. There are plenty of awesome T.V. shows, but whenever American Idol and the Real Housewives are on, people ignore them.

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.

The movie industry is being ran by idiots, that's why. They are ready to kill the internet and free speech because they think this will save them a buck.

Anyway, french movies seem more interesting lately. And you can always vote for (with your money) alternative forms of art.

The CG in the Planet of the Apes movie was really well done though.

>Kids get bored quicker

I bet you walked to school uphill, in both directions, in 3ft of snow in 110 degree heat!

Kids never change. You have.

When I was a kid, I could sit and watch movies or TV for hours. Even crappy ones. Now, of course, it has to actually be good.

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.

I agree. I only posted to comment on the idea that somehow kids these days have gotten worse compared to older generations. The original post mis-attributes the kids getting bored to shorter attention spans, rather than lower quality films.

Take for example

  Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937): 84 minutes
  Bambi (1942) runtime: 70 minutes
  Toy Story 3 (2010): 103 minutes
The "kids these days" myth has existed since the dawn of language. People grow up and do not understand they have changed, not the children.



I was actually agreeing with that--when I was a kid, I could actually sit through a kid's movie. If kids today empirically can't do that, then maybe they have changed.

I still go to the movies. It's still a great excuse to turn your phone off for an hour or two, tell your friends to shut up and sit still for an hour or two, crank the volume all the way up for an hour or two, and have animated discussions about the thing you just watched with people who also just watched it and paid attention to the whole damn thing.

Hard to argue with anything Ebert says in that article. As a kid I loved going to the theater. I tried to see a movie every time I had a free weekend.

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?

Agreed, I find that the independent movie theaters cater to a crowd that actually cares about film. They also show a mix of old and new films so you can catch the classics on the big screen. The Harvard Film Archive just had a great retrospective on Clouzot and the experience of the theater is really impressive.

The problem is movies have become too expensive to make. When a movie cost 100-200 million dollars to make, studios believe that to be successful they must make, or more typical take, a brand and develop a movie around that brand. Studios need a brand that ideally people already know that they can franchise into a cartoon, plush dolls, a theme park ride, and 3 sequels in hopes to try and get the 150 million back. This why we end up with Land with the Lost and a baker's dozen of Charlie's Angels movies.

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 say that like it is some force of nature. Movies don't have to be expensive to make and Ebert specifically called out that the bright spot for 2011 was independent films.

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.

Thanks for the reply.

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.

You can actually get decent effects and explosions these days for "cheap". District 9, one of my favorite Sci-Fi movies, had a budget of $30 million and was amazing. If they made movies around that size, they would lower their risk profile, while still having enough effects punch to make a blockbuster.

If they did not play accounting games they could pay actors based on movie revenue without increasing upfront costs. However, major studios are setup as cost plus contracts where they get upside on successes and still make money even if nobody sees the movie.

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.

Movies aren't expensive to make, unless you want to make them expensive. The technology involved has been getting cheaper year after year. Take "monsters" for example. It's a sci-fi movie in the best tradition, that doesn't look low-budget, and that cost less than a million dollars to make.

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.

Movies are very expensive to market (average cost in Hollywood is over $20 million in marketing), and a movie _without_ marketing -- virtually regardless of the how much it cost to make -- will do almost no theatrical business at all.

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.

I' never heard of it, but it doesn't seem like a mainstream movie:


The niche audience liked it just fine, but I don't know how they could turn it into recouping those millions.

Blog post titled The purpose of drama, and its relationship to Cameron Diaz’s ass. It is by the writer of Charlie's Angels Full Throttle. Great blog for those interested screenwriting.


One thing you are missing is how much they try to distort theatre takings. Because audience numbers (or take, compared to the other movies) will determine how much they get for TV rights, DVD rental profits, and how much the DVD shops will push their product, they just want to sell seats.

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.

In the early 2000s, during "the great media consolidation" as I call it, studios were pumping upwards of 300 million into films assuming they'd return twice that worldwide.

* Lord of Rings * The Matrix * Pirates of the Caribbean

I'd say for the most part that money has been made back.

Yes, totally agree. There's a dead feeling that comes with movies that have been made as commercial vehicles, rather than as pieces of art.

Sometimes the results aren't too bad, Batman, Ironman etc., but other times they are just phoning it in.

Ticket prices are too high.

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.

Some good reasons, especially regarding competition with other forms of entertainment, which is one of the bigger factors IMO. But I can't believe he didn't say anything about sequels. The top 7 grossing movies of this year were all sequels (http://boxofficemojo.com/yearly/chart/?yr=2011&p=.htm)

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.

This is all anecdotal evidence of course, but last night I went to see Hugo at a new megaplex that just opened by my house. Not only was the movie incredibly heartwarming and reminded me of why I love the movies, the experience was great.

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.

I don't know how many others get this benefit, but I live across the street from a library. It's awesome. Dvds are free for a week, they have tons of old and artsy stuff, they have a great collection of educational stuff (especially the Great Courses -- http://www.thegreatcourses.com), and things you put on hold they deliver to the library of your choice.

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.

I never go the theater anymore. The largest factors for me are the cost and comfort.

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.

Now with HD and home digital projectors, I've lost all interest in going to the theater.

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 haven't seen a movie in months and don't plan to for the foreseeable future and the movie going experience is a major reason why. I will pay the ticket price without too much trouble, I don't mind kids(going to midnight showings during the week helps with that) and I never eat concessions so I don't care how expensive they are. My problem is once I get into the theater. Most movies today aren't shown correctly(I have no idea why they expect some kid making minimum wage to run 20 screens at once to know what he / she is doing), the watermarks every 20 minutes, and the poor sound quality. But the worst part by far is the commercials. I find it incredibily insulting that I pay $12 for the privilage of watching ads for 15 minutes straight. No one likes a double dipper.

I agree about the commercials. With TiVo, I don't ever watch commercials at home any more, why would I watch them when I've paid so much money for a movie ticket? Plus I've found that I have no tolerance for them anymore.

The problem is simple. Hollywood is conservative and hates taking chances. Every movie that's come out the last couple of years has been a sequel, another comic book franchise, or a remake of an already epic (unneeded remake) movie.

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.

Movies now days are like commercials designed to last an hour long. I especially love when they blatantly promote products in the movie. Did I really have to know that the main character uses iTunes and drinks Pepsi? Fuck you Hollywood.

How do we know your comment isn't product placement? :-)

And maybe that should be their business model. Focus 100% on product placements and impressions and release movies for near-free.

Sequels, remakes, remakes of sequels, remakes of remakes.

No need to go any further.

Actually I don't mind prequels, sequels, or remakes as long as they are well made. The problem is that they are often a cop out and use the original as the only draw to see a new not so good movie.

Which as it turns out are the movies that make money.

When you only make a kind of movie, it's expected that's the only kind that will make you money.

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.

133 movies this year opened in more than 1000 theaters. There was plenty of choice, every single weekend of the year.

I'm in Toronto (Canada), it's pretty much the same thing in terms of "*plex" experience.

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.

Other reasons... BBM, Facebook and Twitter.

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.

I was sure he was going to say that it was partly because every movie now seems to be a sequel or based on a comic book. It's so rare to find a mainstream 100% original movie anymore it seems...

Top ten movies for 2011-

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

8. Thor

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.

Seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If most of what they make are movies in these genres, that's what people will see. I don't even rent many movies any more, and I used to rent a lot! There just isn't much that's interesting, and i have pretty low standards when it comes to action / guy-flicks.

I complain about this all the time and I've seen zero of those movies. Some of them I haven't even heard of.

As a business if you have a popular iphone game that, would rather create a new game from the ground up or make the sequel of that game?

It's a valid question, but what's the point of making a sequel that no one would buy because they know it will be crap. Money is definitely the main factor, so you must make something that the consumer will buy. The whole argument is that consumers are not consuming this product anymore (Theater Experience).

With that premis I'd make a new one.

Lets see..... at home I have a 60" Plasma, surround sound, comfy chairs, great food & drink, and 6-8 hand selected guests to watch a DVD I paid on average $15 from Amazon on our personally selected date and time.

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.

to me it's simpler - big budget, well-made TV series are flat out better than movies.

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.

"6. Lack of choice. Box-office tracking shows that the bright spot in 2011 was the performance of indie, foreign or documentary films. [...] Instead, all the shopping center compounds seem to be showing the same few overhyped disappointments. Those films open with big ad campaigns, play a couple of weeks, and disappear."

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'll tell you the two major reasons I don't go. 1: Nothing worth seeing and 2: When it IS worth seeing, it's not worth the price of the movie and concessions. I can get a 12 pack of soda for what they charge for a "small". No thanks. I'll wait for the DVD. I can buy the DVD for the price of getting into the movie anyway.

One of the major reasons I don't see many movies in the theater is that the movie companies have made much cheaper alternatives available.

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.

> 5. Competition from other forms of delivery.

This is by far the biggest reason.

All of my peers own Netflix streaming accounts and watch most of their movies this way.

Don't forget the bit he dropped in that same bullet point about better home theater technology. Instant availability and movie delivery would still leave a lot to be desired compared to the theater if we were watching it on boxy 27" CRTs with stereo sound and "tracking...tracking...tracking" on the media player.

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.

I'm not trying to discredit the merits of watching independent films, but I think that they are disproportionately popular on netflix because netflix's streaming selection is terrible to begin with.

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.

I will add anecdotal evidence.... Movies this year suck. We have Grandma the babysitter around and my wife and I only took advantage once. After seeing Sherlock Holmes none of the movies beat Netflix.

It isn't just the context, it's the content too.

In its most simple and irreducible form, the challenge is this: big-screen movies need to offer an experience so preferable to home viewing (or video games, or TV, or other uses of leisure time) that customers will pay time and ticket prices for it.

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.

> 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).

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.

All absolutely true, but what it tells me is that the same product isn't really working in both markets, with the occasional big exception. There's no question that the overseas markets are the growth engine of the business, though.

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.

I don't think movie houses have been friendly to anyone above the age of 30 for quite a few years so I'm not sure that chasing that demographic will help the industry. In fact if anything they really need to figure out how to make Gen Y and their younger peers feel more at home by embracing their technology (free wifi, offer the ability to download the film when done watching, encourage opening night parties, etc.). I also think that biggest opportunity for theaters isn't films but being a place to see streaming of live events like concerts and plays (and that will attract an older audience).

I can't emphasize enough how important Ebert's 6th point about "Lack of choice' is. I live in a very rural area in germany, the nearest cinemas are about 50 Kilometers and while I simply prefer watching movies on my admittedly better than average setup with decent 720p projector and very good A/V receiver and speakers, it's mostly the selection of movies those cinemas offer which keeps me away from them. 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.

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.

> I live in a very rural area in germany, the nearest cinemas are about 50 Kilometers

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.

Countering a few of Ebert's points:

"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.

What concerts are you using as comparison? There's a world of difference between a major concert of a band that's been a household name for decades and a live show at a small local venue. If you live in a reasonably sized city with an active music scene then finding live shows in the $10 - $20 per person range is easy. The same is true for major league sporting events as well. I can go see a baseball or soccer game for about the same per person cost as seeing a movie.

I can tell you why... most movies suck. Not only do they suck, but they suck expensively because they rely on production values to compensate for the lack of plot, premise, and acting. As I understand it, Woody Allen is a solid money making enterprise because he makes good films with good actors and good scripts, and which cost an order of magnitude less to produce than crappy films based on car chases, laser guns, and heavy-handed soundtracks.

I used to go to the cinema all the time. Unfortunately, as my local cinema no longer has a projectionist and no staff are apparently watching the movie people talk, they text.. some even get up and run around. I don't bother going much now.

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.

What does it take to have movies that are in theater streamed to your home?

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 don't particularly care about the delay between theaters and DVDs/streaming; it doesn't matter to me if I see something on the day of theater release or wait for it later. I go to the theater for movies that benefit from a massive screen and sound, and I don't mind paying extra for that experience. If I don't care about that for a particular film, then I certainly wouldn't pay extra to see it at home the day it comes out; I'll just add it to the Netflix queue or wait for it to show up on TV so MythTV can record it.

I'd pay double, maybe even triple the regular price of streaming rental (~$5) to see movies at home on the day of release.

Same here. And we're speaking from an individual point of view. Now imagine a four, five person family weighing that price versus the sum price of four, five tickets, 3D glasses, candy, popcorn, and drinks

^-Same here. However that is not going to happen due to the fact that Hollywood is devoted to protecting their brick and mortar distribution network, a.k.a, the theater.

I think Hollywood could care less about movie theaters. That said, they can't get people to pay them $10/person to watch a movie at home, so the theater model allows them to take advantage of customers, price-wise.

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 think Hollywood could care less about movie theaters. That said, they can't get people to pay them $10/person to watch a movie at home, so the theater model allows them to take advantage of customers, price-wise."

- 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.

Many big sport live PPV events (the closest currently to a movie on day of release) are in the $45-60 range, which is also what it costs for a small group of friends to go see a movie at the cinema. So I imagine that would be a more reasonable price point. Would you be willing to pay that much?

IMO, the problem is that the guaranteed short-term profit strategy (MBA?) has infested Hollywood. These days they will only make a movie that has already done well. That means sequels and remakes. Every time you think your seeing an original Hollywood film in the last "I don't even know how many" years you're actually just seeing a foreign remake (e.g. Shall we Dance, Departed, 13, 3 idiots, etc.). These days they're waiting less and less time to remake popular foreign films. 3 idiots is from 2009 and they're already copying it.

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.

The biggest reason why I believe movie revenue is dropping is the ability for anyone to pick up a camera (high tech low cost now), create a movie, and upload it to the eyes of many people (like on youtube). Because of this, there are just so many more options to catch ones visceral media experience. I really like Science fiction and while there were certainly some good Sci-Fi movies (and television) out in the past year or so, there were many more interesting and thought provoking movies and shorts (going back to the previously brought up idea of short attention spans) on youtube than there were movies I would actually want to go to a theatre and pay for--and to be quite honest, I am sure that some of the things I saw on youtube recently were far more enjoyable than some of the things tossed at me by Hollywood. It's not so much a money thing for me, it's a time thing, and I want to spend it wisely.

I think point #5 (home viewing) is the most important one. The other issues have, more or less, existed for quite sometime now. It's only fairly recently that the average person could afford a pretty nice home theater setup. I've had a home theater with a projector for the last 5 years or so and the idea of going to a theater to watch a movie seems ridiculous to me. It's like going to a concert hall to hear a CD played over the PA. Why bother? The industry has to focus on delivering content to home-viewers the same day it's released to theaters. They do all this marketing for a new film and exclude a huge portion of its potential audience who would rather watch at home?

Movie revenue is dropping because it's simply too expensive for the average American family to go to the movies regularly.

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.

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