Our Community Speaks

April 27, 2011

My most recent blog entitled “Only Styrofoam, Cockroaches, and Bad Jokes Last Forever” stimulated some fascinating, insightful and passionate comments from our community. Please join the conversation at www.TheOldHollywood.com!

From Sherry:

Going to the movies is too expensive and has been for quite some time. When I was a kid you could go to the movies for 35 cents and stay all day. The theaters were absolutely packed with kids every Saturday and every day over the summer. This really kept the Public in the habit of going to the movies, in spite of the fact that we had color televisions to watch for free at home. These days the theaters are almost empty unless it is a big blockbuster movie. You can go to a movie on a Friday or Saturday night and sit in a theater with a handful of people. Why? Because in our relatively small, rural area, we’ll have to pay about $20 per person for a movie, popcorn and a soda – and the pricing here is cheap compared to the cities. It will also cost an additional $8 for us to get to the theater and back, so the price for a single film is $48 for a couple to go see a movie they may or may not enjoy. Personally, I watch Turner Classic Movies about 50% of the time I watch TV. I have a 64″ big screen television that has a gorgeous picture in high def and it is fabulous to get a chance to watch films from the 30s and 40s in almost perfect detail. I don’t have to put up with the rude behavior from the general public, who smack their popcorn, crunch their ice, pop and snap bubble gum, kick the back of my seat and talk throughout the movie. I’m 55 and I come from a family of film lovers. All of the generations of our family simply ADORE film and are very familiar with film history, as well as modern film. My husband and I look through the listings of movies playing at the theater and nothing sounds good to us about 90% of the times we decide to go to the movies, so we end up staying home. I have no interest in seeing people cut up in pieces, or doing “it,” whether its man to woman, woman to woman or man to man. The younger generation of actors seem unable to enunciate the English language well enough to understand the dialog and most of the younger women seem to have a habit of croaking their lines with an affected growl they apparently think is sexy. The problems that have led to the downfall of movie theaters are many and have been allowed to dominate for too many years. If theaters are going to fill up again, perhaps the industry needs to rethink their strategy in regards to the types of films shown, the cost of the experience, and the enjoyability of sitting in a large room with a bunch of boors.

From Brian:

Stephen, movie lovers will always choose to see a film on the big screen rather than even only wait 6o days to see it on DVD; as long as there is a cinema to see it in. It appears that in America the situation is far worse than in Europe with cinemas closing, here in London just in the last few months a new cinema, Curzon Millbank (pictured at left), opened. I think the healthy way to keep movies in movie theaters is through film festivals which is why I promote them so much on my page. Robert Redford is bringing a taster of Sundance to London next year not for people to see these independent movies on DVD but on the big screen. So why isn’t it happening in Hollywood? I think because they are aiming their productions at a lower demographic. They need to wake up to the fact that movies are international. Maybe the future lies in an older demographic that passionately love cinemas. Have fun, will unravel!

From Danny:

I don’t understand why studios are in a rush to get movies to DVD. Let people desire to go the theater, rather than brush it off because it’s going to be in their home five seconds later. The bane of this society is getting things faster and cheaper, and it’s quickly effecting movies. I just finished an independent film and I realize I have no chance of getting it anywhere near distribution from any small studio, so I’ve got to figure it out on my own…but I guess that’s what breeds ingenuity.

From Jay:

As always, Stephen, you raise some thought provoking questions. I’m not sure how concise I will be with my own thoughts, but here goes.

One of the real issues causing the downfall of the entire theater-going experience is that going to the movies is no longer an ‘event.’ At the risk of sounding like my father, when I was younger I planned my week around going to the movies on a Friday or Saturday night (or both if I was lucky). Since I can now only wait 60 days after release to see it at home, why should I spend the time and money to see a movie in the theater unless it’s a major blockbuster? That’s sad. I also think that it is a shame that most of the major talent when it comes to true storytelling is not being utilized by the major studios, and therefore gets no funding. Therefore the truly good art never gets seen…it can’t get funded. For the most part, the truly good screenwriting doesn’t get seen by the general population, so the quality of the story and dialogue is watered down. It seems the studios want ‘safe’ instead of truly good. The talented mavericks also can’t have their voices heard the way they should. I feel like the Coens were in that group, but other than that, the last true renegade was probably Altman. Where are the Welles, the Cassavetes, the Fellinis or Bergmans today? Point being that today’s product is overly watered down (which is what scares me about the possibility of remaking the true classics). Finally, I think that multiplexes have helped put us in the situation we’re in as well. Don’t get me wrong, having 15 choices can be a great thing. However, I also think it helped create an oversaturation of the market. Again, it goes back to reducing the ‘experience’ of going to the theater. Where I live, there are no movie houses. It has instead ‘corporatized’ the experience.  Until next time……..

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Asha Hawkesworth April 27, 2011 at 11:16 am

While burlesque, vaudeville, etc. have vanished, entertainment hasn’t. It just changed form. Most people would rather watch a movie than read a book (which is sad, and the death of books has been forecast for some time–the medium is changing form, however). So I don’t think films are going to disappear, but obviously, something has to change. I mostly grew up in a small rural town in Texas, and even the nearby little town had an independent theater with a drive-in. I’ll bet it’s closed, though. Corporatization is certainly killing the movie theater… On the other hand, when I lived in Austin, some folks opened a couple of new independent theaters that showed both first-run and older films and actually served food in the theater. There were tables in front of the seats, and they would come to you in the theater. They had a system so that they didn’t disrupt the film. Those theaters were *always* packed, and it’s because they did something different. Beer on demand in the middle of the movie! Awesome. So I think that we just have to be creative. I was just reading about a local theater that has a special showing for autistic kids once a week. They tone down the music, leave some lights on, and no one minds some noise. So I guess we’re back to your niche marketing. Corporate uniformity is not going to save the film industry; it’s what’s killing it.

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