Tuesday, January 05, 2021

In response to yesterday's post

  Interesting reaction to yesterday's post.  

Many of you reacted to the plight of theater owners like AMC with "good riddance."   The experience of going to a theater to see a movie on the big screen has become somewhat of an ordeal.  And theater chains have let it happen and in some respects contributed to it.  

Readers cite high ticket prices, inflated concession prices, cutback on staff, endless trailers, and commercials as some reasons to avoid their local cineplex.  

And then there is the behavior of the patrons.  Texting, fiddling with their iPhones, thus shining distracting lights, talking to one another, talking on the phone, and basically having zero regard for anyone else in the auditorium.   Other than Alamo Drafthouse, I don't know of another theater chain that enforces no cellphone use or talking.   They'll throw people out.  Everyone else does nothing or perhaps issues worthless warnings.  

As one commenter stated, these chains have been getting away with this for years and the time of reckoning has come.  

Maybe you have to be from a certain generation, but I've always had a reverence for movies and the need to see them as they were intended to be shown -- on the big screen in a theater.  My sense is most people in the general public don't feel that way.  Which is a shame but totally understandable given the circumstances.   There's little or no allegiance to theater chains because they don't offer a pleasing experience.  And instead of improving, the experience gets worse and worse over time.  

And the irony of course, is that the audience that theaters are hoping to attract (young people EXCLUSIVELY) are the ones who cause most of the disruptions and the ones least likely to have any loyalty to the theater.  They're the ones no longer interested in going unless it's a big mega-event, and even then that's a few times a year max.   Gone are the Friday night "date night" movies.  

Yes, giant conglomerates are killing the theater business.  But theater owners better take a good hard look at how they contributed and what they can do in the future to get the audience back.  It's certainly worse than I even thought.  So just opening your doors won't do it. 


Troy McClure said...

In my experience, going to a weekday screening in the daytime is the best time to see a movie. Very few people in the audience and therefore much less chance of disruptions from inconsiderate assholes. Though obviously, work schedules may mean this isn't an option for everyone, at least not on a regular basis.

Also, art house and repertory cinemas tend to attract more respectful audiences.

Sometimes I'll want the atmosphere of an audience. Going to the opening night of a slasher movie in a packed theater can be quite an exhilarating experience.

As for concessions, I usually get popcorn and soda from a store and take them in with me. I ain't wasting money on cinema snacks that cost 600% of the regular retail price.

P.S. Here's hoping Georgia delivers some good news tonight.

Jeff said...

Up until Covid my movie going was limited to maybe twice a year. I used to go much more frequently but like others have said the behavior of people has gotten so much more irritating recently that I couldn't enjoy the experience. I wish we had an Alamo Draft House nearby.

Bryan L said...

I think the problem is bigger than movie theaters. I sat in dismay as a fight broke out during a theater touring company performance of "The Book of Mormon." Same thing happened at an ice show I went to. With "Mormon," eventually I watched a recorded performance to see the parts I missed. Why not just start there? Objectively my "experience" was awful -- might as well watch it at home undisturbed. And, let me add, the malefactors were not removed. The people who objected to their behavior left and demanded refunds. So the "bad guys" won.

All the same problems exist in basically any group performance setting because the audience invariably contains assholes without basic manners. And frankly, I can't really expect a minimum-wage worker to confront an gang of obnoxious people (and it's not always teens -- in my experience the troublemakers are typically older with children, and often even senior citizens). I live in Florida. These people are armed. It's dangerous to confront anyone.

I'm honestly not sure what the answers are, but I'm absolutely sure that implementing any will drastically raise the cost of tickets. Which won't necessarily put more people in seats.

Pizzagod said...

Spot on as usual Ken.

I love(d) going to the theater, I loved letting myself get lost in another world (you should see me at a stage show!) and just being transported for an hour or two or three if you're watching an Avengers movie.

But the last few years, yes-why am I PAYING for commercials? My time is valuable, and if you want to make a pitch, and I'm subjected to it, I want some kind of compensation. Maybe a free box of popcorn or something.

When you write about the behavior of people at theaters, it has degraded, and there is a total lack of respect for other people who are trying to enjoy the entertainment. Forget the light from a cell phone, I've been near people that have running narratives ALL THROUGH THE FILM! Reproving looks and complaints to ushers don't do a lot of good, and since everybody is crazy now and would rather pull a gun and blow up a place than just shut up and be a good citizen I don't really blame the toothless enforcement of rules and regulations.

I look back longingly on what the theaters used to be. But I look back on 25 cent gas the same way. Hey, it was fun, but it won't be like that ever again.

60" TV, I've been a professional popcorn maker since 1979, and I don't have to worry about a bunch of strangers who wear their masks around their chins or are loud and obnoxious. I'm fine with this.

ventucky said...

I have been to 3 movies in a theater since 2010. I am a bit younger than you, but I remember going to the ten cent coke shows Saturday mornings in the early 70's. You get in to see some silly 50's or 60's movie for a coke cap and a dime. it was a madhouse of kids, and it was great. Now, I get uncomfortable after an hour, then need to hit the head. Can't pause a move for that. There really is little difference in the movie viewing experience from sitting in the sweet spot in a theater, to sitting in your living room with a 50 or more inch HDTV. The snack are cheaper, the audience is hand picked, and I can pause for whatever I want. Maybe I am not a typical almost 60 year old, but I do not miss the theater. The real shame is the past few generations that have never experienced a good old fashioned drive-in.

Howard Hoffman said...

What really irks me is this whole business model of designing the theater as if it were your living room. Sofas, recliners, even beds. Except unlike home, you have no freakin’ idea what went on on that furniture before you got there. If I wanted to see a movie in my living room, etc. Just give us comfortable theater seats. Broadway has no problem with it. It’s not worth the extra 10-15 bucks for the “luxury” experience.

Brian said...

I'm old enough to still hear the cheers when James Bond jumped from crocodile to crocodile to escape death in "Live and Let Die", but I cannot completely relegate the exhilaration of theater-going to the past. I will grant you that most of the time, the theaters were more than half-empty or rather quiet, even during a comedy with great lines/gags.

The closest I got to the audience coming alive during a movie was "Black Panther". For the first and maybe last time in my life, I "theme-dressed". I, my family and many others, wore African garb. The theater was sold out and it looked like the next showing was going to be sold out, too.

For the first time in ages, I heard raucous laughter, cheers and loud applause at the end. It was wonderful. Say what you will about the spectacle movie dominance of the box office (and I won't argue too loudly), but for a time, I was a little boy again at the Spring Valley Theater in New York, hearing cheers when the evil witch gets hers for messing with Snow White in "Mr. Magoo's Storybook". I was a grown man enjoying hearing Roger Rabbit run in circles with the sound going around me. I was transported to a art movie house watching Preston Sturges movies for the first time and listening to the waves of laughter. I was giggling again at the man who shrieked when Raul Julia's arm suddenly becomes visible in "Eyes of Laura Mars" after he lets himself into her apartment.

Then, two years after "Black Panther", Trump lost. That was pretty cool, too. I will never say that that movie is the sole or a significant reason that the votes went the way they did (they DID go that way, dog-bite-it!) here in Georgia, but you can't tell me that seeing a group of my folks cheering on an Afro-Centric movie and subsequent events were entirely unrelated.

Bob Paris said...

I wish that the Laemmle chain would be allowed to open. I miss my foreign and independent films and Laemmle has been unintentionally socially distancing for decades since most of the films I see there have only a handfull of people in the auditorium.

WB Jax said...

I remember seeing "Memoirs of a Geisha" in a mall theater in downtown Melbourne, Australia. Was an all-immersive experience, the likes I've never experienced anywhere in North America. Everyone had snacks before entering the theater (so no unwrapping of overpriced candy, crunching of stale popcorn), there were no previews and once the film started one almost forgot other people were part of the experience (because they were quiet, respectful of the others present).

Mike Barer said...

I really miss going to a theatre to watch a movie or for that matter, summer outdoor concerts.

James Van Hise said...

A friend of mine pointed out that he thinks the studios are taking advantage of the pandemic to squeeze the theaters into bankruptcy by withholding major releases from the theaters which are still open. If the major chains go bankrupt, the studios could buy them up and eliminate the middleman, thus increasing their profits. Decades ago that would have been illegal but Republicans have long since eliminated laws against monopolies. Conglomerates now own the majority of TV and radio stations in city after city, thus eliminating alternative voices. Studios used to own movie theaters until that was declared an illegal monopoly, but monopolies aren't illegal any more.

stephanie said...

Before Covid, we went decided to try the upscale movie theater that had replaced the standard seats with recliners and now serves food and booze. First, there was the interruption of the servers, and then a dog, carried by the person in the seat next to us, tried to steal the food off my husband's tray. The theater excused this action by saying the woman told them that her dog was a service dog. It clearly wasn't and we never went back to that theater. It was as bad as our Hollywood Bowl experience, where people came with huge ice chests, talked through the performance and got drunk. Why can't people just eat and drink at home?

Michael C. said...

I studied film at school in the 70s...at that time, going into a theater to see a good film was an experience we wanted to savor and really sink into. For us it was kind of like going to church, if that makes sense. The typical patrons at both movie theaters and concerts have become too disrespectful for this grumpy old man.

Jim Grey said...

I sort of miss the experience of a theater audience. But I don't miss the theaters of the 70s and 80s, when I grew up -- old grand theaters in disrepair, with cramped seats; or new shoebox theaters with only a slightly slanted floor so that a tall person in front of you blocked the view. Sure, ticket prices are through the roof now, and concessions are as stupid expensive as they've always been. But there isn't a bad seat in the house in a modern theater.

-3- said...

For long over a decade there has been wallpaper available that blocks cell phone signals. They were using it in theatres in Japan prior to 2010. When they say No Phones in the theatre, it's a statement, not a request.

That would be one of the Minimum steps a theatre owner in this country should take if they want to bring back a Viewing audience.

Anonymous said...

It sure was nice to be able to see the new Wonder Woman movie with no hassle about when it was playing and where, who sat in front of me blocking the view, the ability to pause it and do whatever, the texting people, the talkers, dreadful trailers that make me NOT want to see the upcoming movies even if they're actually going to be good, people getting up during the movie, me having to get up during the movie, and most annoying, people leaving during the credits -- I would not have been able to see Lynda Carter!

A minimum wage theater worker who dares to tell an idiot to stop doing something stupid risks that the idiot will complain about them. It's also why it difficult to get some people to wear masks in stores and places where employees are left to handle them (and often cannot without risk because it could get them in trouble or at the very least, a nasty exchange).

Best of all, Wonder Woman XL49/B52 or whatever it's called was only "okay" so we are not out at least sixty dollars for the entire experience. "Soul" was very good but worked just fine on our home screen. It was visually stunning but also a very intimate story about people. The spectacle of a big screen sometimes overpowers those films.

Frankly, all the most recent "tentpole" movies are TV movies with lots of money thrown at them to disguise the weak, disjointed and over-managed productions. Watch the earlier ones and it's obvious. These are low-budget 70s episodes strung together, only in slick wrapping and heavily hyped. What a pleasure to finish watching and then switch to something else or turn off the TV.

I just miss the smaller theaters that played great movies that I could finally see on the big screen--where people could not talk loudly and text without being asked to leave. The tentpole era shows every sign of ending. And I agree with the comment that all ages are capable of being obnoxious.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

All of those are very sound reasons for no longer going to the theater, but we're missing out on one very, very crucial problem that Scorsese had once discussed: everything in the movie industry comes and goes so quickly anymore, that nothing stays in the theaters long enough for you to really enjoy it . . . as he put it, "There's no nourishment." And I know exactly what he means. This is why I find it incredibly difficult to really get invested into new titles in recent years, because it's like if you don't go out and see it immediately when it's released, then you've missed your chance, because a week or two later, it's gone . . . unless a movie is a major success, then you're lucky if it sticks around in theaters for up to a month or so.

Chris Columbus talked about this once too, saying that going to the theater to see a movie is a communal experience that brings people together, especially if a movie is a comedy that really makes people laugh and fill with joy. He cited that when HOME ALONE was released, despite it seeing a limited release since it was such a low-budget movie, moviegoers were not only lining up outside theaters to see it, but people were seeing it again five or six times . . . you just don't get that anymore these days with the here today, gone tomorrow atmosphere of cinema. I can even remember as a kid certain movies coming out, badgering my parents into taking me to see it more than once, and then once it was out of theaters, there was always that glorious waiting period of up to a year or so for it to come out on VHS or DVD, but the wait was always worth it. It was thrilling and exciting, and most of all, as Scorsese said, it was nourishing.

Again, none of this exists today, and it's no small wonder why I can't get invested into new movies and titles anymore. Of course, Lucas has his own counterargument about all of this: in this day and age, it's all about getting, "Shelf space," as he calls it: there's thousands of others movies being released that look just like your movie, so you have to figure out how to get your movie to stand out and grab people's attention. And, I suppose I can see where he's coming from here, and it probably is true, but Lucas seems to also be one of those who, anymore, is less interested in the actual art of visual storytelling, and more concerned about the technical aspects, which doesn't always equate to cinema magic.

thomas tucker said...

Movies should be seen in movie theaters. Otherwise, you're watching a television show. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But it ain't the same.

Jim said...

You want the job of enforcing considerate behavior at a movie theater? Me neither. Too bad a son once did.

One of our kids had a summer job at a San Diego location of a big theater chain. Early in his tenure a noise complaint caused him to ask a rude patron to quiet down, who didn’t. He was again dispatched, and this time the rude patron and his companions dragged son to the rear door area and beat him. We’re talking about serious violence on a 6’2” big fella. He was attacked by animals. Multiple surgeries. The crew left him in a bloody heap.

The best part? The police considered it a civil matter since it happened in a private business. That is not the law!

The theater was insulated by the “exclusive remedy” of workers comp, which at least covered some surgery - but not all (“Utilization Review” is as big a nightmare as is this type of movie patron).

We have tiptoed, gently, into a couple of Cinepolis venues since then, but this is one family who’ll never again frequent a typical theater chain. Ever. Good riddance indeed.

blinky said...

My 70 inch 4K TV and Surround sound in my own living room is Game, Set and Match for the movie theaters.
Speaking of things to watch at home...
It is getting harder to find stuff to watch so here are 2 fun things I found. Kung Fury on YouTube and Teenage Bounty Hunters on Netflix. Both are pretty over the top and funny too.

Unknown said...

"When they say No Phones in the theatre, it's a statement, not a request." That wouldn't play well here...'when I woke up this morning, I was in ameirka home of the free' which you hear now about masks!

Unknown said...

My prediction, when things open again, there will be a BIG movie released that will bring people back in. Some Star Wars, Gone With the Wind, an Avatar type movie which will be called the savior of theatres.
Until then, people will return JUST to get OUT of the house. We will put up with the 1/2hr commercials beforehand, talking kids, mortgage level prices of popcorn. Watching a movie at home has same interruptions, but since it is family, you put up with it.
I did get out to a movie last year, Tenet (don't get me started....) and the theatre had discounted entry prices, and all concessions were cheaper (since you can't get a refill on popcorn). Maybe it was the night I was there, but there ~8 other people there. (all wearing masks)

Tudor Queen said...

Thank you for this eye-opening post. While I knew a lot of industries were taking advantage of the Pandemic to increase profits or bury competition you showed me a depth to this angle that I hadn't conceived yet.

Pre-coronavirus I went to the movies reasonably often because, like you, I enjoyed seeing them the way their makers intended them to be seen and I enjoyed the communal experience. Rising prices, the loss of the middle-ground films (not blockbusters, not tiny indie gems), and insane concession markups kept me from going as often as I had one done but I still loved moviegoing. The theaters I attended didn't seem to attract mass disruptions.

However, my biggest problem was - and remains - the commercials. Not the trailers - I love trailers and wistfully remember "E" having once run a regular series called "Coming Attractions" that was nothing but trailers! However, I feel it is unfair - and very aggravating - to pay up to ten dollars for a movie ticket and then be subjected to Coca Cola and car commercials and the like. It feels like double dipping to me. And I hate it.

McTom said...

Alamo Drafthouse gets no special pass from me. The one and only time I went to their DTLA location was to see "Once Upon Time in Hollywood" projected on film, "as the creators intended". The result of their so-called professional projectionists' handiwork was painfully loud cue beeps at every reel change, dirt all over the print, and one reel with a big vertical scratch the entire duration of the reel. Never giving my money to those phony preservers of the film experience again. Film is dead. Long live digital.

Tom said...

I hate to pull the generation card, but could this be essentially the same story as broadcast radio? To anybody less than about 40, commercial radio is that thing on which a computer plays about 31 minutes per hour of the same ten or fifteen songs as everybody else, interspersed with the occasional mention of your city’s name and a solid 28 minutes of advertising. It’s the annoyance that sometimes comes out of your car speakers if your phone cable is slightly broken.

I’m sure that to people less than 25, cinemas are those places that try to sneak a movie in somewhere between the 45 minutes of opening commercials and trailers, during which you’ll probably finish your $25 drink and popcorn that looked like a good deal only because the tickets were $50 in the first place. And they won’t even pause the movie if you need the bathroom. They’re that thing you endure every time a new tentpole theme-park ride of a movie comes out because the speakers there are better than at home.

Fingers crossed for the arthouses, but I won’t miss multiplexes.

Anonymous said...

You know what was especially annoying? Those Coca-Cola ads with photogenic, handpicked young students thanking us for watching their "film." At first, I kept waiting for the film to start after the hokey, fakey commercial, until I finally realized that "their film" WAS the commercial. The whole thing smelled of a plush boardroom. It was insulting to "unpicked" students and struggling young filmmakers as well as the audience.

Rhoda Lexington said...

I miss the single-screen spectacle theatres (not that there were many by the time I started going). There's something about sitting in that large space with other people that just made it a great experience. The last in-theatre movie I saw was on a cruise ship, and it reminded me that it used to be about the experience. The last time I was at a megaplex, I remember standing in the lobby and just sighing because it was more of an acrade/fair than anything else.

Covarr said...

If, by chance, I ever find myself unreasonably wealthy, I intend to construct a nice home theater. No windows, nice big projector screen, surround sound integrated into the walls, bare minimum lighting, the works. I'm not a huge fan of most of the moviegoing experience, the advertising, the sticky floors, etc., but if I can recreate the the good part, the actual VIEWING portion of the experience... well, then, I'd be just as happy never to set foot in a real movie theater again.

Now, live theatre, that's a different matter. The audience and the cast feed off each other's energy in a way that just isn't possible in a pre-filmed movie. I'm patiently aching to be able to go back into a live theatre again, whether to watch a show or audition for one.

But movies? Meh. I love the audiovisual experience of the big screen, but the rest I can live without.

Unknown said...

Loved going to the movies for most of my life but got aggravated by loud people, visual distractions, running idiotic commentaries, people arriving late and just standing in the way of others until their eyes adjust, loud wrapping/unwrapping, disgusting slurping and munching, and a host of other problems. Then I began going to the early weekday morning shows. Was OK until the older crowd began acting like a-holes too.

The best movie theater experience I had was back in the early 80s when Hitchcock's Rear Window and Vertigo were released to theaters for the first time in decades. Theater was packed for Rear Window, and the audience gasped as Grace Kelly approached James Stewart for a kiss in her entrance scene.

Nothing like it before or since for me and smart money says those days will never return. I won't miss the recent movie going experience and have already long missed the kind that made the hours seem special.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I will say again how much I like London's Prince Charles Cinema, which continues to make movie-going an event. For its overnight events, it tells patrons they can come in pajamas and bring their own (cold, non-smelly) food, and it's genuinely welcoming.

In October, when London's virus numbers were low and it was allowed to open for about a month, I even went to a movie there because I trusted the list they gave of safety measures they'd adopted (including, significantly, hospital-level air filtering and improved ventilation). Saw Sofia Coppola's latest, ON THE ROCKS, with about 20 other people mid-afternoon, and enjoyed it enormously.


JED said...

Maybe one answer to the problem is to rent the theater for you and some friends. One of our stations in Boston had a story about AMC theaters doing this and starting at $99, you can have the theater to yourself with a group up to 20. That's $5 each! Here is a link to the AMC site:

But you'll have to invite the right people and it's up to you to confiscate the cell phones.

Mike Bloodworth said...

I didn't respond yesterday, but I thought I should today.

I remember the days before VCRs and the internet when if you wanted to see a movie you had to go to a theater. You could wait until they came out on television, but then you had to watch a cropped, edited, pan-and-scan version.
There were also some movies that required big screen viewing. The original "Star Wars" is a great example. That opening scene just isn't the same on TV. "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" blew me away when I saw it at Hollywood's Cinerama Dome.
But as BLINKY and others pointed out today's modern technology makes going to a movie theater, I won't say obsolete, just less necessary. I've said before on this blog that I don't need or want to go to a theater to see a couple of talking heads no matter how taut the drama. That's why for better or worse the superhero/sci-fi crash and exposition fests draw the big boxoffice.
Comedies are generally better when seen with an audience, but lately there haven't been any comedies I would want to watch on DVD let alone in a theater.
I saw "The Revenant" in the theater. The movie was overrated, but the sweeping vistas made up for it. I also saw "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" at a theater. I liked the movie, but unless you have a foot fetish equivalent to Tarantino's (I ain't admitting to nothin') you could have watched it at home.

Despite everything movie theaters seem to survive whatever is thrown up against them. Whether it's TV, home video or maybe even streaming. And apparently, thanks to the pandemic drive-ins are making a modest comeback. It's anybody's guess if that will continue after the COVID.

Bottom line, give me something worth seeing and I'll go to the theater to see it. However, I'm forced to agree with TROY MCCLURE. It will probably a matinee.
Real butter on my popcorn, please.


Mike Wallster said...

Yup...going to the theater just plain sucks. How well I remember seeing Blazing Saddles in the theater...the famous campfire scene caused utter pandemonium. Then Young Frankenstein. Peter Boyle getting hot soup poured on his lap, his thumb catching fire had people literally falling out of their seats. Animal House. Raider of the Lost Ark...when Indy ends a sword attack by just shooting the guy the laughter in the theater was loud and prolonged, you couldn't hear any dialogue for the next 3 or 4 minutes. I could boor you with more happy memories but I'll stop here. Oh yeah, saw Les Misérables on Broadway with the great Alfe Boe. A middle-aged woman in front of me checked her phone every 10 minutes.

Kevin In Choconut Center said...

I'm very fortunate in that the local AMC theater is always clean. The food is reasonably priced and tastes pretty good. Maybe it's just the kind of people we are in this area, but for the last few years, cell phone use and talking while the movie is playing have both become pretty rare.

In other words, going to see a film locally is a very pleasant experience for me. The AMC theater does a nice job of screening lesser known films.

As regards the local Regal theater, I haven't seen a film there in several years.

Troy McClure said...

The youtube link below is for a voicemail that went viral almost a decade ago after a customer was thrown out of the Alamo Drafthouse for using her cellphone during a movie. It became known as the Magnited States of America call.


E. Yarber said...

The studios traditionally expected theater owners to be compliant cash cows. There's a story that back in the "Golden" days of Hollywood, David O. Selznick ran up such a huge tab at a gambling club that the management refused to let him leave until the debt was paid off in hard coin. Selznick called his father-in-law, Louis B. Mayer, who woke up the managers of every MGM playhouse in LA around 3 in the morning, ordering them to go straight to their offices and wait until a studio messenger arrived to pick up that night's ticket proceeds from the safe in order to deliver the loot to the casino. (One wonders how much of that was in dimes and quarters).

On the other hand, American International Pictures' Arkoff and Nicholson toured drive-ins across the country once a year to listen to owners and tailor their upcoming slate of films to what the locals could sell. They also set up a flat-rate rental system instead of demanding a percentage of the box office results, making sure that even the most marginal operation could show some sort of budget package. Regional independent distribution was a buffer that allowed lots of small venues to get by without the heavy hand of the majors dictating economic policy.

More recently, DVD sales were close to 25% of studio profits at one point, and I remember a suit telling me, "At this rate, we can eliminate theatrical distribution entirely." He didn't take into account that disc sales reflected the companies' back catalog, not just new releases, but resentment of the theater chains was obvious. I suspect that one reason for this hostility goes back to when weekend box-office totals began running in general newspapers, not just the trades. All of a sudden, the poor performance of a much-hyped film became common knowledge and the crowd was now able to second-guess the decisions the executives had made. Streaming models, in which customers pay for a platform instead of a specific entry, will allow that level of transparency to drop once more.

Personally, I quit attending theaters regularly after witnessing a long noisy fistfight in the middle of a Jane Austen adaptation.

Anonymous said...

I think the punchline here is in the misreading of the audience. People under 45 might have been willing to pay for Netflix when it offered lots of content. But now that there are 8 choices, the generation that grew up on Napster is going to choose zero of them.

Someone might spring for $12 to see WW84 on the big screen, but not $24 per month to see it when it's easy to see it for free.

-Brian, PlymouthMA

Anonymous said...

Answers to an imaginary survey

I’ve watched nether broadcast TV nor cable networks in nine years. Any well-received original programming they create, I occasionally buy on DVD/Blu-Ray, or catch on Youtube via phone or laptop.. As recently as 2019, in addition to purchasing physical media, and viewing films on YouTube, Vimeo, and Dailymotion, I saw twenty new releases at AMC or Regal theaters: Stan and Ollie; Parasite;,Captain Marvel; Spider-Man; Avengers; Knives Out; etc. Minimal showmanship: lobby stand-ups for upcoming films, and a one-per-customer Knives Out mini-poster. Free mall parking in my Chicago-adjacent suburb. $8.00 admission before 6:00 PM. $20 for an extra-large drink+popcorn combo, with free refills. The popcorn refill is consumed by me or birds the following day. Drinks are dispensed from self-serve machines, the touch screens of which — I felt even then — were germier than the bathrooms. Even at the most crowded screenings, I had few problems with phone displays or crowd gab. Yet, if I find — any suggestions? — a theater-equivalent home popper, I’ll likely stay home indefinitely. And I will not pay for streaming: though much cheaper than the old cable packages required to receive the (too repetitive) TCM, Disney+ and the like are too many bucks for too little bang.

Joyce Melton said...

The three theaters nearest me are wonderful places to see movies. I go to Tuesday matinees and never have problems with rude patrons. The prices are cheaper then too, but a senior discount makes the occasional weekend evening worthwhile.

You might say I've adapted my theater-going to modern situations, but no, this is how I went to movies decades ago.

Right now, the theaters are closed but I do hope they will reopen this year.

Saburo said...

I'm not sure if TOOTSIE becomes my favorite movie of all time without first viewing it in a packed theater.

tklein said...

I actually miss the awful, dirty, cheap theaters because we could on a whim get out of the house, see whatever movie was there, and not care if it was awful because it only cost a few bucks. We would buy snacks just to make sure the place made SOME money. On my family's budget, we had to carefully choose which first release movies we wanted to see in the "nice" theaters. Some days I am just sick of looking at my four walls and I just want to relax somewhere else and not have to budget for it. Is that ever going to be possible again?

William C Bonner said...

I miss going to theaters.

I am intentionally living in a small place in a city, and no amount of soundproofing would let me use a good subwoofer for proper movie sound at home.

The very act of going to a theater reminds me to put my phone down for the duration of the movie. If I feel the need to look at my phone, I realize that the movie itself isn't worth my time an I have to make the decision if I would rather walk out on the movie or see it to completion.

I also miss trailers. I have no idea what I'd like to see in the coming months after this last year. Some movies I'd been looking forward to last spring were released on one streaming platform or another and I never noticed because it just blended in with everything else. When everything is the same size and level of distraction, it's just not compelling.

MikeN said...

I used to go to Alamo despite the higher cost, because of the in-seat food service.
Then they got rid of plastic straws.
Now they won't take cash and require everything thru an app(and this is a place that bans cellphones!)

MikeN said...

Alamo also another problem with its productions. They are not installing the screens properly.
This happened many times since, but the one I remember is Spectre. There is an early scene with a Spectre meeting and a chase/fight with Dave Bautista. When Bond is standing close to the riverbank, the whole thing looks green screened when it definitely is not.
Apparently, movie screens are like TVs and have to have the settings adjusted to eliminate the soap opera effect.

Bill Slankard said...

When I was a young man back in the 70s and 80s, there was a theater in the nearby town of Highland, Indiana. I can't recall the name, but it was the only artsy-type theater around without going into Chicago. The first time I went there to see some film (I blame age for lack of memory) not available at the local theater chains, I was surprised when about half way through the movie, the lights came up, the curtain closed, and everyone started filing out to the lobby. There were no directions to do so, but I followed everyone else out. In the lobby were tables set up with plates of cake and cups of coffee, all gratis as part of the price of admission. After 10 or 15 minutes, everyone returned to their seats and watched the rest of the movie.

I watched a lot of movies there after that.

Dave H said...

The last Movie that I saw in theaters was Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. It was a great time and I miss that experience of being in a theater full of people all enjoying the movie and the shared experience. Especially with a ending like that. Lol Sitting at home watching a movie is not the same.

But I do understand people's frustration with the movie experience. Cellphones, talking, no employees being around to stop it. One time a movie screening I attended didn't start on time and there wasn't anyone up in the back to realize this so I had to get up and go tell them. Wtf?

One time two teenage employees came in on their break with their food and watched the movie while chatting away. Just incredible.

And another time before digital took over the movie had not been set up right on the screen and you could see boom mikes in every other scene. That was a interesting way to see the film. lol

Barry Rivadue said...

My one salvation is to go to museum screenings in NYC--yes, mostly old movies, but the audiences are invariably respectful and enthusiastic.

JS said...

The cost is a big deterrent for me. When it was cheap, if the movie was terrible it didn't really matter. Now it is like an investment.