I have, more than once, been accused of being a cinephile. There was a time when I saw nearly every movie released in my area worth seeing (and many not so worth it). Sure, I had more disposable income than I do now, but also, the experience of going to the theatre and watching the film was something unique. Now I look at how much I would need to spend for that same experience and I wonder, often aloud, “Why bother?”
One adult with a Coke will cost me anywhere from $8.50 – 16.50 depending on the time of day, the movie showing, 3d or not, and whether or not I have a frequent visitor refillable soda cup. Now, I am not one that has a problem going to the movies alone, but it is still almost always more enjoyable to go with someone else. So now I’m at $17.00 – 33.00 for one film. Yikes! That’s an awful lot to pay for an experience that isn’t even guaranteed to be soothing and pleasant. There’s always the risk of morons with cell phones, rowdy children, sexually amorous teenagers, projector problems, or the seven foot-tall two foot-wide guy coming in at the end of the previews and sitting down right in front of you. We won’t even get into what happens when one finishes that 32 oz. Coke in the first 25 minutes of a 135 minute film.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There is still something to be said for seeing films on super-sized screens with 21 speaker sound systems that can make your teeth rattle in your skull during the action sequences or the THX intro. And it used to be that the only way one could experience a movie the way it was intended to be experienced was to go to the theatre to see it. But that simply isn’t the case anymore.
With the great advances in digital technology, viewers can now watch films in the comfort of their own homes with stunning picture and incredibly rich sound. Now, not everyone has a monster screen and a high-powered sound system. But these days most people are finding themselves with televisions 42 inches or larger in their living rooms. The difference is, in their living rooms they are only 7-15 feet from their televisions. That means they are getting the same viewing experience in terms of how much of their vision is taken up by a picture as they do in a theatre. And in some cases they may be getting even more, especially compared to some of the “small screens” in those multiplexes popping up everywhere. Most households also have at least a passable stereo system. Even many of the simple systems have the ability to pipe through sound from the television or a Blu-ray player. Those wanting a bit more of the “theatre feel” can upgrade to a home theatre-in-a-box (HTIB) for all of $250 – 300.
So, given that many folks have the makings of a serviceable theatre in their homes, and movies can be rented for as little as $1 .00, or purchased for as little as $15.00, the incentive to actually go to the movies seems to sort of pale. For the price of two adults one can actually purchase a Blu-ray copy of a movie and relax on the couch with a Coke (or better yet an adult beverage) and watch with no distractions. And hey, if that Coke makes its way through the system too fast, there’s always a pause button!
About the only reason remaining to go out to the movies is to be part of “the event”. There are still some films filled with pop-culture hype that just demand to be seen in the cineplexes. But those films, at least ones that appeal to market of more than one demographic, are even becoming a rarity. It also seems that these days that a growing percentage of the films released are just plain forgettable.
Blah. Maybe I’m just getting old and crotchety. But when I can order pizza delivery, enjoy a Coke or a beer, and watch a movie in stunning clarity with pretty good sound along with 0-10 of my good friends for under the cost of two adults going to the actual cinema, it just seems like a no-brainer. There are very few movies that just scream out to be seen without the 3-4 month wait for Blu-ray/DVD release. I would rather take the money saved and reinvest it in upgrading the home theatre, or in buying/renting extra films. (Maybe that’s why my brother and I have 2,200 titles in the house.) Or one could go to dinner with their significant other more often too.
Of course, I am still going to go see The Hobbit on opening night come 14 December 2012.