Monthly Archives: December 2011

And the sooner they die the better

Film critic Roger Ebert has some theories as to why cinema audiences are falling:

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. Not so much any longer. No matter what your opinion is about 3D, the charm of paying a hefty surcharge has worn off for the hypothetical family of four.

3. The theater experience. Moviegoers above 30 are weary of noisy fanboys and girls. The annoyance of talkers has been joined by the plague of cell-phone users, whose bright screens are a distraction. Worse, some texting addicts get mad when told they can’t use their cell phones. A theater is reportedly opening which will allow and even bless cell phone usage, although that may be an apocryphal story.

4. Refreshment prices. It’s an open secret that the actual cost of soft drinks and popcorn is very low. To justify their inflated prices, theaters serve portions that are grotesquely oversized, and no longer offer what used to be a “small popcorn.” Today’s bucket of popcorn would feed a thoroughbred.

What the theatres appear to have forgotten is that going to a film is a discretionary entertainment expense. If it’s less convenient (you can’t pause, you can’t watch it at the time you feel like it), more expensive (vastly so), and you feel like you’re being ripped off (the food and drink prices are insulting), then why on Earth would you choose it over alternative means of entertainment? Who enjoys being treated as a mug?

It’s got nothing to do with “piracy”, which the entertainment industry dishonestly exaggerates and uses as an excuse for everything wrong with their business models.

The only reason the cinemas have survived this long is the temporary monopoly they have on new releases, a monopoly they’ve long since ceased to deserve. I won’t miss the cineplexes when they go the way of the drive-in. I’ll welcome their demise.