The End of A 50-Year Love Affair

(Note: This was inadvertently published Saturday, July 9 and then subsequently removed when I discovered the error. Subscribers probably received it by e-mail and a few online readers may have seen it before removal.)

Regular readers know that I’ve been a movie fan since childhood. When I lived in Manila, I’d sometimes go downtown where many huge theaters were lined up along one street and see two movies in one day.  These were the days (‘60s) before the multiplex and the screens were in fact “big.”

Living in Tallahicky, there’s often not much to do on a weekend; so for as long as I can remember Susie and I saw a movie every weekend. Those days appear over.

Not that I don’t still enjoy the movies.  But there are three trends I’m noticing.  First, the number of movies appealing to me is on a steep decline.  Many movies appear targeted at a younger group that ends about late 20s.

First, there are the “kiddie” movies, such as Kung Fu Panda.  I’ll concede the need for some “family” films.

Then, there are the many movies aimed at teens and into the early 20s. Such as those vampire movies.  Now I enjoy an “old school” vampire movie such as “Bram Stroker‘s Dracula.”  But not these “modern” vampire movies featuring buff young men and slinky women.

Apparently the movie studios have identified who their target audience is.  And it’s not folks over 50 like me.

The second trend, which is somewhat related to the first one, is the “franchise.”  Used to be, each movie was “fresh.” More and more, we see numerous sequels.  No matter how good a film is, it’s hard to follow up with sequel after sequel that is as good as the original.  But that’s where the money must be or there wouldn’t be so many sequels.

There are some exceptions.  The Bourne Identity trilogy was good but they had the sense to wrap it up at three.  We’re now on the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean and much as I like Johhny Depp, it appears this fourth installment sucks…isn’t that good.

The third trend is of course the steady escalation in the price of often less than two hours at a theater.  At one theater the senior rate is $7.50 and at another it’s $6.50.  I can see a movie at AMC for just $5 if it’s before noon on a Saturday but unless the show is at 11 AM or later, I’m unlikely to make it because I like to sleep in on weekends.

There’s an eight screen $3.50 theater. Most “popular” films will make it there after the first run is over.  We’ve seen many movies there.

But after ticket prices, there’s the popcorn and drink.  It’s not a “complete” movie experience if you don’t have the popcorn and drink.  I believe there’s (or should be) a U.N. resolution about that.  So the total price of a movie is going to be about $20 at best.  Closer to $30 if you’re paying “full price.”  And that’s just for two persons.  If you’re seeing one of those “family” films, you may need to take out a “payday loan.”

So between fewer films I’m interested in and the increasing price, I’ve had to do a cost-benefit analysis.  And the analysis says…Redbox! For the price of one “theater” visit, I can see 20 movies. And if the film isn’t as good as I anticipated, well then I’m only out a dollar.

This year has been the watershed.  So far, I’ve seen more films through a Redbox rental than in a theater.  I expect that will continue, with some exceptions.

There are two exceptions to Redbox that I’ve set out.  First, some films really need to be seen in a theater because they  need that big screen. Avatar is an example. I also saw the latest Transformers in 3-D (but not Imax) yesterday. (Even seeing it in the morning, the price was $26., but at least it was a good 2 1/2 hours long.)

The second exception is foreign films.  I’ve rarely been disappointed with a foreign film and they are disproportionately represented in my favorites.

Foreign films often do not make it to Redbox or the $3.50 theater, except for the more popular ones, such as the Swedish trilogy of  “The Girl Who…”  Recently, I saw  “War in Wintertime” the Dutch entry for “Best Foreign Film.”  No special effects, little action, few explosions, etc. but a great plot and a nice surprise at the end.

Next on my list is City of Life and Death,” about the Rape of Nanking following its fall to the Japanese in 1937. This one’s in black and white.

After decades of religiously visiting the “big screen” on most weekends unless we’re travelling, my visits will become “special occasions.” So now I’m thinking about buying a big screen flat panel TV.  I’ll pay for it from the savings of not going to the movies every week.  And so I’l be putting another nail in coffin of the local movie theaters.  Sorry…

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8 responses to “The End of A 50-Year Love Affair

  1. From “cool” Charlotte NC this morning I concur with your entire analysis of the movie theater experience. It;s exactly why I bought a big screen HD 5 years ago. Best investment I ever made in leisure activity.

    Netflix has provided me with as many movies as I chose to watch on it for $20 a month and they have an extensive library.

    May go to 6 movies a year now.

    At least in Tampa one multiplex has senior matinees for $5 Mon-Wed, living in Tally does have it’s drawbacks. But the quality/quantity of newly delivered films is deplorable.

    I encourage you to explore home theater, remember regular TV sound is a letdown with big screen HD picture. I bought a surround sound system that is really awesome compared to other bigger screens I have seen that have lousy sound deliver systems. Best Buy’s Magnolia Room is a good place to “get educated.”

    • > Best Buy’s Magnolia Room is a good place to “get educated.”

      I will get educated. I figure Christmas sales will be the time to buy. As for sound, I think I’ll just hook in to my stereo, which has Bose Series IV speakers – 30 years old but still working and still killer sound. I’ve got an amp with 100 “real” (RMS) watts per channel.

  2. The only thing I can take issue with is there not being much to do in Tallahassee on weekends. It seems to me there is tons of stuff to do.
    Since I’m not much of a movie-goer, I can still relate when it comes to books. Priced a new hard-cover book lately? I don’t want to own books anyway. But sometimes–and this is Tallahassee-related–it will take forever for a new book to make it to the library. We are a second-tier market, which is usually soon enough for me, but not always.

  3. > I don’t want to own books anyway.

    If you did, half.com is one place to go.

  4. I concur on the ‘experience’ count, for sure. The movie theater experience for us used to include a dinner before or after the flick, too, now both impractical and over overpriced – not to mention the wait for a table in a city where people would rather eat out than almost anything else. Oddly enough, what really did it for me was that one of the chains dropped malted milk balls – my favorite post-popcorn treat. The excess salt and artery-throttling condiments aren’t worth the price of generic statins anymore, either. So we keep the Netflix queue full of what we want to see – including those foreign films that never make it to the local multiplex. Every Saturday night is a winner, now; homemade popcorn included.

    • Mabuhay Nancy! Future comments from you will appear as soon as you “post comment.” I moderate the first comment from everyone to filter out the trolls.

      Fakename2, whose comment is two above yours, lives in Tallhicky, and whose blog I link too, used to live in ‘Nawlins and you may have seen her FB philosophical exchanges with Sil. I introduced her to pancit last week. (FN2: Nancy lives in Baton Rouge and is one of my high school friends. Same class, as a matter of fact.)

  5. Mabuhay, Nancy (look, I’m speaking Tagalog)! I too have a friend in Baton Rouge, who teaches at LSU. I think Baton Rouge and Tallahassee have much in common. College towns…and I believe they are about the same size.
    BTW, spencercourt, was that eggroll kind of thing we had called “lumpia”?

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