(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…