Friday, June 24, 2005

Movie-ing Experiences

Peter Chattaway recently linked to this article about how movie ticket sales have gone down over the last six months, as well as this one about how many people claim they prefer watching DVDs at home, which led to some e-mail discussion, my portion of which I shall now repeat for a (very slightly) larger audience:
I do like going to the movies. There's a certain atmosphere about a theater that's inviting and fun, and a lot of movies just really do look a hell of a lot better on the big screen. When I go to the movies, it's something of an event. Get a few friends together, maybe, and make a night of it. But that's the thing. If it's an event... If I'm paying a lot of money and driving 50-80 miles (which I have to do to get to a decent theater) and getting popcorn and making a whole thing out of it, then the movie better damn well deliver. It sucks terribly to do that and end up seeing something lame. So I pretty much only go to see movies that I have a very strong personal interest in. I don't go to the theater for random entertainment. I've got lots of other options -- cheaper, more convenient options -- for that.

I do go to the crappy little local theater sometimes when I'm bored or when something's playing that I think might or might not be interesting. But that's five minutes from my house, and it costs $3.50, so it's not like it's a major investment of time and money. It also means I'm not contributing much to the box office take.

So, y'know, they can get me back into the seats more often by making better movies. And by lowering the prices. And by opening a good theater out here in the boonies. But mostly that first one. And I ain't holding my breath.
Basically, I really do see movie theaters and video rental stores as offering two different services. The rental places offer movies. The theaters offer a certain kind of experience built around a movie. And the latter is worth paying for... but only if it's going to be a good experience. Which it won't be if the movie is disappointing, no matter how comfy the stadium seats.

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