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Author Topic: Theaters in Crisis
flydye45
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Was talking to some friends today about the drop in Cinema revenue. The numbers are far down, and the recent decision to simultaneously market movies in theater and DVD may be the death knell.

We discussed some of the reasons:

1. Movies suck.

2. The convenience of DVD.

3. The price point of a theater visit vs. a DVD purchase.

4. Television production values approach Movie quality of only a few years ago.

5. A higher quality of writing in television (Sopranos, CSI, 24)

6. Piracy

What are your thoughts?

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sbkilb
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I would only add two words....Home...theater.
Well I lied, two more... Hollywood elitism.

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Eric
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My personal top 10 reasons to wait for a movie to come out on video:

1. No sticky floors at home.
2. I can hit pause when I need to pee.
3. I can have beer/wine while watching.
4. I can fast-forward over the "You had me at 'hello'" part.
5. I can rewind when I don't catch a piece of dialog because someone was talking.
6. I can hit whoever's talking to shut them up.
7. I can have my dog on my lap.
8. No teenagers sucking face two seats over.
9. The movie starts when I say, damnit.
10. The snack food is better.

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WarrsawPact
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Yeah, but Eric, those things have been true for my entire life. I think we're talking about what has changed.

I'd add, by the way, that the speed with which movies come out on DVD is much faster than production was in the old days. If I miss a movie while it's in the theaters, no big deal: I'll probably see it in a few months at Blockbuster. I don't think the simultaneous release thing is going to pan out, though, to be honest.

Some movies are still better on the silver screen. Anything that's a spectacle -- like a Star Wars or Matrix or Michael Mann movie -- that has great sound and/or visual effects can be a real treat in a movie theater, assuming you go at the right time and to the right theater.

[ March 21, 2006, 09:46 PM: Message edited by: WarrsawPact ]

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flydye45
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I admit that I am careful where I spend my coin when it comes to movies. Alec Baldwin has seen his last residual penny from me. [Smile]

With high def and wider screens becoming the norm, will the Matrix still need a theater?

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Eric
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WP --

Um, yeah, I guess I'm a bit older than you. [Wink]

flydye --

I've got a hi-def projector in my basement that throws about a 100" image. Theaters? We don't need no stinkin' theaters!

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The Drake
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Add:

High definition television.
On-Demand PPV through Cable or Satellite.
Ticket prices approaching or surpassing DVD prices - to own!

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Eric:
WP --

Um, yeah, I guess I'm a bit older than you. [Wink]

flydye --

I've got a hi-def projector in my basement that throws about a 100" image. Theaters? We don't need no stinkin' theaters!

Is that one of those $20 ebay assembly kids? How well do they work?
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Adam Lassek
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That's funny, just yesterday I came across this Blog post where Kevin Smith discusses this very topic.

quote:
why didn’t I make the time to see stuff at the movies instead of in my bedrooom?

I blame the shrinking theatrical-to-DVD window, myself. Once upon a time, at the dawn of the VCR, you’d have to wait upwards of a year for a flick to wind up on home video after its initial theatrical release. Now? Sometimes, the window is as small as three months. Folks looking for a reason for the Great Box Office Slump of ‘05 need look no further than this factor. When given a choice, most folks will opt to watch movies in the comfort of their own home, on their DVD players. By rushing these flicks from their theatrical run to their home video run (in an effort to capitalize on the marketing dollars spent opening a flick theatrically), the studios are muffling the siren’s call that tempts most of us from our flat-screen cocoons and into the multiplexes. Why leave the house when you can peep the same flick in less than six months while laying on your couch? Nude, if you want, to boot.

I can recall a specific example of this kinda “Let’s wait” attitude: the wife and I were thinking about going out to see “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” when it was in theaters. We started to throw the face-the-world clothes on, when both of us started backpedaling with “Do we really wanna get dressed, get in the car, head down to the Arclight, park, buy snacks, watch the flick, get back in the car, and drive home when this flick’ll be on DVD a few months from now?” The answer was no, and we wound up watching some other flick at home instead, catching up with “Emily” less than a year later. **** the alleged rampant piracy that’s supposedly crippling the movie industry; this is what’s hurting the box office.

I tend to agree. There are so many good reasons why watching movies at home is a better experience than a theater, and with the ever-shrinking gap between theatrical release and DVD, there's just less and less justification to put up with it.
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Storm Saxon
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quote:

1. Movies suck.

If you're saying movies suck more than they used to, how do you figure? You have movies marketed through home viewing to almost every type of audience imaginable, now, that didn't used to have any other way to see movies but on the big screen, and then you were at the whim of the big studios, and back in those days, movies sucked fitty million times more than they do now.

[ March 21, 2006, 11:46 PM: Message edited by: Storm Saxon ]

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flydye45
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I advanced it as a reason, not as an assertion.

I recall what movies were like in the old days, and I sat through some stinkers.

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:

Ticket prices approaching or surpassing DVD prices - to own!

That is what does it for me. We hardly ever go see a movie in the theater, and price is the biggest reason.
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Cytania
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I suspect that the only reason movie theatres persist is that they have a social role. It's a night out. Teens go there to meet each other and see the kind of movie their parents wouldn't want on the TV.

Partially this is social inertia but if cinemas are dying then it will be a long drawn out affair.

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Lisa M.
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In my city, there are no theaters in which one can see a movie for less than $9.

I've been in other parts of the country where a movie is $5, and in that case, I'm willing to go once or twice a week to see a movie, even if it's going to be horrible.

But with $9... I can't just throw that around. I'll wait until I can rent it.

Edited to add: Especially when, after paying that $9, someone will sit behind me and talk on their cell phone for the duration of the movie. Or someone will bring a 4-year-old to an R-rated action movie and then be completely surprised when the kid freaks out and starts screaming.

Also, if it's an amazing movie, I don't have as much of an issue with it. I saw Batman Begins four times in the theater.

[ March 22, 2006, 10:07 AM: Message edited by: Lisa M. ]

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Adjudicator
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I appreciate a good movie in the theatre myself. Of course, the theatre we go to is generally second release so a ticket costs $1.50, and on certain nights of the week you pay $0.75 or $0.50, so I don't feel the pain of high ticket prices.
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Koner
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I think that there are two major reasons.

1. Price. Not just the price of the movie, although I think that $7.50-12.00 is generally too high. But also the price of the whole experience. When I was a kid and dating, I could take my date to a movie and expect to cost me around $15.00 total. That was two movie tickets, a tub of popcorn, two sodas, and maybe a candy bar or some juju bees or something. I took a woman to see a movie a couple of months ago and it was over $30.00 for that same thing. You can wait 3 months, buy the DVD at Walmart for $12.99 make popcorn and sit in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Not only can you save money by doing that, but you also don't have some schmuck kid kicking the back of your seat because he thinks its funny. You don't have to put up with people talking over the movie. Or any other long list of annoyances that come up in theaters.

2. MULTIPLEX. The multiplex has destroyed movie theaters. The once enjoyable big screen has been shrunk, in some cases to be not a whole lot larger than some large screen TV's, in order to fit more "theaters" into the multiplex building. Most multiplex have one or two "big screens" which typically play movies for one or two weeks until the next big blockbuster is released, then the "older" movie is shifted to the theaters with the much smaller "big screens". So if you don't catch the new movies the first or second week after they are released to theaters you are stuck seeing them on the not so big, big screens.

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FIJC
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quote:
"1. Price. Not just the price of the movie, although I think that $7.50-12.00 is generally too high. But also the price of the whole experience. When I was a kid and dating, I could take my date to a movie and expect to cost me around $15.00 total. That was two movie tickets, a tub of popcorn, two sodas, and maybe a candy bar or some juju bees or something. I took a woman to see a movie a couple of months ago and it was over $30.00 for that same thing. You can wait 3 months, buy the DVD at Walmart for $12.99 make popcorn and sit in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Not only can you save money by doing that, but you also don't have some schmuck kid kicking the back of your seat because he thinks its funny. You don't have to put up with people talking over the movie. Or any other long list of annoyances that come up in theaters."
LoL, don't most couples prefer to stay in when watching movies? [Wink]
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flydye45
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It depends on where the relationship stands. Going to stay at a guys house to watch a movie on the first blind date?
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FIJC
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Well, you're right about that...
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Gaoics79
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As someone who, not too long ago, was attending 1-2 movies in the theatre per week, I think I can comment on this.

I have noticed that the theatres in Canada are massively superior to the ones in the United States. Our theaters, (at least the ones in big cities like Toronto) are uniformly large, sleek establishments with huge screens, top quality sound systems, and all the trimmings. Ticket prices are are high ($10-12.50 CA per ticket) but you get a very good experience.

This is entirely unlike the American theaters I have been to in New York and elsewhere. Even the large megaplexes feel junky and amateurish. AMC, which has recently made inroads in Canada, is such a third rate chain; the massive megaplex they built in Montreal has small screens, and there isn't even proper stadium seating. Even the logo they display on the screen feels cheap and amateurish compared to the slick Canadian chains.

I also find that the theatre going experience here seems to be better overall than what I've heard regarding U.S. theatres. I can count on one hand the number of times I've had a real problem with people kicking my seat or talking loudly during the movie. Cell phones almost never ring, and I have never been to a movie where a person talked on a cell-phone during a movie. Of course, some theatres tend to have younger audiences, which are the ones to avoid, but even the theatres packed with teens have not been a problem for me.

I don't see nearly as many movies since I started working full time, but I don't think the quality has gone down. Also, I think piracy cannot possibly be an issue, since I have yet to meet anyone who pirated brand new still in the theatres movies as anything but a novelty, and most of my friends are highly tech savy people.

I also doubt that the "experience" has declined significantly over the last 10-20 years. There have always been obnoxious and rude people. And while commercials are a relatively new innovation, certainly where I live, our commercials scarcely run 5 minutes, which is a small annoyance.

I would argue that the experience has drastically improved in my lifetime. It used to be that theatres were cramped, there was no stadium seating, and you would have to stand in long lines to get your tickets. And all that to find out that your movie was sold out.

These days, with automatic ticket vending machines, movies being played on multiple screens, and huge seating capacity, unless you're going to see Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, lineups are a thing of the past, and the words "sold out" are almost never heard. The quality of the theatres has increased, as has the quality of the overall experience.

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WarrsawPact
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Nice. Kevin Smith agrees with me.

Added note:

Not only are DVDs more convenient for rewinding, skipping scenes, and watching any time from the convenience of your home... they also have more features. You can see the deleted scenes and bloopers, you can listen to commentary from the director and actors and special effects people, you get extended footage (LotR, gotta love the Extended Editions)

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Clark
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I'm suprised that no one has mentioned this one already: Red Box

I realize it's just starting, so it can't hardly be sited for the decline already in progress, but it certainly can't be helping the theaters. They rent new releases and it's only a buck a day. If you're frugal and take it back the next day, you can watch new movies for a buck. It's even better when you invite over a few friends and change up who rents the movie, because then you only pay for every fourth movie you watch. You'd have to be crazy to pay 8 bucks to go to a theater.

My next reason: I am bombarded with movies on TV already. I have crappy cable and still I find movies I wouldn't mind seeing on TV regularly. If you've got super cable like my parents, the possibilities must be endless.

One more thing: I went about 2 years without seeing any movies once. Then, all of the sudden when I started watching them again, I saw only the best movies and they were all free (borrowed from friends) or cheap (Blockbuster). I saw LofR and Pirates of the Carribean and The Counte of Monte Cristo and a number of other good flicks. And by the time I was done with those (those LofR movies were LONG) a half a dozen more films were out on DVD. My point is that once you get behind once, it doesn't really matter anymore, you can just keep up with movies as they come out on DVD rather than in the theater.

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Mormegil
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1. Price is a big factor for me. Tickets cost $10, so it costs $20 for self and fiancé to go see a movie. A DVD costs about $20, and waiting until it comes out on HBO costs even less. I've seen a number of commercials for movies that I did think were interesting, but not $20 interesting.

2. Lack of awareness. I have Tivo, and so I hardly ever watch live tv. I record shows, and watch them and fast forward through the commercials. So I miss a lot of movie previews.

3. Offensive content. There are a lot of movies with interesting premises, that I reject after seeing at screenit.com what they contain. A *lot* of the time it's totally gratuitous.

4. Bad timing. There can go a long time between movies I even *want* to see (and I like movies) because studios want to release films in a clump. In the summer there will be 5 movies I want to see but in some months it'll be zero. 5 movies in one month is $100. Unlikely I'll see them all. Spread it out a bit!

5. Limited release. At least twice I haven't seen a movie because it's been gone from theatres by the time I have a free day. We're talking 2-3 weeks after release!

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Lisa M.
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Mormegil - the clump thing is my problem, too. Movies are released while I'm at school and so have no money and no way to get to the theater. If it's something big, I'll try -- I still managed to see Harry Potter IV on its second day out -- but it's usually just too much effort.

And when I'm at home during the summer, they release maybe one or two good ones.

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Pelegius
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I love the local art cinema, but so much of Hollywood film is vapid and devoid of meaning.
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FIJC
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Last movie I saw in the theater was in December. I really would like to see V for Vendetta, but do agree with others here that many times, it's much more fun to rent DVD's and watch them together with good friends.
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Mormegil
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One thing I forgot:

I hate Fandango. I hate, hate, hate their stupid worthless ridiculous commercials, that I *have* to endure every time I see a movie. And it's always right before the movie starts, so it's either endure the commercial or miss part of the movie. Even the theatres that have signs saying "No TV Commercials!" still shows Fandango commercials.

I have never used their service and never will. When their stupid adverts come on I plug my ears and hum.

I'm sure it has significantly influenced my decreased rate of watching movies in-theatre. Amazingly, making me angry is not the way to make it a fun experience, and if it's not fun, why am I spending $20?

Also, the gouging that goes on at the concession stand offends me mightily, even though I haven't bought anything at a theatre in around 18 years. I would rather starve than pay $3.50 for a snickers bar, sorry. If more people felt that way, maybe something would change, but everyone just caves in and pays, the poor misguided weak fools.

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Lisa M.
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quote:
Also, the gouging that goes on at the concession stand offends me mightily, even though I haven't bought anything at a theatre in around 18 years. I would rather starve than pay $3.50 for a snickers bar, sorry. If more people felt that way, maybe something would change, but everyone just caves in and pays, the poor misguided weak fools.
Our mall theater is right next to the CVS.

It makes having a huge secret compartment in my purse rather convenient [Smile]

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sbkilb
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Personally, I download everything I watch off the net then plug my computer to the Tv. No commercials, no lines and I can almost always find what I want to watch.
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Mormegil
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Yah, I used to sneak food and drink in to the theatre (well, I put it in my jacket pocket, not too much sneaking going on). I didn't feel bad about it, because I knew I wasn't going to buy anything there no matter what. When I forgot to bring stuff, I just went without.

For the last few years, I haven't even bothered bringing in stuff. I have a more regular dinner schedule now and I just use the water fountain when I need beverage.

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