Last Friday night, Shannon and I drove to Parkersburg for a nice dinner and movie date. I was definitely disappointed with my movie experience though. We saw “Batman Begins” at the theater there, which turned out to be a pretty good movie. I give it two thumbs up. My problem isn’t with the movie at all, but with the theater and the movie industry.
We paid eight bucks to get in. That alone, I believe, is ridiculous. Back in Columbus at a nicer theater, I don’t remember it ever costing more than 5 or 6 bucks while I was in high school. Presently at the uptown Athena, movies are 6 or 7, and at the Nelsonville Movies 10, which is not an especially nice theater, prices were recently increased from four to five dollars. Concessions there are also value priced.
It seems that the prices have skyrocketed in the last few years, though. Hollywood has complained lately of drooping business. It’s clear though that they cannot be suffering too greatly. Beyond the high prices for tickets and concessions, marketing in the movie theater has hit new lows.
While waiting for the movie to begin, theaters used to display a slide show referring to classic movies, famous Hollywood figures, quotes, and other movie themed displays. Today, those still exist, but they are few and far between. They are now separated by countless advertisements for local businesses, Coca-Cola propaganda, and dozens of pictures of concessions available in the lobby. With those ads playing probably hundreds of times a day, no doubt they are worth a fortune.
That’s not all though. Between that slide show and the beginning of the movie, there used to be a few previews. Some people used to believe this was the ‘best part’ of the movie experience. You’d learn what new movies were coming and begin your anticipation, and sometimes even a cartoon. After all, that’s where Roger Rabbit began. Though previews are obviously a form of marketing, it has gone from trailers to ridiculousness.
Now days, before those previews even begin, you must sit through countless full motion commercials for all sorts of products from cell phones to airlines to who knows what else. Finally, the previews arrive. The idea of a handful of trailers is long gone. Now you’re in for a bunch of previews to the point where I lost count.
We bought tickets to the 10:15 showing and the movie didn’t start until after 11.
With all this marketing income and increased prices, how could the movie industry be suffering? Some might argue that there are increasing numbers of people renting movies, or worse, (as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) commercials would suggest) people are illegally downloading them. Of course they are! The fun of going to the movies has been strangled out of us! A two hour movie date now costs 16 dollars with no soda, no popcorn, raisinettes or goobers, and it lasts nearly three hours by the time they jam all those commercials down your throat.
The movie industry has become one giant marketing machine. Have you bought a DVD lately? When you put in to watch it, did numerous advertisements come up? Did it actually prevent you from skipping them by disabling the chapter skip, fast forward and menu functions of your DVD player? Hollywood is choking us with advertisement when they have us as captive audiences in the theater, and now in our own living rooms. I’m fed up with it, and have become more selective about what movies I bother to watch. I don’t have any interest going to the theater anymore unless there is a particular movie that I desperately want to see.
Though Batman Begins was a decent movie, I believe that Hollywood has given up on creating new and creative titles for our entertainment. This is why they’re losing money. Their focus is now on selling advertising via product placement and advertisements in the theater, not on creating a product that consumers want to buy.
The creativity is gone. When was the last time you saw a truly ‘new’ movie? Plotlines and stories are now recycled, or are mere spin-offs of other movies. The list of the current top ten movies according to the link above includes these five: Batman Begins, Bewitched, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Star Wars III, and the Longest Yard. What’s similar about these titles? They’re all recycled. In other words, they’re generating revenue not on their own creativity, but instead on the legacy and reused stories from the past. Think of other movies like Gone in 60 Seconds, Ocean’s 11, the upcoming Dukes of Hazard, The Thomas Crown Affair, Dr. Dolittle, and the Manchurian Candidate. All remakes, or adapted from earlier movies and TV shows. Furthermore, so many movies have at least on sequel. Do we really need Son of the Mask, Miss Congeniality 2, The Ring 2, Nutty Professor II, Police Academy 7, Speed 2, and The Lion King 1 ½? These aren’t quality creative ideas either. They’re merely cheap imitations of what we already saw.
Hollywood is losing money because half of what they’re making, we’ve already seen!
After my experience seeing Batman Begins, I don’t care about how much money Hollywood insists that they aren’t making. They are still ridiculously profitable despite their ineptitude.