And I am back from my break. For all of you who actually read this I clearly haven’t posted in a while. I was doing my holiday thang. Hanging out with the family, eating delicious foods, watching a bunch of movies, and sleeping like nobodies business. Now it is time to get back into the swing of things and what better thing to talk about than Mr. Roger Ebert.
In a recent article on his website Mr. Ebert writes about why movie theaters are losing revenue. He makes six main points that I agree with. First he says there is an “absence of a must-see mass-market movie. ” In 2011 we didn’t have any giant movies like “Avatar” or “The Dark Night.” Heck, in my opinion we didn’t have many good movies at all. At least not at showing at the big box office. Most of the films I would consider “good” did not end up getting played the “local gigantiplex” as Roger so aptly names them. But I digress.
His second point was the absurdity that is ticket prices. Going to the movies used to be something the whole family could do without you breaking the bank. Now if you want to see a 3D movie with your two and five-year-old you basically need to take out a loan. Maybe so many people are sneaking in to these movies just so that they don’t need to pay the absurd fees that it seems like revenue is down while attendance may still be up. Who knows?
Roger’s third point is the movie-going experience. Most people don’t want to go to a movie and listen to a bunch of other people talking or tip-tapping away on their bright smart phones. It was once something that was a very solid rule. No cell phones. Now it seems like more of a guideline.
The fourth point is the insanely inflated refreshment prices. I, for one, am not going in to a movie theater to pay five bucks for a small candy, another five bucks for a flat drink, and then yet another for an over-buttered bag of popcorn. I’d rather smuggle my soda in candy like some sort of drug smuggler (except I just use my pockets.)
This fifth point might be the biggest reason. Movie theaters have so much other competition when it comes to forms of movie delivery. Just the other day I brought my younger brother out the the movies as a surprise. The only thing he could say was “good thing I didn’t watch this one online last night.” Kids don’t watch movies in theaters anymore. They have direct tv, the internet, and most of all Netflix. Glorious, glorious Netflix. Ebert says it best “Netflix alone accounts for 30% of all internet traffic in the evening. That represents millions of moviegoers. They’re simply not in a theater.”
His final point is that there is simply a lack of choice. Most big theaters only show the same blockbuster movies that these days are typically flops. Most people simply do not get exposure to independent or foreign films. These “art” films aren’t supposed to be all that popular but if you look at what people are watching on Netflix it tells you a different story. This year the top viewed movies were all foreign or independent movies that “nobody has ever heard of.”
Ebert and I agree. It seems that Americans love the movies just as much as ever. It is the combination of two things really the amazing range of options available and the fact that theaters simply aren’t what they used to be. In the article Ebert slips in a line saying perhaps this is why we need more movie critics in the papers and big media. While we have many people doing these blogs and writing on the internet we need someone we can trust to pick out the gems for us out of the thousands of movies available. When people ask my why I would want to write about movies as if there was no future in that. I will tell them I write to shine a light on the pile of stinking poop that is Hollywood and to guide all those brave others who are trying to get their story out there and doing a fantastic job towards people who will appreciate their work. This is what I want to do.