Opinion: Has the Movie Experience Changed for the Worse?
In an evolving, technologically advanced society, the way we consume entertainment has changed. One place which has seen numerous controversial changes is the movie theater. The modern spectator has access to films on his or her computer and even phone, leading to major modifications to the traditional movie experience. One must ask, has the movie-going experience changed for the worse?
In response to contemporary competition from home viewing options, filmmakers have started offering viewers one-of-a-kind reasons to visit the theater. These attractions include 3D and IMAX projection. This is no different from the desperate attempts to bring people back into the movie theaters in the 1950s after the advent of television and suburban living prompted many families to stay home for entertainment. Movie theaters offered 3D, widescreen, color projection and even Smell-O-Vision to differentiate a consumer’s experience from TV. Most of these attractions eventually die out. Will viewers continue to support these changes this time around?
The price of entertainment has reached startling heights in recent years. Evening movie ticket prices have increased to ridiculous amounts lately, and 3D costs even more. Concession prices have also skyrocketed. A family movie night has become a rare event for many households.
These days you can’t seem to detach people from their cell phones. Theaters’ constant reminders to turn off electronics don’t seem to do much good, since incoming calls and glowing screens have remained ubiquitous. Establishments have taken various stances on this issue. The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Texas bans the use of cell phones, and if a viewer is caught using one he or she will be asked to leave. Other theater chains are more lenient about texting.
Film buffs everywhere are lamenting the increased loss of 35mm projection. While the average viewer who has grown accustomed to DVDs and digital downloads likely doesn’t care whether their film is being projected from real film or a digital copy, many cinephiles continue to emphasize the importance of film projection for a crisper visual experience, posterity and artistic tradition.
The final reason the movie experience could be considered to have gotten worse is the increasingly commercialized, unoriginal content which graces the average screen. Look at a typical movie marquee these days and you’ll usually see one or two popular literary adaptations, multiple sequels and probably a remake. Original, artistically significant films are often only found in art cinemas or big cities. The arguably obnoxious presence of big-budget action movies and derivative sequels keeps viewers unaware of original content, making it even harder for independent films to reach a larger audience.
In an industry in which James Cameron proudly boasts that 3D is our future, the classic movie-going experience is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Where do you stand on this issue?