What happened to the joy of going to the movies?

Published 10 years ago by

It really struck me today that I just don’t look forward to going out to see a movie anymore.

Our daughter is going to a sleepover and my wife suggested that we should go out and catch a movie… something good, like maybe The Aviator. My reaction was a very muted “Yeah, sure, I suppose.” A few years back I remember chomping at the bit to get out and see a flick at the local multiplex, and I remember being annoyed at the fact I was only able to get away maybe twice a month to see something on the big screen. She even commented, saying hey, we don’t have to go out and see something.

I guess I’ve just been worn down to the point that it’s just not much of a thrill any more, and the finger can be pointed at a number of sources that are at fault:

Escalating movie ticket prices

Sure, they’re cheaper where I live now, but before I left San Diego the evening ticket price was within spitting distance of $10. Take your wife and kid with you and you’ve spent $26 just to get in the damned door, never mind popcorn and a drink.

Commercials before movies

This might not be as bad if it were not following the previous reason. Drop a ton of cash at the door and now I have to sit through as many as eight commercials before I even see a movie trailer? It started out sneakily, with one or two creative/funny commercials, but now it’s the same junk that’s on TV. Heck, with my Tivo I don’t even watch commercials at home. Do the studios really think I want to pay to watch them in a movie theater??

Product placement during movies

This was the precursor to commercials before the show. This one burns me almost as much as the previous item. For some reason any time I see a brand name it sucks me right out of the film. Sometimes it’s so blatant that I don’t feel like I’m watching a movie so much as walking through a mall (Total Recall, anyone?).

Loud talkers and cell phones

Do I really need to say much about this? Hello? You are not sitting at home on your couch with a beer in your hand where you can talk to your wife/kids/husband/dog in the middle of the #$#%$ movie! Have some respect and consideration for the rest of us, would ya?

Parents bringing kids to inappropriate films

Ever since I became a father I’ve become extremely sensitive to this, and it drives me INSANE to see parents come into a showing of an R rated film towing four, six, and eight year old kids behind them. Every time something that earns the movie it’s R rating is on screen I think of the kids little sponge brains sucking it all in.

Overly loud volume

This is what happens when you have teenagers in charge of the volume control. There have been times where my ears actually hurt due to the volume of sound coming out of the speakers. I’ve sat through moments where it was turned up so loud that you could hear the speakers cross the edge of clarity into garbled noise.

The Alternative

With the advent of surround sound systems for the home, big screen HDTV monitors, DVD players, online DVD rental, and Tivo satellite systems (of which I own all of the above), who needs to go out to see a movie and get the full effect? I pop a mean bowl of popcorn, and can kick back with a nice dark beer (that costs less than a small soda at the theater) in my leather recliner, control the volume, and pause the movie when I need to. And the floor isn’t sticky, either.

It’s good to be the king.

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16 Comments - Comments are closed.

  1. Amen Vic. I think that the motion picture industry is going to have to make some changes due to all of the reasons you mentioned above. I would much rather watch in the comfort of my own home than go to the theater any day. I can’t stand the kids talking and don’t even get me started on the cellphones and babies. The price also won’t allow me to enjoy the movie. My friend goes to a steak place that is really expensive and he is always trying to get me to go. I always tell him that if I am paying that much for a steak, I won’t enjoy it. The same applies to movies. It seems like the prices keep going up and the movies almost seem to be of lesser quality.

  2. And one other thing…

    I enjoyed going to the theatre to see the trailers for the forthcoming movies and the posters in the lobby. I always got a good feeling as a consumer to see something coming that wasn’t slobbenly advertised on TV. Made me feel a little important. I know, it’s a cheesy feeling. It usually left me by the time I got to the parking lot anyway. :D

    Nowadays, I just download the trailer.

    What’s this about “eight” commercials? Exaggeration or seriousness? Most I ever get is two. Coke or American Express. …and the NAACP commercial.

  3. Zipper,

    No lie dude, I once sat through eight. I’ve found the usual number to be six at the theaters I frequent.


  4. Amen….

    Also is just me or are the adverts at the beginning of the movie actually louder than the movie. You can’t even talk to the people you go the movie with before the movie begins it is so loud. One theater company goes so far as to call it “The Thirty”. Which is of course 30 minutes of commercials. Try and find that on even network television (outside of Sunday mornings anyway).

    At least I live in a big city with I think the most theaters in a metropolitan area. A lot of those are theaters that heavily push quality independent films that may not be released to DVD for a few years.

  5. With you there Vic, you probably remember the post I wrote about the poorness of Cinema and why the Home Cinema is winning, and I applaud you that the same sentiments are here.

    Either we’re going through the same stage in life, or it’s just a common theme. I think a mixture of the two, but the Cinema better start getting itself sorted out soon.

    We reported on the attendance rates and although they had dropped they hadn’t really scared the Studios yet, but I think they will.

    What irks me the most is that I have an awesome quality system at home and when I go to the Cinema I see things such as DD6.1EX, DTS, THX certified sound. My arse. I have only been in one cinema in Edinburgh where I truly heard the sound around me, all the others are firmly rooted up front with the screen.

    Having fifteen speakers down each wall is not helping move the sound, it damages it. So I remember being amazed when I watched the Matrix at home and realised the sheer scale of the audio. All I had heard in the cinema were the shell casings at the back of the cinema…during the quiet scenes. It still hasn’t improved.

    Oh, and the other advantage of Home Cinema? You don’t have two other Home Cinema’s in adjoining rooms playing explosive action scenes as your movie settles into the explanatory dialogue.


  6. Rex,

    The commercials are louder than the movie, just like on TV. I can understand the logic with TV, since maybe they assume you’re leaving the room and crank it up so you can still here them. But in a movie theater? We’re a captive audience… there’s no need to blast the bloody things (not that they should be there in the first place).


  7. Richard,

    I agree completely on the audio. Where’s the sound quality of it’s blaring like music coming from a parade?

    As to a drop in theater attendance, I think where it will come to a head is with the movie theaters themselves. The studios keep the buzz machine going prior to a film’s opening to try to get butts in the seats during the first week or two where they get the majority of the ticket receipts. If a movie stinks, they don’t care… they’ve made the bulk of the cash up front and they’ll make up the difference on DVD sales and rentals.

    Who’s left holding the bag? The movie theater.

    Not that they’re without guilt of course in the process of driving people from their place of business, as we have both noted.


  8. As we have all seen over the past few years, it is very difficult for even the most popular movie theaters to stay in business because of the skewed business model that seems to benefit everyone except the theaters. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if movie theaters started going away entirely and we started getting the ability to watch the latest releases in the comfort of our own homes. The sad part is that I don’t think I would have a problem with that at all, although some movies need to be seen on a big screen. Even a 60″ HDTV doesn’t cut it for some movies.


  9. Wow. Eight is enough. :) I guess since UA has a monopoly in my area, they don’t need the advertising money. Looking back , about the time the Tinseltown opened was about the time I started seeing commercials in the UA theatres. Shortly after, Tinseltown started showing them too.

  10. I remember when I just had to get out to see a movie the minute it got to Israel – now I go about once a year. You will find the joy going out of a lot of things we’ve been using up till now to fill us – because the true filling we’re seeking is elsewhere. We’ll eventually see that all these things were just one big distraction from the main event.

  11. Brian,

    You just need to sit closer to the TV screen. :P


  12. In the UK, eight commercials is small. I’ve been to the cinema and had to sit through up to 12 before the trailers even begin. It might say a film starts at 7pm in the paper but that’ll be more like 7:20 in real terms.

    I’m with Richard on the sound issue. Before A LOT of films, the Dolby Surround logo with play with all the lovely surround then, sure enough when the film starts, those back speakers sit idle.

  13. I take ear plugs to the movies. And WEAR them.

    And a hankie to sop up the tears I shed after paying 9.50 for a ticket.

    We NEVER buy snacks.

    The awe factor has definetly left the building.

  14. About the Loudness of Commercials.
    They aren’t louder, they are more intense. They pump up the intensity of the wave so that it seems louder but it is actually still broadcasting at the same volume. Since commercials are recorded at that intensity you can’t just turn them down, as the volume for the movie itself would be affected. The whole issue with these commercials is that they should be special made for the theater and not something you can catch at home.

    And the one thing about going to the theatre that still makes me happy – going with friends. I can’t have 20 people over to my place to watch Be Cool, but we can all watch it together at the theatre. I just wish they made it easier to gather and commiserate after the movie.


  15. Kyle,

    Interesting point concerning the loudness factor of movie theater commercials.

    As to going to the movie with a bunch of friends, yeah, I used to do that a long time ago. Now it’s just my wife and I and maybe another couple… and sometimes even that is a pain because what do you do if someone you’re with falls into the “loud talking during the movie” category? Do you tell your friend to hush, or just grin and bear it? :confused: