Could the Cineplex go the way of the Drive-In?

November 8, 2005

Drive-InI’ve never been big on clichés, but as clichés go at least ‘history repeats’ has an inkling of truth to it. Throughout modern time certain fads and mindsets have had a way of cropping back up into society, as well as what we collectively find “entertaining”.

Back in the 1950’s a time traveler would have assumed Drive-in Theaters were about to replace the “Movie Theater”, as our favorite place to watch first run Hollywood films. That was a pretty long intro to get to I think we’re about to see another paradigm shift in how we watch first run movies.

Just like those Drive-In’s slashed attendance to traditional ‘Movie Theaters’ back the 1950’s, todays ‘Home Theater’ in my opinion trumps the Cineplex in all but one aspect of the “entertain me” mindset. I’ll save that one for last, but let me list off just a few reasons that ‘Cineplex-odeon-house-of-annoyance’ has driven itself into near obsolescence. In no particular order, or relevance:

Cell phones ringing & people answering them: Yeah there’s only one thing more annoying than a cell phone ringing in a theater, and that’s someone actually answering it.

Babies crying: I don’t even know why a toddler would be at a midnight screening of ‘Saw’, I guess the lil guy was a big horror fan and just had to catch it. Don’t get me wrong, I love babies, just not at 9:50 showings of Sin City.

Picture flicker & sound drop outs: There was a time when my home theater was a shoddy imitation of our local movie house, that time has long since passed.

House lights still on after movie has started: This is one area I know I’ve got covered at home.

People next to you getting up: This falls into the ‘Timeless yet annoying as ever’ category.

People next to you, you don’t know: Again as old as theaters themselves, but at home I don’t have to smell your cheap cologne.

Crappy seats: I’m repeating the “old as theaters themselves” line too much, so let’s just say, theater seats haven’t improved at the same pace as theater-goers expectations.

Crappy previews and commercials to boot: I remember the first time I saw a commercial in a theater, I should have walked out then, 20 years too late. And what’s with the love story previews in front of action flicks?

People behind you kicking your chair: Over and over and over and over…

People talking during the entire movie & not even about the movie: We caught a screening of ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ and apparently the two teenage girls who sat beside us were just biding their time until ‘Miss Congeniality 2’ started. I can only assume so because they talked non-stop for 20 minutes, then got up and walked out.

$6.00 coke & $6.00 popcorn: I have absolutely no qualms about a theater owner making a buck, I just prefer to be the theater owner.

$9.00 movie tickets: See above.

Ok, so there you have just a few of the reasons I loathe movie theaters and think their days (as we know them) are limited, but as promised here’s my number one reason why I think that the Cineplex will live on, Teenagers.

Where else can teenagers (and immature adults for that matter) get together and get away from mom and dads often obsessive rules? The shopping malls have clamped down on loitering, they can’t really get together at each others house’s anymore because of the ridiculous “watch my child, because I’m too lazy to” litigation of late, and they sure as heck can’t hang out in bars. So fear not Cineplex fans, your entertainment houses of ill repute aren’t going anywhere, it’s just that many of us won’t be going either.

If any of the above sounded a little harsh or mean spirited, then I’d say any commentary about Movie Megaplex’s is actually just a commentary on society at large and how we treat each other, of which lately has been extremely poor.

But hey even I’ll break my self imposed “Cineplex-Moratorium” when ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ and other holiday blockbusters come out, which leads me to even better news in my opinion. The push for faster theatrical to DVD turn-around times continues to grow. Some (like Mr. Shyamalan) will argue that we need a visceral conjoined experience to truly feel what the director intended, but to that I’d say, I don’t need to pay 18.00 dollars to be kicked in the back.

Sure the movie theater is an ‘American Tradition’ but so was the Drive-In. I’m of the opinion that it’s only a matter of time until a “Hollywood Pay-Per-Vew” channel replaces the Cineplex as we know it. I don’t really have a distinct feeling as to whether this is a good thing or not, just that it’s inevitable.



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Commentary


Comments

  • B.Greenway

    I sit about 14.5′ away from an 80″ screen and wouldn’t trade the experience, but to each their own I guess.

  • B.Greenway

    I sit about 14.5′ away from an 80″ screen and wouldn’t trade the experience, but to each their own I guess.

  • Julie Chadwick

    Here’s my reason for why cineplexes aren’t going away: this past Thursday, I sat on the back row (around 75 feet from screen) in a very large theater here in Dallas. The movie was a premier showing of the latest Harry Potter flick. The price was free, thanks to a vendor that I work with. But what really made it for me was the HUGE screen. I remember noticing that the edges of the screen were at just about the same position in my field of view as the edges of my glasses. Later that evening, I went home and made a similar observation with my 57″ TV from about 8 feet away from the screen. The difference? The TV seemed to occupy about 60% less of my field of view when compared with the theater screen. The “big screen” is so incredibly large that I will not have anything comparable in my home anytime soon–that’s just too expensive for me. I would much rather pay $8-10 for the immersive experience of the big screen.

  • Julie Chadwick

    Here’s my reason for why cineplexes aren’t going away: this past Thursday, I sat on the back row (around 75 feet from screen) in a very large theater here in Dallas. The movie was a premier showing of the latest Harry Potter flick. The price was free, thanks to a vendor that I work with. But what really made it for me was the HUGE screen. I remember noticing that the edges of the screen were at just about the same position in my field of view as the edges of my glasses. Later that evening, I went home and made a similar observation with my 57″ TV from about 8 feet away from the screen. The difference? The TV seemed to occupy about 60% less of my field of view when compared with the theater screen. The “big screen” is so incredibly large that I will not have anything comparable in my home anytime soon–that’s just too expensive for me. I would much rather pay $8-10 for the immersive experience of the big screen.

  • ScottP

    I’ve been thinking along the same lines for a few years now. I haven’t been to a movie theater in over 2 years, I consider the whole experience grossly overvalued.

    We’ve quite happy to wait a few months to watch a film in the comfort of our own modest home theater.

  • ScottP

    I’ve been thinking along the same lines for a few years now. I haven’t been to a movie theater in over 2 years, I consider the whole experience grossly overvalued.

    We’ve quite happy to wait a few months to watch a film in the comfort of our own modest home theater.