Theater Attendance

Jim Hill posted an interesting article recently regarding theater attendance.

The gist of the post is a theory that Hollywood is getting a little bit nervous because families are not going to see films at the theater or, as individuals, they are not seeing the movies more than once. Apparently there used to be a larger number of people (mainly young men) who went to see a feature film at the theater more than once – driving up revenue for the films.

Hollywood is surprised at this? Technology has improved the home theater experience, DVDs are released quite soon after a theatrical release, the theater is often noisy and interruptive, gas prices are up (here we have to pay over $4 a gallon) and it costs more to get to a theater, and the cost of taking an entire family to the movies is quite expensive. So what exactly is the benefit of seeing it on the big screen?

I’m actually surprised that people go to the theater at all (let alone more than once). You can’t pause the movie to get a snack, you get the annoying ‘crowd’ responses, you get the annoying individual hecklers, you get sticky running shoes… and you have to pay for this? Moreover, why on earth would I go see a movie at a theater more than once? Because I didn’t get it? If that’s the case then someone needs to work on story or their story telling technique. Because it was eye candy? I’ll wait for the DVD and watch it on a large screen plasma. You know, when I watch a film, be it on a 27″ old style CRT television or on a large screen – if the story is good, then I get so caught up in it that I don’t notice that I don’t have 10000 Watts of sound or that I don’t have a two story screen. Think about it, when you are totally into the story, do any of those things matter?

In order to minimize those ‘annoying’ aspects of seeing the film at a theater, we went to see one of the Star Wars Episodes, but we waited till the crowds had their fill (about a month or so after the release). We were pretty much alone at the theater. It cost about $60 for all of us to go (ouch!). We sat at about the 1/2 way mark in the theater so we could see most of the screen and experience the sound. You know, it wasn’t much different than watching the DVD on a plasma screen – and I paid $60 for this? That was the last time we’ve been to a theater and it’s probably going to be the last time. It just doesn’t make any sense to me, financially or aesthetically. So there.