Thursday, December 15, 2005

Movies in Theaters -- Bah Humbug!

What is it with people who talk through movies?! Maybe I've just had bad movie karma, but three of the last four movies I've seen in a theater have been ruined by chatty people who seem to be oblivious to the fact that their need to keep each other posted about the plot, characters, or dialog disturbs everyone else. (Additionally, one was interrupted by a fire alarm that required an evacuation of the theater.) There's a lot to be said for watching a movie in your own living room so you can either chat at will -- or enjoy it in peace!

Last September, Todd Wagner spoke at a luncheon for the Indiana Venture Idol Competition, the day before the Indiana Venture Conference. Wagner, who sold with co-founder Mark Cuban for $8 billion, has been in Hollywood where he is involved in both 2929 Productions and the Landmark art theater chain (which just opened in Indianapolis.) Wagner and Cuban are pretty controversial in Hollywood since they're not only learning the business as outsiders, but trying to make the traditional studios think in some new media ways.

One trail they want to blaze? Simultaneous release of feature films in theaters along with the DVD, VHS, and digital versions. Frankly, with the growth of reasonably priced plasma, high-def and big screen televisions along with surround sound, home theater systems, and all manner of digital playback, I'd rather see a movie at home. Dare I say it? Size doesn't matter! Well, screen size, that is. I'd rather have an intimate experience with the film in a smaller format, than endure talking, poor quality, interruptions, and cavernous (or too tiny) theaters that are too hot, too cold, or uncomfortable along with parking, crowds, and slow moving ticket lines.

Studios are, of course, worried that releasing a DVD and theater version at the same time will hurt already slumping box office sales as well as DVD revenue. But, as a customer, if I already avoid theaters unless it's a film I really want to see, it's going to be worth it to me to see the film sooner. I know I can't be the only consumer who feels this way. For many, a $20 DVD is still cheaper than two tickets, travel time, snacks, and parking. For that price you can watch it once and still be ahead.

And just in case you're curious? Here are the last four films I've seen:

Pride and Prejudice, Castleton Arts on a Saturday afternoon. Packed theater (very small) and two older ladies next to me who talked loudly through the entire film discussing characters, plot points, and reminding each other of who was who.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Glendale on a Monday evening. Wallet stolen out of my handbag during the film by the kids sitting behind me.

Walk the Line, Circle Center, weekday evening, 8 people in the theater, 2 of whom laughed and snickered through the entire movie. Fire alarm went off forcing evacuation of the theater about 5 minutes from the end of the movie (right over the marriage proposal.)

Capote, Landmark, weekday evening, 7 people in the theater, two of whom sat in my row and gave each other a running commentary. "Where's Truman? What did they mean? Is that Kansas City? Who's that woman?" (Although nothing could disrupt Philip Seymore Hoffman's fantastic performance.)


At Fri Dec 16, 10:58:00 PM, Blogger Marie said...

I've been to movies in all those places. People aren't as polite as they use to be. Kinda sad.


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