I am not what you would call a movie-goer. I enjoy movies, but I don’t enjoy the experience of going to a movie theater to see one. For the last four years, I only get to a theater about once a year, usually in December, when we are visiting family in the southern gulf coast of Florida. I don’t mind that. There is a huge theater nearby and because all the locals seem to leave the warm weather for more winter-like climes, we generally have the place to ourselves. When you think about it, that’s really not much different from watching the show in your own home.
A movie costs a fortune to go see. A ticket averages $8.61 in 2015. Popcorn, candy and drinks can easily run $25. Then there’s the babysitter, who gets $10-15/hour. If Kelly and I go to a movie, we can plan to spend $80. Or, we could wait of the movie to come out on Netflix and pay substantially less.
I suppose if the movie-going experience was different I might be more interested. My grandfather always referred to movies as “pictures” as in, “The Goonies was a great picture.” I like that. There is a glamor to the metaphor that “movie” lacks. When I think of going to see a motion picture, I imagine getting dressed up, being led to our seats by an usher. Seeing a picture was an experience, like going to a Broadway show.
When I do get to the movies, if the showtime is listed as 7 pm, I can expect 10 minutes of advertisements followed by twenty minutes of previews. Then the lights dim and clever cartoons remind me to silence my cell phone, and refrain from talking during the program. “What program?” I wonder, “the movie hasn’t even started yet.”
As ironic as it may be, movie theaters seem antiquated to me. In an age when we can watch movies on our ultra-high definition, 3-D flat screen television sets, what is the point of driving to a crowded theater to watch a movie? Certainly not for the glamour of the experience. It would not surprise me if, within the next decade, studios and distributors realize this, too, and decide to eliminate the middle man entirely. I’d pay more than $8.61 to be able to sit in my family room, with my a bucket of popcorn I made in my own microwave, and beer from my refrigerator , and watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens on the day it was released. It doesn’t have to be a solitary event, either. I can invite my friends over and we can all watch the movie together. No fighting for parking spot, or jockeying for an ideal showing time.
Going to the movies sounded fun in its heyday, when it really a night out on the town. Going to the movies even sounded fun in the days before every house had air conditioning and the movie theater did, thus offering a cool reprieve to hot summer days. Those days are gone. Theaters have evolved, as has theater-going. The next logic step if for the theaters themselves to take a bow, and head off into the wings of history.