I can’t remember the last movie I saw in a theater, but thanks to the miracle of blogging, I don’t have to: it was The Da Vinci Code. That was the movie that put me over the edge. The “pre-theater entertainment” was so annoying that I vowed never to attend a movie in the theater again:
Now patrons willingly sit through up to 30 minutes of ads, plus the movie trailers themselves. There’s no way to carry on a conversation during the pre-theater entertainment, because the volume is cranked up almost as loud as it is for the movie itself. I thought I was paying the $30 to avoid commercials. Isn’t that what’s supposed to differentiate movie theaters and regular TV? It’s certainly not the picture or sound quality anymore: the pre-theater entertainment is presented in regular old HD video, and the movie, though a standard film print, was so degraded and scratched that I actually would have preferred to watch it at home on my own, non-HDTV.
I’ve watched quite a few movies since then, but none of them in the theater. Have I missed the theater experience? Not at all. I haven’t even especially missed the old theater experience, with the sticky floors, the soft Muzak playing in a hushed room before the film starts, and the modest five minutes of film trailers.
What I have missed — just a bit — is participating in a shared experience. Not the experience at the theater, mind you, but the experience of having watched a movie that “everyone” has seen, like Batman Beyond, or some of the Oscar nominees. Hollywood has still managed to get to me with its hype machine on new movies. Per Anne’s comment, I’m kind of interested in seeing Tropic Thunder, to see what all the fuss is about. But I still don’t think it’s worth paying to sit through all that crap before the movie starts.
No, thank you, I can wait for DVD, or pay-per-view, or our newest toy, the Netflix Player. This little gizmo has already paid for itself several times over — I love the option of watching a movie right after I choose it, instead of having to wait several days for it to arrive, if I remember to place it at the top of my queue, and if I happen to be in the mood to watch one of the DVDs I ordered last time and haven’t gotten around to watching. In reality, it’s usually at least two weeks between the time I put a movie on my Netflix queue and when I actually watch it. By that time, most of the time I’m wondering what I was thinking when I requested it. Even though most of the movies available for the player aren’t very good, I can almost always decide on a movie I want to watch right now.
I’m less interested — so far — in the Apple TV. The rentals available for this device haven’t even caught up to pay-per-view. The selection isn’t as deep as the Netflix player (by my count, about 1,500 titles are available), and most new movies never get released to rentals. Though Apple has a better selection of movies for purchase, I’m not interested in buying movies. I watch them once, and rarely ever again. Nope, not worth paying $230 for another way to pay for movies. If they increased their rental selection, and maybe decreased the price of the box a little more, I might be on board, but not until then.
But the main point about movies is that there are so many ways to watch them now that I really haven’t missed going to the theater at all. I still don’t have HDTV, but I find my big-screen TV purchased over ten years ago to be nearly as impressive as most theater screens — and I always get the best seat in the house.