Show and Tell Hawai'i

High price of flicks: Heck, join the crowd

January 15th, 2012

Movie-makers have been agonizing over the box office decline last year and a Christmas-New Year season that was lackluster, with the exception of the surprise performance and success of Tom Cruise’s “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.”
Who or what’s to blame?
Not an easy question to dissect, but a good issue to discuss as the awards season is under way.
I don’t know about you, but I attend at least one film a week, but often two and occasionally three. On the average, I believe I cough up admission for seven to nine films a month.
Luckily, I pay a senior rate now. That helps ... and softens the pain.
Frankly, admission prices are soaring, films are often redundant, and a been-there, done-that mentality prevails. So for many, economics is a major factor.
But 3-D, which is plentiful and costs a premium to partake, is turning off some viewers (cost again is an issue) because the quality level has diminished. And since theaters have designated 3-D screening space, the industry is saturating the marketplace with 3-D.

So join the discussion:
• Movies are extremely costly. Agree? A date night can be expensive, but what about a family of four going to see a first-run attraction? Prices continue to rise, not as bad as gasoline and airline add-ons, but you practically need a king’s ransom for a simple flick outing.
• Munchies are expensive, too. From bottled water to popcorn, concessions — which are what the theater operators depend on to keep their doors open — are way too pricey. As outrageous as airport food prices, with fewer choices.
• It’s been a dubious season for 3-D flicks and this feature is turning off a segment of the movie-going population. As good as a “Harry Potter” mainstream film might be, there’s every reason to question the necessity for a “Kung Fu Panda” to boast the extras of the third dimension; even Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin,” while laden with Indiana Jones-style chase template amid a motion-capture action format, was a modest tale that could have been told solely in 2-D. I paid the extra to see it pop; at least it won a Golden Globe as Best Animation Feature. You pay more because of the technology and the requisite glasses; the issue with 3-D is that there hasn’t been a universal blockbuster like James Cameron’s “Avatar,” which delivered a whole new world of action, adventure and artistry with a storytelling technique that justified Event Movie which established a model very difficult to match. Cameron, of course, is delivering an anniversary edition of his legendary “Titanic” film in a 3-D version this April; after all, nothing succeeds like success, or excess; just ask Disney, which put a 3-D imprint on its majestic “The Lion King,” to reboot the classic animated film while attracting fans who saw the original and introduce a new generation that was too young to see the original, even if a family had a DVD version on the shelf. And “Beauty and the Beast,” the animated Disney classic, is just out in its 3-D debut, too. The bottom line: you always reach a new audience each time.
• Too many numbers in a movie title, also known as a franchise, a sequel, and, yes, a prequel. While “Mission Impossible 3” has jump-started Cruise’s career and audience approval level, do we really need versions 4, 5, and 6? Think about it:
From “Twilight” to “Potter,” from “Star Wars” (which juggled the chronology) to “Superman” (which is reinventing the wheel), the big ill prevails” — sequelitis, reboots, prequels. The sequence matters little anymore. “Superboy” was a TV staple, but “Superman” flies again this year. “Batman” and “Spider-man” have had different actors interpret the iconic characters. “The Incredible Hulk” worked best on TV, but two failed feature films followed. Remaking a familiar title or reinterpreting a favored character is a Hollywood plague. Add “Police Academy” — which is destined for a comeback — to the should-not-revive-reboot-re-do list, yikes. The clutter will includes extentions of the likes of “American Pie.”
What do do? You can’t avoid the trafficking but there are some ways to pay less for a first-run flick.

It helps to be a senior citizen, since admission is discounted; if you’re a young adult or not-yet-senior status movie-goer, one consideration is the matinee screenings, which are cheaper.
Or buy those discounted coupons to Consolidated theaters and wait till after week three to see a current film; those coupons are barred from early viewing, but going later means less crowds. But the coupons are not eligible for 3-D or IMAX releases.
You could go the Netflix route if you don’t mind seeing a biggie in the first wave of the buzz, but there is an upside of the movie-going experience at the top-tier price and early viewing timetable: there’s nothing like being part of an audience responding as one soul, shrieking at frightful moments (think “Jaws”) or gasping at cliff-hanging segments (think “Mission Impossible 3”). Watching a high-tech, high-impact film, which cost an arm and two legs to make, isn’t as powerful an adventure if you’re doing a solo viewing or with your spouse/partner/family at home on your flatscreen.
The psychology and dynamics of film-going truly require that mass-crowd element. And, alas, that comes with a hefty price. It’s not the same feeling, too, if you’re mixa bag of arare into your home-made popcorn; that is a theater ritual.

3 Responses to “High price of flicks: Heck, join the crowd”

  1. frances kakugawa:

    Movie goers have also changed. We're health-minded so how about healthier snacks? Okay, no one wants to munch on cucumber sticks but they make less noise than arare. Or waterless
    soap at exits to kill germs left on chairs and arm rests.

    Speaking of noise, and light, how about those text-addicts or cell users who leave their phones on?

    Or those people who think their opinions and comments are welcomed by those sitting in front of them?

    Or rats that run across our feet? I won't disclose my location.

    Oh, is this why no one asks me on a movie date anymore?
    I expect more than the movie on the screen?

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