Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Going to the Movies?

I read an interesting article tonight about the difficulties that the concession suppliers for the movie industry are going through. With the three-year decline in movie attendance revenue, there has been a similar three-year decline in concession sales (not very surprising, I know). Reading this article led me to examine my own movie attendance behavior.

First off, let me tell you: I love movies. A few years ago, if I had had the money, I probably would have gone to the movies every week. As it was, I usually went at least once a month. I rarely bought concessions -- way too expensive. Besides, my buddies and I would often just go out for a quick pizza or a burger beforehand, so it wasn't like I was hungry or anything.

Now? I might see two or three movies in the theater in any given year. Maybe. I see more movies than ever, but now I watch at home. My wife, when we first got married, convinced me to get a nice home theater system. I've got a fairly high quality surround sound system, a nice 65" widescreen HD-ready television, a good DVD player, and a NetFlix subscription. I also have the Ann Arbor District Library with its wide selection of movies on DVD. I get the full "big screen" experience. I do not have the experience of: sticky floors, commercials before the movie, people talking near me, someone kicking the back of my chair, cell phones ringing, and high ticket and concession prices.

Is there any reason to go to the actual theater anymore? Well, on the few times I do go, I tend to go on opening weekend, when there is likely to be a big crowd. There is something about being part of that crowd that intensifies the emotions and images. Thrillers seem that much more exciting. Comedies are so much funnier. Why else? Well, sometimes there is a movie that I just want to see without having to wait a few months before it comes out on DVD. The various "Lord of the Rings" movies were like that for me. Sometimes its also fun just to have a shared experience with friends of "going out".

All that being said, it makes me wonder what will become of the movie industry. Can the existing model survive? There is a lot of competition now for our entertainment dollars. How will the local cinemas provide an experience which will encourage us to keep showing up? Or, are the movie houses doomed to eventual failure?

Do you still go to the movies? How often? What makes it worth your hard-earned money?

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