Why Bother Going to the Movies?

My wife always wants to see something "light" on our date night. So she dragged me to both THE HONEYMOONERS and BEWITCHED. After enduring these two inane, laughless "reimaginings" of TV classics, I think both films should be formally classified as crimes against humanity and the film-makers brought in chains to The Hague. I also think Congress should pass a law making it a crime, from this point forward, to remake a TV series as a feature film ( a law which should have been enacted after the feature versions of THE AVENGERS or SGT. BILKO). It’s too late, I’m afraid, to save us from DUKES OF HAZZARD.

Lately, there’s been a lot of head-scratching in the trades about why boxoffice revenues are taking a steep dive. There’s a simple answer. Because movies these days suck. I don’t just mean these TV revivals, but movies in general. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a good Hollywood  movie and, sicko that I am, I see just about everything (Yeah, I saw STAR WARS…and found myself rooting for the bad guys and wondering when George Lucas lost his writing talent. And yeah, I saw BATMAN BEGINS, and I couldn’t wait for BATMAN ENDS. It was boring  and cliche-ridden). 

Overall, there’s much better stuff on TV these days than there are in the theatres… so why would anybody want to pay a babysitter, endure the traffic, pay exorbinant ticket prices, get gouged for popcorn and soda (it’s cheaper to eat at Ruth’s Chris than my local Regal Cinema)  put up with a noisy crowd and sit on sticky seats?

And the studios wonder why people are staying home?

(PS – I just thought of the last good movie I saw: it was either MILLION DOLLAR BABY or THE INCREDIBLES. How long ago was that??)

29 thoughts on “Why Bother Going to the Movies?”

  1. Though many would disagree with you on Batman Begins or even the last Star Wars film, I do think that audiences are staying away as the quality and ORIGINALITY of cinema has nosedove.
    Here’s something I noticed, or haven’t noticed as the case may be. In sports, if the team sucks, often times a team will lower ticket prices and salaries a bit, in an attempt to try and bring in more casual fans as they retool their product. Many businesses will drop prices as well in such situations. Why don’t we see the theatres cutting into those exorbitant $9-10 movie ticket prices? Why don’t we see studios putting a moratorium on paying actors $20 million to do a film? You want people to keep coming back to the theaters? How about charging them an amount that’ll financially allow them to? Sure, it’s the fault of theater chains that prices stay high… so why not work with the chains to scale back a bit?

  2. I’m with ya on Star Wars. I think we’re in the minority on that one.
    I am convienced the only reason that we’ve had record box office attendence the last few years is the increasing price of movie tickets. Every year, they talk about ticket sales falling yet can’t figure out how we have record box office grosses. Um…. I have a feeling if prices hadn’t risen 50 cents or more a year, we’d have had this discussion a long time ago.

  3. One more thing you didn’t mention: when I’ve paid ten dollars to go and see a movie, I am not interested in sitting through twenty minutes of annoying ads (Fanta girls must die) before the trailers even start. Hell, since I got a Tivo, I don’t even watch ads at home any more, why should I go out to see them?

  4. I’m more annoyed by the obnoxious patrons at movie theatres than by the ads or the films. I’m not going to pay 10 bucks to listen to some fat cow munch on popcorn or some idiot talk on their cell phone. Home video “manners” have ruined the movie-going experience.

  5. Are box office receipts dropping because movies suck? Maybe. But the reason I don’t watch movies in theaters anymore is because it costs a ludicrous amount of money to go see a movie. I am not about to spend $10 a ticket to take my family to see “Star Wars” (and sit through all those stupid promos and ads) when I can buy the thing on DVD for $16, or rent it for four bucks, not too long from now. Yeah, maybe it’s not quite the same experience as it would be in the movie theater. But for the amount of money I save by buying or renting DVDs, I think I can live with that.

  6. I’m not sure where you live (first time ever stopping by, I think!) but I think the only way there could generally be better stuff on tv than in the local cinema is if you only have one of the megaplexes that show Hollywoode wide releases.
    If so, you have my sympathies. Might as well stay in and pick up an interesting DVD.

  7. I don’t think it’s the quality of the films that’s the essential reason. I spent some time thinking about this and have expressed them at my blog. Look for the message titled The End of Movie Theaters. I’d reiterate it here, but why bother repeating myself? I invite everyone to check it out at my blog.

  8. I think high-concept is partly to blame. There’s no reason a high-concept story can’t be a great story, but how many people really have the ability to look past the primary colors of the concept and understand the actual script in their hands? It seems it’s all concept, no execution lately–which oddly enough, is what I think Hollywood has in common with a lot of modern art.
    I hope low-concept makes a comeback. I’d start going to the movies again. (And modern art museums, too.)
    Well, after my boys let me sleep more first.

  9. I’ve noticed the growing trend of trashing films which are big budget and have huge stars in them. Unless it’s French with subtitles film critics usually gleefully take apart such Hollywood projects.
    I still recall watching the critically- acclaimed ‘Amelié’ with my husband, and honestly? WTF? That had to be the most boring film I’ve ever watched.
    It strikes me that if a film doesn’t have sub-titles, and is not made in some obscure French principality, critics will pan it as “lacklustre”, or “lacking soul”, or some other bullshit way of saying it’s crap.
    When I started this post, it grew far too long, so I cut it down, and took it over to my place!

  10. Although I liked AMELIE, I agree with Karen to a certain degree. It seems that movies are going in two directions: big-budget action flicks and low-budget art flicks. What happened to the simple, entertaining movies in the middle?
    One reason I’ve heard given for the success of MILLION-DOLLAR BABY (and Clint’s films in general) is that they use old-style craftsmanship. It seems to me that this is what’s missing today.

  11. I agree too. The kid and I go to a movie almost every Saturday (matinees here are $5) and the last really good movie we saw was Million Dollar Baby. You know it’s bad when a teenager comes out saying “at least we didn’t pay full price”.

  12. After I wrote that entry, it occurred to me there was a movie I enjoyed since MILLION DOLLAR BABY and THE INCREDIBLES.
    It was UPSIDE OF ANGER with Joan Allen and Kevin Costner. It’s a shame that movie didn’t get much notice.

  13. think both films should be formally classified as crimes against humanity and the film-makers brought in chains to The Hague.

    Lee, for the life of me, I will never understand why one professional writer would ever talk about another professional writer in this fashion.
    Look, I’ll be honest…I’ve never seen an episode of Diagnosis: Murder. I’m aware that its overall reputation is somewhere above My Mother The Car and somewhere beneath E.R. Nonetheless, I would never personalize a critique of the show in the way you just did.
    Full disclosure…I didn’t work on the movies you’re bashing, but I know at least one writer who did, and it’s just unnecessary, man.
    Say you hate it. Say it’s shit. But “the film-makers should be brought in chains to the Hague”??? That’s the kind of “nasty criticism for cleverness’ sake” that I really just think is…well…it’s kind of shameful in an over-the-top way.
    Sorry to be such a finger-wagger. I just wish critiques didn’t have to get so personal towards the filmmakers, who are often trapped in circumstances beyond their control and are simply trying to do the best they can.

  14. If he’d said “I hate it, I hate it, it’s SHIT”, do you think the filmmakers would feel any better about it, seeing as it wasn’t personalised? It’s *always* personal, if you or a friend worked on it. I’m sure he didn’t mean to upset anybody who worked hard on those movies. But hey, some movies suck hard, and the people involved need to be told. Sure, it sucks, but we can’t seal ourselves up in a bubble, got to take the rough with the smooth, etc etc…

  15. I used to love to go to the movies. I remember one year we were sitting around after Thanksgiving dinner and my sister said, “Let’s go to the movies. Let’s just do it!” And we abandoned our family gathering for the movies.
    These days, however, I need more of an incentive than just whatever is showing so I go to the Alamo Drafthouse. It turns out that copious amounts of beer and wings can smooth the rough edges of today’s empty movies.
    I’ve been watching 70s movies lately — since I got Netflix — and there is something so visceral and almost dangerous about those movies that you really feel anything can happen as opposed to modern movies which, although technically superior (THX, Steadicam), feel like they plopped out of a memeograph machine.
    And: Batman, yes. Star Wars, no.

  16. I’ve been to maybe five movies since my first son was born eight years ago (and I was a monster film buff growing up; now I can rarely be bothered). Part of it is cost (tix, sitter, parking etc), which can add up to $75 or more for two; part is the inferior product being foisted on the moviegoing public; and part if the audience factor, as David Montgomery noted above. If a film is worth seeing, I’d rather pay $5 to rent the DVD and watch it on my couch at home — free from the distractions of talkers, unwrappers, munchers and slurpers. And if no films catch my eye, there is always 24, Six Feet Under, Deadwood, the Sopranos or SVU or any of the other TV series that showcase good writing.

  17. I always attend matinees, but that’s still $6.50 a pop around here. Seems like only a few years ago it was half that.
    As for talkers, I ask them in my sweetest voice, “Do you plan to talk through the entire movie?” So far no one has said yes. Oddly enough, the worst yakkers I’ve had to shush lately have been elderly couples. I thought that was the generation that learned manners and decorum.
    Thank God for Netflix.

  18. Oddly enough, the worst yakkers I’ve had to shush lately have been elderly couples.
    I try never to sit too near either teenagers or coffin-dodgers, but out of the two, I think the elderly are probably worse – at least the teenagers don’t ask what’s happening every five minutes.

  19. I’m forced to agree with you, Lee. Best writing seems to come from TV now. I’ve been amazed at how much I find worth watching on TV. Don’t have Tivo so I end up recording much of it in order to speed through the ever increasing number of commercials. (Frankly, there should be a law against repeating the same commercials during every break. Unless it’s clever and/or funny i.e. the Quizno’s “sayonara, baby”.) Every year I buy a movie pass so I don’t have to stand in line. The other day I realized I didn’t need to add value to it since it hasn’t been used in months. Why? The movies just don’t appeal or the experience sucks as cited by others. My pet peeve? Parents who bring young children into movies that expose the kids to things they shouldn’t see. Don’t those rating codes mean anything to parents?

  20. think both films should be formally classified as crimes against humanity and the film-makers brought in chains to The Hague.

    It was torture to watch them…that is what I was saying. And I didn’t single out the writer…or the director…or the actors. I pointed my finger at everybody involved. The films were AWFUL on just about every level.
    Yes, I know there are lots of factors that go into making a movie or TV show that are beyond the control of the film-makers. But the bottom line is, the films were horrible and watching them was a painful experience.
    Yes, I write and produce TV shows. I have no problem with another writer or producer saying at TV show or movies sucks…any more than I do a reviewer or moviegoer saying the same thing.
    So, in your opinion, because I am a card-carrying member off the WGA I should never criticize a movie or TV show in even the most general manner? C’mon, Craig, that’s ridiculous.

  21. I remember when I was about college-age, one of the smaller theatres brought in each week a new foreign film. Our library now every other Thursday has a theme movie — they did all noir, they’ve done scifi, teen, comedies, etc.
    Yes, the expense keeps us away. We’ve got a big screen and surround sound speakers so the experience is better. But overall I’d say the quality of the movies are so bad it is not worth the price. The blockbuster mentality that has infected the movies is moving on into books.
    A movie with an original idea is few and far between…

  22. I agree with Ellen. I don’t mind previews, in fact, I enjoy them, however, I resent the HELL out of having to sit through freakin’ commercials. I can’t stand that advertising has wormed it’s way there.
    As for the state of movies, yeah, I’d say they’ve gone down. Movies and TV seem to be more about creating parts for actors trying to either hang on or break in to fame.
    MILLION DOLLAR BABY was great, though.

  23. So, in your opinion, because I am a card-carrying member off the WGA I should never criticize a movie or TV show in even the most general manner? C’mon, Craig, that’s ridiculous.

    No, of course not. I just wish it didn’t have to be personal. Say whatever you want about the movies and be as nasty as you’d like, but perhaps refrain from attacking the filmmakers themselves…or least refrain from ad hominem attacks on the filmmakers.
    To the other commenter…as someone who has lived through his share of bad reviews…yeah. Attacking the movie seems fair and justifiable. Attacking ME personally seems pointless and petty and ultimately beyond the bounds of film criticism.
    I mean, critics are film critics, not people critics. And yet, critics have attacked me for the college I attended. That kind of stuff just boggles my mind.

  24. I must strongly agree that movies of today have taken a crash. They rely on special effects and a hot girl with next to nothing on to capture the audiences attention. There is a great lack of charecterization, story, suspence, and romance. Just watch some Hitchcock, Gone With The Wind, The African Queen, to Kill a Mockingbird. heck even Creature from the black lagoon is better than any of the crap horrer films i’ve seen recently. Tom Cruize shows are good because everyone already knows his charecter. It doesn’t have to be built up., which they don’t know how to do anymore. It is a shame we have to spend $10 today to see a movie that is most likely not even 1/2 as good as something made 50 years ago or more.

  25. You could say the same thing about modern music as well(my fav. being 60’s to 80’s, and even some 90’s). But that’s just my opinion.


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