We have a over a century's time worth of film classics behind us and many here are lamenting the absence of anything good out in theatres right now
. Therefore, you guys must really love going to the theatre! I have recently read a few threads on what is wrong with the cinema experience today. (gum on the seats, twits with cell phones, enraged-bull-moose-soccer-moms, etc.) I would therefore be greatly interested to hear your take on the subject. Why do you fellows love the theatres so?
The Theatre as a Social Outing
As for why some bad movies do so well in theatres... It seems to me that, for many people, (seemingly the vast majority) going to the cinema is a social event in which the movie itself is relatively unimportant. You call your friends up, meet at the theatre, go see whatever movie had the flashiest trailers/commercials, sit through it, and then discuss/lampoon it afterwards over a beer or brew. The quality of the film doesn't seem to add or detract a great deal from the experience. In fact, a bad movie can make for a very lively discussion! It's a social outing that is not dissimilar to going to a nightclub with blaring music where you'd have even less opportunity for discussion. This is why, as the stats Dave posted above suggest, cinema viewership is relatively constant regardless of the quality of films.
Anatomy of a Celluloid-Fiend
Personally, the above describes the majority of my trips to the theatre. Occasionally we make it to one of our city's few arthouse theatres, but they are remote enough for most that this is a rare event. If not for my irrational prejudice against going to the cinema alone I'd probably see a totally different set of films. Instead, I watch DVD's. My choice in DVD's is growing increasingly odd. I started with the usual films that everybody has seen, like Casablanca or Citizen Kane, and then developed a veritable Kurosawa/Mifune fetish, which is certainly understandable. Then suddenly it was 50's creature features, and then Ray Harryhausen flicks, and then film noir, and then westerns, etc. (To be honest, I typically have several fetishes running in parallel at any given moment) A copy of the recently restored Metropolis turned me onto Kino, who has been putting out some fantastic releases of older films. I picked up their 5 DVD compilation of early silent films, and oddly enough, found myself sitting in thrall to the earliest of films like Edison's serpentine dances, or films featuring such mundane events as loading a boiler onto a ship, a snowball fight in Moscow, or a train ride through turn of the century New York.
I keep a list of titles to watch out for on DVD, and contrary to what I origionally thought, it just keeps growing and growing. My increasingly odd taste and residence North of the border (no Netflix for me.
) have forced me to purchase most of my viewing material. Lately I've managed to cut back to an average of 5 titles a week. Still, I'm starting to feel a bit like some kind of celluloid-junkie or film-fiend. Will I eventually exhaust the material available? Is there an end in sight? I used to think so, but not anymore. I've been introduced at social gatherings only to hear "Oh, I've heard about you. You're the movie guy!" from total strangers. Family and friends have begun referring to my basement theatre as "The Pit" in reference to my apparant photophobia. I no longer worry about buying new bookcases to store my DVD's on, but am instead worrying about running out of wall for new bookcases. I am an addict. Is the cinema an addiction for some people, like DVD's are for me? Perhaps, but one thing is certain: For better or for worse, the DVD-addict has a lot more titles to choose from!
:Celluloid-Fiend exits, stage left, faintly muttering "Throne of Blood, ooo... Dreams... Ah... Pepe le Moko mmm... Them! Yes!... Buy three get Sunrise free? oooOOOooo..."