Is DVD killing film societies?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ali B, Jan 20, 2002.

  1. Ali B

    Ali B Second Unit

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    I help to run a university film society here in the UK and in the last 3 years the number of people coming to films has dropped (most notably since the new academic year started in October). While you might argue that there haven't really been any 'must see' movies recently, I was wondering whether increasingly short theatrical to retail times was having a big impact on our attendences. The market for classic films may also have been eroded by the advent of DVD - no longer do people have to put up with crappy, blurred transfers on VHS.

    What do you guys think? Has the marketing of DVD (and I guess to an extent the popularisation of home theatre in general) had a big effect on university film societies? Does anyone else here help to run a university film society?
     
  2. DeathStar1

    DeathStar1 Producer

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    I don't know about the university film society, but I DO know that ever since I got a DVD player, I've been going to the movies less and less. I can't even remember the last movie I Saw in the theaters, but if I had to guess, it would probably be Disneys Dinosaur. That's the last one I can remember seeing, anyway.
    Now, the only movies I make a point of seeing, are any CGI film, Star Wars, and Star Trek. And once Wars is finished, that's one less visit to the theater. Why go to the theater, when you get a better version of the film on DVD, with cool extras, for about the same price as a theater visit? Not to mention the fact that a Home Theater can almost provide the movie going experience without leaving your seat.
    If memory serves, widescreen was invented to keep people in the theaters, thanks to the advent of TV. Looks like the movie folks need to come up with a new way to keep people in the current theaters [​IMG].
     
  3. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Cinematographer

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    I still enjoy going to the theater. Pay my $6 for a student ticket, and my $3 for a liter of bottled water, and get the whole theater experience.
     
  4. Ike

    Ike Screenwriter

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    It's a hassle to go to the theater, and deal with the careless crowds.

    Not to mention, the types of films I like (art house independents and foreigns) never come out around me. So I'm left with DVD as my only option.
     
  5. Martin Fontaine

    Martin Fontaine Supporting Actor

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  6. Eric Walsh

    Eric Walsh Stunt Coordinator

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    Going to the movies always gave me mixed feelings, I liked the sound/picture and the "adventure" of it but I hated and still do hate the crowds. So many people talk during movies and that just drives me crazy. When I am home I know that it will be mostly quiet accept for the neighbors, and i enjoy having control over the film. Now with DVD I think that dealing with the downers of the theaters outweigh the benefits and benefits of DVDs and their release dates outweigh the downers of not going to the theaters. What I do wish though is that I could go to a movie theater that was full of people that enjoyed watching movies the way I do....seriously and quietly. But until that day comes I will stay home in my house, waiting for the movies to come to DVD which lucky for me doesn't take that long.
     
  7. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    I still enjoy going to movies for the big screen experience (having a 61" TV is nice, but still isn't like a theater screen, of course). However, the crowds and people sitting around me continue to bother me more and more. Last night I saw Black Hawk Down and during much of the movie someone behind kept - as it sounded - trying to get the last popcorn or candy at the bottom of the box as I kept hearing scratching sounds. Then someone's legs, every 15 minutes or so, bumped the back of my seat. Then...well you get the picture.
     
  8. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Hardly.

    Ok, I'll go more in-depth.

    DVD is NOT a replacement for 35mm film. I went to a film festival in Dahlonega, GA last summer and they had screenings in 35mm, 16mm and video. The animation program I attended was entirely in 35mm and consisted of a few shorts that even the IMDB doesn't list.

    As good as DVD is, it's still only a home video format. When DVD-HD comes out and has the capacity to have PCM uncompressed sound, film quality resolution, and good enough quality to look like film and can be projected on a gigantic theater screen...film could have a run for its money.

    DLP is still with bugs (color and grain problems) and is still not film-like enough.

    You can't attend a full symphony orchestrated presentation of City Lights in your living room. You have to see it in a theater.

    DVD has its place and film has its place.
     
  9. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    I still highly prefer going to the theater, hassles and all, as opposed to viewing at home. Moviegoing is a communal experience. Yes, I've had many times where people talk or answer cellphones or whatever, but it doesn't diminish my desire to leave the house for the afternoon or evening. (Some could say that watching videos at home is the reason for the increase in this kind of behavior, if it has indeed increased.)

    Has it hurt film societies? Possibly. I don't know of any around here, but those times when local art centers are showing, say, Rififi and the DVD is available, I suppose I'm less likely to make the trip.
     
  10. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    Patrick,

    What do you hardly understand?
     
  11. GlenH

    GlenH Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't know if it's just me, but I swear it seems like more people are rude in the theaters nowadays than when I was a teenager. Back then, I almost never had to tell people to be quiet. Now, although I hardly go to the theaters, whenever I do, there are ALWAYS people around speaking throughout the movie. I'm not talking about whispering either. They're usually going at it at full volume. The worst part, no matter how politely you ask them to keep it down, they will ALWAYS throw attitude or just simply refuse. I end up having to yell at them to SHUT THE F--- UP before they'll pipe down. By that time, I'm pissed off and the movie is no longer enjoyable.

    Yup, thanks to DVD and my home theater system, I really don't miss going to the movies at all.

    Glen
     
  12. Derek Williams

    Derek Williams Stunt Coordinator

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    My wife and I go to dinner and a movie 3-4 times a month. The whole experience is what makes it great. We travel all over southern Califorina going to different theaters. The previews is another great reason to go to theaters.
     
  13. Phu Vo

    Phu Vo Stunt Coordinator

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    I rarely go to the theaters anymore, but this has been the case before I was heavy into DVDs (about a year and a half ago). Mainly because going to theaters here in San Jose is such a hassle, prices here are extremely high, and audiences are rude (laser pointers, cell phones, talking, babies crying incessantly, people sneaking in a smoke, teenagers running from security and hiding in the auditoriums, etc). I do prefer to see movies in the theaters only because of the larger then life screen, where I always sit in the front row to make it seem as if the borders of the real world are dissolved and I am right in the movie. Also, yes, sometimes seeing a movie with an audience is much more fun. A good example would be American Pie 2 which I saw in the theaters. But these times are rare and too far between. Now, I will only go to the theaters when the movie is truly worth seeing like LOTR or has been hyped up alot and marketted as being a must see like POTA. And only then, I will go on a Tuesday night when no one is there. Otherwise, if it is a movie in the same wavelength as Enemy at the Gates, that looks good, but isn't a must see, then I will wait for the DVD. Movies are a crap shoot anyway. Literally! There are the few gems that win awards, and every 2 years or so we get a great like SPR or Braveheart, but otherwise, it is mostly disposable commerce, a brief amusing distraction at best. Here at home I have a 70" screen and I only view it from about 9 feet away. DVD's are bought for about 20 bucks (every Tuesday no less) or are continuously rented through Netflix (for about 20 bucks a month).

    ..........And the sound here at home is always turned up loud enough.
     
  14. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    This thread seems to have made a sharp left turn to another topic, that of unpleasant theatrical experiences. To get it back on track re University Film Societies: I wonder if it is a matter of title choice and adequate promotion. Very few students who attend these groups have the money to buy a huge personal collection of classic films. I think that if the movies are chosen carefully (perhaps using a student poll for requests), and the showings and lectures are properly advertised, there need not be so much of a drop in attendance. People (even young people) have less free time than they used to, and so are likely to be more picky about the movies they attend (Wait! That may be a totally ridiculous statement in light of the fact that Adam Sandler and Martin Lawrence movies make big bucks!). But, with a good projection system, universities could utilize DVD for film showings rather than (necessarily) 16mm film,

    thus assuring the best print quality, albeit on a smaller screen. I think that creating an atmosphere of comaraderie among like-minded film fans and offering esoteric films for discussion would put some of this back on track.
     
  15. Ali B

    Ali B Second Unit

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    Thankfully we're lucky enough to have 35mm facilities along with Dolby Surround for the sound. I agree that film selection last term was a bit of a shambles (mainly all blockbusters, and you know what summer 2001 was like for quality blockbusters [​IMG]) but hopefully we have it semi-sorted this term. The point I was trying to get comments on is whether people think that the marketing of DVD as 'cinema in your home' has stopped students, even those with crappy equipment setups, from coming to see films at a real cinema because they think that DVD is as good.
    ali
     
  16. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    Well, DVD is nearly that good. Obviously if you have a pristine 35mm print and great projection equipment, you have a picture superior to DVD. But from my experience there are not many pristine copies of classic films on 35mm (or 16mm) for non-theatrical rental, whereas DVD's are mostly taken from very excellent source material. Then again, the SIZE of the image does create an entirely different emotional effect on viewers and is generally preferable for that reason. If there was a university nearby to me that had regular showings of classics, I would attend, even if I already owned DVD's of some of the titles. But convincing teens and younger adults to do so might take a bit of imagination. Perhaps combining the showing with another related social event (eating usually works). To answer the question more directly, yes, I think that the excellent quality, price and title availablity of DVD would tend to discourage people from physically getting out and attending showings of classic films somewhere, but there will always be those like myself who will make the effort simply to be able to experience some of these great movies on the large screen.
     
  17. Nate Anderson

    Nate Anderson Screenwriter

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    Heh...

    I still go to theatre pretty regularly, mainly because I just like the experience.

    However, I went to a screening of Riding in Cars With Boys at the Student Union last night and there was a woman behind me who was talking through the whole movie and smelled terrible. Woof.

    I finally know what the rest of you are talking about. The nerve of some people. I guess all these years I'd been rather spoiled.

    At least the screening was free.
     
  18. Lin Weiwen

    Lin Weiwen Stunt Coordinator

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    DVD killing film societies? Well....not really. There are still a good number of people who go to theatres to catch the latest films. Yes...DVD technology is bringing the cinematic thrill into our living rooms but can your screen at home match the one at the cinema?
    In fact,DVDs might even lend a helping hand to the birth of more film societies. Interesting ideas and facts revealed in the extra features section bring about discussions and comments from movie buffs. This inevitably leads to the formation of small groups or clubs that pride themselves on the information they gleaned from these materials. Hey, even the forum which we are in now can also be considered as a kind of 'casual' film society. Just that we don't see our fellow members in person.[​IMG]
     
  19. JohnHN

    JohnHN Stunt Coordinator

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    Ali:

    As someone who ran a film society in college, and then helped run one again in grad school, this is an interesting thread for me.

    One issue: what about VHS? My film society days were in the late 70s and early 80s, before the real explosion of VHS. My guess would be that film societies started to take a hit about then, when individual dorms could put on their own showings in the common room, for free. DVD may indeed prove to be the last straw for many college film societies, but it wasn't the first straw.

    One film going experience that's sort of relevant. I went to see It Happened One Night outdoors about a year ago. Nice atmosphere, but very expensive, too much ambient light, a poor print, and the dialog was almost unintelligable. This experience (the atmosphere) was pleasant enough that I would repeat it. But my DVD of the movie, on my RPTV, is superior in every other way.
     
  20. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    Not in New York City. I keep being surprised by how many repertory screenings are selling out. I just recently missed out on a sold out afternoon screening of Jacques Rivette's 4 hour 15 minute long early '70s film L'Amour Fou at the (largish) Walter Reade Theater, which belongs to the New York Film Society. I keep encountering sold out screenings at both the Walter Reade and the Film Forum. I'm so scared now, I'm about to buy tickets for several screenings a month from now.
    That's one reason I love living in New York -- we take are movies very seriously!
    Ted
     

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