March 23, 2008
Brooks Barnes writes in today's New York Times about the rapidly increasing trend of movie theaters turning into...big screen TVs with channels that play anything but movies. We've all seen the ads for the opera and the KISS reunion concert and Dane Cook Live and whatever else they can think to play in there, but how seriously has anyone really taken it? According to the article, this thing is about to explode. Is that good thing, a bad thing, or nothing? The jury's still out as far as I'm concerned:
“I love film, but the simple fact is that we can’t count on movie attendance to grow...As televisions get bigger and the gap between a film’s theatrical release and DVD release shrinks, exhibitors worry that attendance could slump further."
If it's getting so bad that the decision is to close a theater or else show the opera once a week - bring on the fat lady.
"...the technology needed to show live broadcasts and high-definition films is now accessible enough, and reliable enough, to make this a real market..."
HD on the big screen? Yes.
"...a $40 ticket to hear the New York Philharmonic play at Carnegie Hall gets patrons a balcony seat. At a multiplex, for half that price, customers would get digital surround-sound and a close-up view."
Hmm...for special occasions, it could be nice to have access like this. Hannah Montana is NOT a special occasion. Olympics or a World Cup final or a David Blaine special? Maybe. Maybe.
“Live simulcasts of sporting events or whatever won’t displace the first week of ‘Harry Potter,’ but they might displace the fifth week.”
I'm not a big Potter fan, but the "fifth week" could turn into the second week in no time.
"The New York Mets could not have been happier with a simulcast last August at Ziegfeld Theater in New York, where a live organist and the team mascot led viewers in singalongs as though they were in the ballpark."
NIGHTMARE. People are already acting "as though they were in the ballpark." No need to encourage that behavior.
“It’s less ‘let’s be a movie theater’ and more ‘let’s be a community entertainment destination.’ ”
No no - NO. Let's be a movie theater. That's what it's called, that's what it's for.
I thought I had this straight: movie attendance is declining and Netflix has taken the DVD market through the roof. People want to sit in the comfort of their own homes where they can shout and eat smelly food and run around doing cartwheels and whatever else they love to do in the theater. Don't we have them right where we want them? Nope, let's flood the theaters with them and make me stand in line behind everyone buying tickets for (seriously) The Zula Patrol: Animal Adventures in Space! and the 2007 Drum Corp International World Championship Quarterfinals. And because I just saw this, you can imagine what my line crowd will be wearing.
Seems like a "give an inch, take a mile" situation. A one-time showing on a Tuesday night could quickly become fifteen "events" every weekend and movies only showing on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons before 4:00 PM. Peanut vendors in the aisle, maybe somebody singing "God Bless America" before the trailers. Eventually, voting or texting or interactivity of some sort because humans aren't able to sit and stimulate their imaginations anymore.
Anyway, there's no use debating, it's already happening.
I'm suspicious. You?