Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Coming Soon To A Theater Near You: $35 Tickets - Part II

By Lon S. Cohen

Back in the day (A.K.A. the Seventies) when maverick directors were inventing the summer blockbuster, they set in motion a good run of decades long movie seasons where you just had to get to a theater to have the full experience. My little RCA television just couldn’t cut it back then.

Advances in home theater technology have mitigated that experience somewhat but what they haven’t taken away is that awesome shared experience of going to the movie theater to see something great on the big screen. Movies are funnier when everyone is laughing. Movies are more exciting when hundreds of people are all on the edge of their seats. Movie musicals are more musical when everyone is snapping their fingers to the same beat.

What happened? Why does the news media keep crying about the death of the entire movie industry, ala the current crisis in the music industry?

When I was a kid, my mother took me to see Star Wars in the movie theater and we waited on line for hours to get the tickets. For a birthday one year, my father took my sister and I to see a Lassy movie at Radio City Music Hall and during the intermission they had a collie come out and do some tricks. The magic was in the majesty and drama of the actually being in a theater (or outside of one in the pouring rain waiting to find out just what the heck was so good on the inside.)

Both experiences are burned into my brain, and for different reasons, both of which have been lost in the current movie market—not be brought back by sushi and reclining seats. It’s the experience that has gone out of the movie going experience, not the trappings.

Going to a movie was an event. Theaters were cavernous, screens were Bunyonesque and the seats were big cushy things; the floors were carpeted and the curtains were drawn, only to be opened for the newsreel. The theater itself suggested the magic soon to be played out on screen.

Next Part III

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