Thursday, July 24, 2008

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

By Lon S. Cohen

The age of the summer blockbuster spawned the multiplex and the commoditizing of the movies began in earnest. The movie became a better vehicle to sell toys, cups games, and every other chotcka they could think up than Saturday Morning Cartoons. Like Mel Brooks said as the all-powerful Yogurt in movie Spaceballs, “Merchandizing! Where the real money on the movie is made.”

What directors like Lucas and Spielberg did, by glamorizing the adventure serials they both grew up watching and lovingly paid homage to in Star Wars and Indiana Jones, was to raise the bar for movies almost too high. Whiz! Bang! Became Art. Pop culture became, well, culture. Not since Andy Warhol painted Tomato soup cans did something that was meant to be throwaway and commonplace, become so elevated and expensive to attain.

When duplex theaters became triplexes, which then cloned into so many units in one building we stopped counting and called them multiplexes, our goose was truly cooked. In order to fill all those “plexes,” Hollywood had to churn out enough crap to put in them. Hollywood is nothing if adept at serving up crap when crap is called for.

One can argue the ratio of crummy movies to actual greatness produced year over year from 100 years ago to today, but the fact is that today we do not lack in film quantity. In fact, nowadays with the permutation of digital files, one can fill an iPod to the brim with more video entertainment than there are hours in the day to watch it all. DVDs, iPods, DVR and On-Demand are quickly making even those once modern multiplexes into nostalgic, weed filled expanses of naked blacktop.

So is the movie theater doomed? Maybe. Maybe not.

Next Part IV

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