Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Cost v. Benefit.

This summer movie season the story has been the precipitous decline in moviegoers.

Not surprising. I have less enthusiasm for the theaters for several reasons, and I suspect that some or all of these play at least a part in this decline. I have summarized them into a handy alliteration--the 5 "Cs".

1. Cost. The steady march upward of a movie ticket is as nearly as predictable as the sun rising. I try to cut costs with matinees--shows starting on or before 5:15, but even those are no fewer than $7.00. If I'm going to pay nearly $10 dollars, there should be something else thrown in like a free detailing of the car while viewing. Short of tangible benefit, I'll save the dollars.

2. Commercials. Adding insult to fiscal injury, as if the extraction of dollars at the ticket window wasn't enough, these folks inundate you with incessant commercials, as if you are watching broadcast television, or listening to the worst violators, A.M. radio broadcasters. Cut the commercials, friends, people are paying the freight to avoid them.

3. Competition. The tipping point between renting and going to the theater is getting very close. One can participate in Blockbuster online, say, at the monthly rate of about $15 (before tax) and watch several movies a week. One movie in the theater at nearly $10 quickly outstrips the rental model.

4. Cacophony. It's getting worse. It used to be that the greatest irritant in the movie house was listening to some uncouth fellow chomping on popcorn with his mouth open. I pine for the good ole' days. It's almost a certainty now that at least one, if not multiple cell phone calls, will intrude on the movie. I realize it's compelling to hear someone talk about Paris Hilton's latest exploits, but I didn't pay for that form of entertainment. What I did pay for is being drowned out by some inane banter on the cell phone(s)--following, of course, the cacophonous ring tones that violate the movie soundtrack/dialog. Cell phones simply add to the other noise of impromptu conversations, children crying or running around the theater, and yes, the pleasant sounds of mastication.

5. Cannibalization. Critics traditionally bemoaned sequels. This phenomenon alone did not perturb me. Couple sequels, however, with ceaseless and curious remakes of old movies (Longest Yard, Herbie), ancient television shows (Bewitched), comic books (too many to list), and perhaps even song lyrics or album covers, it's rather derivative and distressing. Given the pool of incredibly talented, smart and creative people who are desperately trying to break into Hollywood, it's staggering that more original fare doesn't hit the big screen. Recycling becomes the order of the day, and not for environmental purposes. To the contrary, this summer's recycled fare should be cited for its own brand of pollution.