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Are Movie Theaters days numbered?


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#1 Rick L

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 08:53 PM

Four questions (and I don't mean to sound like a doom and gloom voice, I'm not, just want to plan the best I can for the future). Thank you ahead of time for all your valuable input.

1. Do you think movie theaters are surviving on momentum because people are really not going to the movies that much anymore. They know if they wait a month, they can get the dvd (or pay per view) and watch it in the peace and quiet of their home with no one behind them kicking the chair and/or some idiot near them on a cell phone.

2. Is it possible in the near future for movie theaters to just be a thing of the past, like drive ins? Let's face it, except for one or two good movies a year, no one is flocking to the movie theaters. Maybe except daters and matinee spenders.

3. Let's say if movie theaters are gone, will the small screen be the ideal medium. Small screen meaning tv, lap top, pda? And what will happen to our precious 2.35 aspect ratio, will everything be 16 x 9? (I'm sure people can still film in whatever ratio they want, but probably alot will be on 16 x 9).

4. How does the web play out in all this?


Me personally, I think theaters know they are in trouble so they are trying this new 3D thing hoping that will get people into the theaters, but really, I think, the stories is what get people into the seats. And the stories by and large seem repackaged replicas of older ones. Once in a while, you get surprised. I do think the web will be the delivery of choice for most movies. It may not be called straight to video anymore, but straight to the web, and then you have a selection of different formats to view it on whatever electronic gizmo you have at the time.

I know alot of people from all of walks of life and nobody goes to the movies anymore. They say, either there's nothing good, or they're too broke. So sad for such a beautiful medium as movies. I also think because of the advent of digital movie cameras, content will hit the web so much faster where people won't even need to go to the movies anymore for entertainment because they'll be so fat on content already.

I do believe that movie houses don't have to die. But now a days, what studios put on the big screen, you pretty much can watch that on your small kitchen tv. There's no cinematic feel, or larger than life feel. And the thought of movie theaters disappearing is startling, but I remember drive ins, and they're gone. Is the home the new movie theater?

Thanks for reading and for your thoughts,
Rick





Thanks
Rick
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#2 Justin Hayward

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 09:36 PM

I don't mean to sound like a doom and gloom voice, I'm not, just want to plan the best I can for the future).


Yes, I imagine in the next few years or so it takes you to make your film, there will still be movie theaters. ;)

I hear what you're scream'n, though.
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#3 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 11:34 PM

As long a teenagers who need a place to make out without there parents being there, here will always be movie theater balconies, and where there are movie theater balconies, you gotta have a movie theater to b ut them it. B)
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 08:16 AM

James, perhaps the best answer to that question, ever!

I doubt theaters are going anywhere. Even if you only get one blockbuster per year in a theater... that's still a substantial amount of money into the studio's coffers.
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#5 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 02:09 PM

My friend runs a local repertoire cinema. Lots of classics, out-of the-way documentaries, foreign films, cult midnight movies, children matinee shows, DIY activist movies, local indie festivals, comedy and variety shows, you name it. That is what he has to do to stay in business. The upside is that his movie theater as an A/V community center that caters to the local tastes and needs is hard to compete with. So by diversifying he has a better shot to withstand the advent of "internet cinema" (Netflix does pose a more serious threat to him than the big multiplex theaters). Sometimes he soberly thinks he's got another five years or less in the business for other reasons as well (space rental, etc), but let's not make mistake about it, the threat to movie theaters is all to real.

As for the big multiplex cinemas, 3D may do the trick, but the larger problem is that there are too many movies competing for a smaller pool of viewers. TV, cable, the internet, DVD rentals they all take away viewers from movie theaters. I personally think that soon most smaller movies will be released online only (PPV style) by web-savvy distributors. Hulu definitely is a model to follow, as long as they make profits. Eventually, the internet may be the only place to watch movies from, for better or for worse. I hope I am wrong and there are always small indie movie theaters around to go hang out and watch some celluloid. If the return of older "dead" technologies, such as vinyl is any indication, I am sure film movie shows at movie theaters will stick around for a while still . . .
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#6 Richard Boddington

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 02:36 PM

2. Is it possible in the near future for movie theaters to just be a thing of the past, like drive ins? Let's face it, except for one or two good movies a year, no one is flocking to the movie theaters. Maybe except daters and matinee spenders.


Do you have hard data for this? I thought all the stats where saying that movie theatres are busier than ever and seeing record attendance? My local CinePlex is packed to the rafters every Friday and Saturday night, the lines are terrible. Do I live in the only area where people are flocking to the movie theater?

The recession did a great job at boosting Hollywood's bottom line. The only thing the news media can serve up is grim employment data, house foreclosures, and non-stop war.

Who wouldn't say to hell with it and go watch a movie under that scenario?

R,
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#7 Justin Hayward

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 02:47 PM

As long a teenagers who need a place to make out without there parents being there, here will always be movie theater balconies


Transformers made over four hundred million dollars this summer. Teenagers don't want to sit at home with their parents on Friday nights.

Good movies playing in movie theaters? Those may be numbered. :P
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#8 Rick L

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 04:11 PM

No, I don't have hard data for this, as I posed all of this as a question. You're saying the theaters are full, they're full now, but what about later, I'm looking at the forecast, not now. And as Saul mentioned, his friend is doing everything he can do to just stay in business. Yes, the studios probably will find a way to always make money, but as far as the theaters themselves, even the big cineplex ones, they're running on a very old system.

Yes, Transformers made alot of money, that's one movie out of the hundreds that pass through the theater every year. And as far as teenagers, they don't have to sit in the theater, they can go sit in a parking lot, especially true if they don't have money. And as many people know, the theaters make most of their money off their concessions anyway, but if there's no people to buy popcorn, how will they stay in business? They only make a small percentage on each ticket.

I think what's happening with film people is (possibly) they're so emotionally attached to movies in the traditional sense that if you tell them things can shift strongly in one direction, they take it personally because they're not flexible. I love movies more than anyone, that's why I want to make sure I'm going in the right direction, not looking to how things are now, but later.

Just food for thought...
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#9 Justin Hayward

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 06:17 PM

I want to make sure I'm going in the right direction, not looking to how things are now, but later.


Are you in development of something right now? And if so, how would you make your movie differently if we all told you, "Yes, movie theaters will be abolished in less than a year"?

In other words, what would you feel is the "right direction" if movie theaters were going away for sure? Tighter shots?
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#10 Keith Walters

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 06:49 PM

The short answer is: The days of movie theatres as we know them now may be numbered, but they always seem to find a way to adapt and come back stronger than before.

My first memories of movie theatres was back in the late 1950s, just when TV viewing was starting to seriously eat into attendances. One part of this was probably due to people deciding that the money they spent going to movies could be better put toward paying off a TV set, but a major part of it would have been the colossal arrogance shown by both distributors and theatre owners.

How many people nowadays know what a "B" movie actually means?

Basically, your typical evening's programming back then was a long string of advertising slides, followed by a short or a cartoon, then more ads, then a "B" movie, then an intermission, then sometimes more ads, then the "A" feature, (which was what you sat through the other crap in order to watch), and you usually got home around 11PM (and later at a drive-in, since the show couldn't start until it was dark, which could be after 8:30PM with daylight saving).

Theatre owners had very little say in what films they could show, and they were prohibited (at least in this country) from just showing the "A" feature so everyone could get home to bed at a respectable hour. No wonder TV seemed such a attractive alternative. "B" movies may have at least provided a training ground for up-and-coming producers etc, but I can remember sitting through some truly diabolical ones.

It took a long long time, but distributors and exhibitors eventually hit on the current formula, of a larger range of smaller cinemas, "cut-to-the-chase" exhibition of the feature that people actually came to see, and something that's often completely overlooked, really good sound systems that are simply not practical in the average home.

Eventually if and when digital projectors start to fill in all the blanks (affordability, reliability, quality, ease of use) what you will probably start to see is cinemas with flexible programming more like that of TV channels. Live coverage of major sporting events is one possibility.
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 07:07 PM

I posted this before, but here's a headline from a magazine called "CAMERA!", published in May 1923:

PICTURE THEATRES MAY VANISH IN TEN YEARS

The gist of the article was that attendance at movie theaters had dropped by the early 1920's because audiences needed to be educated that movies had evolved beyond the simple nickelodeon experience -- an example given was Universal's latest big-budget movie, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" starring Lon Chaney. "We must enlighten the public, then retain their confidence" stated the director.
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#12 timHealy

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 07:42 PM

Eventually if and when digital projectors start to fill in all the blanks (affordability, reliability, quality, ease of use) what you will probably start to see is cinemas with flexible programming more like that of TV channels. Live coverage of major sporting events is one possibility.


I agree with Keith's thoughts here.

best

Tim
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#13 Rick L

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 07:53 PM

I started this thread to glean off any knowledge anyone wants to impart and hopefully hear other people's perspective on things. I do understand that during the depression, the entertainment industry kept climbing, and also that theaters do bounce back. But I think with the advent of the web and now as it's so increasingly fast, theaters could be history like music stores and video rental stores. I think it could only go so far until people on both sides start to divert their money elsewhere.

This is all discussion, not trying to get anyone mad here.

Let's say the web came out in oh...1965 when drive ins where the in thing. could you see the big movie screen continue as theater houses or would have the web stopped movie theaters as we know it today from being created?

Personally, I think the small screen is the future until "Movie Theaters" re-invents itself, assuming that does happen.

I just think when movies can't even last in a theater a month, there's a much deeper problem that no one wants to look at. Maybe it's the movies themselves.
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#14 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 08:56 PM

This is all discussion, not trying to get anyone mad here.


Yup, that happens all too often around here. Try to get a bunch of anal retentive Alpha camera guys and gals such as ourselves (lol) to agree on something and things get hot real fast. Gotta take the good with the bad.
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#15 Rick L

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 09:33 PM

Yup, that happens all too often around here. Try to get a bunch of anal retentive Alpha camera guys and gals such as ourselves (lol) to agree on something and things get hot real fast. Gotta take the good with the bad.



Thanks for the encouragement Saul, and for proving there's always an ally in a valiant fight.

The fight to see farther.
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#16 Keith Walters

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 10:12 PM

Let's say the web came out in oh...1965 when drive ins where the in thing. could you see the big movie screen continue as theater houses or would have the web stopped movie theaters as we know it today from being created?



The main attractions of cinemas are the huge screen, the (hopefully) superior sound, and the "communal" experience. Home cinema is never going to be able to recreate that on any affordable basis, and the vast majority of movie patrons are not tech-freaks anyway. Basically it's a relatively cheap outing in a clean and safe environment, which doesn't usually involve the sale of alcohol.

Video (VHS and Betamax) rentals first started to proliferate about 30 years ago. They didn't have all that much impact on main-street cinemas, but they killed drive-ins almost instantly.

Drive-ins used to be the lowest common denominator for people who weren't happy with what the TV stations had to offer. You could put your kids in the back seat in their pyjamas where they would with any luck doze off after an hour or so, leaving you in peace.

Video rental rapidly became the new LCN. A trip to the rental library, a stopoff at KFC, and there's your Friday evening's entertainment.

I know of lots of people who have downloaded movies from the Internet, very few seem to have done it more than a few times. It's far easier just to go to your local Blockbuster; it's not like DVD movie rentals are expensive or anything.

And if it does become practical for Joe Consumer to directly download his films, you're really only cutting a small slice out of the scenario.
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#17 Rick L

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 11:04 PM

Insightful, thank you Keith.
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#18 Thomas James

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 11:40 AM

What I think is happening is that we have reached a point in the cutting edge of technology where an argument can be made that one receives better picture quality at home rather than at the movie theatre. With the overwhelming influx of HDTV's coupled with the availabilty of cheap $99 Blu-Ray players and discs that can be rented for a buck why does one have to go to the movie theatre anymore? With the advent of the 120 hertz television what this means is that everyone can now see an action movie in a quasi Showscan format which like it or not is something you can not get at the movie theatre. Alternatives to the Showscan format may include shooting action movies at 24 frames per second with a 45 degree shutter. This way motion blur is reduced and the film look is maintained.

Big screens at movie theatres are nice but unless one sees 70mm projection the resolution will not hold up to the big screen so it becomes self defeating.

What theatres will have to do will be to reinvent themselves to compete with the home theatre. 4K digital projection will be introduced but in order to exploit this format 65mm film origination will be a must. 2K digital projection may also be the gold standard but new gimmicks such as 3D and digital live Showscan will have to be introduced in order for 2K to rival 4K. In the future more radical technologies such as Cinerama and IMAX Dome will have to go mainstream in an attempt to put the audience inside of the picture.

Theatre owners will balk at all this new technology and claim that because there is a recession technology must go backwards
but this is the worst thing that they can do. During the last depression the studios fought the introduction of color claiming that the economic environment could not support such a lavish format. However what inevitably happened was the further depression of ticket sales because what was not realized was the fact that poor people in the 1930's used what little money they had and went to see the color movies so they could forget about the hard times.
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#19 Paul Bruening

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 12:12 PM

As Keith has mentioned, the movie going experience is just that, an experience. While the home experience is getting better and better, you can't get that "special" feeling about yourself unless you go out to do something. Just as it has been for almost a hundred years, now, since movies have been around. What are you going to do when you go out? The choices are roughly the same as they've been all last century. A home projector and big screen TV are nice. But, they can't give you that experience like a theater.

Remember the movie About Schmit? A little movie, right? Except, more than half of the audience was in tears at credits' roll when I went. A group creates its own energy. You can feel it whooshing through you during an effective movie. It feels great. One of the reasons people react this way is because the screen is so big and the sound is so captivating. The movie has a chance to become immersive for the viewers both individually and as a group.
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#20 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 03:36 PM

As Keith has mentioned, the movie going experience is just that, an experience. While the home experience is getting better and better, you can't get that "special" feeling about yourself unless you go out to do something. Just as it has been for almost a hundred years, now, since movies have been around. What are you going to do when you go out? The choices are roughly the same as they've been all last century. A home projector and big screen TV are nice. But, they can't give you that experience like a theater.

Remember the movie About Schmit? A little movie, right? Except, more than half of the audience was in tears at credits' roll when I went. A group creates its own energy. You can feel it whooshing through you during an effective movie. It feels great. One of the reasons people react this way is because the screen is so big and the sound is so captivating. The movie has a chance to become immersive for the viewers both individually and as a group.


I agree. Many people want and have to get out of the house for their psychological well-being.
I do not believe that things will degenerate to the point where everyone turns into a couch potato zombie.
Has downloaded music killed concerts?
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