In a world (dramatic voiceover optional), where going to a movie theater can cost more than $8 for a 2D screening, where the cost includes sitting through 20 minutes of local and national ads on top of another 20 minutes of trailers for movies that you may not care to see, the question that remains is “Are you getting your money’s worth?”
As a casual moviegoer, I would have to say no. Over the course of a year, I go out to the theater less than 10 times, rarely seeing the same movie twice in one location. However, out of all of those times, 90% were substantial box-office successes. Why so few trips? I’m a bit picky. If the film includes a favorite director, if I have followed the movie extensively knowing that the movie would be successful at the box office, or if I read the reviews and get some positive word of mouth, then I go. Otherwise, I acknowledge the stats and opinions and let it go. Later when the movie is released on DVD and it shows up in my library or a friend brings it in, I’ll watch it with the aforementioned knowledge and make up my own mind afterwards.
After talking to some people, I can say that some changes are needed to the experience. I prefer to arrive at the theater early and snag my seat; after all, it’s first come first serve. I don’t mind the ads at the beginning, other than I will see them again on my TV or that I’ve already seen it thirty times regardless of whether I’m the intended demographic. However, the movie start time should not include the actual trailers. If I go to a 12:30 showing, I would expect the studio logos or the theater equipment logos (Christie Projectors, DLP, THX, etc.) to be on the screen at 12:30 sharp and not the trailers. The trailers eat up about 15+ minutes of my time, trailers for films that I probably won’t see or if I do, not laugh at the jokes because they were overplayed in the weeks before the premiere.
Another matter is endurance. Alfred Hitchcock said “The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.” The advantage of watching a movie at home on a pausable format is, well, it can be paused to allow for interruptions like a snack raid or when nature calls. In a theater, you miss a few minutes to relieve yourself that cannot be reclaimed. If the price for a 110 minute movie is $8.00 for one person, 2D, and you miss around 3 minutes, you cannot watch the “missing” part of the movie unless you pay more money to see what happened in those 3 minutes, totalling more for the second viewing with the same conditions. It’s more if you wait for the DVD or Blu-ray. Of course, there’s the Pee Run app, but it needs to be used before the lights go down. Or, you could go beforehand or just not drink as much liquid before going.
There’s not only physical endurance but also mental endurance. For me, if a movie runs over two hours, I need to plan enough time to sit and watch it. That is if I’m home. At a theater, I look at the time beforehand and watch the movie, credits and all, before standing up and finding the nearest restroom, going out into the bright, blinding outdoors and trying to find my car.
The $150 movie ticket won’t happen in my lifetime, but it will become more expensive. As a moviegoer, I need to choose my films carefully so that I can get the most bang for my buck. I can never get the time or the money back if the movie was for whatever reason poor. It shouldn’t be a bank-breaking decision but not too convenient where the movie fails to make a profit.