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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

daily list: 10 reasons why no one is going to the movies

Okay, it’s not that absolutely no one is going to the movies — it’s just that a lot of people do seem to be avoiding the multiplex lately. And you can’t say that it’s because the movies are mostly crap. The movies are always mostly crap — this same time last year saw a huge hit in Wild Hogs, which is as big a piece of shit as any to get vomited out of the studios.

So why aren’t people going to the movies? Here are the top reasons offered in the quick person-in-the-street interviews I conducted this morning:
1. Too worried about Britney Spears’ poor adorable little boys to get out of bed.

2. Raiding kids’ piggy banks for gas money has blown all the discretionary funds.

3. Are you kidding? The new Fox reality hit Who Wants to Reveal Their Innermost Terrors and Anxieties and Make an Utter Shamefaced Fool of Oneself for Not All That Much Money Half of Which Will Go to Taxes Anyway satisfies all my entertainment needs.

4. Still jetlagged from the switch to Daylight Savings Time.

5. New secret drug in drinking water — a project of the TV networks — reduces desire to see movies except on the tube, plus resultant four-hour-plus erection means it’s too embarrassing to leave the house.

6. Laid low by Obama fever.

7. Busy buying baby prezzies for J. Lo.

8. Afraid of catching Teh Gay from Hollyweird.

9. Heard too many movies these days are “subprime” and was afraid watching them would make mortgage reset again.

10. Realphabetizing canned-food collection in preparation for the upcoming collapse of human civilization.

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  • You live in an area (like Pittsburgh), that, when a good movie finally hits your town (like Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) it’s nearly a 40 minute drive to go to the only movie theater that’s playing it.

    Oh, and when someone decides to show the final director’s cut of Blade Runner, they play it on the smallest screen with the oldest sound system in the region.

    I’d love to go to the movies more often, but I want something that’s an interesting movie and not too violent. Don’t tell me I’ll have to wait until the last Indiana Jones movie to go to the theater?

    In the meantime, we’ve temporarily resubscribed to HBO for the sole purpose of seeing John Adams. Our cable provider is having a special where HBO is “only” $7.99 a month for three months. I already have a note on my calendar to cancel it in three months. HBO is sometimes worth $7.99 a month (particularly during the time that John Adams will be on); it’s not worth $17.99 a month.

  • E

    It does bring up the reality of home versus theatre for a lot of people today. My friend has his 100 inch HD projector, surround sound etc, and is overjoyed at the compressed times from major release dates to DVD. I maintain though, that as nice as his setup is, the theatre is where to see it. (He agrees only for action movies)

    It’s not just a big screen for me, but the act of going somewhere else, and being enveloped. Certain movies lose something in the home. I think at home, psychologically, people tend to be more detached and overly analytical of films or feel more comfortable doing so. A good movie will be a good movie anywhere, but I think the impact is upped in a theatre.

    That being said, netflix is the only option for many of us to see such a variety of films.

  • MBI

    Reason #2 is not as much a joke as it is the actual answer to the question.

  • the rook

    another genuine reason may be that the economy just sucks. face it, real wages have not gone up in seven years. meanwhile gas is hitting $4 per gallon, food is getting more expensive and good jobs just aren’t there. going to the movies, buying ceedees and dvds are all discretionary expenses that most people just can’t make anymore.

  • When I was growing up, I was taught to consider the chance to see a movie outside of the house as a luxury. After all, my parents couldn’t always afford to take all four of us kids out to the movies because they were either too busy working multiple jobs and going to night school or else they simply couldn’t afford it.

    Indeed, if it was not the advent of second-run “dollar” theatres in the mid-70s, the number of movies I saw on the big screen as a teenager would be probably less than five.

    To this day, I have more sympathy for those harried parents–all too often single mothers, in my experience–who prefer to watch movies at home so they can keep a proper eye on their kids than those parents who use the local theatres as glorified day care centers.

    Besides, the best movies are meant to be shared. And if you can’t share them at home with the ones you love most, then what’s the point?

  • #1, #2, #3, and #4 reason I haven’t been going is that there hasn’t been any compelling reason to. I am pretty sure the last two movies I saw were In Bruges and Cloverfield… not exactly a lot of flicks for a two-month span.

    I know I’ll be going more this summer, once the big flix start showing. But most of what’s coming out now I’ll be able to see on HBO or Showtime before the year’s out.

  • boz

    Last movie I saw was Matrix Revolutions. Since then I only had a handful of regrets about watching something on dvd (pirates of the carribean was definitely a theater movie :))

  • MaryAnn

    Reason #2 is not as much a joke as it is the actual answer to the question.

    Yes, I think so too. All the other reasons mentioned here in comments are things that have always been true: movies have always mostly sucked, people have always considered going to the movies a bit of a luxury, and yet attendance is still down. So something else is going on.

  • We in the UK are told that our cinemas have gone “American-style”. I haven’t been to see a film in the USA for about twenty years, so I don’t know how it’s changed since then; the experience over here is:

    • Huge sprawling complex a long way from anything else (so that you have to drive to get to it even if you live in town)
    • An attitude that you’re not here to see a film, you’re here to have an Evening Out – so there’s probably a bowling alley (note that bowling is not something that anyone in the UK actually does except as a way to waste time before going to see a film), a nasty restaurant of some sort, and so on. The actual watching of a film is fairly secondary.
    • Vile smells of the food they’re trying to make you buy, both new and old.
    • A sound system that tries to make up for its lack of quality with more volume; most people I know take earplugs.
    • Advertisements. Bozhe moi, the advertisements. And they’re usually even louder than the actual film.
    • A choice between two- or three-month-old blockbusters (for people who still think region-coding is a good idea) or more of the same. Here are the options at my local soulless megaplex.

    All in all I’d rather just watch it on my home-built rig (projectors are much more convenient than a big-screen TV, particularly if you don’t want to watch TV) with a few friends. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

  • bitchen frizzy

    Watching movies at home has a lot to do with it.

    My wife and I watch dozens of movies a year, and the vast majority of them we watch at home. Our setup is very modest and inexpensive by today’s standards, and even so it totally blows away anything I saw in anyone’s home when I was a child. And then there’s DVD’s instead of VHS, and a lot more to choose from since the days of one or two mom-and-pop rental shops within driving distance.

  • Karla

    You forgot how completely obnoxious & unbearable the majority of people in the audience are. That’s one of the biggest issues keeping me away from theaters.

  • Hdj

    There are alot of shittie reasons why people dont go to the movies. For one why go to the movie theater when you can go to the bar and get sauced? Why spend the night in a dark place when you can be in a place talking to other people drinking? I meen why you think you find beer cans on the floor? Because they have to sneak the booze in, so if the counters sell the booze maybe there will be a reason for older people to go.
    And another thing, people are ashamed to go to the movies alone, I do it all the time its not creepy,its not like im wearing a trench coat and nothing else.Or pulling the ol’ hole on the bottom of the popcorn trick

  • MaryAnn

    We in the UK are told that our cinemas have gone “American-style”

    Yes, we get bombarded with ads and the sound is often too loud, but I’ve never seen a bowling alley or a restaurant in a multiplex. But multiplexes in the suburbs are often situated in shopping malls that are more likely amusement parks than places merely to shop, and they may have other attractions like restaurants and skating rings.

  • shoop

    “…which is as big a piece of shit as any to get vomited out of the studios.”

    With all due respect, MA, you’re mixing your bodily elimination metaphors. (I’d add one of those smiling emoticons, but I don’t think that’s dignified.)

    And by the way, this is a really wonderful site. Thanks for being around.

  • Doa766

    I have a huge multiplex two blocks from my appartment but I hardly go there, maybe 4 or 5 times a year to see movies that are only meant for the big screen (transformers) or movies I can’t wait to see (dark knight), otherwise I much rather watch movies at home on blu ray with my big LCD HDTV

    I think I’m rather uncomfortable watching complex movies with other people, like when I went to see there will be blood, the theater was half full but the complet lack of understanding and sense of boredom that those casual movie goers had was palpable on the air, you could see that they were only there because “one missed call” was sold out and they need to see something

    also I considerer myself a peaceful person and I hate violence but when I have someone near me during a movie who can’t shut up or can’t stop making noises with candy wrappers I start thinking on the most painful death I could inflict upon them and how to make their suffering last as much as possible, so another reason I don’t go to the movies much is to keep those thoughts out of my head

  • Pedro

    #11: You can get them on counterfeit for a dollar. Yes, you’ll go to jail if they catch you, but you CAN.

  • joe

    It could be just me but I have 3 big cinemas within 20 minutes of my house and they all play the movies at the same time. 7pm 9:30 and midnight. On date night we get dinner then maybe catch a movie. We are always too late for the 7pm and way too early for the 9:30. When will they smarten up and stagger them? maybe at 6 8 and 10 at on and 5 7 and 11 at another?

    I dont get it

  • MaryAnn

    The theaters are competing with one another. They’re not going to make it easy for you to patronize one of their competitors.

  • joe

    Thats the funny part….they are all owned by the same company (National Amusement – Showcase Cinemas)! It drives me nuts!

  • MaryAnn

    Well, that *is* weird, then.

  • Joey

    In light of all this, what do you make of this AP article?

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5ghvs_Nv2S8Im_l8OjmG7zDT0xjKQD8VAR1O01

    It was published on the first business page of my local paper.

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