So it's Friday night, and how did I spend it? That's right, sitting at home watching the chick flick, 'Water for Elephants'. Isn't that what all single young guys do on a Friday night? That or watch 'New Girl' right? ..Or if you really wanna question the meaning of your existence, BOTH!
It wasn't always like this though. This time last week I was enjoying the high life! Going to the Cinema.. in the West End!! I know, I know, I may as well have pulled out a fifty, used it to light my cigar and then tossed it into the fireplace. Such was the level of my 'Big Pimping'. Ah, halcyon days.. halcyon days my friend, halcyon days. (Wikipedia it)
Paying full whack at the Cinema on a weekend, especially in the West End, or at any 'high end' cinema is increasingly becoming a rare 'treat' rather than a regular occurrence.
Because everyone is downloading movies for free, so we need to police the internet, sue the hell out of our audience, or just shut down the internet altogether!
..Or at least that's the response of the billion dollar conglomerates that own Hollywood.
Falling cinema attendance has nothing to do with the fact that people are tired of the same old crap-ass films (so don't go to see them!), or with the fact that the price of a cinema ticket is now extortionately high, not to mention the added price of confectionery or going to see something in dreaded 3-D?
Ah my dear, naïve Hollywood conglomerates, you're starting to fall for the same BS that you've been peddling to us for years!
It's really much simpler than that.
You see, illegal downloads aside, the truth of the matter is, the 'home' experience is not only cheaper than a trip to the silver screen, but it's better too! I'm not talking technologically (not yet anyway), I'm talkin' about the same thing that ruins ALL activities that involve mixing with the public: PEOPLE!!
Yes, that's right; watching movies at home means you get to avoid those animals we call people!
I mean there I was, in a West End Cinema, and it was pretty damn drab. The seats had nothing on my comfy sofa at home.. But the screen and sound system did, so what the hey. People busy chatting away.. it's all good, the film hasn't started yet.. Film starts.. People STILL busy chatting away.. AND! The guy sitting infront of me is tall.. with out of control hair!! Consequently, the bottom centre of the screen was obscured. Luckily, the group he belonged to left half way through the film, but all that time, I couldn't immerse myself in the film.. all I could think was 'should I tell them to shut up?' or 'should I move seats?' 'cos this guy really can't help it if he has a big head, or an unkempt 'fro.
Then there's the iphone/every other smartphone users. Just because you can check Facebook on your phone doesn't mean you should. Not every five minutes anyway.. and not while you're in a cinema! Every now and then flashes of white light beam out of the Cinema seats as people unlock their phones. I seriously think there will be rehab clinics for people that can't stay 'unplugged' from the internet for more than 20 minutes. Kids, get to work on opening up the clinics; we can make a fortune exploiting, I mean 'treating' the sick!
The film I saw was 'Chronicle'. Not excellent, but definitely not bad.. but then we're fed so much rubbish at the Cinema that we go in with low expectations; thus even a half good film suddenly becomes Oscar worthy! 'Chronicle' is pretty much the result of what happened when someone came up with the genius idea of making a superhero film in the same style as 'Cloverfield'. It's a kind of camcorder job.. A high end, state of the art camcorder that captures incredible film quality images & the best sound you could imagine! But you get the idea. Some guy films all this stuff with a camera, and we, the audience, are privy to watching the footage.
It brings me to my next point: The democratisation of film. Making films (with the polished production values we've come to expect) is an expensive proposition.
But the revolution has begun.
Making films is still a very elitist endeavour; it involves a tonne of money, and the same people constantly receiving it; especially in Britain (please note: I continued my rant and wrote HUGE paragraphs on the nigh imposs-iblè task of entering the British film/media industry/the BBC.. if you're not a white middleclass brat educated at Oxbridge.. or if you're just not willing to play 'Cricket' ..By which I mean, pretending to be something you're not. By which I mean pretending to be a white middleclass brat educated at Oxbridge. But I cut those paragraphs out. It just wasn't cricket). As I already mentioned in my previous post, I got my hands on a pretty bad-ass camera last week; the Canon C300.
Someday we're gonna reach the point where camcorders can produce the kind of slick images produced in the movie 'Chronicle' and every other Hollywood film; and they know it. Why do you think the industry is at such pains to push 3-D, even though it adds nothing to the Cinematic experience except a dim picture and a headache?
There's one more thing keeping us from going to the Cinema; the internet. One more thing for Hollywood to compete with. Back in the day it was TV, so what did Hollywood do that time? They came up with a 'Widescreen' picture. This time around their response is 3-D.
They're totally missing the point. Again. Instead of fighting new technology in a desperate bid to maintain their high revenue streams, they need to embrace it. People like watching stuff on their laptops, on the go.. while they're doing other stuff like munching on breakfast or travelling on a train. Give the people what they want!! Don't sue them for doing it!
The same thing is happening with TV. It's not that people don't watch TV anymore.. it's just that they want to watch it when it suits them! Who has time to stop everything to watch a TV programme when it comes on; especially when a quarter of the viewing time is made up of adverts (I really feel for my American chums when it comes to adverts.. I don't know how you've tolerated the bombardment for so long!). Better to wait for the entire series to come on DVD and watch it at your leisure.. or as is the case now, stream it!
The Studio's need to stop trying to impose their will & find a way to make the internet work for them; cater to the needs of their audience.. because if they don't, there's a growing army of Indie filmmakers with DSLR's that will. As I said in my last post; we'll make the content & post it directly to the internet.
Made by us, for people like us.
It would also help if Hollywood spent less time & money pushing 3-D, and used it on developing good stories & scripts instead! ..But that's another debate for another time.
In short, I think that the future of Cinema is healthy. It definitely won't die. I think the actual number of Cinema's will decrease, but the way I see it, the good cinema's will survive and be busier than ever. Also, film production & what we get to see won't be centred around the few giant Hollywood conglomerates that pull all the strings and dictate our tastes; which is good.
There's a whole world of people that love movies out there, and their needs will be met.. if not by the establishment then by others. As more of us are given the opportunity to make films, more of us will learn to make good films, and that's good news for everyone.
Costs will come down because costs NEED to come down. It's scandalous that a film can cost over a hundred million dollars.. and still be crap at the end of it.
The Youtube generation is guiding the way.
There's still gonna be a lot of crap. More crap infact. You just can't get rid of it, especially as more people get to do their own thing, but there will also be a greater choice of crap!
I can't predict the future, all I'm doing is sounding a warning to Hollywood.
Change is coming.