I’ve always had a soft spot for going to the movies, and today, I started to examine how the experience of “going to the show” has changed.
At work today, I talked with a colleague about emerging technology and the film industry. I remember being in junior high school, with my now-ancient Nokia phone, wondering if movie tickets and show times would ever be mobilized.
So much about the movie-going experience has changed, including the venues. As a kid, my dad’s parents took us to the movies because it was the one activity that kept all 10 grandchildren quiet for an extended time frame. We gathered at the Americana West (see left) — now a Powerhouse Gym — in West Bloomfield, MI to see classics from the 90s like Grumpy Old Men, Cool Runnings, and Mr. Holland’s Opus. Instead of spending an arm and a leg at the concession stand, we’d go to the bulk food store across the road and grab bags, priced per pound, full of our desired treats. On occasions when my grandparents wanted to give-in to movie concession cravings, we’d choose popcorn, and one soda, and split it between the 10 of us with dixie cups. There were even times when my grandmother, a true West Bloomfield bubby, would pack her over-sized purse with 10 tuna sandwiches, and 10 bags of grapes. All memories I delight in.
Without the Americana Wests of this world, we’re left with giant Regal and AMC franchises. Even in Astoria, my neighborhood theater, which by New York standards is small, is over-sized and impersonal.
Like my $8 manicures, a movie ticket qualifies itself as an affordable life luxury — a 2-hour escape from reality for around $12.50.
I would be lying, though, if I didn’t acknowledge that there are things wrong with how the industry — from theaters to the films themselves — have changed. We’re seeing more and more sequels, remakes, and reinterpretations of films than we are new, original, and unique material, and it’s disappointing. Help yourselves, Hollywood, or at least make ticket prices cheaper.