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Movies The Almighty Buck

Ebert: I'll Tell You Why Movie Revenue Is Dropping 865

schwit1 writes in with a link to Roger Ebert's webpage where he gives his opinion on the decline of movie industry revenues."According to Ebert movie piracy isn't the problem. He contends that the industry needs to lower prices on tickets and popcorn, keep people off their cell phones, show a wider variety of films, and understand that movie streaming is here to stay. From the article: 'The message I get is that Americans love the movies as much as ever. It's the theaters that are losing their charm. Proof: theaters thrive that police their audiences, show a variety of titles and emphasize value-added features. The rest of the industry can't depend forever on blockbusters to bail it out.'"
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Ebert: I'll Tell You Why Movie Revenue Is Dropping

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  • Also (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:17PM (#38532682) Homepage Journal
    Try coming up with an original idea that doesn't SUCK .
    • Re:Also (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:26PM (#38532782)

      Beat me to it. There must be a bazillion scripts out there that show some originality. While it's true that there are a limited number of plot lines known and catalogued (many from Shakespeare), that's no excuse for slapping CGI and some new actors on a 20 year old script.

      Show us something we haven't seen, with actors we haven't seen. Actually put some effort into finding some new stories. You'll have some bombs, but you won't spend that much to make them with fresh faces and writers, and you'll have some pleasant surprises too.

      • Re:Also (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sk999 ( 846068 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:32PM (#38532874)

        Let us not forget that Shakespeare "stole" many of his plot lines as well.

        • Re:Also (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MyFirstNameIsPaul ( 1552283 ) <> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:45PM (#38533024) Homepage Journal
          What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
          • Ecclesiastes 1:9 (Score:5, Informative)

            by KingAlanI ( 1270538 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @08:00PM (#38533226) Homepage Journal

            that sounds like a translation of Ecclesiastes 1:9 - I suppose it's fitting that the source for that phrase is a book written over 2000 years ago.

      • Re:Also (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @08:04PM (#38533256) Homepage Journal

        There's a limited number of plot lines known, but given the number of Hollywood scriptwriters out there looking for new plot lines, it's hard to say that the problem is with the number of (good) plot lines possible.

        However, I absolutely agree that the key problems are with regurgitated scripts, half-dead actors, a passion for not thinking, and a chronic paranoia towards originality.

        Cinemas are partly to blame - there are occasionally good independent movies. Hell, there are occasionally documentary box-office hits (March of the Penguins out-sold The Fantastic Four first on limited release and then nationally in the multiplexes). The cinemas are quite capable of mixing in all kinds of stuff that might not appeal "to the masses" but which could certainly stuff one seating area full for more than enough showings to make a very healthy profit.

        Also, box-office hits don't remain hits forever. A local cinema, back in the 70s, got Star Wars and retained it in month blocks until the audience numbers fell off. The last month it was retained, the cinema nearly went out of business. It was an expensive film to hold with near-zero audiences at that point. Modern cinemas have obviously far more screens and book in more rational blocks of time, but even so they must be wasting vast sums on holding onto too many copies for too long. Diversifying would not only increase the number of people actually going to the cinema, it would also reduce wastage from excessive rights.

        • Re:Also (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Sancho ( 17056 ) * on Thursday December 29, 2011 @08:15PM (#38533402) Homepage

          However, I absolutely agree that the key problems are with regurgitated scripts, half-dead actors, a passion for not thinking, and a chronic paranoia towards originality.

          Considering I'll rewatch movies multiple times if I enjoy them, "regurgitated scripts" don't bother me. Of course, I quite enjoy originality--though there's precious little of it these days.

          The main thing that keeps me from going to the theater more is the experience. Whether it's people talking loudly (on their phone or to others) or texters who flash their screen at everyone behind them, it's the inconsiderate other patrons who irritate me the most. The other day, I actually sat just behind and to the left of someone who started looking up nudes of one of the actresses in the movie they were in, and continued to look at them for about 10 minutes before I asked him to turn off his phone.

        • Re:Also (Score:5, Interesting)

          by sleigher ( 961421 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:11PM (#38534026)
          Does the fact that they teach you how to write a script in Hollywood have anything to do with it? I mean the studios expect scripts to be written a certain way to even be considered. So they teach people how to write them the right way. Sort of a self fulfilling prophecy no? I mean, looking for originality would mean they have to think, or hire people to think. The quality of movies I see would lead me to believe there isn't much of that happening in Hollywood. But I am just a lowly consumer. What do I know...
          • Re:Also (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Technician ( 215283 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:33PM (#38534732)

            Recycled scrips are OK if there is enough colorful environment and players to make the script interesting.

            Take for example the original Star Wars. It is a western. It did very well at the box office.

            Western you say?

            Yes. Lady loses the ranch to some bad guys in black.
            There is dynamite explosions, a gunfight, a knife fight, a bar fight with shady characters who can provide some needed support, and the hero in white. It is a formula western in a different big valley and more modern horses, knives, and pistols.

      • Re:Also (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:18PM (#38534088) Homepage Journal

        I have been known to spend many hours in libraries reading such things as the congressional record from the 19th century, old trademark and patent gazettes, other very old periodicals and publications, and there are untold thousands of true stories that would make incredible films.

        In the senate testimony during the period after the civil war and reconstruction, during hearings about the KKK, you could create several movies just from the eyewitness testimonies of southern people affected.

        One particularly vivid example was testimony I came across where a community was terrorized - blacks and also whites who were viewed as sympathetic either to blacks or to the union.

        The KKK rode through these places terrorizing the people while wearing blood-red hoods (white hoods came later I guess.)

        Coincidentally some babies were stillborn with deformities that in the eyes of these frightened people looked reminiscent of these red hoods, and the whole community was thrown further into hysteria, referring to them as "ku klux babies" if I remember correctly.

        Now tell me that it's not possible that some decent writer could read through the testimony of these hearings (which were the big national furor of the time) and come up with a very dramatic film? "Based on a true story" etc.

        Wouldn't even have to pay royalties to some comic book company or whatever.

        History and the present is filled with these stories everywhere you look, if you just look. And that's just the non-fiction.

        It's even possible someone could imagine up some mystical humanoids in a fairy-tale like land that aren't even hobbits.

    • Re:Also (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ClintJCL ( 264898 ) <clintjcl+slashdot@ g m a i l . com> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:35PM (#38532902) Homepage Journal
      No, that's not the problem. Ideas aren't worth much. Jack London sold plots for $5. It's not the ideas, it's the implementations.
    • Re:Also (Score:5, Insightful)

      by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:46PM (#38533040) Homepage Journal
      And ditch 3D. Yes, 50% of the audience likes it. But they're going to come anyway, 3D or 2D. Nobody ever refused to go to the cinema because a movie was 2D. The people you need to be concerned about are the 50% who no longer go to the cinema because they hate it.
      • Re:Also (Score:5, Insightful)

        by erko ( 806441 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @08:13PM (#38533362)
        Just because you don't like 3D doesn't mean it should be "ditched".
        I don't go to many movies, but when I do, I look for good movies that are in 3D.
        If a movie has no plot, it doesn't matter if it's in 2D or 3D.
        • Re:Also (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @08:43PM (#38533740) Homepage

          3D is an overpriced and overrated variation that is taking far to much valuable real estate that would be better used attracting a wider audience.

          • Re:Also (Score:5, Insightful)

            by GoChickenFat ( 743372 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @11:38PM (#38535120)
            Your real estate comment doesn't make sense. The same digital projectors are used for 3D and 2D. Most multiplexes have many more houses than they can fill anyway so no "real estate" is waisted by showing 3D. How does not showing 3D attract a wider audience? Almost all multiplexes will show both 2D and 3D versions and YOU get to choose which one you want to pay for. 3D is an additional option that DOES attract wider audiences by providing an additional choice.
      • Re:Also (Score:4, Funny)

        by Ouchie ( 1386333 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @08:14PM (#38533386)

        And ditch 3D. Yes, 50% of the audience likes it. But they're going to come anyway, 3D or 2D. Nobody ever refused to go to the cinema because a movie was 2D. The people you need to be concerned about are the 50% who no longer go to the cinema because they hate it.

        I agree. If I wanted to be sea sick I'd go fishing.

      • Re:Also (Score:5, Funny)

        by Smallpond ( 221300 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @08:23PM (#38533520) Homepage Journal

        And ditch 3D. Yes, 50% of the audience likes it. But they're going to come anyway, 3D or 2D. Nobody ever refused to go to the cinema because a movie was 2D. The people you need to be concerned about are the 50% who no longer go to the cinema because they hate it.

        Also ditch the audio. Talkies are a fad.

        • Re:Also (Score:5, Insightful)

          by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:10PM (#38534022)

          Audio allows for telling a more interesting story. 3D doesn't.

        • Re:Also (Score:4, Informative)

          by Rakarra ( 112805 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:40PM (#38534798)

          And ditch 3D. Yes, 50% of the audience likes it. But they're going to come anyway, 3D or 2D. Nobody ever refused to go to the cinema because a movie was 2D. The people you need to be concerned about are the 50% who no longer go to the cinema because they hate it.

          Also ditch the audio. Talkies are a fad.

          See The Artist if you can. A beautiful silent film recently released. Sound effects and voices are used sparingly in service of the plot. It seems like it would be a boring film given the summary, but it's one of the best movies I've seen this year.

          Unfortunately, it's playing in only 17 theaters nationwide. :(

      • Re:Also (Score:5, Insightful)

        by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @08:57PM (#38533888)
        Don't ditch stereographic 3D outright. Instead, either do it properly or don't do it at all (I agree that at the moment, the two are functionally equivalent, though). This can be done by following two relatively simply rules:
        1) No stereo upconverts. You don't shoot a film in B&W then colourise it (unless you want it to look like ass, especially when colour film is right there), so don't shoot a film in 2D then try and guesstimate some stereo separation. You retard.
        2) Hire a stereographer who will hit you in the back of the head every time you suggest something fly out of the screen. Hard. And repeatedly. Until you learn how the human visual cortex recieves stereo cues and how to work with it to trick the viewer rather than grabbing the optic nerve and yanking it about. *

        The only film I can think of where stereo 3D was done properly has been Avatar. Regardless of what you think about plot originality or hamfisted delivery, it was an excellent use of stereo 3D.

        *I was going to give another analogy of shooting a film in colour and only using BRIGHT BLUE SKY and BRIGHT ORANGE DESERT broad-brush colour grading, but then I remembered the Orange and Teal effect []. On second thought, let's just fire the entire movie industry into the sun and start again.
    • Re:Also (Score:5, Interesting)

      by masmullin ( 1479239 ) <> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @08:10PM (#38533332)

      Original Ideas are usually story driven and dont need a big screen (there are a few exceptions like Matrix & Star Wars)

      Lately the really good original ideas not only don't require a big screen, but they DO require long character development arcs, and require multiple hours to really tell a good story (Breaking Bad, Dexter, Walking Dead).

      So the only reason to really go to a cinema is for the big CGI movies like Transformers, or for "date" movies.

      One last thing, just because a movie is a derivative, it doesn't make it bad. Saving Private Ryan is extremely derivative, but it was a great movie.

    • Re:Also (Score:5, Interesting)

      by midtowng ( 2541986 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @08:18PM (#38533450)
      Hollywood is terrified to making movies with original ideas. Every movie is created by committee in order to appeal to the most demographics. Which translates into a plot that you've seen a million times before. The idea of making a movie that doesn't spend $50 million on special effects and another $50 milllion on big name actors, but instead invests in plot and acting is something only independents do.
      • Re:Also (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:30PM (#38534192)

        Every movie is created by committee in order to appeal to the most demographics.

        Nowadays that includes foreign audiences because roughly half of the revenue from big-budget movies comes from overseas. So they deliberately limit the scripts to what translates easily to any culture, and that leaves pretty much nothing other than famous faces, pretty girls and big explosions.

    • Re:Also (Score:5, Interesting)

      by skribe ( 26534 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:21PM (#38534106) Homepage

      Part of the problem is that there are now so many wardens in the way of new writers that it's almost impossible to get a genuinely original idea to the people with the money (eg. studios). Also it now takes more than having just a great script. You need a great package (insert obvious innuendo here): script, director, star.

      Even then original ideas have to survive the rewrites by writers that are already part of the system. And nearly every writer believes that they can write any script better than the last guy. Everyone wants to rewrite the script: studio, producer, director, star, director's cousin's girlfriend.

      What you tend to end up with is a generic, derivative mess that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the original idea.

      Given the process it's amazing that we have any watchable films at all and that's not even considering the crap that goes on after the cameras start rolling.

  • by arcite ( 661011 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:17PM (#38532694)
    It's all sequels, prequels, and superhero movies. I have a 60 inch HDTV and just watch what I want in my own home theatre now... and my popcorn has real butter on it too!
    • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:22PM (#38532744)
      How can they not be good? They're the same movies they made ten years ago but now with better digital effects!
    • by Ouchie ( 1386333 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @08:18PM (#38533446)

      I have a 60 inch HDTV and just watch what I want in my own home theatre now... and my popcorn has real butter on it too!

      The theaters need to realize that they are competing with home theaters, where the price point is around $2 - $3. I have more choices at home, it is more comfortable, and I don't have to deal with a crowd.

    • Agreed (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LostMyBeaver ( 1226054 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @01:21AM (#38535708)
      One room of my house has been converted into a mini-theater/game room. We have two projectors (the little one I though would be good enough... but wasn't and a much better one which cost me less than $1000 and is REALLY great). It allows us to play multi-player games together, but more importantly, we have a 120" movie screen with surround sound, two couches, bean bag chairs, a popcorn machine, a drink dispenser and a mini-fridge. And no... we're not fat :)

      I built this room up when 3D movies came out. It's too damn hard to find a movie theater anymore where I don't have to wear a shitty pair of plastic glasses that give me head aches from the 3D or the unfamiliar pressure on my temples (sadly I lied about being fat... I have a really fat head... hopefully it means I have room for a bigger brain but more likely is a deformity). Last time I took the family to the theater, it cost me $18 a ticket (I'm in Norway), that's $72 just for tickets. Then two medium buckets of popcorn, 4 drinks and a pack of candy for each of us ran about another $50. That's $122 to go to the movies. Oh... and I had to pay for parking as well. That was another $20. So $142 for a movie. Sometimes we even had to pay for the cheap ass glasses... that adds up to another $20. So, now we're up to $162.

      I can go online and purchase a film from iTunes, it costs $10-$20. If I rent, it's $2-$5. Popcorn costs us about $0.50 a bucket. Drinks cost $1 each. Candy costs $3 a pack (as we tend to purchase over priced, imported reeses peanut butter cups). Worst cast, $39, but more often closer to $29.

      The movie room altogether cost probably about $2000 and since the kids and I spend probably 1/4 of our recreation time in there, it is paid off QUICKLY. Even if we did a movie night every other week, it still would have paid for itself in less than a year.

      We stopped going to the theater for many reasons, but 3D (stupid glasses to see crappy picture quality) is the biggest one. Ticket prices was #2. Parking #3. Overpriced junk food #4.

      OH!!!!! One more thing. Last time I went to the movies, they actually played 40 minutes of advertisements before starting the film. NO SHIT!!! 40 Minutes!!!! I clocked it. After gouging me for a fortune in tickets and junk food... they then forced me to watch 40 minutes of advertisements before seeing the 92 minute film!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!!?!? The kids were already out of drinks before the f-ing advertisements were over.

      For a good laugh... I can buy round trip tickets to London for $100 a person (after taxes and transportation to and from the airport as well as parking), for a total of $400 between us. Then pay about $120 for a motel room for us. Even eating out every meal, we'd save about $10 per meal, or $60 in total. So, $460 for a weekend trip to London for the whole family. $162 times 3 is $486. So it actually costs me less to go to London with the whole family for a weekend than to go to three movies.
  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:18PM (#38532698)

    How about some couches and beer []? It doesn't even have to be that classy; movie theaters have gotten bad enough that the classiness level of a brewpub would be a big improvement.

  • Kids (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ckaminski ( 82854 ) <(moc.redochtrad) (ta) (mapson-todhsals)> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:19PM (#38532716) Homepage
    ok, I like kids.

    But parents need to stop using movie theaters as a way to keep their kids entertained for an afternoon. You come to a movie to see a movie, not to fucking socialize.

    and to that idiot with the laser pointer, be happy I'm an old fuck and have too much to lose to shove it down your pie-hole - sideways.
    • Re:Kids (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jbeaupre ( 752124 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:39PM (#38532930)

      I've wondered if theaters shouldn't go back to the old serials formula. With digital projectors, it can finally work again. It'd be a lot like TV, but more social.

      Every afternoon would have a new episode, from a different series for each day of the week. Make it cheap. Parents could drop their kids off. Kids could socialize. Laser pointer jerk could get it out of his system. An entire system designed to attract the folks you hate. And away from you.

      Evenings and weekends would revert to regular movie showings.

      • Re:Kids (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:07PM (#38533980) Journal

        Our local cinema (and it's a newer less than 10 years old, 8 screens, all digital, new release flicks) shows movies around 11 AM on Tuesday and Thursday during the summer time TOTALLY FREE. They are all kids movies that were released within the last year or two. The place is packed out, and they often have to add showings on other screens to handle the overflow. Daycares bring all their kids, and I see school buses from districts 45 minutes away. Of course parents bring kids (and their friends, etc) too. The kids are usually well behaved, especially considering how many kids are in one theater. So the only money the theater makes is off of concessions. They've been doing this for several years in a row now, so it must pay off.

  • by JavaJones ( 512344 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:21PM (#38532734)

    The Alamo Drafthouse theaters [], mostly in Texas but slowly spreading out (1 in Colorado and one in Virginia now) are superb models of successful customer-friendly theater experiences. Good equipment and seating, first-run movies, a clear and well-enforced no talking/texting policy, and oh yeah, good (yes, actually pretty good) food and *beer*. Not to mention great local events, a variety of special showings and unusual feature runs, and no crappy ads for cars and stuff before the show (instead a series of usually topical shorts or Youtube vids, usually hilarious). They are awesome and I hope they continue to spread.

    - Oshyan

  • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:22PM (#38532740) Homepage Journal

    I agree with every part of this, but the problem is the same as in every area of commerce today: the execs make the decisions and the execs are some of the most arrogant and boneheaded people out there. There is no meritocracy there and the Peter principle is the guiding force.

    They will continue to act on their beliefs and not listen to the real people that matter, the people paying the money, until it is too late.

  • Back in my day... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by twotacocombo ( 1529393 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:23PM (#38532750)
    You saw a movie in the theater, or you didn't see it at all. Further on, you saw it in the theater, or you waited a few years for it to come out on VHS for rental. These days, you see it in the theater, or wait for it to hit Netflix in a matter of months. I'd rather wait a few months and view it in the comfort of my own home, than to go sit with a bunch of ill-mannered heathens, watch 20 minutes of previews, and then shield my eyes from the glow of a hundred cell phones...
    • Re:Back in my day... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:34PM (#38532900)

      You saw a movie in the theater, or you didn't see it at all. Further on, you saw it in the theater, or you waited a few years for it to come out on VHS for rental. These days, you see it in the theater, or wait for it to hit Netflix in a matter of months. I'd rather wait a few months and view it in the comfort of my own home, than to go sit with a bunch of ill-mannered heathens, watch 20 minutes of previews, and then shield my eyes from the glow of a hundred cell phones...

      I was very surprised that theaters stayed in business after home video became commonplace. I think their business actually grew; I suppose people like to go out.

      As for the ill-mannered heathens, I wait until a movie has been out for 2+ weeks, then go on an off night. I occasionally get surprised (~100 people at Sherlock last night), but usually there are only 5-10 people present, no cut-ups or screaming babies.

  • Probably too late (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:24PM (#38532762)

    Unless they halve the prices, why bother? Blu-Ray on a 46" modern TV is most of the experience for cheaper per movie and you can't put a price on the freedom it provides in terms of food, not putting up with jerks and being able to not miss anything if you have to go to the bathroom. Best Buy and Walmart charge prices for new releases that are less than the cost of two tickets to see them in the theaters around here (metro DC).

  • Cooking books (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wowsers ( 1151731 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:27PM (#38532792) Journal
    Maybe if forensic accountants went through Hollywood's REAL accounting books (not the fake accounts they present the public), then they would find all this missing revenue, like how gazzillion $$$ earning films somehow don't break even - yeah right!?!
  • Lose the Popcorn (Score:5, Informative)

    by LBArrettAnderson ( 655246 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:29PM (#38532818)

    The *only* reason that I hate movie theatres is that there are always dozens of people around me who do not know how to eat quietly. Close your mouth before you start chewing (that includes the first chomp). Learn how to grab popcorn without ruffling your hand around for 2 minutes (better yet, lose the popcorn all together! Let's find a quieter food to associate with movies!)

  • Wait, what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:32PM (#38532866)
    Who says movie revenue is dropping?
  • by deniea ( 257313 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:34PM (#38532892)

    On: (dutch!!)

    The main message translates to something like this:
    "in 2011 the ten most visited movies have net resulted in EUR 73 milion. This is higher than the previous year when the top ten only grossed EUR 64,47 milion"

    So what is the problem? About 10% increase doesn't look too bad to me?

  • by Fuzzums ( 250400 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:36PM (#38532910) Homepage

    I just read, you know, like five minutes ago and such, that this was the best year for movie theaters in the Netherlands EVER, so the bs about downloading is killing the movie industry is just that: a big s-load of bs.

  • He's right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:40PM (#38532942)

    He is exactly right. I stopped going to the movies because

    1) Prices are too high.
    2) Sound quality is poor: often too loud, not spaced correctly, distorted, poor surround effect, etc.
    3) People are just so annoying with their damn phones. If it isn't ringing or chirping, it is just very distracting with the super-bright screens every few minutes. Can't you turn the damn thing off and watch the damn movie???
    4) Kids screaming/crying/being annoying, seemingly no matter what time you choose to go.
    5) Poor selection of quality films.

    I can eliminate 1-4 by simply watching at home, with my huge HDTV and properly tuned surround sound system. Number 5 is another whole topic.

    • Re:He's right (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Arrogant-Bastard ( 141720 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @08:39PM (#38533706)
      Add to that list:

      6) Films don't start at announced time. What starts at the announced time are commercials, pro-MPAA propaganda, previews, and charitable solicitations.

      7) Refreshments are marked up about 1000%, served by surly, inefficient, inattentive teenagers who hate their jobs. Also: no beer.

      8) Staff refuse to eject patrons. (Went to see "The Ides of March". Woman in row in front of mine was on cell phone four times during movie. Got out of my seat, fetched manager during the fifth time. She was off it when he finally got there, so he refused to take action. Great. Nothing like having an intense political drama disrupted AND missing part of it.)

      9) Poor projection. Use the right lens, for crying out loud.

      10) Previews that give away the entire movie. (Or, perhaps, moves that suck so tremendously that the preview CAN give away the entire movie, and may in some cases be a superior entertainment experience.)

      11) Movie industry that wants to destroy the Internet. See: SOPA, PIPA, whatever's next.
  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:43PM (#38532986) Homepage

    And that goes for many of the /. comments on this topic.

    Things to consider....

    1. Many people want to see films, but the cost of two tickets, soft drink and a baby sitter starts to approach $100.

    Why not consider day cares in these giant megaplexes. Just saying it'd be an interesting approach.

    2. For the price of a pair of tickets you could own the Blu-Ray. much does it cost to make a DVD? Not much...

    I'd love to see a movie company experiment with a theater to provide the movie on DVD with purchase of tickets. Or simpler, mail your receipt and ticket stubs and get $10 off your DVD.

    Be creative. Realize Americans have less leisure time. Less money. And less happiness.

    Work with us.

    • by BenEnglishAtHome ( 449670 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:22PM (#38534112)

      Why not consider day cares in these giant megaplexes.

      Whatever happened to crying rooms? When I was a kid, small local theaters inevitably had a room in the back, level with and immediately behind the last row, with a large picture window looking out into the theater. The sound was piped into that room. If your kid started crying, you went to the crying room and closed the door. You got to see the movie at the theater, from your regular seat if your kid didn't act up or from a special seat if your kid did. Either way, you got your night out and didn't have to hire a sitter.

      Of course, back then only crying babies were a problem. Toddlers-through-teens sat in their seats and were controlled by their parents (if present) or by the fact that if they acted up their parents would hear about it later from other adults in the theater or from the management. Occasionally, in the very worst of cases and only very rarely, the theater owner would pull a kid out of the theater and sit with him out front until his parents came to pick him up. Said parents then got a full report and the kid was banned from the theater for some space of time.

      Of course, also, back then we believed not only in personal responsibility but in being responsible for your kids, too.

      Now get off my lawn.

  • Two Words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eriks ( 31863 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:44PM (#38532996) Homepage

    Crappy Audio.

    I've been to the movie theater maybe 7 times in the last 10 years. That's how many movies there have been of the requisite quality and type to make me want to actually go to the theater. I've watched nearly 1000 films in the same time period on my home theater system. I don't mind (and can enjoy) loud entertainment, but the louder you make your audio the more important it is that it NOT BE CRAPPY!

    Every movie theater (except one) I've been in the last 10 years has had the audio too loud for the installed system to handle. It's crackly, tinny and rattly. Probably would have sounded BETTER turned down lower, with a compressor to pull up the low parts. If you want high dynamic range, you need good gear.

    I did go to an iMax once. That was awesome, though I didn't see a title filmed with iMax. Havta do that someday. It was good though. Nice loud sound and huge screen.

    So yeah, bad sound, and screens that are TOO SMALL. If I want to watch a movie on a small screen, I'll stay home. I want a HUGE screen. At least 10 meters. Most of the theaters around here have 3-4 meter screens or worse. And the selection is terrible. There are thousands of great films out there, it's just that most of them aren't shown in mainstream theaters.

    How hard is it to set audio levels properly, or invest in clean amplification? That stuff shouldn't be that expensive nowadays.

  • by lsolano ( 398432 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:48PM (#38533070)

    People would think that is better to watch a movie at home because you can drink a beer or two. Or three, it does not matter.

    What is really a 'plus' regarding watching movies at home is that you can actually PAUSE the move to take a pee!

  • by Hamsterdan ( 815291 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:48PM (#38533076)

    I can watch movies at home on a big screen with good sound for under 3k$, my setup is *way* below that...

    -Windows Media Center 2k5 HTPC with 600w 5.1 system, plays about everything I can throw at it.
    -95" screen (1080p projector)
    -Nice '70s comfy couch
    -Popcorn maker in the kitchen, fridge in the living room.

    Why should I go to the theater unless I want to buy a 15$ candy bar?

  • Movies... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <jwsmythe@jwsmy[ ].com ['the' in gap]> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:51PM (#38533114) Homepage Journal

    I think he pretty much hit it...

    I've picked an arbitrary theater in my area, which is the easiest to get to. It has 10 screens.

    If we go to the theater, we usually end up with crappy parking. So a 1/4 mile hike, unless we get lucky.

    Say it's $10 per ticket, plus $10 per person for popcorn and soda (depending on your local market), the per-person price can be $20. That makes $40 for a couple, or close to $80 if you're bringing two kids.. Lets not forget, cost on the popcorn and soda are under $1 per person.

    I don't even care about crying babies, noisy teenagers, people who forgot to shower sitting beside us, sticky floors, or people sending text messages.

    Back when there were an abundance of video rental places, you could cut that $80 down to something more like $5. Now you can rent at Redbox for something like $1.25.

    $80 vs $1.25.. That's a difficult one. So I don't get to see the movie today, I'll be able to see it in a few months. I don't have to be the first to see it. If I want popcorn, pizza, or anything to eat while I'm watching at home, I can. If I find the need to go to the bathroom, I can pause it. If someone calls that I want to talk to, the same.

    In my last house, I had a home theater setup. $1,500 projector, about $4,000 in sound gear. That's roughly 70 movies at home before it breaks even. It also gave me the luxury of watching TV, or playing video games on it.. It's hooked to a cheap PC with DVI output, so we can even watch via Netflix, Hulu, or whatever.

    In my own theater, we always have premium seating. The surround sound is set up for optimal sound on the couch. The couch is at the right distance, so we have the proper field of view. We won't end up with sore necks, like you'd have in the front rows. We aren't offset one way or another, so we only really hear half of the sound, or a sideways view a the movie.

    All that is not necessary for a good viewing experience, but it's nice. :) I'd rather spend the $1.25 over $80 to watch on your average TV.

    I can't find a good reason to go to a theater to watch a movie. The only exception is, to get a movie on release day. We can save the discussion of pirated screeners for another time. We don't watch those. Your piracy habits are your own concern.

  • by SoftwareArtist ( 1472499 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:59PM (#38533218)

    I feel like theaters are doing everything they can to make going to a movie an unpleasant experience. It used to be I could take a book to the theater and read until they turned down the lights. Or if I went with friends, we could chat while waiting for the movie to start. Sure, there were ads showing on the screen while you waited, but they were easy to ignore.

    Then they switched to showing video ads for TV shows, toys, food, upcoming movies, etc., all narrated by an aggressively cheerful person with the volume turned way up. That makes it impossible to carry on a conversation, or to pay attention to a book or much of anything other than the ads. Which I assume is what they want, but it sure makes the whole experience a lot less pleasant and a lot more obnoxious. You'd almost think they didn't want my business.

  • by RyoShin ( 610051 ) <> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @08:08PM (#38533310) Homepage Journal

    (But not necessarily "fix" them; fixing implies the original model was a good one.)

    1) Stick small-group theaters on the end. Slightly smaller screen, only seats 30-40. Attach a lounge room (with a view of the screen) and rent the whole shebang out, medium size companies will eat it up for single-day retreats/training. Great for birthdays on the weekend, or club/group events. Hell, why not fundraising efforts to go with it? Rent to them, they can sell the tickets. When not being rented, show fifth-run/classics for cheap ($2/$3). And when a movie is run like that, run it for a whole week or two, none of this "we'll run it one night and maybe do it again in five months" BS. Put up nice schedules for what will be shown (reservations have to be at least two weeks in advance so there's no rapid changing of the schedule).

    2) Attach a small video rental store to the theater. Those xth-run/classics? When playing them, put a display out front so if someone really likes the movie they can stroll in, buy a copy, stroll out. Offer free movie viewings for frequent rentals (or free rentals for frequent viewings). Maybe make a thing that if they keep their ticket for seeing a first-run in the theater and bring it back when the movie releases to DVD, they get a buck off the movie or something. (Yeah, not many will save the ticket, but it's just one more perk to throw out there.)

    3) Thursday to Sunday, after 8 or 9, put a strict age limit on who can get into higher-rated movies. PG13 can only have 13 YOs and up; Rs 17 and up. Make it 21+ after 11 to get rid of the high school crowd. Seriously tighten down on crying infants, talking, and phone use. Hire a bouncer in more popular theaters to kick out unruly groups (and make sure there are signs that say no refunds if you are).

    4) Actually have the movie start when it says it will start. I'm so sick of going to theaters, sitting down at the stated time, only to sit through 10 minutes of commercials + 15 minutes of previews. I have no problem with commercials on the big screen, just play them before said time. Intermingle these with previews so people actually want to show up a bit early, causing more eyeballs on the commercials.

    5) Reusable 3D glasses. The glasses I got were fine at the end of the movie last time, they'll work for this one, too. Why should I have to pay $2 when I can bring my own? Sell moderate-quality pairs for $15/pop and save the extra fee on the movie. Helps with the whole recycling thing, too.

    There's more I'm forgetting, but these are things I've thought of for a while now.

  • by joh ( 27088 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @08:18PM (#38533442)

    Funny enough I'm the IT guy for a small chain of arthouse theatres and there is no dropping of revenue going on there. Rather the other way round, this year was again better than the last.

    And yes, tickets are rather cheap, concession (drinks, popcorn, etc.) too, there are about 30 different movies on monthly and hardly any of these are Hollywood movies. Still, people love that. They could buy the DVD instead, but they prefer to come into a friendly place, have a talk before and after the movie, drink a nice (and not too expensive) beer from a healthy selection, munch some very cheap and tasty popcorn and generally have a jolly good time. Many come at least once a week. Once you start to realize that there are literally thousands of great movies you've never heard of in the news there's a whole new world to explore. And once you realize that this is not just an "industry" you may even find some nice theatre you really like to go to.

    I would totally agree that you can't rely only on blockbusters. Or on selling expensive beverages.

  • by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:01PM (#38533922)

    Entertainment options have greatly expanded, salaries not so much. So with disposable income being shared with the likes of Angry Birds, movie theaters and other forms of entertainment will suffer (you don't hear the local orchestra whining about piracy despite their stagnant growth, now do you?).

    However, the points made are all valid. It is hard to get a movies experience these days without feeling like your walled has been raped. We smuggle in all our snacks, even though I miss the slushy and popcorn part of the experience. I just don't miss it $5 worth (each). More and more the $8 matinee price irks me too much.

    Long term I am guessing the industry is slitting its own throat. If you price it out of the reach of the younger set, they will grow up without movie going being a habit and part of their cultural view. Long term that will make it very hard to keep a loyal audience as time goes on.

    I'd suggest:

    1) Fairer concession pricing, about 1/3-1/2 off the current prices (still ridiculous, just not full on wallet rape). At least change out the jerky you call a "hot dog" now and then.

    2) Variable movie pricing. Charge more for the blockbusters, but cut me some slack on the crap we all fully know is schlock that my wife or kids just have to see. Maybe we'd get less Micheal Bay crap if we got cut a discount on the flicks that spent less time CGI'ing things blowing up.

    3) Beer and burgers. Seriously. I really like going to the local pub owned theaters that serve real food and real beer (no, your fermented rice water euro owned Bud Light is not beer). They charge just $3 a show for out of date movies in crap venues, but the experience is so much better (sadly the closest one is frustrating far away that I only partake occasionally).

    4) 3D, and its surcharges. Yeah, just stop. Offer no-3D glasses for those of us who don't want to pay the price or get the headaches, but want to spend time with family members who not only tolerate it well, but actually still put value in the novelty. 3D creates more family rifts than you realize.

    5) Cut down on the previews. If I want to spend 20% of my movie time watching ads, I could stay home. Heck, at home I can use my DVR and bloop through them all. So either I watch all your crap ads, or I show up late and get bad seats. What part of that makes me want to be a repeat customer again?

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:05PM (#38533948) Journal

    Point (5), Competition from other choices, is a very real threat to theaters. Home systems approach the apparent screen size (adjusted for distance) and the audio quality of theaters. Home systems exceed theaters in many, many cases, where theaters are ill-maintained as a profit-enhancing measure. And as the subject says, at home I can have the beverage of my choice and the snack of my choice, whereas every Regal has the same five or six snack choices and exactly one brand of soft drink. Great if you like Coke and Malted Milk Balls, otherwise not so much. (At least Century has Starbucks and real ice cream.)

    And going along with (6), lack of choice, another advantage of seeing movies at home is that I can have the four or five martinis necessary to get through another Transformers movie.

    ...But besides that, Ebert is right on target -- there are a whole bunch of movies out there released every single year that are well written, well crafted and enjoyable, but don't have the minimum number of explosions necessary to make it onto the Regal roster. Instead we get identical "blockbusters" playing in two to four theaters apiece, and nuthin' else. All this and sticky floors too. Oh, *and* high prices. Um, and limited snack selection... have I left anything out?

    As Ebert points out, there are exceptions. A couple of theaters in my area allow consumption of alcohol, although in "adults only" rooms so I still can't have a beer when my kid sees Twilight, (and God did I need one) [1]. My living room is still superior in this respect.

    Used to be, our family would see one film a weekend and maybe two or even three over the holidays. I think the last film we saw in theater... you know, I can't remember. Maybe Sherlock Holmes (the first one)?

    And finally, I'd like to add my voice to the plethora of responders who said: (8), if the movies didn't SUCK!.

    [1] That was said in jest [2]. As a matter of fact, my teenage daughter HaaaaaAAAAAtes Twilight, in fact the entire teenie genre, preferring foreign films like "Son of Rambow" and "Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging". I prefer... oh for instance, anything by Duncan Jones.

    [2] We *did* sit through the second Twilight film, solely because I have a lot of respect for Dakota Fanning as an actress. Although, less now...

  • Theatres in Korea (Score:4, Informative)

    by crossmr ( 957846 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:07PM (#38534504) Journal

    The theatres in Korea are always packed. Some of the great things they do:
    1 - Reserved seating, all seats. You can buy your tickets two or three days ahead if you want and make sure you've got your seat for Friday night.
    2 - All major chains have Apps. You can buy your tickets on the app, just show the barcode on your way in (I think you can do this in North America now too)
    3 - Ticket Price - Friday night movie is about $7.78 USD, yes there is a surcharge for 3D or "vibration" seating
    4 - Concession price - A 2 drink and popcorn combo is around $6 USD
    5 - Lobbies full of seating. Waiting for your movie to start? Friends to show up? whatever, there are tables and chairs everywhere. Both inside the main area and down the hallways leading to the theatres themselves if you get in too early and the doors haven't opened up yet.
    6 - They don't confiscate snacks. I've never seen them search bags or anything here. You want to bring something in with you, go right ahead
    7 - Shows nearly around the clock. The first show of the day is at 8-10am, and they will often have showings until 3 or 4 am. At my local theatre, if I wanted to watch Mission Impossible Tomorrow (Saturday) I could choose: 8:30, 8:50, 9:00, 9:00 (special 32 seat theatre), 10:55, 11:40, 11:45, 13:15, 14:20, 14:30, 16:00, 17:00, 17:15, 18:45, 19:20, 19:45, 20:00 (special 32 seat theatre), 21:30, 22:00, 22:20, 22:45 (special 32 seat theatre), 23:00, 00:15, 00:45, 1:00, 1:30 (special 32 seat theatre), 1:45, 3:00. That's a staggering amount of shows available for one day. None of this, afternoon matinee, early evening, late evening, done garbage. The week days are not much different with shows still starting around 10.
    8 - Special theatres. They have a few special theatres around town. Several theatres have some special couple booths for dating. You can buy a ticket for a booth which is a special 2 seat booth with a high back on it. They also have a very nice movie theatre in town which includes a full sit down dinner.
    9 - The theatres don't have much to do with it, but in all the movies I've watched here in the last few years, I've never really heard people talking. You get the odd cell phone screen, but it's mostly just someone checking the time, not someone sitting there texting for a long time causing a distraction.

    Now, not everything is perfect they do make a few mistakes:
    1 - Excessive ads. Really excessive. They even repeat the same ad two times in a row.
    2 - A low amount of actual movie previews. For the 10-20 minutes of pre-movie stuff we sit through we only end up seeing 3-4 actual movie previews. I like trailers.
    3 - Not enough English subtitles. Not their main concern, but about 2 years ago the government made it one of their tourism aims to see Korean movies subtitled in English in theatres. That year one chain ran a pilot project which saw tons of movies made available to the relatively large foreign population living in the country. Near the end of the year they dropped the ball and since then, it's been rather hit or miss trying to see a movie with subtitles. They often go unadvertised, and run for a very short period of time. You basically have to check weekly and if you see English subtitles, drop everything and go see the movie if it is one you wanted to see because you don't even know if they'd be there next week. Sure they all get released on DVD with English subtitles later, but at the least I like to see the big action movies in theatre.

    In the end, I've never been disappointed with a movie going experience in Korea. However, back home in Canada the success rate was not so high. Perhaps around 50/50.

  • by bratwiz ( 635601 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @02:57AM (#38536106)


    My sweetie and I really like watching movies at the theatre. When you fully consider the adventure that awaits, the measly $20-25 bucks you shell out (more if you pay online) to take you and your sweetie out to the movies these days is a real bargain.

    The adventure begins with that long rope line at the door. Its fun to get pressed in with complete strangers and weave your way in and out like cattle to the slaughter working your way up to the pimply-faced kid with the glazed look and speech impediment. Usually I just smile a lot, sign the little ticket and laugh at all their little hand gestures. You know they're so helpful and friendly.

    When you make it past the counter you get another treat as you stand in the line to buy your munchies. For me its always difficult to decide between the little $10 bag of popcorn or the $5 dollar bag of peanut M&M's. Either way I usually wash it down with a $5 dollar cup of sicky-syrupy Coca-Cola. My sweetie likes getting the bottled water for $4 dollars. She says "its decadent and thrilling to pay so much." Frankly, I don't know how they're able to do it without going out of business-- if you went anywhere else you'd have to pay at least $6.50 for it all, maybe less.

    When we finally get our tickets and munchies though, that's when the real fun begins-- negotiating the lobby. Its quite a trick to make it to the other side without getting jostled or run-over by all of the other folks. On Fridays and Saturday nights they have all the really experienced players out on the floor who know all the moves. It can be quite a challenge, but the real rush is when you get to that "Ticket-Taker" boss. Boy that guy is tough. He's got his mumbling down to an art. That's where so many players get tripped-up, trying to figure out if he said five doors down on the left or nine doors down on the right.

    Either way you can get plenty of good exercise walking down that enormous hallway that just goes on forever and ever and ever. One time this old couple came up to us and asked if we knew the way out. They said they'd gotten lost in there and had been wandering around for a long time. Ha ha ha. We knew that was a trick so we sent them down to the mid-level mezzanine! My sweetie and I got a good laugh out of that one.

    Your first break comes when you finally find your theatre and make your way up the steps, past those cans they put out for target practice, over the couple inevitably making-out in the third row, to your seats. And the experience is always heightened, for me at least, by the forty-five minutes of real-estate slides and mind-numbing commercials. They do such a good job of getting you into the mood to watch the show. I especially like the ones that advertise all those fantastic programs you could have watched if you'd stayed home.

    I don't know who thought it up, but kudos to whomever it is that always manages to put the flatulent fat guy in front of us and the ceaselessly talking couple behind us. They're always an excellent choice to distract us from the row of wiggly, whining kids with the constant coughs two rows up. How exciting it is to sit there and experience the delightfully aromatic and aurally invigorating atmosphere while we wait and wonder what mysterious illness we'll surely develop this week. My sweetie and I love the mystery-- last time it was Malaria. This time my sweetie is hoping for Denge Fever while I'm holding out for Whooping Cough.

    Then comes the best part, my favorite part of the whole experience, when they turn down the lights and switch from the really sharp projector showing the slides and commercials to the other projector they have for the movie-- the one with the soft, fuzzy look that makes you have to squint to get it into focus. And they lower down the sound too, which is always a relief. You know right before, while they're still running the commercials its always just blaring. Its good that they can turn it down for the show. We wouldn't want to miss any of those witty comments from the au

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"