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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Friday, October 28, 2005

Reflections on the Decline of Movie Going

Yesterday, I saw on the Drudge Report a screaming headline exclaiming that the new King Kong movie will be 3 HOURS LONG!! Moreover, the budget for it had reached nearly 207 MILLION DOLLARS!! I guess it was meant to be reported as a bad thing that Peter Jackson's movie will be way too long, over budget and too expensive. The headline even suggests a sense of glee the movie will be a bomb.

I, however, was excited upon reading that bit of news. It means I will be treated to a memorable movie going experience. On the one hand, a 207 million dollar budget indicates that Peter Jackson is attempting to competently put together a great film. On the other, the three hours tells me I will get my $11.50 worth at the movie.

Generally, the bulk of movies these days tend to travel down one of three roads with regards to genre:

1). The Summer, big popcorn style films designed to capture large, box office sales.

2). Raunchy movies with over the top graphic sex and violence. These films have become more and more prevalent with the move toward independent film making.

3). Propaganda wrapped in some moral tale meant to convey leftist political/religious opinion and bash the Republican, conservative right.

genres #1 and #2 appeal to the unsophisticated, trailer park types who are titilated by bright explosions, simplistic story lines and nudity.

Genre #3 (and somewhat #2), are held up yearly by the self-adulating narcissists in Hollywood and lauded as the greatest masterpieces ever burned to celluloid. They are the winners of the Academy Award and are the darlings of the Cannes festival.

The one thing these movies will regularly have in common is that they tend to be mediocre in production and around somewhere between a hour and a half and two hours in running time. There could probably be much said about mediocre production value, but it is the shortened running time with movies I get annoyed with.

I rarely - and I mean rarely - go to a movie anymore. One obvious reason is that I have kids and a baby sitter has to be scheduled way in advance and only certain movies are worth the hassle of going through finding a sitter. Moreover, the cost of going to the movies is outrageous. Depending on where a person lives, just attending the matinee can be 9 to 10 bucks a person. However, when I do go to the movies and hand over my savings, I want to have a good movie going experience. Meaning, a well done film that is not hurrying to get over. Unless I am watching a Pixar film, I would like my movie to be 2 and half hours or more long. Why would I want to pay 10 bucks to watch what amounts to a couple of TV shows minus the commercials in running time? Many of the great films from the past, like Ben Hur, where nearly 4 hours in length - and well worth the time spent watching.

But, there is this false notion that audiences will refuse to sit through long movies, nor will they make any money in return. Movies like Braveheart, Titanic and the Lord of The Rings trilogy have sufficiently kicked this wrong head notion out the door.

The summer of 2005 was supposedly the worst money making summer for Hollywood films. Many industry people were wringing their hands attempting to determine why this was. Apart from the high cost of going to a movie theater, mediocre films and short running times, let me offer a couple of further personal insights as for the reason for why I don't attend movies.

Brain killing pre-movie commercial advertisement. It use to be when my wife and I would go to a movie, we would arrive maybe 30 minutes before show time to get our seats. Apart from the low murmur from people sitting around us and a slide show flashing movie trivia and benign ads up on the screen, we could talk with each other. With in the last couple of years, we despise showing up early, because our cinema chain believes it is a glorious thing to air a program called The Twenty which is a collection of fast paced, sexually charged music video like ads for various products. They play this program full volume before every movie, including children themed films and it is probably one of the more annoying aspects to movie attending in recent years.

Kids in the movie house. There are typically two types:

First, You have the 14-18 year olds whose parents have dropped them off for the evening with their pals and girlfriends. In some cases, the parents will even buy their tickets to the R rated movie of their choice and then take off. I tell you, nothing sinks my heart more than when I am sitting, waiting for the movie to start, when I see a large mass of 14 year olds parading up the steps to take up the entire row in front of me. They start loud talking and playing pinch and tickle and it makes me want to schedule a beating.

9 AM - Doctor's Appointment
11:30 AM - Meet wife for lunch
1 PM - Find rubber hose and administer unmerciful whipping to loud talking 14 year old with laser pointer.

The second group of kids are the 2-7 year olds brought to an adult themed movie by retard parents. For example, when I went to see Saving Private Ryan, I had to sit next to a stupid couple who brought their 5 year old. He kept repeating "Mommy, I'm scared" through nearly the entire showing. Are his parents criminally insane? Who are these psychos willing to traumatize their kids by subjecting them to hard core R rated films? What is worse is how these parents take their kids to a late night showing of these movies on a school night. I had a friend who taught 5th grade and one of her main complaints was about parents who kept their kids out the night before until 12:30 am to catch a late show. Aren't there child abuse laws for this behavior?

In my mind, kids running riot through out the movie house is enough to deter me from seeing a movie all together and just waiting for it to come out on DVD, which brings me to another insight for the decline of films,

The change in technology. The ability to create a home theater is now available for practically anyone. We just recently visited some friends in Arizona who have a movie room. I stood in awe. Even my kids "Bear in the Big Blue House" videos looked glorious. It entails a digital projector hanging from the ceiling, a DVD player and 5.1 surround sound. The image is not a 60 foot wide screen and our friends need to move away from the DVDs with full screen ratio, but with a system like that, why spend the money at a theater? At least 90 percent of movies are released on DVD 3 to 4 months later, so it is just worth the wait.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Nathan said...

Hey, I thought this was a Christian blog! Which theological Philistines are you smiting with this post?

Okay, I give. I've sat behind a few theater Philistines who needed smiting...

6:42 PM, October 28, 2005  
Blogger BlackCalvinist said...

Well stated, Fred. This one might make the next Blogwatching :)

1:12 PM, October 29, 2005  
Blogger Frank Martens said...

I'm so with ya on this one...

I hardly ever go to the theaters as well, and I don't even have kids! Mostly due to the fact that I don't want to see the sexually explicit crap that flies across almost every movie out there.

And the worst part is, that it's completely random scenes, like they could have gotten away without the scene in the first place and nobody would have noticed! Like Batman for example, the movie was so involved that you would have never noticed if they had left out the whole "fancy dinner" scene where Bruce walks in with two gorgeous girls that end up getting naked and falling into a small water tank with Bruce.

I really hate watching movies because of crap like that.

8:03 AM, October 31, 2005  
Blogger Peter D. Nelson said...

Just a bit of advice from the days when I ran with the rough kids. Fill the hose with sand it makes a more satisfying smack. And when your done hand it off there are a few over here that need it too.

11:44 PM, November 03, 2005  

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