Friday, June 17, 2005

Home movies...

Following up on my posts here and here about the movie industry...

CNN is reporting on an AP/AOL News poll which shows that most prefer to watch movies at home.

According to the article:
Hollywood is in the midst of its longest box-office slump in 20 years, and 2005 is shaping up as the worst year for movie attendance in nearly a decade, if theater business continues at the same lackluster rate.
While 73 percent said they preferred staying home to watch movies on DVD, videotape or pay-per-view, 22 percent said they would rather see them at a movie theater, according to the poll conducted for The Associated Press and AOL News by Ipsos.

But it also included this little tidbit:
But the poll found that people who use DVDs, watch pay-per-view movies on cable, download movies from the Internet and play computer games actually go to movies in theaters more than people at the same income levels who don't use those technologies. That suggests the technology may be complementing rather than competing with theatergoing.

If that is indeed the case, then boxoffice woes are not due to the emergence of DVDs and home theatre is it a symptom of a bigger problem? Here's one thought - movies these days are just bad. Okay, disclaimer: I don't get to the theatre very often anymore. Before my son came along, my wife and I would probably average a movie a week, maybe a shade under. But I imagine we were seeing 40 to 50 movies a year in the theatre. Now...I'd guess it's down to about 4 or 5 per year. So, when we go we are highly selective. I say all that to admit that I'm not as familiar with the population of films out there as I was several years ago. Still, let's take a look at a list of films playing at one prominant theatre here in Houston this weekend:

The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3D - never heard of this
Batman Begins - I would really like to see this
Cinderella Man - no desire
Crash - heard positive things about this
High Tension - never heard of this
The Honeymooners - no desire
Howl's Moving Castle - from the maker of Spirited Away (still no desire)
The Longest Yard - no desire
Lords of Dogtown - no desire
Madagascar - we're considering taking Noah to see this
Monster-in-Law - no desire
Mr. & Mrs. Smith - no desire
The Perfect Man - never heard of this
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - no desire
Star Wars III - saw it, not impressed

Yawn...and this is the middle of the blockbuster summer movie season. Of the 15 playing this weekend, a grand total of one movie I really want to see (Batman Begins), one I'm intrigued by (Crash) and one I'd see for my son (Madagascar) (also one I saw and was very disappointed in). There are many variables affecting the slide of Hollywood, but the key is that they are making putrid movies.

I think it's time for another New Hollywood. After my post here on Wednesday, I went out and bought Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. I think there are some reasonable comparisons between the Hollywood of the mid-60s and today...along with many differences. But it's time that good film went mainstream again. One of the big differences between those days and today is the relatively thriving independent movie scene, there are good pictures out there - unfortunately you just have to go hunt for them. They are not at your neighborhood megaplex. This is why when my wife and I do head out to the movies these days, as often as not we skip the megaplex and head to the indie theatre - non-stadium seating and all, it's still a higher quality experience. It's time that someone yank the studios from their slumber and actually start making good movies again, or the box office numbers are going to continue to plummet.

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