I saw this news article (click) today. It makes some interesting points about declining attendance at cinemas, and suggests that if young people can’t text during a show, they won’t go. In response, a large American chain is going to stop harping on “turn off your phone”.
What that tells me is that the traditional concept of cinema has actually died, but not quite fallen over.
It doesn’t take a lot of brain power to understand that if you’re watching a film (or a live play, for that matter, in a theatre), it is phenomenally distracting to have some ass with a bright light shining beside you or in front of you. Forgetting, for the moment, that there are assholes who actually make and take calls at these venues, the texting is, by itself, a major detriment to the enjoyment of the show for anyone else who isn’t also engaged in texting.
It may well be true that young people aren’t flocking to cinemas because of the phone restriction. I have no doubt that having to have the phone out of sight for two hours may could be traumatizing for a teen or a twenty-something, especially if there’s no safe space.
However, I would suggest that the real reason people aren’t going to cinemas is three-fold:
Traditional cinema no longer has a realistic business model, and easing up on using phones in cinemas will not save them. In fact, it’s more likely to make things worse as it will start alienating the people who still go to cinemas.
When I was in my 20’s (the 1980’s), I’d go to a movie about twice a week, on average. By the 90’s, it was maybe 2-3 times a month. Now it’s maybe 2-3 times a year. Why? I have the money, but it’s not worth it. Me + Squidette + snacks + (sometimes) parking = $40-$50. Same movie on iTunes is typically $20, and I can watch it as many times as I want on my giant TV. This means that unless there is a truly earth-shattering reason, I’m skipping the cinema. For a person with kids it is even more expensive to go out. It’s just not worth it except for really awesome movies.
So, cinemas of the world: if you want to fill the seats, the answer isn’t “allow texting”… it’s “stop screening bullshit and lower your prices.” If you can’t do that, you will go the way of the buggy-whip salesman.
Comments are closed