It is true also: ticket prices are too high
. I pay for tickets to see all the films I’ve Wayhomered
, and there are few that I felt good about paying that much for. Usually it’s because it’s 3D and that upcharge is so seldom worth it. If a family of four wanted to go see The Muppets
tomorrow night here in Atlanta, that would cost $38. For just around that amount of money, that same family of four could stay home and have a Muppet Film Festival of their own, watching seven films–that’s every single one available from Amazon Instant Video Streaming
. That’s before you throw Netflix or anything else into the mix. We’re used to time-shifting everything now…how many families are waiting, knowing that The Muppets
(or Arthur Christmas
or We Bought a Zoo
–insert family film here) will be out on DVD in three months? And oh look…for The Muppets
, the three-disc Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy plus a coupon that lets you download the soundtrack runs you $34.99 pre-ordered
. And…get this…I bet there’s bonus bits on there and you get to keep the damn thing.
Very true also: the theater experience is shite. Cinemas that are 21+ are fantastic and if they take the experience seriously and actually usher the place, wonderful. If by this point in time you don’t know to silence your cell phone–or you don’t even have the decency to act ashamed when you forget–please Do Not Breed. That family that spent $38 to show up? If their experience isn’t pristine from end to end, Mr. Cinema Manager Type Person, you are making it easier for them to buy the DVD (or Netflix it or stream it) and forget you exist.
Here’s the part that Ebert doesn’t address, because I think it’s hard to measure: I think Hollywood is learning to care less and less about domestic box office performance. Yes, it is still tied inexplicably to executive cred (although if at the end of the day you make money, not sure how you can lose cred over it), but movies are becoming huge performers. When you look with a worldwide lens, the disappointing but pretty (and thus pretty disappointing) Immortals is a powerhouse: $200M+ take. How much will it do with DVD? Blu-Ray? Streaming? How about video game tie-ins for films? Other media? Other spinoff products? The domestic release is, for a lot of films that aren’t as big as, say, Ghost Protocol, an afterthought. So they don’t care that they’re in cinemas for two to three weeks then gone.
What we need to track this is a more comprehensive version of that excellent resource, Box Office Mojo. In addition to theatrical release ticket sales, we need all of the other things that can be counted as revenue for a film. Then we can judge its true impact and not be surprised when the seventh Chipmunks film hits cinemas.
This would also prove the point to domestic cinemas: they need to do whatever they can to keep butts in seats…because they may be the only ones left who have a vested interest in them doing so. I have a sneaking suspicion they’re not going to figure that out until it’s too late.