I love the cinema too much to actually endure sitting in one. I have fond memories of being a child and visiting the fantastic boutique cinemas to see awesome films like ET, The NeverEnding Story and Ghostbusters.
Yes I remember those experiences vividly, amongst others. Giant multiplex cinemas were still a few years away (from my area at least) and most of these theatres were still privately owned and family operated. There was a passion for cinema back then and the people who ran the places did so out of love. Red patterned carpet, ushers at the door and a bell to sound the start and end of a session. This was a time when mega Hollywood blockbusters were released monthly (if not yearly), unlike now where they're churned out weekly. They were good times. Going to the movies was special… drive-in cinemas were also popular and friends would smuggle friends under blankets, or even in the boot.
These days I hate going to the cinema. My love of movies is just too strong and 7 times out of 10 the experience will be ruined somehow. Our suburbs are dominated by giant multiplexes with 10-20 cinemas under one roof. Logically this allows them to cram in as many films as possible, but in doing so they forgo passion and decent customer service. Not to mention that certain big distributors hold a monopoly on these screens and push smaller releases out.
Candy bar prices are inflated and there’s a lack of staff. One usher represents ALL of the cinemas, which generates all kinds of problems that management doesn't care about. While the film is playing there is lucky to be one cinema-check, if any, and even then it’s less than productive.
While avoiding the cinema I still push myself along to see some of the more epic films. With no word of a lie I would say that 7 out of 10 visits have incurred some kind of technical problem such as glitches, incorrect sound, poorly aligned image and even reels that end without the next one being threaded (if it's not digital).
However, my biggest issue with these giant, overpriced factories is the patrons. The bigger the complex, the worse they are. Last weekend I had the displeasure of watching a movie with an audience full of wankers, dickheads and douchebags. No sooner did the lights dim, people starting hitting Facebook. They talked aloud during the movie, phones rang, screens lit up and seats were kicked. I would have asked people to be quiet if not for the fact I was clearly outnumbered. Oh and don't get me started on the unavoidable, disgusting smell of hotdogs & nachos polluting the room. It is obvious that people do not frequent these places for love of cinema. The multiplexes can suck my balls.
And so these days if I am spending a night at the cinema I will travel further to some of the more boutique, movie-minded places. Unfortunately most of these are in the city. Immediately walking into one of them the atmosphere is different, better. The foyer is remarkably ambient with most people keeping their conversations to themselves. The floor staff are everywhere and ready to assist. Inside the cinema the audience is usually fairly quiet and once the lights dim, they are silent. They are obviously there to watch a movie, not socialise. THIS is how it should be and when the film is over, then by all means start buzzing.
But in today’s world of hi-definition, big screen, home theatre systems its not necessary to experience every release at the cinema. I certainly watch most of them in the comfort of my own home. I wish that a night at the movies was more appealing, but it just isn’t.
Please support the smaller cinemas in your area. They're competing against the big guys and are generally in it for the love of it. The big players don't deserve your loyalty. And even better still, get behind your local film festivals and communities. They do it right!