I remember as a child, if we were ever planning a trip to the cinemas, we would have to grab the local newspaper to look up what movies were screening and the designated time slot. Once we’d decided which movie to watch, we’d fill up our water bottles and mum would take us to the corner store where we would each choose a mixed lolly bag before heading to the cinemas. This was standard procedure.
Today, there is the beauty of technology. My journey to the cinemas began with a Google search – ‘Hoyts Warrawong session times’ – how else would I find out what’s currently screening? This process was simplified further as I could filter the results based on the day and time I was available. The available film titles flashed up accompanied by an image and synopsis; I considered all of these elements and decided… not to go to the cinemas. That’s right, I faffed around for about 5 minutes, only to decide its too much effort to go to the movie theatre when I can watch whatever I want, at home, for free and be way more comfortable.
The challenge in this task was finding a movie that I deemed worthy of my time (drive 20 minutes to the cinema), effort (put on pants), and money (the price of tickets, fuel and cinema food is a joke). The fact of the matter is that I would prefer to lounge around in the comfort of my own home, free to wear no pants and laugh as loud as I want, for a fraction of the cost… or for free! I believe many Australians would agree with me.
When I have the luxury of downloading or streaming movies online, for free, or purchasing movies online for a fraction of the cost of a movie ticket; why would I spend my time and resources at the cinemas?
Don’t get me wrong, I do see the benefits of watching a new film in the cinemas; you get to be the one of the first to see it and the big screen and surround sound, all makes for a fairly great experience. But there are a number of reasons why I, and many other Aussies, are choosing not to go to the movies as often.
According to Screen Australia (2013), ticket prices are consistently rising with the average ticket price 20% more expensive than 5 years ago. As a university student, struggling to feed myself and pay rent; I prefer not to spend my money on something I can later access for free.
With prices constantly rising, it’s understandable why George Lucas sees the film industry’s future looking something similar to that of Broadway shows. He suggests theatres and screens will be fewer but they will be bigger and more luxurious, films will sit in theatres for several months and the prices will be in excess of $100 (Rosenthal 2014). Now I understand where he’s going with this theory, and maybe he is predicting the future, but I don’t think we’re anywhere near that point in time.
Just because I don’t rate the cinema experience very highly, doesn’t mean I dislike it all together… When Harry Potter came out, I watched each one in theaters. I believe that there is hope for the future of cinemas, people enjoy the experience and many are still attending. Research tells us that in 2012, 69% of Australians attended the movie theatre (that’s not including the kids who sneak in without paying, right?), with the average number of visits being approximately 7 times (Screen Australia 2012). Believe it or not, this is an improvement on 2011; click here to check out the full report from Screen Australia.
Despite the country being filled with people like myself, who generally prefer the home experience to that of the theatre, we are a minority. Movie theatres will continue to live on because it will always be a luxury that people demand. Although the demand may appear to fade, this could simply be a shift in preference and we may see a change in cinemas, as suggested by George Lucas.
Anyway, I’m going to get into bed and watch a movie Let me know what you think!
Screen Australia 2012, Percentage of people who had been to the cinema in the last 12 months, and average number of visits, 1974–2012 Screen Australia, viewed 2nd September 2014, <http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/wcrmattend.aspx#Ran98512>.
Screen Australia 2013, Cinema admission prices in Australia, 1976–2013, Screen Australia, viewed 2nd September 2014, <http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/wcboprices.aspx>.
Rosenthal, E 2014, 10 Filmmaking Heavyweights Predict the Future of Cinema, The Creators Project, blog post, 5th May, viewed 2nd September 2014, <http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/10-expert-opinions-on-the-future-of-film>.