This is the only time you are going to see the words “comic” and “book” in this post. Today, I would like to talk about the slow, crawling death of the movie theatre. I don’t want to see it happen, but there have been some telltale signs in my life lately and I thought I should share them with you.
Did you see the Golden Globes this past weekend? To me, it kind of felt like the whole thing was a disguised “In Memoriam” for the medium. Two of the big winners, The Artist and Hugo, romanticize the past in a way traditionally reserved for dead relatives. The Artist depicts a silent film star watching his career fade as a young woman’s career is getting off the ground in talkies. It takes elements (and sometimes entire scenes) from actual silent films and tries to show why that effectively dead format should be remembered and cherished. Talkies took a lot, and eventually all, of the interest away from silent films. These days, there is a parallel between all the fine entertainments available at home taking away interest in going to actual movie theatres.
Hugo features the character of Georges Melies. In real life, he was one of the first true artists of cinema inventing camera tricks and special effects that wowed audiences all over the world. Eventually, he fell into obscurity and, as in the film, ended up working at a candy/toy store in a train station. He did receive praise and awards later on in his life, he is not remembered outside of the most hardcore cinephiles now. Hugo is a fine tribute to his life and work but, judging by its box office, it’s not going to help Melies gain many new fans. Just like the audience lost interest in Melies, perhaps people are just losing interest in seeing movies in theatres.
Movie theatres aren’t doing much to help their case either. I’ve seen three movies in theatres lately: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, and War Horse. Tattoo and Holmes were both at an Empire theatre, and both were too dark. I don’t mean content wise, I mean the screen was actually too dark. My girlfriend’s theory is that they left the 3D lens on, and 3D movies are always darker (something to do with polarizing lenses or something). It was distracting and maybe I’m too nitpicky but it took away from my enjoyment of the films. War Horse was at a Cineplex theatre, and the picture quality was fantastic. But one of the speakers was broken and whenever there was a quiet moment all you could hear was an irritating buzz.
When I watch a movie at home, I never have to worry about those problems. My screen is set up the way I like – I can see and hear everything perfectly. Sure, I don’t have surround sound or a floor to ceiling screen. I also don’t have overpriced food, endless commercials, and irritating people sitting all around me.
I know a lot of this isn’t exactly a news flash. But, I find it telling that now it’s not just viewers talking about this. Now the films themselves seem to be forecasting their eventual demise.
Graham Becksted had a long day and is grumpier than usual. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 50th follower, he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.