The Future of Cinema

Over the past year or so, I’ve become far more interested in film as an artistic medium.  I’ve always enjoyed going to the movies, but I’m beginning to seek out more interesting and unusual fare, particularly the classics.  One reason I’m watching more films from the 1960s-1990s is because so many flicks these days are full of social justice pandering and parroting of the Leftist bromides du jour.  It’s refreshing watching movies in which people act like people, and not drones from the HR or Diversity Departments.

In The Age of The Virus, we’ve been encouraged to stay home and watch TV—a commentary on our diluted sense of “sacrifice” in the twenty-first-century West.  But that’s had an interesting impact on the cinema, by which I mean movie theaters.  With endless content on streaming services and bigger, cheaper televisions, it seems that the old movie palaces and multiplexes are increasingly obsolete.

Regal Cinemas re-shuttered its theaters across the country after making a go at reopening.  When I went to see The Empire Strikes Back and The New Mutants, there were very few people there, even during prime weekend screening times.  The New Mutants was a full-freight flick, but Empire and other classics were just $5!  Even then there were loads of empty seats—and that wasn’t just because of social distancing requirements.  I asked a manager how he was doing and he said, “Well, at least we’ve got some people here tonight.”  It does not sound good for the future of theaters.

But maybe it’s not all bad news.  Yes, consumers have far more choice and selection than ever before, and can access flicks from home via Netflix and Hulu, but part of the magic of the cinema is the theater-going experience.  That’s why the attempt to do “at-home” releases of new movies seems dubious (why pay $20 to stream a new movie when you know in a few months it’ll be on Netflix?).  Alternatively, I’m personally willing to pay $12 to see a new release I really want to see on the big screen—and it’s the one place I’ll spend $6 for a Coke and $7 for a bucket of popcorn.

While at Universal Studios, I noticed that the cinema at Universal City was showing mostly classic films.  I wondered aloud to my brothers if that might be the future of movie theaters:  new releases get a limited run, but timeless classics get returned to the big screen.  There seems to be a real desire to see older films the way they were intended, whereas new releases outside of marquee Marvel releases don’t really need to be seen on the silver screen.

Maybe that’s where the future lies for cinemas:  screening the old beloved classics.  Sure, you can see them on a Sunday afternoon on TBS with a million commercial breaks, or you can stream them on the platform of your choice, but there’s something magical about going to the theater.  I for one loved eating popcorn drizzled in synthetic butter while watching Luke Skywalker whine to Yoda.

abstract analog art camera

Tip The Portly Politico

Support quality commentary on politics, education, culture, and the arts with your one-time donation.

1.00 $

13 thoughts on “The Future of Cinema

  1. Fun article! I was never one for movie theaters but I’m a huge movie fan. When my kids were teenagers, we used to try to hold conversations using catch phrases from movies – it was hilarious! They obviously inherited the ‘movie gene’.

    Two recommendations – I’ve only been able to find them on Amazon Prime ($3.95 to rent to view); Finding Neverland starring Johnny Depp in the best acting of his life (in my humble [wink] opinion), and Miss Potter starring Renee’ Zellweger. Both period pieces done beautifully with wonderful, well rounded characterizations. Both are in my top ten.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. There are a few that I might pay to see in a proper theater, not a concrete box with crappy sound and video, Casablanca for one, and just maybe, Chicago, the musical, and Top Gun, the original one obviously.

    Other than that, if theaters want to survive, they need to make some decent movies, none, zero, zilch, have tempted me in years. And it’s getting worse every year. It’s turning into a Bollywood world. Unless your movie choices are congruent with those of the CCP anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree re: making decent movies. There is a LOT of garbage that the studios are trying to pass off as blockbuster entertainment. I take no joy in witnessing the floundering gasps of the film industry, but they definitely need to come up with ideas other than Marvel movies and ChiCom propaganda to stay alive.

      I think part of the problem is the general malaise our culture is experiencing. Instead of creating new stories and intellectual properties, we’re recycling all the established good ones. Thus, we’re in the perpetual age of the reboot, plundering the recent past for ideas we’re too intellectually bankrupt to create ourselves.

      Liked by 1 person

      • As long as the entertainment industry insists on political correctness (in all its vile forms) it’s not going to happen. There is no story without conflict (not necessarily violent but some kind of disagreement). I can watch paint dry for essentially nothing, at home in my shorts, no need to go to a theater, or even turn on the TV.

        I’m sorry. I like good film/theater/ even ballet as much as anyone, but I wouldn’t walk across the street on a 70 degree day now to see anything they make, it’s all dross.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the last movie I saw in a “proper” theater was Avatar. What few movies I go to I go to at our local “cinema bar/restaurant.” Same-ish big screen, better seating, a full-service bar, and actual food, often with themed items to go with the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve heard of those “cinema bar/restaurant”-type theaters before, and they sound great. The idea of themed items to go with the movie is clever. I think theaters will really have to up the ante re: the theater-going experience if they want to stay in the action.

      Like

      • Yeah, I think so too. Theaters are, after all, in the food & drink industry. That’s where they actually make their money. The movies – even honestly called “attractions” are mostly there just to get people in there. They get enough $$$ as their share of the box office to keep the lights on and payroll met, but their bottom line is based of concession sales, not movies,

        Liked by 1 person

      • Very true, jonolan. I know the movie theater is the one place I’m willing to drop $7 for a Coke. I won’t pay $1.50 for a 20-ounce bottle at a gas station because I know it’s a rip-off, but I’ll happily plop down four times that for a jug of diet sugar water at the multiplex.

        I really love the idea of those Alamo Draft House, et. al., theaters, with a _Medieval Times_ style meal. Imagine eating rotisserie chicken and watching _Return of the Jedi_. Sounds like a fun night out to this portly blogger.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s