Do Cinemas Need to Die for Movies to Live?

& Ranty.

There’s a story that’s a little too noir to be true. It’s about a group of old wiseguys getting together for the smoky-room meeting to end all smoky-room meetings. The grandfathers of film, coming together one last time to save film. In reality it was probably less Expendables and The Godfather and much more ‘Skypey’ iced sodas.

Anyway, supposedly the solution to saving Film (capital F please) was the revival of 3D movies. Then Avatar came out. Or perhaps High Frame Rates were mentioned (HFR) ala the Hobbit.

People were worried that audiences were watching to many movies at home. The cinemas and theatres needed an edge, something we couldn’t afford at home. Anything to get us away from our DVDs, Blue-Rays and Torrents. Cinemas were encouraged to upgrade their projection gear (and often sounds systems) and ticket prices went up to cover it.

Going to the movies became an expensive date. Dinner and a Movie became Movie. You added some fast food in if you really liked the girl.

People didn’t want to spend that kind of money and see something without expensive booms, wallops and crashes. Why take the risk? Middle range movies have disappeared leaving cinemas filled with giant gorillas like Bonds, Avengers and Hobbits, and the occasional one-in-a-million breakthrough hit like Saw or Paranormal Activity.

The Cabin in the Woods didn’t even get wide release in New Zealand. Some guy called Thor was in it, and it cost $30M American Dollars. Sounds risky… Wait, if that’s considered indie…

Starting to sounds like the graphics-chasing games industry of the last decade, doesn’t it. Our pixels are better than your pixels. Massive AAA titles, taking years to make with hundreds of millions spent on budgets and marketing.

And yet the most creative game stuff is happening in the indie-market. Games like Limbo (beautiful, mysterious and puzzling), or Fez (cute, tough and a complete mindf$*k) and so many more. What they cost to consumers is relative to the expense of the game, so there are multiple price points and game lengths. Creators are experimenting because their risks are lower and less investors are involved, so we’re getting a wide range of games.

Oh, and there’s a complete, sophisticated eco-systems for finding, trialling and paying for these games at home (Xbox Live, Steam etc). Impulse buy style. As a gamer I’ve been waiting years for it, and it’s awesome.

So I’m not sure the future of film is in the Swiss-army-knife cinemas. I think it’s in the living room. And if you changed the cost and distribution of movies, and the audience might just broaden it’s ideas of what a ‘movie’ is.

As always, don’t forget to check out the latest comics and I’d love to discuss this more in the comments, if you have an opinion…

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