I just read a really interesting column from Roger Ebert (you remember him, from Siskel and Ebert back in the day? Movie critic for the Chicago Sun-Times?) about why movie revenue is dropping.
Now I love watching movies. I even hesitantly go to the theater quite a bit, but I hate the theater experience. I am constantly annoyed by other theater-goers who seem to have no common sense, common courtesy, and apparently were raised in a barn. Typical annoyances include texting, talking, putting their feet up on the chairs (especially when it’s right next to my head), answering cell phone calls, coughing consistently, coughing consistently and not covering their mouth, and crying babies.
You’ll see headlines once in a while lamenting the decline in box office revenue. The eggheads in the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) will trip over themselves to blame movie piracy. “EVERYONE IS DOWNLOADING MOVIES ONLINE! WE MUST STOP THEM!” they’ll cry. But it’s really not the case, and Ebert outlines many reasons why in his column.
In a nutshell, his reasons are as follows:
- There wasn’t a huge “The Dark Knight” or “Avatar” type movie this year.
- Ticket prices are too high. They used to be relatively inexpensive compared to other entertainment options (sports/concerts) but that’s no longer the case.
- Moviegoers are tired of the theater experience with the annoyances that I mentioned above.
- People know that it the margin on a trough of popcorn and a corn silo of soda is 4,000%, and they think it’s ridiculous to pay such high prices for treats.
- The movie experience at home has been drastically improved, both in choice of movies to watch, and the technology available to delivery it (streaming, huge TV’s, sound systems.)
- The choice of movies sucks. We get force fed Twilight (which is absolutely godawful cinema) on 18 screens, and high-quality art movies don’t get play outside of large cities.
I think Ebert really hit the ball out of the park on every point. The theater experience sucks, we have to pay in some cases $10-plus to get into a theater, upwards of $50, $60, $70 if we have a family and buy treats, and we could have more choice and a better experience watching things at home.
The MPAA needs to quit scapegoating as to the reasons box office revenue keeps falling year over year, and start looking at re-assessing its broken system of delivering entertainment to the masses.