When I first came to live in Canada, Feng got a job working in a movie theatre. We were two penniless travelers and the perspective was very exciting: a job! Free movies! And so we started going to the movies regularly, thanks to the free passes Feng got at work. We’d see pretty much anything and some weeks, we would even complain that we had already watched all the movies. My English wasn’t that good at the time and even though I had to concentrate to get the cultural jokes, I loved the exercise.
Feng quit that job a lot time ago but we still go to the movies a lot, probably more than the average person. We use all kinds of coupons and discounts available to fuel our movie addiction and every once in a while, when we are both tired and bored, we head to the theatre.
In France, where I grew up, American blockbusters were considered bad taste. French can be quite snotty about what they call the “seventh art”—cinematography. Basically, movies are made for the brain and people read critics religiously, praising obscure French movies and flaming Hollywood. Sure, I sometimes hate the shallowness of many mainstream U.S movies but it’s somewhat of a relief to watch movies without a dictionary at hand and the entire works of French philosophers as a reference. I can’t help admiring the way the U.S made entertainment the industry that it is today.
This trip, we didn’t go to the movies much. In Australia, it was ridiculously expensive: at $20 a ticket, we just passed on the opportunity without much regrets. We didn’t really looked for theatres in Malaysia and Southern Thailand because we were too busy soaking up the sun, and in Bangkok, we did like locals do: we bought bootlegs DVD at the market to watch at the hotel.
So when we came back, we were excited at the perspective to catch up on all the movies we missed this winter. Little did we know that 3D movies and fancy upgraded theaters were now the rule.
Okay, let me get that straight: I don’t have anything against 3D movies. Well, of course, I don’t enjoy them—I only have one good eye and you need two to get a 3D effect. But overall, I can’t help thinking 3D movies are just a money-grab, designed to add a surcharge—$3 to $5 per ticket in average. Even though I’m probably not the best person to judge, I’m convinced that 3D doesn’t add much to the experience: to me, it’s just a gimmick. An annoying one though, because as a spectator you often don’t have the choice since most 3D movies are not released in a 2D version anymore.
Our local theater, the Coliseum, also revamped one of the theaters into the “UltraAVX” experience. When we came back, we went to see Sanctum and got sucked into buying tickets for this new theater. Basically, you get reserved seating, reclining seats and possibly better sound (it certainly is louder anyway). I don’t care about reserved seating since we usually go to the movies on Sunday, when it’s not busy, and I can’t say the seats were very comfortable. All in all, I don’t feel like paying $3 more per ticket for the so-called “UltraAVX” experience.
Unfortunately, we discovered that most new movies are screened by default in UltraAVX theater. Last Sunday, we went to see The Adjustement Bureau and had to drive across the city to find a normal non-IMAX, non-3D, non-UltraAX theater. Seriously, Hollywood!
I’m sorry Hollywood, but you are losing the battle against piracy. Charging more for the same movie doesn’t work. I don’t think these kinds of “technical achievements” are the future of the movie industry. I don’t think this is how people are going to get excited again about going to the movies. And for now, I’ll be dusting my DVD collection.