A Movie Rant

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Entertainment at the Byward Market

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.

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

16 Comments

  1. Movie theaters are quite cheap in the Philippines: 3USD … quality of the screen is more or less ok.
    I think 3D is not there to stay… and yes, it is a rip off.

  2. It is the same here…getting expensive especially during the weekends so it is so much cheaper renting DVDs even though we might be behind time heheheh…..it is ok..I can wait 😀

  3. Hollywood really needs to *understand* why piracy is flourishing and lower ticket prices. Incentive for piracy (and its rewards) increases as movie ticket prices go up.

    I wonder if anyone has done a study on whether there is a relationship between ticket prices and piracy… would be interesting. No?

  4. And here I thought I was the only one with one good eye and couldn’t see 3D. The only 3D I was able to see was the one they use in Disneyland (Hong Kong) at Mickey’s Philharmagic (or whatever its called). They use some kind of new technology for that particular 3D. But I had to settle for seeing the 2D version of Avatar in Shanghai because I can’t see 3D. Anyway, it was cheaper!

  5. Likewise, I also prefer European films to Hollywood films.
    French is probably the best.
    Maybe it’s the accent.
    Whatever it is, it sure has this je ne sais quoi factor. 😉

  6. @Jeruen-Netflix is available in Canada but the selection for movies here is very limited!

    I don’t like those glasses either and they are a scam! Theaters are horrible nowadays! They’re the size of malls and charge you obscene amounts for tickets and food!

    I prefer the smaller, more reasonably sized theaters that don’t rip you off! Mayfair and Bytowne Cinema are my two favs!

  7. @Sidney – Wow, $3 is cheap! Used to be the same in Latin America, we would go to the movies all the time. It may have changed now…

    @shionge – Movie theaters were packed in S’pore during the WE, we were impressed! And also you have very late show, i.e. 1 a.m.

    @Neeraj – Somebody must have done that study but I don’t think Hollywood followed it! I completely agree with you. Lower the price of the ticket and people may find their way to the theater again.

    @Jeruen – I think we do have it now, but there aren’t a lot of movies available.

    @Shawn – Never heard of that new 3D, maybe I should try although I doubt it would work for me. Meh. I don’t mind missing on 3D.

    @London Caller – I don’t mind some French movies but Hollywood is cool too, it can be inventive sometimes.

    @Pauline – I agree with you on Netflix, the choice is still too limited. I usually go to Jumbo Video, cheapest place around here. Blockbusters is expensive!

  8. Hey Zhu,

    I agree with you on 3D movies: entirely.

    The more I read your post, the more I concluded that I am doing the right thing: video-on-demand is the new black. I watch any movie in the comfort of my tv room, with delicious popcorns done par moi (from scratch)…top!

    ” 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.”

    Absolutely.

    Awesome article, girl! I’m with you!

    Cheers

  9. i read somewhere that movie companies love 3d because those films can’t be downloaded off the internet without losing their quality.
    i think 3d is just a fad.
    if movie people want to make money making movies, they should concentrate their effort on making good movies.
    i want quality, not gimmics.

    if i want special effects, i’ll spill popcorn and root beer in the toilet. haha. just kidding.

  10. I agree.
    We haven’t been to the movies in over a year now, but we used to go quite regularly. We had once the bad luck to experience 3D and, in addition to the surcharge, we found it very uncomfortable to wear those stupid 3D glasses on top of our regular ones! Don’t they know some people need to wear glasses to see? Are we supposed to all go have a laser surgery to enjoy watching a movie now?

    Needless to say, we have been avoiding the 3D movies ever since (and I’m now addicted to streaming online, hehe).

    • Oh and I forgot to say that there is always a cheap night at the movies (it used to be Tuesday nights, I suppose it’s still the same). The downfall is that it’s usually packed, but we plan for it and get there ahead of the crowd to get good seats! (which is quite easy considering than most people waist their time buying overpriced popcorn) 🙂

    • Oh, I know, these glasses are so uncomfortable! I tried a couple of time because we didn’t have the choice, the movie was only 3D, no 2D version and I don’t think it is worth it.

      We also go on cheap night or use coupons. I don’t mind waiting for a week or two to see a popular movie.

  11. The problem exacerbates here in the middle east where everything is subtitled.

    I’m all for access of information and allowing those folk who don’t speak the language that the movie is scripted in BUT with 3D the subtitles hang (in 3D) in front of the screen (figuratively).

    This creates another depth of field barrier that just hovers there, and because it appears to be the closest thing to you it almost flattens everything else.

    Hate it.

    (don’t get me started on ‘just because a movie is 3D doesn’t make it a great movie’ ie: scripting, acting, movie score etc)

    • I can’t even imagine watching a 3D movie with subtitles! Wow, that must be an eye-straining experience. I had never thought of it actually, funny.

      And I completely agree: 3D is becoming a gimmick but it doesn’t make a great movie. Quite the opposite actually.

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