The Future beyond the movie theater

posted by HowardBHaas on June 25, 2009 at 7:45 am

A piece discusses the steps we’re taking to get closer to feature films being primarily released online.

But online distribution remains an insignificant factor in the film economy (if anything, movie theaters are thriving in the current recession), and it represents a tiny proportion of the video watched on computer screens. One could argue, in fact, that feature films and the Internet are mismatched forms of media; the former demands long stretches of undivided attention while the latter thrives on multitasking, rapid response time and brief info-bursts. When was the last time you spent 90 minutes or more sitting at your computer and looking at the same thing?</blockquote.

Comments (9)

CinemarkFan on June 25, 2009 at 12:07 pm

It will never happen for all movies. It may work for some indie productions, but for the most part, people still want the experience of being with others. We have it hardwired in our minds that we want to sit with a large crowd, laugh together, cry together, jump out of seats during scary movies, hold hands & cuddle with your date etc.. When was the last time a couple connected while looking at a computer monitor? And look at how many people met future spouses at a theater. And what about the number of fathers who connected with their children while at a theater? And this is a high number, since taking your teenage son to see “Die Hard” is cheaper than going to a sports game.

And then there’s women, who are social beings moreso than men (IMO), and will not settle for being parked on a couch for long.

If (a strong IF) movies/theaters begin to decline in favor for other activites, then Hollywood will go back and take a page from the 50s, and invent new ways to make movies bigger and brighter. Digital projection ain’t it, because thanks to the end of analog broadcasting, we’re now seeing it everyday for free. 3-D? Nope, because again, in a few years, you’ll be able to see a 3-D film on blu-ray. IMAX? No again, because thanks to the digital version, called LIEMAX or MiniMAX, the IMAX corporation just bended over & w—-ed themselves out in favor of getting rid of what works, which is large format FILM. But hey, they got a few extra dollars out of the deal.

So what will bail out the theatrical industry in the future? It’s very simple folks, FILM. No, 35mm is getting it’s last rites read by chains like AMC, Regal, etc… I’m talking about the one format that digital is 100+ years from trying to top. I’m talking about the format that digital Hollywood is trying to shield young moviegoers/filmmakers from. That is 70mm. People, if filmmakers began to shoot movies like “Star Trek” and “Harry Potter” in 65mm, with selected prints in 70mm, then this whole talk about 3-D this, Christie digital that would be over and done. People who’ve witnessed Rob Weisgerber’s Super Dimension 70 format have said it is 3-D without glasses. And for 70mm or any 70mm variation to work in today’s times, it can not under any circumstances be commercialized. That’s part of why 3-D will eventually wear thin, and that’s one of the reasons why IMAX is slowly but surely losing steam. They had a great thing with TDK’s selected scenes for the format, but they had to get greedy & convert conventional screens into screens that look like a bigger version of 1.85: 1.

70mm is something that can’t be put in a mall megaplex every 2 miles, but limit it to a premier theater in a downtown area. The kind of location that people will drive/commute 100 miles or more to if they really want to see said movie.

In a long awaited conclusion, if movie theaters are to survive into a the long term, the industry needs to be thinking a little more this, and less of this.

carolgrau on June 26, 2009 at 5:46 am

Well put,only one problem. How many Downtown Theatre’s are left? I agree with you though, and that would be great.

markp on June 26, 2009 at 7:14 am

Well, as usual, my friend on CT, CinemarkFan has hit the nail square on the head. He knows my feelings on this subject, no need to go there. I agree with everything he said 1,000%. As for norelco’s comment on downtown theatres, while so many have been lost, many remain. I can only speak for my little corner of the world here in New Jersey, but within a 40 mile radius from my house, we have a theatre that funtions everyday as a performing arts center, the Count Basie in Red Bank, 1500 seats, with a complete operating projection booth. ( I know, I’m the house projectionist.) Then to the north are 2 georgous palaces that sit and wait. One I spoke of many times, the 2760 seat Ritz in Elizabeth, and the other, I just recently found out is still standing, the 2800 seat Montauk in Passaic. ( The latter has a recently posted slide show link from here on CT ) My cousin from North Carolina just viewed the slide show, and said to me, “imagine sitting there with 2800 other people elbow to elbow watching a movie”. THAT’S what movies are all about, and to have 70MM on giant screens is something we need to get back too. And the industry needs to go back to the days of “Limited Engagements” where a film only played on select screens for a while before a wider release. It can be done, but the film companies are to worried that the video release dates would have to be pushed back. But I’m all for seeing big palaces saved, and CinemarkFan’s idea has my vote.

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on June 26, 2009 at 7:34 am

70mm as feature film exhibition format is dead as a doornail. It ended when the industry began enlarging standard 35mm film onto 70mm prints. The exhibitors added to the downturn by not equipping their theatres with screens big enough to take advantage of the 70mm format. I remember seeing a 70mm film shown in one of Toronto’s downtown cinemas projected up on a tiny flat screen with an image smaller, yes I said smaller, than their standard 1.85 35mm presentation – no one was impressed. Mike Todd had the right idea when he originated his Todd-AO process back in the 50’s: project large format 70mm prints onto gigantic curved screens and treat the movie as a special event – not simply as a preview of what the local video store will be hawking 3 months down the road.

JodarMovieFan on June 26, 2009 at 8:46 am

I’ve recently returned from a vacation overseas and I would like to share the fact that in many areas, the prevalence of movie piracy is quite rampant. All it takes is a one or two people in a town and a storage device (USB pen drive, DVD, etc) to distribute them for free or little cost. Its no wonder movie houses are dying. If you can download it for free and its a good copy, many are, why pay?

MPol on June 26, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Several things:

A) I agree with your sentiment, JodarMovieFan. The fact that this kind of piracy is being allowed to go on is quite disgusting..not to mention bad for the movie theatre business. It’s also the latest evidence that far too many people want something for nothing, and they’ll go to just about any lengths to get it.

B) This kind of piracy, including of burning of movie DVD’s, the use of USB pen drives, etc.should definitely be NOT allowed

C) It’s agreed that we should get back the showing of 70mm films on great big, giant-sized screens, in real movie theatres, with the lights down low. This is especially true of great, golden oldie-but-goody classics such as West Side Story, Lawrence of Arabia, to mention afew.

D). Had the SCOTUS not voted to allow movies to be made into video/VCR tapes back in the early 1980’s, when Ronald Reagan first became POTUS, we probably wouldn’t be in this mess regarding the movie industry right now.

E) I admit to one thing: I’ve commuted to various neighboring states to see my alltime favorite movie, West Side Story on the big screen, in addition to attending virtually every screening in my area. It’s agreed that big, big movies on big, big screens in real movie theatres would make the movie business thrive even more than it is right now.

HenryPittsnogle on September 5, 2009 at 12:49 pm

CinemarkFan: When you see this post, can you e-mail John at ?

I appreciate it. I’ll wait to hear from you.

TLSLOEWS on April 21, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Lets keep the theatres going,watching a movie on your computer,bah hum bug.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on April 21, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Future was here when the first 10 12 14 16 24 screen theatres popped up. Like I said a hundred times glad i got out in 1984.

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