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MEMO TO: M. Night Shyamalan

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Re: The eminent extinction of the movie going experience.

M. Night. In your speech to exhibitors at ShowEast, you lamented how simultaneous release of movies in theater and on DVDs would ruin the “shared and sacred experience of cinema.”

I understand what you’re doing. You’re kissing a little Hollywood bootie with those who have gathered box office receipts and made you a multi millionaire. So, how can you not be beholden to the mechanism that helped make you a star?

But seriously. The shared, sacred experience? It’s obvious that you watch your films either in a studio screening room, or at the DGA theater as a part of some hob-nobby Hollywood conclave. Otherwise, you would be well-versed in the current state of your sacred cinematic experience.

But since you’ve obviously forgotten, allow me to enlighten you.

1. Ticket prices. In case you haven’t noticed, M. Night, going to the movies isn’t as affordable as it used to. In fact it’s so expensive that current federal estimates note that it easily outpaces inflation. According to the MPAA, the average movie ticket price in 2001 was $5.66. 2001. That's only 4 short years ago. Today – it’s $10. TEN DOLLARS. Now you may be able to afford to attend movies regularly at that price at your rate of $10 MILLION DOLLARS for making “Unbreakable,” (wait, I keep forgetting, you get in FREE anytime you want) but I can tell you what isn’t unbreakable is the moviegoer pocketbook. And in case you were too busy making one of those blockbuster flops you’ve been giving us lately, ticket prices have RISEN every single year since 2001. That’s nearly a 200% increase.

It used to be that when a good movie came out, moviegoers would see it 2, 3, 4 times or more. Seeing the original Star Wars 100 times on screen isn’t uncommon amongst the faithful. But now, it’s simply cheaper to see a good film once and buy it on DVD to enjoy on the big screen.

2. Snackage. Concessions. Now, it’s a given that popcorn and candy at the movies is charged at a premium. The public has come to expect it. But it’s getting out of control. A medium size popcorn and ONE medium drink? $10. TEN BUCKS! So, Johnny teenager is into $30 for a movie date and he has to share a drink. And the worst part? Popcorn and sodas are the most profitable items at the concessions stand with a cost to make them at PENNIES on the dollar. It’s PURE PROFIT.

3. Commercials, commercials, commercials. I wonder, M. Night, how many commercials do you have to suffer through when you attend that freebie screening at the DGA. NONE. Nor do you have to endure them at your posh studio screening room. These days, it isn’t uncommon for the average theater goer to endure 10, 11, 12, or more COMMERCIALS before the movie! It’s so bad, one has to wonder why they left the relative comfort of their home and television to go to the movies to watch … well, MORE TELEVISION! Theaters are on this too, so they’ve wrapped it up in a nice marketing package called “The Twenty.” Or something like that. Toss in a few well produced 2 minute interviews on an upcoming movie and it’s must see TV. Then, at the end, you get a commercial summary of everything you saw in “the Twenty.” Followed by MORE COMMERCIALS! In fact, the day that movietheaters started showing commercials in their theaters, was the day that a real moviegoing experience became extinct. Because at that moment, theaters just became a very large, and very expensive television set with seats.

4. The Rules. Then, comes the rules. No talking. No cellphones (which you can’t hear ringing anyway because the sound is so BONE JARRINGLY LOUD. (has anyone tested the decible level in a theater?) Gift Certificates are available at the boxoffice! Have you bought your rediculously expensive treats yet? The only thing that saves moviegoers from this torture is the Coke Refreshing Filmmaker short, which is usually rather cute and funny, but in the end even this cute little short is yet ... another COMMERCIAL!

5. A few trailers. Finally. The Real Moviegoer experience can begin. TOO BAD IT’S SO DARN LOUD YOU CAN’T HEAR YOURSELF THINK.

6. Finally, the movie begins. But by this time you are so fed up with the “sacred and shared” movie going experience, you’re expectations are so low you’d think you’d end up enjoying the movie. Too bad the current slate of films we have to dish out top dollar for are so bad, that the movie going public has stopped going to the theaters to endure this torture altogether.

All this to see really bad stories, starring overpaid actor-celebrities and a bunch of oh-ah CGI special effects.

And you think that DVDs are ruining the movie going experience? Instead of going to Miami to kiss a little exhibitor bootie, M. Night, you better save the dying movie experience by ripping them a new A-hole and screaming I SEE GREEDY PEOPLE!

Cry me a river, M. Night, on your “sacred and shared experience.” Because the only thing sacred to Hollywood and the movie theaters is the almighty dollar.

DVDs are SAVING the movegoing experience, M. Night, not ruining it. And you’d be best served by jumping on the bandwagon, rather than looking silly crying about where it’s going.

1 Responses to “MEMO TO: M. Night Shyamalan”

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  1. Blogger Bryan Wicks 

    Your words are spot on. I think that Hollywood is guilty of both hyprocrisy and excessive greed. Even the powerful unions of Tinseltown are starting to wise up to the fact that their once loyal allies are ditching them like a bad prom date by going to Canada and Aussieland to make movies rather than pay unbelievable rates to the local folks.

    Mix that with the sub-quality product being released and VOILA! Is it any wonder why they haven't found their groove?

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