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Cinema and the Death of the Big Screen?


Thirty years ago, the only way to see the latest  blockbuster was to visit the local cinema, or wait for it to be available on Betamax or VHS.  Today however, we have a multitude of ways to get our movie fix, whether it’s Sky movies, DVD, downloads, streaming, the list seems endless.

With home entertainment being as diverse and as rich as it is, I’d forgotten the thrill of watching a movie with 400 other people sharing the joy, laughter, excitement, thrill and horror.  Something you don’t necessarily get in your home!

Having realised it’s been a while since visiting the cinema it was probably time to make the effort.

Using the power of the internet I looked up what’s on at our local cinema, decided on a film and clicked the helpful button that said, “Buy Seat”.  Firstly I was shocked at the price, £8 per ticket with a 70p booking fee!  For two adults, that’s £17.40 to watch a film.  With that kind of money, I can wait and buy the film on blu-ray or iTunes for much less!

I’m on holiday this weekend, and thought, why not? It’s a treat!  Made my way to the cinema, selected our seats, paid the child behind the counter and went to make our way to the screen.

No food beyond this point

The cinema experience isn’t as friendly and welcoming as it was when I was kid!  Before entering the screen area, you are greeted with a sign stating that it is unacceptable to take your own food and drink, some cinemas even go as far as confiscating your contraband!  

It is of course acceptable to purchase their significantly overpriced fizzy drinks and popcorn, for a “Reasonable £5”.

Perhaps I’m getting old and grumpy, but £4.25 for a bag of maltesers, when the same bag costs only £1 at our local Sainsburys!  

I accept that a company has to make a profit.  Four times though is unacceptable, especially when you are a captured audience with no suitable alternative to be found.

With the overpriced popcorn, nachos, ice cream and fizzy drinks aside, we are left with the overall viewing experience.

We were advised that the screen number had changed for our movie, and as it happened so had our seat allocation (There no longer was a valid seat allocation).  As the room was now different layout to the seats we’d been sold, all bets were off and it was a free for all.  

I’d paid to sit behind the bar/railings, usually as there’s more leg room, but also an unobstructed view of the cinema screen.  I was unhappy at being told sit where you like.  Other patrons were complaining, others were exploiting the new world order.

I’d forgotten how cold and noisy these places are, first with over efficient air conditioning, the second with hundreds of noisy people either chatting, munching, rustling or making mobile phone calls, changing ring tones or playing computer games.

Normally things quiten down when the main feature starts.  

What no Pearl and Dean? 

What happened to the familiar theme tune?  Then the fun started…  An elderly group turned up 10 minutes late into the feature who proceeded to complain loudly about seat allocation and their various ailments, the kids and adults who won’t shut up, to the guy behind kicking the back of your seat as he fidgets, people getting up and blocking your view whilst they take a mobile call, or decide if they need a comfort break just 20 minutes in.

Indeed I’d forgotten the joy of sharing the cinematic experience with a couple of hundred people with ADHD.

In the 70s, you were shown to your seat by an usher, you weren’t allowed to enter the room once the main feature had started, unless the usher made you wait for an opportune moment to be seated, and of course there was a break in the feature for ice cream and the toilet.  If you left the room, you weren’t allowed back in until a convenient break etc.

The problem is a breakdown in respect for the big screen, young kids running the cinema complex with no authority to enforce the rules, and no one respects the cinema manager.  You knew you were in trouble if they came to talk to you.

And don’t get me started on the hygiene of these places, the toilets stink, patrons treat the places worse than they would at home, and the cleaning is not done regularly enough to keep them up to standards!

Part of the problem is that everyone expects more for the high prices being charged, but no longer have patience, the attention span or respect for others, they treat the place as an extension to their living rooms!

Parents are partially to blame, for not educating and teaching kids good manners, but many parents are still kids themselves!

The death of the big screen is not solely down to the pirates, but the  cinema owners who want your cash for minimum effort, and don’t want the responsibility of properly managing or maintaining set standards.  For the rest of us who are responsible it is off putting and likely to lead to reduced attendance.

As a result, there is no longer the community spirit of all cinema goers, Sharing the same experience, it is ruined by a growing minority of antisocial uninterested patrons, apathetic management and overpriced tickets and beverages.  I look forward to watching my next movie in the safety of my home!

What do you think? Are you bothered about the decline in cinema, strongly agree/disagree with what I’ve experienced? I’d love to know!

1 Comment »

  1. I personally think some of the screens are a bit poor these days and watching at home is often more enjoyable and clearer. I used to go on occasion but found the picture quality put me off. I do have one fond memory though when I asked about being blind. The lady behind the counter asked if I had any proof I was registered as blind. So I gently picked up my guide dog and placed his paws on the counter. This was a funny moment and the cashier was taken a back I think. Digital downloads are good and convenient but way too pricey to be practical really for the most part when they don’t give you the content you’d get on a physical disc. Oh well one day we’ll just blink and it’ll be uploaded to our eyes directly. 🙂

    You don’t have to wait too long for the movie to be released on dvd or blu ray so it’s often the better option for sure. 🙂


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