Thursday, September 11, 2008

Move Over Movies

NPR just published an article about how theatres are beginning to screen projects other than feature films in order to attract new audiences. I first started noticing this last year when Cinemark Theatres bought out the Century Theatres. Before the Bridge to Terabithia and The Number 23 trailers, a cartoon bobcat started dancing around and I suddenly knew things were gonna be different.

There's going to be an opera on my big screen and Emmy Rossum's nowhere in sight.

Cinemark now screens opera events, plays, political round tables, and a virtual cornucopia of not-as-good-as-a-movie entertainment. The advertised upsides of these developments are:
  • people who don't want to pay 160 dollars to see
    Cirque du Soleil can now watch it for twenty.

  • movie theatres get to keep a higher percentage
    of the ticket price as compared to screening films.

  • the opportunity for expansion; plans to screen
    sporting events, Oscar ceremonies, Presidential
    debates, and more are all in the works.
I know how I should feel about this. Movie theatres making more money is a good thing. They bring me the movies and I'm not helping their cause by sneaking in my Milk Duds. But there's just something about chance that scares me. Irrational questions like: What if the opera becomes too popular? What if Cinemark decides to stop screening films? Where will I watch Ghostbusters 3 when it finally gets made? Scary stuff.

In all honesty, any opportunity for middle America to gain additional exposure to the humanities can't hurt. Maybe Joe Carfactory should go see a live screening of Rent. The real question is: will he? Apparently these events have done well enough to garner funds for additional screenings. With only one or two screens (out of the megaplexes' 12-20) devoted to this boorish example of out-of-the-box thinking, the threat of Hotel for Dogs not getting the number of screenings it deserves might not be as imminent as once thought. Also, let's not feel bad for smaller, independent films. It's not like these theaters were making any room for them anyway.

So, why go to the theater when you can go to a movie theater? Get out, broaden your humanitary horizons, and enjoy the opera on the big screen. But not on January 9th, that's Bride Wars' time. It's earned it.


Anil Usumezbas said...

I wouldn't worry too much over the idea of opera taking over movies if I ever you. Opera (and theater in general) is mostly considered an outdated and boring art form, which is sad but nonetheless a fact. Cinema on the other hand, is the dominant medium of the 21st century. This doesn't necessarily refer to any superiority in favor of cinema but considering the current social conditions and technological developments, the interest in movies is exponentially growing (although the box offices are not, thanks to the internet)

Runs Like A Gay said...

I like the idea of using a big screen to view big events (political rallies, award ceremonies, sports - just imagine the Olympic opening ceremony at your local multiplex) but I can't see theatre and opera taking off.

And not because I agree with your last poster - the idea of theatre in general being outmoded and boring shows a distinct lack of experience, or maybe good experience, of seeing live shows.

The simple fact is that good theatre works becuase it's live, you can feel the actors on stage and the actors can feel and respond to the audience. Every performance every night is subtly different from any other. Being there wih other people is far more fundamental to the theatre than the cinema which is why it will never really take off watching it on the cinema.

Ross Williams said...

I've noticed this too... but haven't worried about it replacing movies one bit. If it can help subsidize the theaters, and keep more of them open, I'm all for it. I haven't taken advantage of it, because I don't have much of an interest in Opera or a Miley Cyrus concert, but may do so in the future. It'd be very cool to go watch the Superbowl, with a crowd and the huge screen.

What I Watched Last Night

Daniel said...

This is going to be a debate that rages for some time. I actually posted my thoughts on the subject last spring, and I still find it endlessly fascinating. There IS no clear cut answer.