The first theater in the world exclusively devoted to showing motion pictures opened on June 19th 1905 in Pittsburgh and since then little has changed in the cinema experience. You go in, buy a ticket, sit down, watch 30 minutes worth of car adverts, film trailers and Kevin Bacon, the film starts, the 3D glasses give you a headache because they are heavy and dig into your nose, the people on one side of you start talking, people on the other side are eating popcorn loudly, people in front are checking their phones and the people behind you are kicking your chair. You put up with this for 2 hours and then leave.
For over a hundred years this has been the only way to see films on their release unless they are crappy straight-to-DVD titles but now the Video-on-Demand service Netflix is starting its foray into the film industry with the sequel to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and at least one Adam Sandler movie being produced and distributed worldwide before the end of the year. As you no doubt know Netflix is currently dominating the television market with its mostly great original programming such as House of Cards, Orange is the new black and Daredevil so will the company’s move to film be the latest film fad or does it mark the start of the next stage of the evolution of film viewing.
I have conflicting opinions on this and on how I want to consume film. Take Avengers: Age of Ultron for example. As a big Marvel fan I went to see it on opening weekend and to no surprise it was incredibly busy. I got there early to make sure I got a ticket and to get a good seat only to be re-seated about ten minutes into the film by a cinema worker who rearranged everyone so there were no empty seats. This took about 30 minutes in which time people were standing up in front of me and being sent to their new designated seats while the film was playing. People were still streaming into the screening and stood in the aisles until the person who worked there moved them outside and promised them a seat in the next screening. The whole debacle ruined the experience of seeing one of my most anticipated films of the year and I would of much rather of seen it at home if it meant I could watch it without interruption.
However my last trip to the cinema, to watch Mad Max Fury Road, highlighted the positives of seeing a film at such a location. The film had been out for a few weeks so the screening was quiet with just a couple of other people there, none of whom sat near me. Those who have seen the film, and if you haven’t you should, you know that the film is effectively one huge car chase which builds and builds into a tense and action filled climax. The end of the chase is phenomenal and I’m so glad I saw it at the cinema to get the full experience. Sitting in the darkened room focusing only on the images happening on the screen while listening to that amazing score on a great sound system was the best way to watch Fury Road and I’m glad I got to experience it that way.
I want to see blockbusters at the cinema but I don’t want to go during the first two weeks of release because of the large amount of people and the lack of cinema etiquette they bring and yet if those films were released day one on services like Netflix I don’t know whether I could hold myself off watching it for two weeks until I could see them at the cinema. The fast approaching choice of how to view new movies is fast approaching and sooner or later we will all have to pick our poison.
Would you rather watch new films day one from the comfort of your own home or do you love the cinema experience despite its many negatives? Sound off in the comments and follow me on Twitter @kylebrrtt. Join me next week when I lay out my rules on cinema etiquette and how they should be enforced.