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writer...performer...sometime pop-up cinema host.

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Friday, 17 February 2012

Is Cinema Dying?

I have some breaking news, cinema as we know it, is dying! Let’s look at the evidence:

DVD streaming are now the main source of income for movie studios
Games have now overtaken movies as the biggest grossing commodity worldwide

Remember the story of Odeon refusing to show Alice in Wonderland because Disney wanted to release the DVD before the end of the standard 17 week window for cinema releases. Odeon lost out on one of the highest grossing movies of that year and did their stand have any effect? No, the DVD was released, the Blu-ray was released and Disney had a huge return. Other studios will follow suit.

There is an argument that the onslaught of 3D is not a craze that may go away as it did in the 50’s and 80’s; it is a way of ensuring you get your bottom on a cinema seat. Why so the recent release of Star Wars Episode 1 in 3D and the soon to be released Titanic in 3D, more tickets, two hugely popular movies that enjoy re-releases and cinema owners are happy. Coming next surely is 4D, with things under your seats and smells coming from vents under the chairs.

The seriousness of this all is that cinema, as opposed to the movie industry, is not moving with the times; if you think that’s crazy then let me ask you a question: has the change from film to digital affected your cinema experience in any way? Ok, better sound, but the picture quality is still the same; the seating is still the same; the popcorn is still the same; the adverts are still the same. Yet you can come home to a widescreen plasma TV with surround sound and stream any movie you like instantly; without queues or the enormous price tag and…you can eat and drink whatever you like!

Movie studios are onto this. If you take the recent Marvel heroes who have steadily been building up a back catalogue before The Avengers later in 2012, here surely is a series of films that can be viewed, re-viewed and enjoyed over and over again much like that particular audience would devour and collect their comic-books. These movies are moving comic-books and they don’t try to be anything else.

Let me ask another question: when did you last go to the cinema and come away thinking that you had to see it on the big-screen? I remember my last time, 1990, Die Hard 2. Everything after that I have felt would not have lost much on the TV and has our TV’s get larger so does the fight the likes of |Odeon have to hold our attention.

Yet cinema is fighting; just witness the recent foray into showing football matches; formula one races and live opera.

As our viewing experiences evolve and expand it feels as if cinemas are a rose-tinted homage to a golden age; I hope we don’t lose them, after all the experience for hardcore movie buffs like me is still very nostalgic. I have a nagging feeling though that cinema will kill itself and become the elephant in the room that no-one wants to mention.

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