After such an unexpected reaction to my allocated seating blog post, it is understandable that coming up with a follow-up retrospective post is a bit tricky. However, once I re-read the aforementioned post, there was something that has played on my mind for a while yet it is something so trivial, I pitched it to a well-known website that passed on my idea 😦
I don’t mind too much, as I can freely bitch about it here.
Allocated seating may have captured the attention of most cinema goers, but this is one of very few yet noticeable changes to the traditional cinema. Even in my 32 years, I still remember the cigarette burn marks in the top corner of the screen, not to mention the smiley girl carrying the tray of assorted snacks and ice-cream pots on sale at the front of the screen. This was during the days when the curtains closed after the trailers ended and before the film started.
In my eyes, it is the little things like these that made going to the cinema truly great.
Now, aside from the cursed allocated seating, there are now ‘live’ concerts, theatre productions and TV freaking episodes being shown on the big screen. Some people call this the modernisation of cinema but to me, it is changing the cinematic experience in a somewhat negative way.
It is hard to put a finger on the definite date, time or year when this transition started. I could say it started when my local multiplex sold out a whole day’s worth of Titanic screenings in 1997, even when there were hundreds of people (mainly girls) queuing for a ticket and there was more than one screen showing it, but that could be deemed as an unimportant memory of one’s youth.
I think it probably kicked off when someone thought it would be cool to broadcast concerts and theatre productions, such as opera or the latest play from the West End, on the big screen.
Obviously, they had never seen that Ray Winstone ad that comes up every now again before each film – it’s about the experience.
Concerts, musicals and plays sell out for a reason. When you go to them, they have a certain atmosphere that is unique to the event. You can’t exactly jump up and down to your favourite song in the cinema; you’ll look like an idiot. Instead, you just have to contend with sitting in your seat and watch hundreds or possibly thousands of people jumping and singing the words to every song at the top of their voice.
Same thing can apply to plays. Most of the time when you go to the theatre, people are laughing, crying or whatever because everyone else is as well. What happens if you go to a cinema to watch a play and everyone has that bleak, indifferent expression?
TV episodes are the latest thing to hit the cinemas. The most notable incident was the recent screening of Deep Breath, which is the first episode of the latest Doctor Who, featuring Peter Capaldi’s first full appearance as the Doctor. The episode was screened around the world on Saturday and followed the success of ‘The Day of the Doctor’, which was shown in cinemas to celebrate Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary.
If your TV isn’t that great, going to watch it at the cinema provides a give-or-take alternative, but you have to book tickets, choose seats (urgh!), pay booking fees and the actual ticket, get there early to pick up tickets if you choose not to have an e-ticket, queue to get in, find your seat…just to watch something you can watch at home with a takeaway and your feet up.
If I had to choose between paying however much for a ticket plus booking fee, travel, food before/during/after the screening etc. versus the cost of a takeaway pizza to watch a TV episode, I know which one I would pick.
It just seems that every time I go to my local cinema, a little part of its soul seems to be destroyed through what can be considered poor marketing decisions.
What happened to the pure and simple celebration of films? You tell me.
Thanks for reading.