It was reaching the end of 1995, Pixar’s ‘Toy Story’ was playing and I was to have my first cinema experience. As a kid, going to the movies was a means to have a family day. We’d all go out to lunch together, then buy popcorn and malteasers before even considering buying the tickets. The drive home would always be filled with discussion and debate over the film’s content.
Skip forward a few years, I was a teenager and my cinema experience changed dramatically. The type of movies I wanted to see were prohibited due to age constraints and I was more likely to be catching a film with friends than my family. Being an unemployed student also changed the dynamic of film watching: buying popcorn was not even considered, the time of seeing the film had be completely scheduled around the train timetable (sometimes to the point where we’d only watch a certain movie because it lined up with the train times) and you always snuck food into the cinema. I once managed to sneak in a pizza, I kid you not. That was definitely be my favourite cinema experience. I don’t even remember what film we watched. We were just so impressed with ourselves.
I went to see ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ this week after rave reviews and realised that yet again, since my adolescent years, my cinema experience has changed. It was a sunday afternoon and raining, so my friend and I decided seeing a film was the only thing to do. After deciding on Guardians of the Galaxy, my friend drove to mine then we drove there together. Being that she works full-time and I have maintained the ‘poor student’ archetype, she bought us a big popcorn and I unashamedly ate my share.
The cinema was packed, though we still managed to get seats at the top, near the middle, and maintain space around ourselves. I noticed one person in the side section trying to eat their ice-cream with their phone light. It was a lost cause.
The film was really long. My friend was intensely aware of this as she needed the bathroom halfway through but could never pick the right time to leave the movie and I was aware of this because I was waiting to see the amazing story my favourite reviewers had pitched – and it just never came. Also, five guardians and only one of them was female? I thought sci-fi was progressive…
Personal reviews aside, Guardians of the Galaxy was the first film I’d seen at the cinema in months. It seems as though the cinema experience isn’t quite the cultural experience it used to be- we now have the internet for that. Cinema giant, Quentin Tarantino announced in May this year that “cinema is dead”, following the rise of digital media. Similarly, other cinema giants, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, have also suggested that the age of the cinema is over. So what does the future hold for cinemas?
Netflix is an example of the shift from going to a cinema, to bringing the cinema to you. As of July this year, Netflix has over 13 million subscribers from 40 different countries. 61% of these users binge-watch shows every month and spend over 1 billion hours per month watching Netflix (naturally, it’s not technically available in Australia yet, I go into more detail on this here).
I know that going to the cinema to see a movie isn’t something I find crucial to my watching experience. That said, the reason I go to the cinema is social – I go with friends or family. We have a meal afterwards and discuss what we saw, who was too loud, who struggled to open their packet of chips for 5 minutes and we go home feeling glad for our shared experience.
Cohen, D. (2013). “George Lucas & Steven Spielberg: Studios Will Implode; VOD Is the Future”, Variety. Available at: http://variety.com/2013/digital/news/lucas-spielberg-on-future-of-entertainment-1200496241/
Saul, H (2014). “Cannes 2014: Quentin Tarantino declares ‘cinema is dead’ ahead of Pulp Fiction screening”, The Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/cannes-2014-quentin-tarantino-declares-cinema-is-dead-ahead-of-pulp-fiction-screening-9430049.html