Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level
and then beat you with experience.” -- Mark Twain

"Stay Strapped or Get Clapped." -- probably not Mr. Rogers

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Is Hollywood Dead?

The New York Times is running a long article about how the pandemic and streaming is taking a wrecking ball to Hollywood.

All of it may be true. But this is my opinion:

Imagine, if you will, that you swing by a highly-rated restaurant and pick up a couple of meals to go, with all of the trimmings. You set the table, pour out some good wine, and have a candlelit meal with your loved one. You put the various courses on plates, serve them, and enjoy them immensely.

Is that the same as going to eat at that restaurant? Not even hardly. The experience of going out to eat is lost, even the bad things tht can happen (finding a parking space, getting a ticket or being carjacked). It's a takeout dinner at home and, other than the actual food, is no different from bring home bags from McDonalds or cartons from local Chinese kitchen.

So it is with watching a movie at home. Watching a movie at home is watching television. Whether it's interrupted by commercials (broadcast networks, basic cable) commercial-free (premium cable) or on a steaming service, it's still sitting at home, watching television.

Sure, you don't have the annoyances, like some schmuck using his phone during the movie,[1] but you also miss out on the experience of going to the movies.

The entertainment industry consoles itself by thinking of how they came back from the pandemic of a century ago. The counter to that was that even if movie theaters closed in 1918, they reopened in 1920 because there was no other choice. People didn't have movie projectors in their homes, let along orchestra pits.

It's quite possible that going to a movie after the pandemic runs its course,[2] may be a lot harder. Movie theaters may be few and far between. But still, even if Regal and AMC both go Tango Uniform, those buildings are still going to be there. Not all of them will be converted into Fleecing the Faithful operations.[3] or will be razed. Some will be there for those willing to take the risk that some people will want to see movies in a theater and not watch them on their televisions (or phones).
[1] Something that should merit summary execution.
[2] Not "brought under control". Thanks to the fecklessness of Donald Trump and those infected with Toxic Libery and Freedom Syndrome, the chance of bringing the pandemic under control, as was done in other nations, has long been closed.
[3] AKA "megachurches".


MarkS said...

I'm willing to bet that megaplexes go the way of the mall. The shelf life of many paradigms (e.g. copper landlines, the cable tv set top box model), have diminished with surprising rapidity.Higher bandwidth (for streaming)& better / bigger/cheaper flat screens will combine with pandemic paranoia to make big theaters economically unsustainable.

Frank Wilhoit said...

I've not seen a movie in a theater since Chicken Run, and not before that since my wife had an uncharacteristic lapse of judgment and coerced me to The English Patient, and not before that since our children had a characteristic lapse of judgment and coerced me to sit through Airheads, the single waste of time in my life that I most vividly resent.

It is thus not first about the quality of the experience, but the quality of the product.

There is an eightplex in the nearest town, and (I think) a sixplex in the mall in the next nearest. The eightplex never has more than a handful of cars in the parking lot; we have been expecting it to fold for at least ten years. (The businesses suffering from the pandemic were already in long-term distress.) The theater in the mall seems to do a little more traffic, but that may be because it has a bar (I am not old enough to be shocked by that, but only to be extremely perplexed).

bt1138 said...

This is just an extension of some long-running trends. There's been friction between the theaters and the studios for years, as the business has ever so slowly shifted to on-demand viewing. People in "Hollywood" have seen this coming for a long time, C-19 didn't cause it, maybe it's just moving it along somewhat faster.

There will always be a place for the big screen in one form or another, but the business is much larger than theaters at this point, in any case.

-->Keep in mind, reading stories from the NY Times about the impending death-spiral of Hollywood has a long lineage. Ever since the biz moved west, there's been whining and pining about it in NYC. And shitting on L.A. is simply a habitual thing for many New Yorkers. Just view any Woody Allen film for reference.

dinthebeast said...

Similar thing happening with live music venues, only more driven by the complete lack of revenue to pay the rent or bank note.
Live music is its own thing even more than a theater movie is its own thing, and although I don't doubt that live music will be back as soon as it is safe to do, the venues may not last that long.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

Deadstick said...

Can't say I agree, eb. For me, the only appeal of a theater is a big screen, and today's TV's can fill as much of my FOV as that can, and more.

My nearby multiscreen cineplex went Tango Uniform and found Jesus long before the pandemic. When I watch a "film" at home:

I'm in a soft, comfortable seat.
My feet don't stick to the floor.
Refreshments come at grocery store prices. And liquor store prices. And cannabis dispensary prices.
No loudmouths.
If I want to take a whiz, I have a pause button.
If I don't like the film, I can turn my chair around, put on headphones, and fool around on this here computer without spoiling my wife's enjoyment.

OTOH, I can see the film at a theater a few months earlier…that's about all the counterargument I can think of.

Pete said...

With all due respect to the commenters here, I don't think we are the demographic that will determine the future of movie theaters. Theaters are one of the few places that those <21 can go for entertainment especially in the evening.
Matinees provide young families relatively affordable entertainment.
Dinner and a movie provide parents with young children a break from the kids without keeping a baby-sitter out all night.
And as our host mentioned, there's the unique experience. Before the pandemic, my wife and I attended all kinds of movies--she loves theater popcorn, no butter.