A note on why filmgoing has become so joyless

Seeing The Marvels at Cineworld Broad Street in Birmingham reminded me once again of how unpleasant going to the pictures has become, even to an inveterate filmgoer such as myself. Yesterday, none of the ticket machines were working; so after wasting a lot of time trying to get my ticket, I had to go to the concession stand and wait my turn in the popcorn queue, stressful because they never give you the start time for the film, just for a program one never wants to see: mainly ads one’s already seen a dozen times. And I have a seething resentment of this: one pays the equivalent of two monthly streaming subscriptions per film only to be held captive, watching stuff one doesn ‘t want to see; so one pays twice to see a film, the cost of the movie and the cost of that time held captive – both in the opportunity cost of not being able to do something else ….and in psychic pain —  watching those endless sales-pitches, all deadly dull,  before the film starts. The cinemas themselves are now beginning to be run-down, with the escalators often out of order; and if there are not a lot of people in the cinema, one really feels the cold in winter. It was freezing yesterday. Also, proper luminosity for the films themselves seems reserved now only for IMAX so when one is not given the opportunity to see a film on IMAX the image is of a lower quality than you get on tv, thin and dark. It’s no surprise Cineworld almost went bust. They’ve got to provide a better experience if they want people to return to the theatres. A movie has to be really great to overcome the joylessness of the rest of the experience.


José Arroyo

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