Roger Ebert Hates Going To The Movies For The Same Reasons You Do

Illustration for article titled Roger Ebert Hates Going To The Movies For The Same Reasons You Do

If you thought Roger Ebert looked past all the little things you hate about going to the movies, think again. He writes:

2. Ticket prices are too high. People have always made that complaint, but historically the movies have been cheap compared to concerts, major league sports and restaurants. Not so much any longer. No matter what your opinion is about 3D, the charm of paying a hefty surcharge has worn off for the hypothetical family of four.

3. The theater experience. Moviegoers above 30 are weary of noisy fanboys and girls. The annoyance of talkers has been joined by the plague of cell-phone users, whose bright screens are a distraction. Worse, some texting addicts get mad when told they can't use their cell phones. A theater is reportedly opening which will allow and even bless cell phone usage, although that may be an apocryphal story.

4. Refreshment prices. It's an open secret that the actual cost of soft drinks and popcorn is very low. To justify their inflated prices, theaters serve portions that are grotesquely oversized, and no longer offer what used to be a "small popcorn." Today's bucket of popcorn would feed a thoroughbred.

The message I get is that Americans love the movies as much as ever. It's the theaters that are losing their charm. Proof: theaters thrive that police their audiences, show a variety of titles and emphasize value-added features. The rest of the industry can't depend forever on blockbusters to bail it out.


A Small Turnip

Ebert isn't wrong on a single point, but he's missed one of the most significant problems in modern movie-going: the fact that movie theatres have completely abnegated all responsibility for ensuring that the films themselves are actually presented with even a modicum of competence. Ever since digital film (a medium I've no complaint with, honest) became the default movie format, theatres have slashed their overheads by firing all of their knowledgeable, long-standing projectionists in the colossally idiotic belief that audiences won't know any better. They do. Of course they do. They're not fucking stupid. Punters in the theatre may not know about the staffing vicissitudes of their local multiplex, but they sure as shit can see the result. The image on screen is almost always too dim, or not centred properly, or otherwise carelessly managed, and the sound is inevitably maladjusted and crap. And the catastrophically shit 3-D revolution has made it even worse: despite the pleas of studios, theatres routinely project those films a whopping 30% less bright than they ought to be, according to a comprehensive study by the Boston Globe last year. And yet they still have the cheek to ask for the better part of your salary for the pleasure of watching Clash of the Vampire Pirates 3-D on a Saturday night. Fuckers.