Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A Change in the Movie Industry


When was the last time you went to the movies?

It took you a few seconds to think of the last time, didn’t it?

It’s not summer – the most popular season to go to the movies – and there may be a number of cheaper and more convenient things to do while in college than go to the movies. As a result, fewer people attending movies is harming the movie theater industry.

On a cold, snowy winter evening, or in this year’s case, on a cold and rainy winter evening, I wouldn’t want to walk somewhere to find a party or something to do on campus or in town. With Netflix and Redbox having grown in popularity, it is much easier to ride over to a Redbox location or check the mailbox to find the newest Netflix arrival. Even better yet, students have relished in the convenience of Netflix’s website’s stream-to-computer immediacy.

Today, movie buffs have it so easy; so easy, that leaving bedrooms isn’t even necessary to watch a new flick.

Like many other colleges, UMass offers free movie and popcorn viewings in the Student Union on weekends in a theater-like set up. Cluster offices also have a range of movies to rent at no cost. With the latter option, students don’t even need to leave their buildings to catch a movie.

Back in the day I’d go to my town’s library to look at all the VHS tapes to pick one or two out to bring home, and then town library’s slowly started to accumulate DVDs. The shelves’ contents were always unexpected because they would have a different selection almost every month. Even though libraries are so accessible to people, it seems as if Netflix and Redbox, where you can electronically browse, have taken over. In January 2012, Netflix boasted more than 24 million U.S. subscribers.

Blockbuster, however, filed for bankruptcy in September 2010 and Netflix and Redbox became even more popular. I love to be able to pay 1 dollar for a movie or sometimes even nothing with a special code or membership. Since you can rent a movie as infrequently as you want with Redbox, I think Redbox has a better chance at staying alive than Netflix.

Noelia de la Cruz of Business Insider says, “Just because there might be more empty seats in theaters doesn’t necessarily mean people are seeing fewer films. They’re just finding less expensive ways to go about it.  Nearly two-thirds of consumers said they prefer cheaper matinees and nearly 40 percent bring their own snacks and drinks. Another 32 percent use daily deals sites to score discounts on tickets.”

The National Association of Theater Owners said in early February that the average movie ticket price increased to $7.93 in 2011 from $7.89 in 2010, says LA Times’ Richard Verrier. Some movie theaters are extremely expensive and by adding snacks to your purchase movie-goers end up with a costly date. If movie theaters lowered their snack prices, they would earn more money off of them. I know people who go to the supermarket before seeing a movie to get food and drinks to sneak in. If they purchased snacks at the theater, the theater would then make that money, bringing in more revenue.

Now, I think that it is important that I discuss a new phenomenon; 3D movies. More movies are being released in 3D, with prices higher than those for regular films. This will most likely discourage students from watching them, unless the film is sure to be a big hit. Many Disney movies are coming to theaters in 3D. For instance, a lot of students at UMass rushed to see “The Lion King” in 3D when it came out in September, adding to the estimated profit of $22.1 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales over three days. Personally, I do think that 3D movies are overrated. The technology does not seem very advanced. When you take the 3D glasses off, you can see the double image graphic, but while the glasses are on, I don’t feel like I am there, and I don’t feel like anything is being popped out at me. The oft extolled effect is not apparent to me, and it is not much different than watching a movie like normal aside from the fact that the glasses are annoying..

If I wanted to feel like I was on the setting of the movie, I would go to the Omni Theater at Boston’s Museum of Science. The room in which viewers are seated is dome-shaped and the screen covers the entire wall, so viewers are basically sitting in a rounded room surrounded by the image. The seats are extremely steep so when looking in front, the top of a person’s head can be seen, unlike an ordinary movie theater, where the backs of heads are seen. Views are never blocked by tall people.

Even though the movies are only about an hour long, they are incredible. They have an educational basis, but they are entertaining. My favorite such film was about the Grand Canyon. Part of it is filmed from a helicopter, so it felt like literally flying over the canyon. I have heard that motion sickness is induced in some such teathers, but such is the illusion of reality.

But I digress. There exists a free movie theater in Easthampton called Popcorn Noir where you pay for both food and drink. Though the theater is small and customers sit at tables rather than in rows, it fosters a different type of atmosphere from going to a traditional movie theater or watching a movie in your room. This seems like a cool idea to try one night, because if you are going out to dinner anyway, you might as well watch a movie at the same time.

It would take a lot for us to drive movie theaters out of our culture, especially because they are common places to hang out with friends or family. However, we also need to be able to have something to do every single day of the year, and so I embrace the different ways in which we can watch movies.

Karen Podorefsky can be reached at [email protected].

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    PAPAMar 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm