The new video-on-demand service, Home Premium, may seem like a convenient way to stay current on recently released films, but the dangers far outweigh the benefits. Boycott! Boycott!
It’s bound to happen. We don’t know when, exactly, but we do know where. Multiple film studios want to bring feature films to your home faster. It’s not good enough DVDs and Blu-rays are released as early as three months following their exit from theaters. The most recent proposal puts the time frame at 60 days after a film leaves your local cineplex before it’s available to you at the click of a button.
If this doesn’t sound like the end of everything good and pure on the planet Earth to you, then perhaps you’re having a more reasonable reaction to the news than I. In fact, I’m here to recruit you. I’m here to pull you off the edge; bring you back from the dark side of the force; get you to root against the Miami Heat. I’m here to show you the light, basically, and these are the five reasons I’ve chosen to help turn on that 1,000-watt bulb of truth.
5) It’s the Wrong Way to Fix the Problem
The whole concept of Home Premium came about because box office receipts have dropped off in the recent years. So instead of finding a way to put people back in the theater seats (an admittedly more difficult proposition), movie men decided to find alternative means to make money. Their best idea is to take more people out of theaters; to keep people in their homes; to lower the box office totals even further.
“Wait, what? Really?” you say. Yes, really. It’s as cockamamie of a plan as the final heist in Fast Five. Home Premium may be successful enough to stem the profit loss at the box office, but it will never be able to make up for it completely. Quit ignoring the problem and fix your freakin’ films, Hollywood (yes, I’m a possibly naive believer that better movies will boost the box office).
4) More Ads, Fewer Trailers
The National Association of Theater Owners (or NATO, an equally important organization to its better known abbreviated brother) believes the immergence of Home Premium could cripple the profession they protect, and theater owners are rallying behind them. One threat made by the constituents is cutting trailers before feature films, a tactic designed to scare Hollywood bigwigs who rely on trailers to build awareness within the movie-going public. I can only assume if trailers are cut, ads before movies will expand to make up for revenue loss and to provide the buffer people are used to before a movie starts.
I realize some audience members may wish they didn’t have to sit through any form of advertisement before their feature presentation, but no one wants more ads. Advertisements are an abomination in movie theaters. For someone who treats his local megaplex like a cathedral (as well as visiting more regularly than a priest would his parish), you can imagine how much I despise the annoying, lengthy, and obtrusive marketing gimmicks put before my eyes as a sponsor of art.
At the same time, I love trailers. I don’t understand those whiners who bitch and moan about an early glimpse of Fast Six, Fast Furious or M: I 4 – Not So Impossible No Mo. Good or bad, they’re designed to entertain and do so even if they spectacularly suck. Please, oh please, don’t take them out of my theater.
3) You’re Only Paying More For Convenience
There are different prices out there, depending on the service provider, but the number that keeps popping up for Home Premium is $30 a movie. $30?!?! Are you kidding me? At my local theater, at the highest ticket cost, I could get two tickets and a medium combo for that price and I’m still seeing the movie in the best possible environment with the best available technology.
It may be worth the price for families paying for four or more passes, but everyone else would undoubtedly be losing money. And for those of you who say you prefer your home theater set up to that of your local cineplex, you obviously have enough money to do whatever you want -- so go ahead. Stay home. Just know that you’re helping ruin movies for the rest of us.
2) It Hurts Theaters
And if you hurt the theater, the theater will hurt you. Ticket and concession prices will rise in an effort to recoup loses. Matinee deals may go by the way side. Sales and customer-incentive programs will be altered or even cut, all because you didn’t want to drive the 15 minutes and pay the $20 for you and your honey to see Transformers 4: The Wall (I can only assume the next Michael Bay project will also be titled after a Pink Floyd album).
1) Theaters are Better than Home Theaters
Everyone always complains about movie theaters. Tickets are too expensive. Popcorn is too expensive. Drinks are too expensive. The floors are sticky. While all of these are valid complaints, the theater-going experience still remains one of society’s most beloved activities. It spans gender, racial, and class differences like few other group outings can dream to emulate. It’s a date-night staple, a conversation starter, and a bonding experience. It takes you away from your troubles or stimulates your happiness at virtually any time you wish.
It’s not just about the movies. Though it’s convenient to have the option of pausing a film midway through for a bathroom break, it also breaks the spell that’s unbreakable inside a dark room, enveloped by a giant screen. With the introduction of technology like IMAX auditoriums and 4K digital projectors, picture and sound quality are improving at a rapid rate. Sure, you can get 1080p at home on your 42 inch HDTV, but does that truly compare to seeing the Batmobile at its full size?
These points are mostly subjective. Some people are fed up with talkative audiences and rising prices to the point where a visit to the home of movies only happens once or twice a year. But even these dissenters would agree they don’t want to see their local theater disappear, even if only for their annual visit. Home Premium services will cause theater closures. We don’t know how many. We don’t know which ones. But it could be yours.