Guantanamo Bay: The Movie ( theatre experience )

I was lucky enough to see the Corpse Bride last night. Super short review: "Nightmare Before Christmas Light" While Cheryl has written a great a review, I wanted to review not the movie but the experience.
There has been a security ramp up that is getting openly ridiculous and all of this is to prevent taping of movies and their subseqent posting the Internet. I have some bad news: they've lost.
Last night, we had to line up until EVERYONE who would attend was in line. This was probably an attempt to get the cat herd of security people into position. Finally, they opened the doors.
A team of security people stood guard at the entrance. They were basically tough burger-flippers. In other words, if they were less malicious, they would either be asking "Do you want fries with that?" or "Can you spare some change?" One of them ushered me forward in broken English to go to another one of the security. I took two steps forward. The other "one" waved it's non-gender specific arms and said, "whoa, you'll have to step back."
The security split up people and wanded them with these scanners. I am pretty sure that they were metal detectors. I am also pretty sure that the security people didn't know what to do with them. They were testing to see if we had any cellphones or cameras on our person. Swell, but there are two problems with this sweep: A) My wife and I each had our cellphones, they were on and they were not detected; B) Why leave a recording device on in the first place? After the first wave, they questioned. I said I have a cellphone but it was switched off. With my wife, they shone a flashlight at her bag. Unless it was emitting X-Rays, I don't know the point behind that.
People trickled past the gauntlet and filled the theatre. While we were waiting, one of the theatre staff propped open the exit to the outside and left it open for probably five minutes. Great: ticket holders get searched but anyone can walk in from the outside with a camcorder.
Here's the characteristics of this spiral:
  • They need previews to generate buzz because Hollywood is so good at churning out crappy movies. I have seen more free movies in last four years than I have in the 30 yrs. before that. If they don't give away the tickets, no one will see the movie.
  • Because people get to see the movies early, someone could slip in with a camcorder and beat the premiere. Of course, wouldn't it look suspicious to be the guy in a crowd with a camcorder? If I did it, I would do in a nearly empty theatre or from the projectionist booth. Okay, as I don't work for a theatre, it's not what I do. It's what a $10/hr. usher would do if they hated a job where they had to scrape popcorn and congealed soda from the floors every two hours.
  • Because the US is so keen on offshoring, they probably offshore film duplication. This would explain why some movies are sold in Bangkok streets before they're released in theatres.
  • Right now, they're wanding people walking in for a freebie.This trend will worsen. Eventually they'll wand you when you walk into the movie you pay $10 to see. When that happens, people will be too pissed to bother and the system will fall apart.
This is what will drive the problem. Hollywood is ill-equipped to fight this with their current arsenal. Here's what they need to do (and will fail to do):
  • Lower production costs. If you can deliver a $30 million movie, it becomes profitable faster than a $60 million movie. You can market it less. It means you can take risks and not lose so much if the risk fails. Remember Star Wars? It made money. Blair Witch, El Mariachi, Deep Throat and many more low budget outtings have reaped big dollars and huge percentages.
  • Lower ticket prices. If you take a family of 3 to a movie: it will cost $30+popcorn. If you get the DVD on the day it comes out, it costs $27 but you can see it twice even thrice. Skip the expensive chance to get wanded and see the movie at home. If you can take three people for less than the cost of the DVD, you will take three people. You'll like the movie. You'll buy it later. Don't go the other way and raise DVD prices. That approach is a BitTorrent ad.
  • Tell good stories. Hollywood is creatively bankrupt. They stitch plots together like they're making a stew. The Corpse Bride was the first movie I've seen in a many months where people cheered and laughed. Cheering should be rule, not the exception. I'm waiting for the novelization of the movie of M*A*S*H based on the TV series based on the movie based on the book. Who knows? Publication of the novelization may spark a conflict in South Korea to come full circle.
If Hollywood doesn't do anything it's on its way to the toilet. Productions will flow out from LA to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. No? Here's the country list rephrased: X-Men, Matrix and, Lord of the Rings. Those movies where largely filmed in those respectively countries. Soon: Korea, China, Japan and India will get tired of delivering IT solutions for $20/hr. They'll fail to reach a world market if they try to popularize Bollywood. But, they will mop the floor with Hollywood when it comes to CG movies. Hungry actors will fly to Bangalore to voice anything.


Falcona said…
Yeah, I saw Corpse Bride for download on Saturday. It's a tough call on theatre ticket prices now that the theaters are all one company. Famous Players is now owned by Oden, who is owned By Gallaxy. There is realy no compition.
Mike DeWolfe said…
Unfortunately, there is competition and you're staring at it. If someone is tired of high prices and lousy treatment they can download a movie, take the 1:100,000 chance of going to jail and save their money.
Hollywood has to embrace the change or outcompete the change.
They could embrace it by releasing movies online with advertising (why not? there's no regulation to limit content or quanity-- use the black bars above and below widescreen presentation).
They could outcompete it by making the movie experience so enjoyable that staring at your computer can't hold a candle to it.

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