In the past week, the AMC chain of movie houses moved to acquire Carmike Cinemas, and AMC also antagonized the consumers it still has by announcing that some of its psychoplexes would permit viewers to send text messages during the show.  That announcement has since gone down the memory hole, but Steve Johnson of Chicago's Tribune points out that the current movie-going experience doesn't offer much by way of inducement to go there rather than stream the picture on your computer or rent the disk.
Movie theaters’ real problem is with the entirety of the experience. The food and drink choices are pitched at the American teenager circa 1985, and they barely change from place to place. Nothing better has happened in the world of candy, apparently, than Milk Duds, and the only way to satisfy a craving for savory food is with the kind of pizza you might find in a Little League refreshment stand or with corn kernels popped and soaked in a butter-esque sludge.

Beverages start with 28 grams of sugar or the equivalent amount of Aspartame. The rest of the world is practically afloat in craft beer and decent coffee, but movie theaters offer mostly a trip to the supermarket soda aisle.

So after you’ve got your Junior Mints -- frequently the only tolerable ingestion choice --  the experience doesn’t improve. It’s an old refrain, but pre-film on-screen clutter has indeed grown too long and too insistent. Moviegoers are paying to be taken away from the real world, not bombarded with reminders that our society is mostly about the sales pitch.

After the overt ads come the trailers, and they usually fail on two fronts. They give away almost the whole plot, especially, it seems, in the stunted rom-com genre; we already know that the couple will meet cute, tragically separate and then magically reunite even without seeing all those key moments crammed into the preview. Trailers also too often tease a movie coming six months from now; like wearing white, thinking about the next “Independence Day” movie shouldn’t be allowed until after Memorial Day.
And if you want those Milk Duds (or my preference, the snow caps) expect the counter operator to attempt to sell you a larger slug of sugar or a half-peck of that butteresque sludge.  Shut up and sell me my stuff.

I once sent Carmike a letter detailing these things ... it was after my feature picture advertised for 1.30 started a few minutes past 2, which way exceeds my patience for business necessity.  They have not yet responded.  I have not gone back.  Nor, apparently have many other viewers.

No comments: