Just a Little Common Sense

For a life based on reason, ethics, literature and art.

Rantings About the State of the Movie Industry

with 3 comments

Dear Movie Industry

You’re doing it wrong. Actually you’re doing many things wrong. I’ll address a few of them, in no particular order. I’ll start of with the most obvious point:

  • Management of Cinemas and Movie Theatres

You keep whining about the classic Movie Theatre is dying because of DVD and the evil, evil internet piracy. I disagree. It’s dying because of bad management. You aren’t offering a very decent product – uncomfortable seats, dirty rooms, that loud fucker who won’t shut up. Here’s a list of improvements you might make, so cinema will become a pleasant experience again:

  1. Use your householder’s rights, employ bouncers.
    Cinemas are private property. If somebody misbehaves, throw him out. You’ll lose one customer, but the other 100 guests will be enormously thankful. Who knows, they may even come back for the next movie, rather than staying at home with a DVD where nobody spoils their fun by shouting, throwing popcorn or talking on the phone.
  2. Don’t whine about how DVDs are stealing your business, sell them.
    There is no law that says that you can’t act as a retail business, too. As a cinema you might actually profit from the DVD business, by providing special offers such as giving people who produce a movie ticket on purchase 20% off the DVD for that movie once it comes out. Or give the first 100 buyers a movie poster, rather than throwing them away. You have a lot of possibilities here, be creative.
  3. Provide proper food.
    Is popcorn and nachos the best you can do? Come on. Add a decent (NO FAST FOOD!) restaurant to the theatre, provide the opportunity for a romantic dinner before/after the latest romance. Actually, take a look at ALL the things people tend to do before/after visiting a cinema, and provide those services. Profit from them. Nobody ever said you need to let your customers take their business anywhere else after they finished watching the movie. Provide a bar, make them stay. Them and their money.
  4. How about cinemas for smokers?
    Being a non-smoker, I’d really hate to see that idea being realized, but smokers are an important target group. Make one cinema a dedicated smoking-zone. Sell the tickets for a higher price so you can keep the “silver screen” from becoming a yellow screen, and see the nicotine-addicted part of the audience break out in tears of thankfulness because they can enjoy a movie without having to abstain from smoking an unbearable 110 minutes.
  5. Need more suggestions?
    You have people who get paid to think about stuff like this. Tell them to be creative and don’t let poor student bloggers do their homework for them.


To conclude, your current red numbers are your own fault. TVs used to be small and ugly, and provide horrible quality. Today, home cinemas have grown, DVDs and large format High Definition where it used to be VHS on a 35 cm screen. You haven’t kept up with the development. There is still things you have to offer that home cinemas can’t, exploit that fact. Provide a unique experience again, and people will be willing to pay for it.

  • DVD Region Code

Stop it with the silly region coding already.

DVD video discs may be encoded with a region code restricting the area of the world in which they can be played.
The commercial DVD player specification requires that a player to be sold in a given place not play discs encoded for a different region.
source: Wikipedia

The practice of region coding has been widely and substantially criticised. The resulting price discrimination is of questionable legality, it allows for local censorship, it is a huge inconvenience for frequent travelers, immigrants and foreign film enthusiasts (count me into the latter category). It’s just plain bullshit. Since movies are being published at the same date around the world, region coding’s (official) main purpose has become obsolete. It doesn’t help anybody, it doesn’t protect anything, it’s just annoying.

  • Commercials and anti-piracy ads

This is the worst of all. When I go to the cinema, don’t make me sit through half-a-fucking-hour of mindboggingly stupid commercials. If the time I spend watching commercials exceeds 35% of the time I spend watching the move that I FUCKING PAID FOR, something is definitely going wrong. The worst are the anti-film-piracy ads: Those are on DVDs, too. Are you people aware that by far the biggest advantage one gets out of illegally downloading movies is not having to watch those? Also, you’re obviously placing those ads in front of the wrong people. It makes as much sense as leaving flyers for a steakhouse in a vegan restaurant. I am the guy who is sitting in the cinema, who bought or at least rented your DVD. I am the honest guy who is paying for all this, though not much longer if you keep pestering me with those fucking ads.
Sensible guy that I am, I acknowledge that there is a problem, and here is how I would go about it: Put the ads into movie files. Go by the pattern of 5 min. of movie, then 5 min. of anti-piracy ads. Or just complete data-rubbish after the first 10 minutes. Or fuck up the sound files. Or shred the movie, recutting it in a way that doesn’t make sense. Mix it up with parts of other movies, or just cut out all important scenes. Fuck up the colors. Hell, just do whatever to those files, just make sure they are (a) thoroughly unwatchable, (b) un-repairable [So not only the sound files – even I can replace those] and (c) the same size as “normal” movie files available for download. Also make sure to leave the first 10 minutes intact, so that somebody just superficially checking the file won’t notice it’s rubbish. You want him to go on sharing it.
Once you created suitable, unwatchable files, just spam the illegal download-portals, P2P-programms and other such places with it. Drown them in useless files. Make the servers reach their maximum capacities, make downloading or streaming movies an unpleasant, time-consuming experience. Yes, I realize that there are ways for the pirate-community to work around this. It is still better than spamming and annoying law-abiding citizens who are (the only) paying customers (you have left).

  • Most importantly: Give me more original plots

Stop mass-manufacturing soulless movies that are based on success formulas. Movies are more art than business.
Action + love story + a little clean sex + a running-gag or two = big success. The Blockbuster-formula. It’s shit. Has this ever produced a movie that will be remembered for anything but its enormous production cost?
Also: No more sequels. Please. Walking by my local cinema yesterday, there were but two (two!) movie posters that did not have a number or “the beginning” in their title. Iron Man 2, Step Up 3, Shrek 4. What kind of movie will you offer me in five years? Ocean’s 17? American Pie 9?
Come on. Put in some effort, will you? Find new novels to adapt, or find new writers. Make Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin into a film. Picturize Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. Ben Okri’s The Famished Road could be turned into a great movie if you manage to find a visionary director – so coud Iain Bank’s Matter or The Player of Games.
You have already discovered the potential of japanese comics – Hint: They don’t just write horror-stuff like Ju-On, The Ring and Dark Water. They do other great plots, too: Try Naoki Urasawa’s Monster or Hiroki Endo’s Eden for a start. Kentaro Miura’s BERSERK or Hiroaki Samura’s Blade of the Immortal may offer some great inspiration for action movies with main characters that are a little deeper than the fucking rubbish that wasThe Transporter.

Hollywood will not much longer remain the great alpha male of movie production. Already Europe is producing gems like The Perfume which can keep up with the production value of the American market, and South-Korea has been producing a great many of incredibly good movies over the last years. OldBoy was better than most thrillers that ever came out of the “Dream-Factory”.

Hollywood is only limited by its business-men who judge the value of scripts solely by concepts that have already proven profitable and successful in the past, thus completely undermining any potential for new ideas. Stop digging your own grave that way, people won’t continue forever watching the same shit over and over again.
There is no shortage of great stories and clever plots; Not only England and America have a rich tradition of great literature, and not only Japan offers an abundance of creative potential. Inspiration is everywhere, use it or die.

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Written by Phil

June 23, 2010 at 08:06

3 Responses

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  1. # Use your householder’s rights, employ bouncers.
    Cinemas are private property. If somebody misbehaves, throw him out. You’ll lose one customer, but the other 100 guests will be enormously thankfull. Who knows, they may even come back for the next movie, rather than staying at home with a DVD where nobody spoils their fun by shouting, throwing popcorn or talking on the phone.

    Or provide a temporal displacement control at every seat so that I can pause the movie if I get a phone call without bothering anybody. :)

    Provide proper food.
    Is popcorn and nachos the best you can do? Come on. Add a decent (NO FAST FOOD!) restaurant to the theatre, provide the opportunity for a romantic dinner before/after the latest romance. Actually, take a look at ALL the things people tend to do before/after visiting a cinema, and provide those services. Profit from them. Nobody ever said you need to let your customers take their business anywhere else after they finished watching the movie. Provide a bar, make them stay. Them and their money.

    Oh dear MWTGG, no! That’s way too redneck. What next? Weddings?

    This is the worst of all. When I go to the cinema, don’t make me sit through half-a-fucking-hour of mindboggingly stupid commercials. If the time I spend watching commercials exceeds 35% of the time I spend watching the move that I FUCKING PAID FOR, something is definitely going wrong. The worst are the anti-film-piracy ads: Those are on DVDs, too. Are you people aware that by far the biggest advantage one gets out of illegaly downloading movies is not having to watch those? Also, you’re obviously placing those ads in front of the wrong people. It makes as much sense as leaving flyers for a steakhouse in a vegan restaurant. I am the guy who is sitting in the cinema, who bought or at least rented your DVD. I am the honest guy who is paying for all this, though not much longer if you keep pestering me with those fucking ads.

    What’s even worse than those stupid anti-piracy ads in the theatres is the fact that, in many cases, you can’t skip it when playing store-bought disk at home. You either have to watch the whole thing, or FF or CF through it. It’s insane.

    What about Coming Soon trailers that play automatically and can’t be skipped? If I buy a disk today, what do I care what’s Coming Soon in 2010 if I pull it out ten years from now to watch again? Oddly, though, there don’t appear to be any Coming Soon trailers on the only four BluRay disks I own.

    Hollywood will not much longer remain the great alpha male of movie production. Already Europe is producing gems like The Parfume which can keep up with the production value of the American market, and South-Korea has been producing a great many of incredibly good movies over the last years. OldBoy was better than most thrillers that ever came out of the “Dream-Factory”.

    Maybe. I’ve watched a few Korean films lately when they came out on cable and I can definitely say I’m glad I didn’t have to waste actual money on them in the theatre.

    Unfortunately, the only way to beat American movies is to produce movies yourself(by this I mean, another country) that other countries will actually want to watch, en masse. When American movies make hundreds of millions of dollars in non-US sales even before DVD sales, it hardly gives the studios the push to alter what works.

    The Other Weirdo

    June 23, 2010 at 12:01

    • “so that I can pause the movie if I get a phone call”

      Sadly, this AWESOME idea is not realizable before cinemas go all digital, as a movie that is actually being stopped will burn through within seconds. I’ve witnissed that twice, during the same movie.
      ___________

      “What next? Weddings?”

      If there’s money to be made, it might be worth a thought. ;) No seriously, the point of this wasn’t “how to greatly improve cinemas” but “the reason you’re not making money is because you don’t fucking try to”. Personally I would hate to see some of those ideas realized, but I also know that there IS money to be made in realizing them. If weddings is what cinemas need to survive, then so be it.
      _________

      “in many cases, you can’t skip it when playing store-bought disk at home. You either have to watch the whole thing, or FF or CF through it.”

      Yes, incredibly annoying. I even own some discs that have FastForward disabled, too. Makes me wanna send letter bombs to whoever is responsible for this shit. Anyhow, what does CF mean?
      I haven’t yet seen a trailer that couldn’t be skipped. But it annoys me when they put them on autoplay BEFORE the menue. Put a “trailershow” into the “Extras” menue by all means, but leave it UP TO ME wether I watch them or not. Makes me want to modify those letter bombs so that they cause a slow, agonizing death.
      _______

      Do watch OldBoy. Choi Min-Sik is an amazing actor, the director is awesome. Good camera, good set, good music, good everything. Most importantly, the plot is one of the sickest mindfucks that I’ve ever seen. Better than Memento, better than Freeze Frame. So far my all-time favourite movie.
      _______

      “it hardly gives the studios the push to alter what works.”

      *sigh* I know. This was more of a rant than an open letter actually meant to achieve some change. But as I said, other film-markets ARE producing great movies already. Not the kind of massive financial success yet, but we’re getting there. German movies got a whole lot better over the last years. Only yesterday I watched “Knallhart” a movie with relatively low budget that really blew me away. It’s a modern version of Goodfellas set in Berlin today. A really good movie, which was somewhat of a suprise for me. We’re learning, and so are the french and the koreans, and who-knows who else.
      Give it a few years, and hollywood is going to have to fight for its position as the first and the best.

      Ochiudo

      June 23, 2010 at 19:48

  2. Yes, incredibly annoying. I even own some discs that have FastForward disabled, too. Makes me wanna send letter bombs to whoever is responsible for this shit. Anyhow, what does CF mean?

    Oh, sorry.

    FF
    Fast-forward
    CF
    Chapter-forward

    The Other Weirdo

    June 23, 2010 at 20:12


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