Friday Five – Reasons I don’t go to the cinema

I’ve done Top Ten lists before, but thought I would bring back the idea in a shorter form – half, in fact. This is not for every Friday, but if I feel like I might have a list to share, this would be the place to do it.

I haven’t been to the cinema for years. I know the last time I approached one with the intent of going in, it was around the time of a Harry Potter movie, and the cinema said they reserved the right to use night vision goggles and essentially spy on you. I was appalled at the idea, decided to spend my evening elsewhere, and never returned.

The cinema has always confused me, because it is a social thing to do, except for the fact that you sit in the dark and you don’t talk. The most social thing you do is fight over the arm rest. Odd.

Anyway, the cinema is no longer a desirous place for me, if it ever was, and here’s why.

  1. It’s pretty expensive. For two of us to go, it would be a little short of £20, give or take the odd popcorn purchase. For that, we could watch at least three films in the comfort of our own home, without having to go into the dreaded outside, and choosing from a much wider selection.
  2. You can’t sit under a duvet. Is there anything better than getting comfortable on a sofa with a duvet or a blanket, a glass of wine, and a bowl of popcorn or Doritos? I’m not sure there is.
  3. The quality is lousy. They try to make up for it by raising the volume, which means you’re being systematically deafened whilst watching a scratchy giant screen. With or without the invention of HD, the smaller screen makes the quality far better, and you don’t have to crane your neck to make sure you’re seeing everything either.
  4. They spy on you! Did I mention that they spy on you? You go to the cinema, you are instantly treated like a criminal. If you have a phone, you are the enemy. I’d rather stay home and have access to IMDB and not be under surveillance by someone with military standard kit.
  5. Other people are there. Everyone watches films differently. I get distracted really easily. I had to start an entire Film Watch project to make me pay attention to what’s happening. Some people like to talk through films. Others like to text on their phones. Some eat loudly, some sigh at those eating loudly. You’ll even find the odd person asleep! At least if you are at home, you only have to worry about the people that matter, the ones you are watching with. Everyone else and their little foibles are not your problem.

This list is actually a lot more grumpy than I thought it would be. I do sort of understand why people want to watch things on a big screen, but there are so many drawbacks, I’m not sure I could bring myself to give it a go again.

Update: Janna linked to this image in the Sidepodcast comments. It’s from Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode of 5live with regards to a Cinema Code of Conduct.

9 thoughts on “Friday Five – Reasons I don’t go to the cinema

  1. Oooh good one!

    1) Agreed – we only go as a reason to go to town, really.
    2) Or stop the movie if you need to pee/get a drink/etc – and the seats suck!
    3) Didn’t really notice the quality but the loudness annoys me!
    4) I didn’t know that but it’s shocking! Who watches the versions of the film copied like this anyway?
    5) What about those that walk past you so you have to move so they can, or block the screen, or kick the back of your seat?

  2. I like the atmosphere of the cinema but I agree with some of these. Plus people talking around you… BOO to them.

  3. We are thinking of going to the Cinema this weekend as it’s been a while since we last went and for me it makes the movie more special somehow. It is a totally intangible thing and its imbued with the many many times I’ve been to the cinema in the past. The most films I’ve seen in one day at the cinema is 5 I think and I think I might have done that twice. Anyway… I basically agree with all of everything you say. It’s certainly not logical, but when the lights go down there is something very special about it for me. Weird.

  4. Especially with today’s technology such as a DVD, laptop and projector unit you can get a decent size screen image so you can almost at the movies anyway.

    Even way back in the 20th Century I borrowed a laptop projector from work and connected to my laptop and used the white wall of the swimming pool that my gal used to lifeguard at, after the pool closed. A raft and Chinese food complete the date.

    Sadly my movie selection and her choice of films ruined it. Why she picked Piranha when I also had Jaws, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Das Boot and 20 000 Leagues Under the Sea to pick from is beyond me….

  5. 1) I’m not familiar with this problem – for one thing, I’ve managed to get a student card every year since I was 18 and for another, my local cinema does a blanket cheap day where it costs under £15 for 3 people to go. The price of food would be fine if the quality and range weren’t so poor, and the local cinema is fine with people taking food in with them as long as they don’t brag about it in reception or during the film part of the film. Admittedly, a DVD is slightly cheaper than taking 3 people to the cinema even on this arrangement, but some films need the big-screen experience to work properly.

    2) Watching under a duvet would be nice, but to be honest that’s not possible at home either. I’m sure if my household could really be bothered, that would change though!

    3) The sound part of this gets me. I need earplugs to attend the cinema because of the min-maxing (that is to say, the tendency to make all sounds loud and thus squashing out the dynamics in the belief that louder is punchier). If the dynamics of sound were broadened and the volume reduced a bit, the sound would be better. Unfortunately DVD versions tend to be based off the cinematic copies unless it’s so successful that a “director’s cut” or similar is deemed justified. As a result, most DVD movies have the same problem, all based on a flawed premise.

    The picture isn’t bothersome, since the TV at home isn’t of good quality – provided the cinema people have bothered to maintain the screen. Some cinemas allow you to check which screen has what film before booking provided you do so in person (not very #mfc, but useful for ensuring that great film isn’t on the screen #14 which you know has a big bunch of dead pixels in a distracting place). Unfortunately, my local one doesn’t, so I’ve learned to grit my teeth if I find the movie’s on the wrong screen (screen #4 used to be the worst because I could see masses of flicker, but it’s been replaced since).

    4) This is true and strange. If someone is recording the audio, how will they know? Video is easier to spot but it’s also much easier to pirate a DVD or intercept the recording at some other point anyway. The equipment may be military-grade, but the intelligence certainly isn’t! (Despite that, there are a lot of people who will watch pirated films, some unintentionally because of unscrupulous sellers falsely advertising, some deliberately and some because they don’t even realise there’s a problem despite the acres of anti-piracy trailers!)

    5) This is true. Add the following:

    – some people watch films as an excuse to have a picnic (in one case two people had the picnic sprawled over 8 seats and the only other 4 other people in the screening (me, my friend and the staff who were doing the projecting) didn’t care)

    – some watch them to get a recording of them to post on their favourite social networking site and get in the way

    – some watch them because their local school has forced them to and spend the whole time moaning

    – some, for some reason, poke the random person next to them

    – some use it as an excuse to gossip with their mates about who’s dating who at school

    – some watch movies for the trailers and leave en masse when the film starts, tripping over, blocking the view and generally spoiling the start of the film for those who actually want to watch the film they’ve paid to see (yes, Phantom Menace trailer-watchers, I’m looking at you!)

    Though I will sometimes watch films on the big screen, I will admit to other pet peeves:

    6) Popcorn. Why so tacky-tasting? And why is there virtually no other choice that’s suitable for watching films with (no, local cinema, there is no way to eat the nacho-cum-fajita you sell without spilling half the mince – believe me, I’ve had to dodge enough of the stuff entering and exiting seating rows!)

    7) Aisles. They’re too thin. If you’ve got a bag with you, good luck stowing it anywhere convenient. Also, hope nobody in your row wants the toilet or needs extra nibbles.

    8) Adverts. Really, who thinks of them as anything other than a silly reason to spend 20 minutes waiting? I use them to read, but most people don’t bring magazines to the cinema with them for a reason.

    9) Signage. When the employees have to crane their necks around for a while to figure out what screen has what film, there’s something wrong (and I don’t mean with the employees, who generally at least know what side of the cinema the showing is even if the exact screen moves).

    10) Tickets. No useful information. 9) wouldn’t be such a problem if they had the screen written on them!

  6. In terms of audience behaviour, I think the area in which the cinema is located is a big factor

    I love films but don’t get to the cinema as often as I’d like these days. So, when I do, I make sure it’s a considered choice and I am rarely let down.

    I find it hard now to break the habit that I’ve gotten into of a fairly decent run of IMAX only films – about 2 1/2 years.
    In fact, have just booked my TRON: Legacy tickets for next month

    As for the sound, I love the immersive feeling of a big score or the trepidation of pounding footsteps approaching but I can see how high volumes can irritate some people

  7. I only go a few times per year now, usually not to ‘talkies’ which is a waste of money as you’re not getting the cinematic effect, but to scifi things and (some) action things where the effects really work properly compared to a small screen. Bassano is right about location too, cities usually have irritating teenagers high on sugar…

    Just in reply:
    1) The cost is one reason I don’t go so much any more, or go on the Orange Wednesdays. I thought £7 was bad but some are over a tenner now just for the ticket! Then there’s the food and drink I stopped buying because they are extortionate.
    2) I’ve never done this in my living room. 🙂 I do like my own choice of snacks and the ability to have alcohol.
    3) Picture quality? Yeah it can be a bit spotty. In that past i haven’t minded so much because the screen is so much bigger, nowadays of course you can get huge size screens of high quality. The sound is fairly good in some places I go but I agree about the mix, some things too quiet then some things too loud (music is usually too loud).
    4) I’ve never known this.
    5) What they should be doing is spying on people eating too loudly, talking, using their phones.. and ejecting them. The whole point of going is that it is an immersive experience rather than watching on a little screen at home. I don’t understand that when I am so immersed in a film, others insist on being social. If the film isn’t grabbing you… the door is over there. “Why is he doing that, why is this happening”… shut up, watch the damn film and find out!

    It helps that my TV is an old CRT, not all that big by modern standards, and my LCD PC monitor is smaller. If I had a 40” or bigger flatscreen tv or projector I’d never go to the cinema again!

    It is a shame it has gone this way though, I do enjoy it. The absolute best way to see a film at the cinema is towards the end of a run, and not for the most popular films which nearly sell out every showing in the run. Go when the rush to see it has passed, and avoid peak times. That way the place is half empty – tops. You get to sit in the middle at the right height to avoid the crick in your neck, and there’s hardly anyone around being distracting you and pulling you back into the real world.

  8. Having been to the cinema this weekend I have to say that a lot really depends on the kind of cinema that you are in. We are spoiled for choice in That London so we don’t really have the problem of annoying people in the cinema we don’t go to multiplexes for exactly that reason.

    At the Prince Charles Cinema (just off Leicester Square) they get movies after they have been shown in the main cinemas and because they are getting less popular films they charge less. A ticket was £4 this weekend, they have wine, nobody talked during the performance and there was actually a round of applause at the end of the film! All very civilized.

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