Friday, February 19, 2010

The Sage considers movies

The Sage does not understand what has happened with the motion picture industry in recent years. Long ago, Hollywood had a rule, of sorts, that movie goers did not have the attention span to watch a movie over 100 minutes long. In reality, this tended to be how long people were able to sit.

Long movies have existed in the century or so that movies have been made. However, these tended to be in single- or double-screen movie houses, and intermissions were provide. The Sage believes that the movie industry is harming itself.

When movies are excessively long, many people choose to wait till they can rent the movie, rather than going to see the movie in the theater. This causes the theaters to sell fewer tickets. Even those moviegoers who do choose to bite the bullet and sit for 2 or even 3 hours in a darkened theater, tend to eschew the refreshments which are the bread and butter of most theaters. The Sage has long heard that the profits are not so much in the ticket sales, but in the consessions.

A customer who declines the purchase of concession is better able to sit through a lengthier movie. This greatly reduces the profitability of the theater in which the movie is shown. Also, if each movie is an extra half-hour longer, on average, then this also means that fewer movie goers can view even the greatest blockbuster on any given day.

Hollywood has begun to recognize this trend, the Sage believes. The quality of longer films seems to have improved greatly in recent months. Unfortunately for theater owners, this means that customers are even less likely to purchase concession. When longer movies were virtually guaranteed to have a long segment that was either boring or quickly explained to the absent viewer, moviegoers were able to plan on slipping out for a few moments during the film to relieve any discomfort caused by the ingestion of gigantic soft drinks, tubs of popcorn, and other tasty yet expensive treats. Now, there is concern that too much will be missed, so these purchases are put off until it is determined whether there is such a lull in the action.

While the Sage has immensely enjoyed these lengthier, high quality films, the Sage also fears that more theaters will discover that too many profits are lost to them. The Sage has noticed a number of quality, well-attended theaters which have simply shut down with little to no warning, and is convinced that it is the loss of concessions that has contributed to the demise of many.

The Sage would hope that Hollywood recognizes this trend, and either the manufacturers of these films will begin to make features of more manageable lengths, or will help theater owners discover a way to provide intermissions in these megaplexes which contain 10, 20, or even more screens. The alternates are movies which are priced well beyond the ability of many moviegoers - which they are approaching now - or having the best films being produced directly to BluRay.


  1. The Sage is sage to propose the return of intermissions during long films. Not only for concessions but for us old folks (and younger pregnant folks!) who need to go the the john at more than the usual intervals.

    As for concession, I'm ashamed to admit that my friends and I have been vying as to who could smuggle the most extravagant dish into the theater. One of my friends, to my amazement, took out a sizzling plate of nachos from her purse from which three of us happily partook while the people in front and the back of us were sniffing in puzzlement....

    We're still trying to see Avatar in 3D but the tickets all seem to be sold when we get there... I might bring a four course meal along in my new big purse when we finally make it in...

    (sorry, I absolutely totally don't wish for any movie theater to go out of business, but do they really have to charge $5 for popcorn?)

  2. This is why I don't eat or drink anything at long movies until it's at least half over, or I find a long scene that doesn't look like it would have much action or plot. For instance, during the pod race of Star Wars Episode 1. Lots of action, but overall, not that exciting.