Well, Look At That: People Still Like Going To The Movies

from the shocking dept

While the MPAA keeps coming up with bogus and easily disproved stats about what a big threat “piracy” is to their business, we’ve been among those who have pointed out for many years that the industry has even less to worry about than other industries. That’s because the act of going to the movies is a social experience. It’s about “going out” to the movies and seeing it in comfy seats on a huge screen with a great sound system. Of course, the MPAA and many theater owners are still confused and have actually made the situation worse by treating the customers like criminals. But if they provide a good entertainment experience (which includes making quality films), people will keep coming. The MPAA’s stance would almost be like the RIAA claiming that the freely available music online means that night clubs will have to shut down because no one would ever go out to a club again. So, it’s interesting (though not at all surprising) to find out that box office takes and theater admissions increased last year, despite all the commercials you see at the movie theaters about how you’re helping to put that poor set designer out of business. Even more telling, however, is that much of that increase came from overseas, mainly in countries known for their lax intellectual property protection — where you can often buy DVDs of the movies before they’re even released in the theaters (and where you can still download the films for free). Turns out, though, that people like going out to the movies, and the more the experience is worthwhile, the more they’ll go. If the movie industry stopped worrying so much (and spending so much time and money) about “piracy” and focused on improving the quality of the experience, it wouldn’t have anything to worry about.

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Comments on “Well, Look At That: People Still Like Going To The Movies”

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Anon says:

Before you go boasting proudly, Mike, look closely at the facts:

    Sales were down considerably in the prior years (2003 and 2005). It’s not as though all of Hollywood’s claims or fears were bogus.

    There were 11% more movies made last year than the year before. Obviously, the more product that is out there, the better the chance people will use it.

    Ticket prices were up 2%. Although the argument can be made that higher ticket prices may be a deterrent, the fact is even if the same number of people went to the movies, the studios would still post an increase in revenue.
    Studios spent more of the budget on Internet advertising than the previous year. When the advertising is working better, the bottom line benefits.

One could also argue that the quality of movies released this past year was superior to the ones prior. A better product has more buyers, plain and simple. So before you go screaming “I told you so” which you tend to do so often, remember that your economics degree isn’t what got you the job at TechDirt.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

One could also argue that the quality of movies released this past year was superior to the ones prior. A better product has more buyers, plain and simple.

And which part of that goes against what I was saying? That is what I (and many other people) have been saying for years. Focus on making a better product. But it’s the movie industry that claims it’s impossible to compete with free and no one will want to go see movies.

Iron Chef says:

To #2 -Anon

The stories and plots that would have worked five or ten years ago don’t work today. Today’s audience is more intellegent, and their tastes are more refined now than they ever had been. Additionally, the Movie industry may benefit by including interactivity in some shape or form.

In short the distribution model of one final product to suit the tastes of many has been inverted. Consider that “You” are the Time Person of the year.

The productions being churned out by the major players in movie indistry utilize the latest technologies in the post production process, but how about a challenge- can they be utilized in the distribution process? I have no idea how that would look or pan out, but it’s at least an idea worth looking at before the industry becomes a stagnant monolith.

From my perspective, there are two types of films that will survive- Those with a good story, and those with million-dollar budgets for special effects.

Personally, I enjoy independent film because they don’t focus more on the former, and not so much on the latter. And if memory serves me right, most of the top grossing films over the past few years were from independents.

The sad fact is to get that story through the selection process generally requires hiring and using talent outside of the confines of a Union organization, which is why I believe that Hollywood will just continue to churn out movies based on needs identified in focus groups, studies, and ultimately bureocracy which studios and unionization brings to the table.

That said, I am filiing a grievience against myself because I am keeping me from working and providing for my family by submitting this post.

– A proud supporter of the Canadian Film Industry and Independent film


Boost says:

Better movies please

The last three years I think I saw maybe 6 movies in the theatres and, though mostly I wasn’t disapointed to have seen the movies that I chose, I think the mainstream movie industry has been letting it’s customers down. I would say most of the movies being produced these days are just plain garbage. Alot of these movies, I would distribute for free just so people wouldn’t spend their hard earned money to see such shit.

Overcast says:

Hmm, well – I agree. I went to a movie just last weekend, although I do have my limits of how much annoyance the MPAA can create..

They need to remember – there’s a lot more competition out there for people’s time, more sporting events, video games, home theater..

Can’t say that the boom of the video game sector didn’t pull a few from other areas of entertainment too.

E says:

Re: Re:

“by kingaugustus on Mar 8th, 2007 @ 4:18am

I will see 300 in IMAX

and i will pay for TMNT

some movies just have to been seen in theaters (preferably in the daytime when no one is there)”

Holy crap, this guy stole my post. That’s exactly what I was going to say! I already have my 300 IMAX ticket, and my friends and I will be renewing an almost-forgotten tradition of going to see a TMNT movie for my friend’s birthday.
Point being, theatres still have a place. Especially for movies like 300. An HDTV and surround sound is nice, but even a home projector is no movie screen (and sure as hell is no IMAX). If Hollywood makes interesting movies, people will go to see them.

billy says:

several things

Re #1
lol, nice, so very true

I do not recall specifically the last movie I saw in theaters.
I know i saw 007 Casino Royale. May have been one since then, do not recall.
I am going to see 300 this weekend, although not in IMAX, the effers don’t have 300 showing in any of the Michigan IMAX theaters.
I WILL see Spiderman 3 in IMAX and it is showing in Michigan. That for a long time was the only movie I was looking forward to, then came 300, but that is soon about to pass.
And I feared SM3 would be the only film to look forward to again, but RE3 is going to come out now, so I am kind of looking forward to that. We shall see how good it ends up being. 1 was awesome, 2 was good, but not as good as 1. Hopefully they don’t pull an X-Men and make the 3rd one suck an ass cheek.

As for the MPAA, they can suck my left nut. I download movies proudly and show them to family and friends.
I would say between all of us, an additional 50 movies have been bought over the past two years worth of time because of that. We all watch it, if it is liked, whoever likes it goes and buys it (after the price comes down to about 10$, 20$ is too much, so is 15).

Actually, I should sue the MPAA for advertisement costs.
Bastards aren’t paying me for my time I spend downloading and advertising their movies, most of which aren’t worth buying.

Luke Kanies (user link) says:

Movie theaters are like bars

I think going to movie theaters is a lot like going to bars to drink. You can buy alcohol *far* cheaper to drink at home than at bars, yet you don’t hear any bars complaining about it — they’re too busy serving you alcohol at a 300% markup.

Movies at home aren’t legally “free”, they’re just much cheaper than going to the movies. The theaters have to find a way to be as appealing as bars are, which speaks to your statement that it’s a social thing, but it’s not just social, so I don’t think the comparison is perfect. People don’t go to bars to socialize (which I take to mean interacting with a larger group of people), they go to bars with a few (or many) friends and just hang out with those people, usually. It’s the same thing with movies — I go with a couple of friends, and I don’t plan on socializing with anyone outside that circle.

Clearly there’s some benefit to being around all those other people even if you’re not interacting with them, though, so there’s something there.

bshock says:

how much longer

The last time I went to a movie was the very last time I will ever go to a movie.

— I’m sick of being unjustly accused of theft by MPAA ads before the film.

— I’m sick of watching half an hour of commercials before a film that I’ve already paid to watch. If I wanted commercials, I’d watch tv instead.

— I’m sick of movie trailers that lie about their movies.

— I’m sick of movie trailers for comedies that use up every halfway decent joke in the entire film, and I’m sick of comedy films that only have 30 seconds worth of decent jokes.

— I’m sick of sticky theater floors, seats that smell like vomit, filthy restrooms and inedible concession stand food.

— I’m sick of cell phone users who believe that their conversations are more important than the film.

— I’m sick of spending two hours in the same room with mindless conservative pinheads who think that Michael Moore is the biggest “terrorist” in the U.S. today.

— I’m sick of films that think special effects are a substitute for acting and writing.

— I’m sick of films that try so self consciously to be “blockbusters,” at the expense of story and character.

— I’m sick of films that are so clearly acts of condescension by Hollywood.

— I’m sick of films that are so clearly acts of commerce over entertainment.

Fuck you, movie theaters.

Fuck you, MPAA.

Fuck you, Hollywood.

rishi (profile) says:

I will agree with Mike here.

I live in India, where the pirated VCD’s and DVD’s are availaible even before the movie release. Still many people here go to the movies. This is because the pirated VCD’s are not of good quality and also viewing at home is not as exciting as viewing in the theatre.

Many multiplexes here have a food court or a mall within them and generate some money from them too.

There are many new multiplexes coming up which enhance the movie experience. So even though they charge ~Rs 120 ($3) per ticket and the pirated VCD’s are availaible for Rs 30/- ($0.8) I would go to the movies to watch on the big screen.


rishi (profile) says:

Re: @rishi

Well, popcorn and a coke would be around Rs 50-60 and parking generally costs Rs 20/- for a car. So you can add a couple of dollars for those.

The rates I am giving are for multiplexes in a major metro (sepecifically Pune). There are also older single screen theatres which offer tickets at around half these rates, but do not have the best ambience, sound, seating etc.

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