Cinema - A dying concept?
Has the cinema heard the death knell?
I personally believe so. The "Cinema experience" of which affictionados are so keen just doesn't seem to bear the same value it used to.
Let's start by looking at what this experience offers, and I'll be generous and start with the positive points.
First up, the silver screen. (I know that silver is no longer used, but I'm looking back to when a cinema trip was somewhat magical, through the vaseline soft focus of memory.) Yes, the picture is huge, the size of one side of a house. The ideal place to sit in order to get the maximum enjoyment is right in the middle of the room. The problem is, this is only optimum for about twenty people in a room with 200 odd people in it. I've been sat in the front ten rows before now, and within ten minutes I was at the front desk demanding my money back. If I'm watching a dramatic close up I like to be able to see both of the actors eyes at the same time, preferably without having to move my head. The equivalent with a TV or computer monitor is being about one inch from the screen. How often do you watch something on your computer with your chin resting on the keyboard? Probably not all that often.
Next up, the sound system. I like the speech in a movie to be clear, and if there's an explosion I like to feel a thump that puts all of my internal organs into new and interesting positions. Surround sound also brings a new level of immersion into the action. The cinema provides all of this, and does the job well. Most televisions fall foul on this one (unless you have a seperate speaker set up). Reproducing the wealth of audio information through the two small speakers you get on the average telly gives you an idea of what the sound could be, you can tell the difference between the high and low notes certainly. But all the sound comes out in the same rough frequency range as the human voice. That's why someone talking when you watch TV completely obliterates the sound (worse for blokes, who are designed to mono-task. Especially those who turn off the stereo\TV when talking on the phone, you know who you are!)
This point loses its impact though, when you think that most people who use a computer to view films have speakers that can re-create this effect, and if other people talking during the film really gets to you, lock them out of the room while you watch!
Those are the only plus points I can think of, film buffs may be able to come up with more, but my experience is limited.
Negative points....... Now here I will try to keep it brief in the effort to maintain a balanced argument.
The cost. This one's a biggie. Seeing ten films at the cinema with a small bag of sweeties each time, washed down with the obligatory bucket of badly mixed syrupy Coke costs the same as:
an external hard drive large enough to store all the films you download, and those your friends download.
A set of speakers that will rival the cinema experience in any room smaller than a warehouse.
A reasonably fast 'net connection for a few months (which not only deals with viewing media, but brings social networking and news feeds from such lovely organisations as ElReg....)
I like to walk to my seat after getting the film going without the spaceage adhesive qualities of the floor removing both my boots and socks. I once saw a film three times in a row, as the floor had stuck to my bare feet and I had to be removed from the cinema surgically. (Ok, I exagerate, but you can see the nugget of truth there if you look hard enough..)
I like to pause the film when I want to go to the bathroom. Two hundred people sat in a dark room full of exciting loud noises, all drinking their bucket of badly mixed soft drink, 'cos they can't charge you the best part of a fiver for a can. You can probably see where I'm going with this, and why you should be grateful that you never get to see the super sticky floor. But then again, if you are paying the GDP of a small country to watch a film you can't pause, I can see why you would be reluctant to walk the 2.5 miles past all the other screens to get to the toilets. Just avoid any Coke buckets left on the floor as you walk out. (There are always a few, as they never fit in the drink holders).
Seating. When watching a film I like to assume the sort of boneless posture that would make a drowsy cat feel uncomfortable to look at. The person next to you does get all unnecessary when you rest your foot on top of their head....
The type of seating with a drink holder too small to fit my drink in, but with ample room to loose my small bag of sweeties (which are worth more by weight than printer ink, and that's saying something!), coupled with a seat arm that's just slightly thinner than half the width of my forearm, but supposed to be shared by two people...Go figure.
Having said all of that, I do know some people do enjoy the experience. That's ok by me, it's just that my opinion differs.
I would like to point out at this juncture that I do not put terrorist children through college by downloading copies of films. Not me. No sir.
I have trancended to the next level of evil, and only copy films where the direct result funds the invasion of Earth by aliens. The aliens are twice as evil as the terrorists, they just don't have the same level of PR budget.
As a disclaimer against the omnipotent RIAA, I have never knowingly funded any terrorists or aliens by viciously stealing hideously overpriced media. Honest. I just like clicking on flashing links, and therefore am too stupid to be held accountable for my own actions. And I was out of the country/having tea with granny when any films may or may not have been downloaded.