Cinema 2: The Return of the Ranting Blog Post
So yesterday I talked about how Orange Wednesdays have ruined cinemas on a Wednesday, but at least they concentrate the people who don’t care about the cinema to a day that I can avoid them. I want to talk about another reason cinemas are so expensive, mainly taken from this article (yes it’s quite old now – it wasn’t when I first read it! – but it still makes a good few points).
The article basically says that there are several ways that movie company executives are trying to make money by a) meta-money: as much money as they can by re-releasing DVDs several times with new features and b) extorting the cinema chains by taking a very large percentage of the cut of the profit on opening weekend, then gradually decreasing the percentage week by week. Whether this is true or not is probably apparent from the reaction of the cinema chains to put up the prices of the other things they can sell – food and drinks. While this makes business sense for the movie company executives, it makes it harder for cinema chains to actually make any money off of the films that they are trying to show, and that then makes it more expensive for us, the punters actually go and see the films, and it probably goes some way to explaining why we don’t see many independant cinemas any more – there is just no way they are financially viable.
I used to be of the opinion that you shouldn’t read too many reviews of films before you actually go to see it because sometimes you find some of your favourite films haven’t been rated very highly by the critics (one of my all time favourite movies is Short Circuit, and that current has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 55%). However, with the cinemas costing so much for admission, I would think against that mentality, and actually seek out critics of films that you like – and that’s an important point. If you find a critic that enjoys the same movies you do, or at least one that has a competent opinion about films that you share, then you’re more than likely going to be inspired or enthused to go and see the films that they like – and you’ll end up getting more value for money out it.
However, this brings me on to my next gripe about cinemas, and specifically cinemas in Swansea. Recently I’ve heard good things about a film starring Keifer Sutherland and Kirsten Dunst called Melancholia. It’s synopsis is “Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide into the Earth.” and some of clips I’ve heard from it off of podcasts have made it sound pretty cool. Kirsten Dunst also apparently won an award for her performance at the Cannes Film Festival. Not particularly small time unheard-of actors, yet the closest to Swansea the movie is showing is Cardiff (surprise surprise, in Cineworld). That means I will have to travel for 2 hours (there and back) spending the best part of £10 on travel as well as the cost of the admittance before I can even see this film in the cinema. There are 20+ cinema screens in Swansea and not one of them is showing this movie, ever. There is absolutely no reason for it either – the biggest two movies of the year (Harry Potter, Inbetweeners) have pretty much died off, there is nothing similar out at the moment so it has no competition, I just don’t understand it, and this is not the only time this has happened – this is a very regular occurrence. Another recent film was The Guard with Brendon Gleeson and Don Cheedle – absolutely fantastic film (I aquired it by other means…) – the closest place it was showing was Bristol.
I have often thought about what I would do if I won the lottery, (won enough of it I mean!) and it most certainly would mean me owning my own cinema. This is probably better off in a list:
- To address the issue I mentioned above, I would strive to show every movie that wants release in the UK. Obviously supporting a smaller, independent cinema, I imagine a deal could be brokered where the cinema wouldn’t have to pay so much to show the film there. If it did, then it would have to either be delayed until after the nationwide release so as to recoup a larger percentage of the takings, or not shown at all.
- I would offer alternative food and drink to the customers that may not cost as much as the cinemas. One food that has been mentioned before on podcasts that isn’t noisy is potato wedges. Also serve tea and coffee, and definintely not £1 for a bottle of water. To be honest, this would be the least of my worries to begin with – I don’t buy food at the cinema generally, so this can be figured out later
- I would employ staff who really want to work in a cinema. It’s annoying when you go to Vue, and sometimes the film is out of focus, or the sound is off, or there are signs up saying that they can’t control the temperatures of the auditoriums. What? Why not? That’s just not good enough. If you’re running a cinema, you need to hire a competent projectionist – someone who has the attention to detail required to do the job. I’d also make sure the staff were excited about the films that were showing by letting them see whatever they want and encourage conversation with the customers.
- I’d have a bar/lounge area where people could chat and talk before and after the movie – because let’s face it there’s always something you want to say and talk about after you’ve been to see an awesome or crap film.
- I’d also have a poll (online/in the cinema/whatever) of different old films to show, maybe once or twice a week. Most months seemingly have their own “holiday” so why not show four classics (one a week) that fit that particular genre, like rom coms in February, Horror in October, Christmas in December.
There have got to be a load more money making ideas to running a decent cinema, or at least better than what I have seen in Swansea cinemas. I reckon I’d be good at it anyway.