Tuesday, April 26, 2011

These are 10 Ways to Save the Movies?

EW, rampant list-makers that they are, have come up with yet another compilation, although this one is more interesting than their umpteenth take on the best summer songs of all time. (Just put "I Get Around" at number 1 and call it a day, OK?)

This list suggests Ten Ways to Save the Movies. There are some good ideas here - but some are more practical than others.

1. For every jumbo-size, CGI-filled, action-adventure extravaganza a studio greenlights, it should commit to one modestly budgeted drama or comedy. - A fine idea in principle, but I'm not sure it works in the real world. Or at least what passes for the real world in Hollywood. Look, folks, we can whine about the death of the American cinema all we want, but as long as we have Scorsese, Spielberg, Joel and Ethan Coen, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Darren Aronofksy, etc. the American Cinema is going to be just fine. What I WOULD suggest is spreading out the release dates of Oscar-quality films throughout the year, so that we get more than just one during the summer and none during the spring.

2. Don't Remake Good Movies, Remake Bad Ones. - Another fine idea. Just because it's a remake doesn't automatically make it bad. The Bogie version of The Maltese Falcon was the third attempt. But it would also be nice if a studios development department didn't consist mostly of old movies and tattered copies of TV Guide

3. Stop Killing Us with Your Popcorn - Oh, c'mon. Look, I'm all for healthy eating, but is this REALLY a reason people dislike the moviegoing experience"? No. In fact, studies have shown that when theaters try to switch to healthier popcorn, patrons say, "Puke. We want the unhealthy stuff!" I'd suggest adding one word to this idea: Stop Killing Us with Your Popcorn PRICES. This is why I never buy concessions at big theater chains.

4. Treat 3D Like Good Silverware: Only bring it out for truly special occasions. Hear frickin' hear! I want to see what Martin Scorese does with 3D in Hugo Cabret, but that's about it. And quite honestly, even though I trust Peter Jackson, I really don't care about seeing The Hobbit in 3D. The Hobbit on the big screen is lure enough for me.

5. Embrace the On Demand Button: I'm of two minds about this. On the one hand, I am a fervent advocate for the theatrical experience. And I strongly believe that since people watch so many movies at home, that's a BIG reason why they think of the theater as their own personal living room when they DO go out. However, I think On Demand is a good solution for indie flicks without massive advertising budgets. Indeed, I saw All Good Things on demand (solid little film)  - but I did so mainly because no theater in Dayton played it.

6. Admit you're jealous of TV - and start hiring its best writers: I'm not enough of a TV creature to comment with thoughtfulness on this idea. However, I know one particular friend of mine will agree wholeheartedly with this idea, just for the quality of AMC TV shows alone.

7. Before a film gets a green light, someone involved with the project — the director, the star, the boom-mic operator — has to believe it will be a good movie: This suggestion is made in the spirit of avoiding movies like The A Team, etc. And I agree with that. But believe it or not, no one sets out to make a bad movie. I don't think even Uwe Boll does that. A wiser suggestion might be "Just because something was once a popular TV show, game or toy doesn't mean it will make a good movie." Do not rely on nostalgia alone as your attraction.

8. Can the commercials: I don't so much mind the 15 or so minutes of ads that show on the digital projector before the movie itself starts. Like it or not, I've come to accept it as part of the landscape. But for the love of god, don't hit us with MORE ads after the pre-reel is done! I heartily applaud the idea of more cartoon shorts, though.

9. No more than four screenwriters per script: Generally speaking, if you see more than four names on a movie, that means it's been rewritten, pre-marketed and focused grouped to death.

10. Create separate screenings for schmucks: If only. The whole problem with schmucks is they don't know they're schmucks. Or worse yet, they don't care if they're schmucks. Be more specific: Have screenings for cell phone users and for people with squawling children.

As many of EW's readers have pointed out, the staff forgot one BIG suggestion: BRING DOWN THE PRICES. If theater owners can't or won't charge less for tickets or concessions, at least offer the occasional discount, like the Bargain Tuesdays that used to be a regular feature in the area. Only one chain theater that I know of in Dayton still has cheap day, and I'm sure it's going to fade away since it's gone from all but one venue. Regal has never offered it at all. It would be nice if theaters in Dayton adopted the AMC Theatres practice of cheap showings for screenings before noon - when the schmucks are too lazy to get out of bed. I'm sure customers would appreciate all the more when gas prices go off the charts.

Any other bright idears?

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