Wednesday, 6 June 2007

The Appeal of the Cinema

It seems to me that one of the appeals of the cinema (both for those chasing the blockbuster and those others hunting down a ‘classic’) is time and price.
Watching a movie, perhaps like watching a TV show, are “easier” than reading a book. A watcher is not bound to invest as much energy in the engagement whereas reading requires considerable effort, even for accomplished readers.
With the vast location of cinemas around the metropolitan area too, finding a venue is not especially difficult, nor do you have to travel far. Travel is even less of an issue if you visit your local rental store and watch DVD’s at home.
Compared to other communal, passive (non sporting) entertainments, such as the theatre or musicals, the relative dearth of these performances usually requires a trip into the city with all of the effort that that involves (baby sitters, car parking, fewer performance times to choose from).
Many people cannot conceive going to the cinema by themselves (although I do often) but I cannot imagine anyone going to a live performance by themselves. A collective experience is one of it’s appeals.
Price too makes a trip to the cinema great value. Let’s say we are being “gouged” by the Village Roadshow’s of the world with a $15 ticket. For that sort of price, for two hours of entertainment, I want to make sure that spending my money and time is worth my while. That is where my interest in reading reviews and gauging reactions from others comes in. For many though, a trip to the cinema is a social cornerstone for catching up with friends. To see the latest “Shrek” or “Pirates” is a part of the fabric of engagement within their social circle.
In contrast I am continuously disappointed by the sheer expense in attending live events. That they cost a lot to stage is not in contention. Relatively though, they cost a lot for me to attend too.
As a family (5 members), we attended the ‘Walking with the Dinosaurs – Live’ experience in March. This cost $350. And I didn’t think it was that great.
I was drawn to the Missy Higgins concert and, notwithstanding its time and location (StKilda, midweek – neither easy to get to nor get home from) the tickets were starting at over $100.
When I first heard Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds musical as a teenager my imagination was captured by the drama in the story and the music. The sci. fi. story seemed very chilling and plausible. No wonder they freaked out when Orson Welles first broadcast the radio play in the late ‘30s. Some of Australia’s current songsters are performing this musical later in the year for the first time. The cheapest ticket in the pack was $99.50 at the tennis centre. While there is no “bad” seat at that venue, one would be quite a distance from the action all the same. My dismay at not being able to seriously consider booking because of price was very real.
It even costs $33 to reserve a seat at an AFL game at the MCG this year.
As can be observed, these options are all more than a $15 cinema ticket.
As a counterpoint, a “live” experience has the potential for a greater upside than a manufactured, 2 dimensional, projected experience and this is true. But how much better ? Twice as engaging ? Seven times ? Ten times ?
While not attempting to laud one and denigrate the other, the appeal of the cinema will endure for these reasons alone : accessibility (for location and time as well as the capacity to “get into” the experience) and cost.

No comments: