You may have read about the Great Box Office
Slump of 2005. This past weekend movie theaters ran
about 7% behind the same weekend last year. That's typical for the year
as a whole.
Now, I actually saw two (pretty good)
movies in theaters
over the weekend, see below. But my experience may have
something to say
why a significant number of people are finding better things
to do, even when scorching temperatures would seem to beguile
them with air-conditioned comfort.
On Friday, I went to the Newington Regal 12 with Pun Son to see Batman
Begins. The listing on the Web said the movie was starting at 2:25. But
when we got there shortly before 2:25, the sign in the window and above
the cashier said the movie was starting at 2:55. So Son and I went to
a nearby Barnes and Noble for a bit to browse.
When we returned (in plenty of time to see a movie starting at 2:55),
the signs had been changed to 2:25. The tickets we bought said
2:25. And (indeed) when we got to the theater, the movie had already
started. So we returned to the cashier, got our money back, and went
home, irritated at the wasted trip, a little black cloud hanging over
We tried again on Sunday, July 24. Again the newspaper listing and the
Web said the movie was scheduled for 2:25. This time (again) the sign
in the window and above the cashier said 2:55. And (unfortunately) this
time the signs were right; the movie really was starting at 2:55. So we
wasted half an hour sitting in the theater waiting for the movie to
Complaining to the cashier did no good, of course, although it did
embarrass Son, so the effort was not wasted. And it's not as if I need a
lung transplant or anything, so let's try to keep it in perspective.
But I have absolutely no problem
in generalizing wildly from my own experience:
if theaters aren't getting this right,
it's likely they are botching many of the other dozens
of details that impact the moviegoing experience.
Although the movies are as good or better than ever, the
theatergoing experience may be turning into more of an inconvenient
ordeal that more and more people are deciding they can do without.
(Hmpf! That'll show you; piss me off, I'll blog about you.)