Every few years, there are a wave of think pieces and alleged predictions claiming that the state of cinema as we know it is coming to an end. After all, why would people pay to go to the cinema when within just a few short months they can watch whatever they want on Sky Movies, BT Movies, Blinkbox or LoveFilm from the comfort of their homes? And even then, there are so many distractions–do people still have time for the cinema? New video games and books are constantly being released, the quality of television drama is so good that Hollywood stars like Kevin Spacey and Matthew McConaughey are getting in on the action, and that’s without even starting on the distractions of smartphones and social media.
As a population, our time and our attention spans are more scattered than ever. Most people can’t even afford to concentrate solely on one activity anymore. Sure, you might sit down to watch a film, but while it’s playing you’ll also be checking Facebook, doing the ironing, fixing a shelf, dressing the kids and completing another level of Candy Crush Saga.
With the advent of video on demand services around the world, as well as the fact that most of us have near cinema-sized TVs right in our living rooms, theatres have been trying to combat diminishing ticket sales in a variety of ways. You’d be hard-pressed to find a cinema without a bar these days, or at the very least a Costa Coffee, so that consumers can have more of a complete experience, making the trip to the pictures a day out rather than a two hour visit. Live cinema screenings of plays, operas and ballets are more prominent than ever, allowing viewers the chance to see productions they otherwise wouldn’t be able to. Or a few years ago when almost every major release was offered in 3D, tacked on after the fact or otherwise, as the technology was something that couldn’t be replicated at home. However, the people who were really interested in 3D ended up getting 3D televisions at home, and the rest of us…well we just waited for the 2D screenings. Of course, 3D films are still out there, but they’re definitely not as prominent as they once were.
The thing that’s often forgotten is that we’ve been here before. Dozens of times in fact! 3D was big deal in the 50s and then the 80s, but both times it slowly died out, only to return about 30 years later! Watch this space in 2040 as it’ll probably be all the rage again!
And then there’s the release of home video. There was a huge panic in the film industry, as everyone shouted about the death of cinema because films could be watched at home. Sound familiar?
And yet, cinemas are still here, and doing better than ever! Fast & Furious 7 came out two weeks ago, but it’s already the fifth highest grossing movie of all time, and still climbing. How could anyone worry about the state of cinema when a film that’s been out a fortnight can smash records like that?
In my opinion, we’re in a better spot now than we’ve ever been. Sure, there are a lot more choices when it comes to how you watch the next big release, but in spite of that, cinemagoers are still attending in their droves. You just can’t beat the experience of watching amazing films with other people. To be there when the next big scare hits, or when a joke really connects–there’s just no better feeling.