Does size matter?

I've been having an e-mail conversation with a friend about movies. She "refuse[s] to rent anything that belongs in the cinema for the small screen." I'm a fan of Netflix. Having said that...

I judge movies on two variables: cost and "size". Cost is the price for seeing the movie - is it truly worth the $10 to see it at the first-run cinema, should I wait for second-run, or is it worth renting via Netflix, or should I wait for cable (some are only worth "waiting for broadcast"!)? Size is whether or not I think the movie would be diminished by seeing it on a smaller screen (my 27" Toshiba) rather than the however-many-feet in a cinema.

For some movies, it's pretty clear. "Pirates of the Caribbean", for example, is worth first- or second-run because it really wouldn't translate well on the smaller screen. "Scoop", on the other hand, would translate just fine. Sadly, I'm finding that the vast majority of movies fall in the the latter category.

Pop Goes the Library has a post about this very topic
For example: Going to movies at theaters still has appeal, particularly for younger teens, but among respondents ages 21 to 24, 56% said they wanted to see the new movie at home, and only 9% said they would rather travel to a theater.

I don't know if this is a price thing or if it's an indication that we're becoming more and more insulated--that it's harder to have those kinds of big planned moments that connects a large portion of society. I remember reading once that during the series finale of M*A*S*H, sewer systems up and down the East Coast were overtaxed because everyone was using the bathroom during commercial breaks. I doubt something like that could happen nowadays. I'm not saying that this is a good or bad thing, but it's something to think about.
I'd also venture to suggest that part of the problem is that you've paid $10 for the movie, only to have people all around talking and using their cell phones and taking care of their crying/squirming child (apparently, babysitting is no longer in fashion) - even in the middle of a PG13 or R movie. It makes the experience that much less pleasant.

As Norma Desmond so famously said, "It's the *pictures* that got small."


Sherri said...

I'm with you. And, actually, I find that actual "size" isn't so much a thing for me. For me, it's NOISE. It seems every movie theatre in my local area is set on "Loud Enough for Deaf People in Lithuania". If I go to see a movie, I will leave with a ringing sensation and a headache. (The exception is the art house theatre, but that's really pricy and a long drive).

I remember having those huge crowd "moments" at movies. They don't happen so much anymore. I realized it several years ago, while watching "Dangerous Liasons" in the theatre. In the next to last scene, when Glenn Close's character learns the man she both loves and competes with has been killed, and she destroys her dressing table, some yokle in the back row started laughing through his nose uncontrollably. Almost everyone else was caught up in the tragedy...except for Mortimer.

I'd rather watch at home, really. I miss the days of ushers and theatre ettiquette and people behaving themselves nicely in public.

camillofan said...

I definitely prefer the cinema, even for "small" movies. Of course, there aren't that many new movies that I want to see, ever, so I can afford to indulge when a likely prospect comes along. I also don't mind going alone, don't mind going to matinees or second-run theaters, and don't really care to eat at the movies, so I can keep the total bill down pretty easily. Clodhoppers in the crowd can be a pain, but there aren't as many (maybe because there aren't as many people, period) at the costume-y, subtitle-y things I tend to go for.

All that said, I do most of my watching at home, because right now, I'm into old movies, and that means Netflix. Do I wish I could see these classics at the theater? Maybe, but DVDs have their compensations: extras, especially commentary tracks, to which I've become addicted.

I have PG-ish tastes, so I had no idea that people were taking crying kids to R-rated movies. How awful, and not just for the other people at the cinema. :-(

Aravis said...

We don't go out to the movies much anymore. In our case, it's mostly due to a lack of time. It's a big treat for Randy and I to get to a movie! The rest of the time I either order from Netflix or from my cable company. If it's something I don't want to spend money on, I also wait until it's listed as a free movie, or appears on HBO, etc.

Karmon said...

If the cinematography is an issue, I prefer seeing movies on the big screen. Some scenes in Gattaca, for example, just doesn't work on a smaller screen. In fact, I prefer most sci-fi on a larger screen. And I wish I'd watched Out of Africa at the theater.

As far as the theater experience goes, I really try to find the off times. I'll go to the 9:30 p.m. show rather than the Saturday matinee. There is an exception; the international film series the university sponsors during the semester. I typically see the same people at the films, and I know 3/4 of them. After the movie, people congrete in small groups to discuss what we just watched. It's a lot of fun.

I also agree that many of the movies work just as well on TV. I spent much of Miami Vice thinking the series could work on TV again.

On a side note, I do buy the concessions. We are lucky to have a movie theater at all, and that is where they make their money. If my $10 for popcorn and a soda helps, I'll do my part.