VIEWPOINT: Movie going experience not the same anymore


When was the last time you went to see a movie?
And by that, I don’t mean going over to a friend’s house to watch “Field of Dreams” for the 46th time on his giant 4K TV as you try not to blubber too much as father and son have a catch near the end of the movie.
I am tearing up just thinking about that scene.
I mean when is the last time you drove to a movie theater, bought a ticket, grabbed a small popcorn and small drink for $134, sat down and watched a flick?
My guess is that it has been a while.
In fact, the older you are the less likely you are to go to the theater. I read recently that in 2002, about 27 percent of Americans said they were “frequent moviegoers.” Now, it is about 10 percent or so. That is a big drop. And most moviegoers trend younger.
The question facing the movie industry is why?
Well, there are many factors, of course. As I mentioned, televisions themselves are bigger and better than they used to be and offer a real theater experience at home when paired with a great sound system. They are pricy, but worth the investment if you like movies and video games or even TV programs to look and sound better.
Also, not everyone wants to see a sequel or a super hero movie. That seems to be just about all you can see at the multiplex these days. Explosions, battles, fights and abnormally fit men and women who make you feel bad about yourself dominate the screens.
I haven’t been to a theater in years. I know I haven’t been to a theater since we moved to Rockford nearly four years ago. The last movie I saw in a theater was when we lived in Schaumburg, but I honestly can’t remember the movie.
I used to love going to the movies. When I was a kid I lived at the local theater. I saw all of the “Planet of the Apes” movies. It was 75 cents to get in, and the popcorn and Milk Duds were cheap too. And they always had double features. Plus, my parents got a break from having my annoying self around for a couple of hours.
When we were old enough, we also went to the drive-in nearly every weekend. There were two in my hometown and open all year. The drive-in was not necessarily a place to actively watch movies, of course. It was a place to hang out with friends and, honestly, make out with your girlfriend. Hey, don’t act like you didn’t do it too.
Throughout my life, movies have been something I have enjoyed. I used to like going to the theater. The sound, the communal feeling of seeing a great movie with a group of strangers. It was fun.
Then it just became annoying. The dude smacking on his popcorn behind you. The girl slurping her soda. The guy answering – yes, answering – his phone during “Rocky Balboa,” which my wife and I went to see when we lived in California.
Now, we just stay at home and watch movies. We have a great TV and good sound, so why put up with the high prices and annoyances?
I do worry that eventually, the experience of seeing a movie on the big screen will go away, but that probably won’t be anytime soon.
In the meantime, I look forward to watching the second part of the movie “It” from the comfort of my home home when it comes out later this year.

Brad Jennings is Editor of The Ogle County Life.

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