Why 2011 sucked… for movies

(From Flickr user "PeePaa-THEone") Don't get me started on the price of popcorn...

Between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, plenty of good movies are out in theaters. From the Muppets returning, to another Mission Impossible entry, and even an animated film from Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. Plenty to see, and plenty of them getting good reviews from critics, like Roger Ebert.

But, it was just released last week that movie revenues are down this year. Way, way down. Ebert takes up the issue, and he’s right on the money. It’s the whole movie experience, in terms of cost and etiquette, that has turned people away from a night out.

Over the past month, I’ve seen “The Muppets” twice, each time at a different cinema (and with two separate companies). Both times, yes, both, children were running around the theater, doing what kids do: make up some fun game. The parents were oblivious to it, and apart from a few half-hearted attempts to coax the children back to their seats, didn’t intervene. On the attempts that were made, the kids tried to run away from their parents, which eventually turned into that horrid screaming we all know and hate  love.

This went on for almost half of the movie. I wanted to leave and try to get a ticket for a different showing, preferably one without screaming kids. You know, around midnight when they’re supposed to be in bed.

The same exact thing happened when I went to see “The Muppets” a second time. Parents were letting their kids run amok around the stairs. A half minute later, some kids were wailing because they tripped while jumping off the “ledge of doom” or something like that. The parents had zero control. To be honest, I’d rather have someone using their cellphone during the movie (something Ebert tackles quite nicely in his commentary) than listen to children running up and down the aisles as their parents sit oblivious to it.

Going to see a movie has just become a regular thing, it seems. Movie prices are (relatively) affordable compared to their previous levels from the ’50s and ’60s. And when compared to seeing a concert, a sports game, or even a meal at some restaurants, a movie is cheaper for an entire family to enjoy. But, everyone else is paying to see the movie, too.

I didn’t pay to have children screaming and running around for two hours. If I wanted that, I could go sit in the toy area for two hours, and my wallet wouldn’t have taken such a hit. Those two experiences are exactly why I’ve stopped seeing movies in theaters, aside from the insane prices.

I’m not alone in that decision either, it appears, as more and more people are choosing to skip out on a movie. The great stories that some movies tell still exist, as does the proverbial “movie magic.” But when ticket prices, cellphones and screaming kids get in the way, it really makes me want to leave.

Unless something changes, I’ll be saving some money and a few headaches.

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