If there is one thing that has reared its ugly head in American cinema in the past year that just sticks in my craw are movie theatres showing commercials. Don’t get me wrong, I love commercials and dearly miss AdCritic and wish it would come back to its “Internet Bubble” heyday. But I don’t mind commercials on TV because they are subsidizing what I’m watching. I don’t pay for network TV so I understand the role that commercials play. However when I go to a movie and pay $8.50 a person the last thing that I expect to see is a freakin’ commercial. I paid a fee to watch commercials? I don’t think so. Yet with each movie that I go to see, more and more commercials are appearing prior to the previews. I saw the Italian Job today and was subjected to no less than 7 commercials.
Some people might argue that previews are really just commercials for movies. Well, that’s true, but its part of the movie experience, ads for Degree antiperspirant are not. Or you might argue that commercials are defraying the cost of movies. Bollocks. When was the last time you saw a movie theatre go out of business? Besides, movie attendance is higher than ever and when the Matrix Reloaded can pull in over 200 million in one weekend I don’t think theatres are hurting. Also, don’t forget that the gross movie sales do not include the cost of popcorn and other snacks. By my own rough estimation, I’d say that for every two tickets at $8.50 there’s at least $8.50 spent at the concession stand. So, when a movie pulls in $200 million, there’s roughly $100 million that goes straight to the movie theatre. That’s not counting the money made from the Coca-Cola ads, etc.
The bottom line? I paid $8.50 for admission to watch a movie, not $8.50 to watch commercials. Unfortunately, in this ad crazy society that we live in, I don’t think it’s going to change. The American culture is saturated in advertising. Don’t think so, well then here’s something to chew on. Microsoft has been developing the iLoo – a port-a-potty with an Internet connection that can feed ads and other content while you’re doing your business. I kid you not. Although the idea was eventually scrapped, it just goes to show you that advertising is everywhere and only getting worse.
Now going to the movie theatre isn’t much better than watching it at home and to follow the logic, then there is LESS of a reason for me to go to the theatre. Movies are being released within 6 months of theatrical release and to be totally honest, I can download most movies released today on the Internet. If going to the movie theatre provides me with nothing more than a big screen, because the rest of the experience has been diminished, then I might as well watch it at home. I might not do that today, but the introduction of commercials to me is a slippery slope and that day may not be too far off.
So, do I think that commercials will disappear from cinema? Absolutely not. Now that it’s here, it’s going to stay and no one is going to do anything because the public at large is numb to advertising and won’t even notice. My alternative? To sit and bitch about it and rant in my weblog. 😉