Night at the movies proves costly affair

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!

I drove my brother and good friend David to the movie theater, where I was being forced against my will to see “Ghost Rider.�

I didn’t have anything against Nicholas Cage or the idea of him racing around with his head on fire for two hours. I just didn’t want to see a movie that wasn’t matinee priced.

“$47.82,� the woman told me, having rung up my single ticket.

“Isn’t that a little high?� I said.

The woman shrugged and gave me the finger.

The inside of the theater smelled of day-old popcorn, artificial butter and recently washed vomit.

Crowds of people lingered around arcade games older than myself, casting conspiratorial glances as we passed by.

“I want some nachos,� my brother said.

I was out of money. The box office had stolen the last of my cash. But, since I owed him, I ran over to the ATM counter and cashed my latest check from work.

“You’re going to need it, bub,� the automated window flashed as it forked over my money.

A bucket of lukewarm popcorn and a thimble-sized soda cost about the same as a steak dinner.

Using the bathroom requires not only going into the ghastly smelling place, but also forking over a down payment on an insurance waiver.

Want a seat with a cushion and a drink holder? Man, hope you brought your check book.

Enough exposition.

At what point is Hollywood going to stop complaining about lacking box office sales and start paying attention to the places their movies actually play?

Box office sales seem to drop every year. In 2005, movie ticket sales in North America dropped about 6 percent, according to a study by Nielsen Entertainment/NRG.

DVD sales, on the other hand, have gone up at least 10 percent.

Should we really be surprised by this?

To leap up out of my chair and go see a movie right now would cost, roughly, $10 for the ticket alone.

If you factor in some amount of food to placate my undying hunger and you have another $10 easily.

Add in some extra money for gas to get to and from the theater and you are looking at an experience that costs just as much as it does to buy a DVD and watch it at home.

What are the advantages to this?

Some people would argue that it is a social occasion.

You go to the movies with your friends and you get the experience of being in a movie theater.

“It is better on a huge screen,� they say, when watching something asinine like “The Lake House.�

The truth of the matter is that there is nothing that differentiates going to an actual brick and mortar movie theater and spending your evening in the living room.

We are byproducts of this old concept that going to the theater is a grand and fabulous occasion.

People used to dress up in their finest clothes and hit the town for a rousing night of cinema.

This, of course, was before movies like “White Chicks.�

We still like to think of the movies as being a classy affair.

That’s why theaters like Edwards and the newly constructed Criterion are built with this “razzle dazzle� aesthetic that evokes 1930s nostalgia.

We like to think this habit of ours is a glamorous affair.

Really, we are laying down $20 to cram into a room with 150 people we wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley to watch a movie that, when it is over, cannot be resold to the Wherehouse for a reasonable return.

Hollywood better start thinking of new ways to entice people into their theaters, because when it costs as much as a tank of gas to catch a movie, you can bet people will start staying home much, much more often.

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