No matter how many mundane tasks get piled on my to-do list or how much I complain about life in general, and how far ahead of me it seems to be, I can rely on one absolute truth: one or two times a week I will be chatting to my housemates Cathal and/or Kumaran till 2 in the morning about something interesting. Last night it was about cinemas, piracy, the entertainment industry and (because of my geeky presence) technology.
The fate of the cinema has come into question a lot throughout it’s existence, and as visionaries in my field make the threat exponentially more daunting, one can’t help but wonder if we will have as many cinemas in 20 to 30 years. Back when televisions were invented, people no longer had to go to a cineplex to watch the news or the entertainment shows of the time (based on the oldest shows I am aware of: that’s Friends and the Simpsons). Then VHS tapes came out and put the concept of films in the cinema under threat. DVD’s made the quality of the home experience adequate and Blu-Ray has now made it comparable to that of a cinema. The internet has put a dent in DVD sales, through digital movies and piracy and all this has lead to the entertainment industry throwing a strop about losing money, despite making $3billion on Avatar (but that rant is for another day). Cinemas have been threatened so many times, and though numbers have decreased, they are still thriving and turning profits. I personally haven’t seen a cinema close down due to low attendance.
So why haven’t all of the fiendish individuals who use torrenting sites or websites that stream low quality movies (who are as bad as car thieves according to those ridiculous piracy prevention ads) wiped the Vues and the Cineworlds from existence? In my view, it’s because the cinema is all about the experience. Regardless of how high your TV resolution is or how much money you spent on your 7.2 surround sound system, it never has been comparable to the atmosphere or quality of a cinema. If you have the right amount of cash, you can get 100” HD projectors and a room with perfect acoustics, but it’s nothing compared to the sticky floors, the overpriced popcorn and the laugh/cry/shriek of strangers as they experience the movie with you. It’s true that convenience has meant I own a small DVD collection, and don’t go to the cinema as much as I did in secondary school, but films like Avatar, District 9 and Alice in Wonderland still make me long for that room and that screen. The internet as a distribution medium should be embraced, rather than restricted if companies wish to recoup the losses cinemas have endured (rather than restricting those who buy them legally now with DRM and such) and newer technologies like 3D should be utilised if they wish to recover this revenue stream. No matter how advanced our home entertainment systems get, cinemas will always be miles ahead, enough so for me to still wait in line for a big vat of salty popcorn. Cinemas will never die in my opinion, when 3D becomes something we are all accustomed to in our own homes, or on our own computer screens, I can’t wait to see what exciting technology the film industry uses to keep us in awe.
Thanks for reading,