My wife and I went to the local Galaxy Theatre the other day to watch Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I hated the book but I was really allowing myself to be emotionally invested in the movie. Until the last ten minutes—when the movie projector broke. I am talking about the movie's climax.
The theatre gave us free passes but I walked around in a daze afterwards. I had been robbed of my catharsis.
But this was something that was bugging me on a broader level. I went to the other theatre in town, the Southland, and couldn't believe how much they let the theatre slip. It was the first show on a Saturday and they had not cleaned it up from the night before. It was a disaster. The floor was sticky, and popcorn and cups were all over the floor. I went into the bathrooms and one of the mirrors was all scratched up and the garbage was over-filled and spilling out. I was disgusted.
What bothers me the most is that I have recently rediscovered my enjoyment of the experience of watching a movie. Not the over-priced concession stand (a regular bottle of water should not cost $3.17) or the beat-me-into-submission ad campaign that starts when I sit down (oh goody, they have replaced the slide ads with blaring digital projection ads) until the movie starts.
I am talking about the movie. The dark theatre. The projector throws only a limited amount of light on the screen and shrouds the mystery of the CGI sleight-of-hand. But also that immersion into the environment of sound which is stripped away in the home theatre unit. It is this experience that the companies (theatres and studios) have forgotten is their strength and their power. They should not busy themselves trying to stuff technology back in its box but embrace to market what no one can take away from them.