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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Oscar Yawn

Probably due to the fact that I've only seen four of the nominated movies (Harry Potter, SW3, Kong, and Narnai), and those only in minor categories, I didn't have much interest in watching the Oscars this year. Yet here I am, at nearly 10pm, dutifully watching the Academy Awards. Honestly, though, it's almost entirely due to Jon Stewart. We tuned in at the beginning to see how he was doing, and found ourselves surprisingly entertained. He's really done a great job.

There were a fair number of "don't forget that movies are best in a theater" announcements, though. That's especially ironic for a year in which the best picture nominees have one of the lowest total grosses ever. Yes, I do think some movies are much better on a big screen, but I don't think it necessarily has to be a theater, especially when more and more people are building home entertainment systems that can rival theaters, at least for small groups.

What movies sell is a story. Emotional engagement. Enjoyment. Not a night out. That's what theaters sell. A trip, a vacation, an experience. Somehow I think both parties have lost sight of that. Studios need to make movies that people will enjoy watching, regardless of the venue, and admit that the theatrical release is really a promo for the DVD and merchandising.

At the same time, theaters need to recognize that their real product is the experience, and start looking for ideas to improve their product. Ideas like preferred seating (pay a little more to get in sooner or have guaranteed good seats), in-theater concession orders and delivery, more food selections (chicken wings? pizza?), adult-only showings (not for porn, but for a quiet date without the kids), etc. Some of these things are being tried, but not to the extent they should be.

Here's hoping they catch on soon, because Heather Marie and I have wanted to go see a movie for several months now, but there hasn't been anything we wanted to see badly enough to put up with the expense and hassle of going. Kind of a pathetic commentary on the state of movies today (and, admittedly, us).

Oh, I've seen five nominees, I just remembered March of the Penguins.


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