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You paid how much to see that movie?

June 30, 2013
By CRAIG HOWELL , Weirton Daily Times

It's nice to be able to sit back and relax while watching a movie every once in a while.

Like many, I've watched too many to count during my life, whether it be Disney cartoons, mysteries, action, sci-fi, etc.

In college, I gained a greater appreciation for the medium while taking a film review class. I especially grew to enjoy some of the "classic" films. The camera work, scene setup, acting, dialogue all had to be on point to make the movie great. These days, it seems, all it takes is some big explosions and computer generated images.

There are some good movies made these days, but I would much rather spend a few hours watching "The Sting" than the latest "Fast and Furious."

Let's face it, I don't care how big of a star you are these days, Newman and Redford could out act any of these guys.

While movies are still making millions of dollars every week, it doesn't seem like the crowds are going like they used to.

Even on a Saturday afternoon, I've walked by a local movie theater and the place has been close to empty.

Part of it, I think, is some of the same factors which affect any business. You have your supply and demand, but then you also have to find ways to keep attracting the crowds. At some point, after all, no matter how much product you supply, other factors are going to influence whether the customer is going to shell out their money.

I occasionally hear people discuss the cost of going to a movie these days, with ticket prices and snacks, it can get a little expensive.

My concern is that it could soon start to get worse, and then there might not be any movies for any of us to see.

It's something George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have been warning about for a while, in fact.

Recently, as part of a special promotion for the movie "World War Z," a couple select theaters offered a special advanced ticket price for a special screening.

People willing to purchase this advanced ticket were able to see the movie two days early, a small popcorn, a reservation for an HD digital copy of the movie when it comes out on home video, a limited-edition mini poster, and some 3-D glasses (which, I believe, they had to give back once the viewing was over)

How much did they pay for this wonderful experience, you may ask? $50. Yes, you read that correctly. They paid $50 to see a budget-busting zombie movie a couple days in advance. That's per person, by the way.

I hope they enjoyed it.

Personally, I don't care how good a movie is projected to be, or who stars in it. I don't care if I'm getting a "free" popcorn or a special poster. I'm not paying $50 to see a movie I?may not enjoy.

What happens if you didn't like it? You ate your popcorn, you had to give back the 3-D glasses. You get to take home the poster, and because you paid that much, you probably feel obligated to go pick up the DVD or Blu-Ray copy once it comes out.

My concern is this could end up being the normal way of doing business.

Ticket prices will begin to rise as movie studios realize attendance isn't what it used to be and they still need to cover their costs.

That could cause more people to stop going, which will cause higher ticket prices. It's an infinite and dirty cycle.

It's no wonder some of these free movie sites or Netflix have been so popular in recent years. You can watch it at home, and, if you like it, go out and buy a copy.

That's not always a good thing, though.

Part of the great thing about movies is that they provide some time to get away and be entertained.

It would be terrible to see such an industry price itself right out of existence. But, that seems to be the way things are going for many in this electronic age.

Special promotions can only get you so far before you have to start looking at a complete reconfiguration of the business model, and some things just aren't worth the kind of cost we could soon be facing.

I don't want to pay $50 to sit and watch a Brad Pitt movie, but I don't want to see the opportunity to enjoy a good film disappear either.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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