What got me thinking about this was going to the movies to see "Our Idiot Brother," which I can recommend. It's entertaining, surprisingly funny, well-directed and altogether worth seeing. Alas, I can't be anything like as complimentary about the actual cinema the movie was shown in, which was the Century Downtown 10 (part of the Cinemark group) in my home town of Ventura, Calif.
Putting aside the usual issues that cinema tickets aren't cheap, the premises are only moderately clean, and the candy, drinks and popcorn for just two people can swallow up the budget of a small Central American country, we're left with what the experience involves, by which I mean the picture and sound quality.
In this case the picture quality was marred by something stuck on the screen that was reflective ... it might have been a dried splash of Coca-Cola. It wasn't huge but it was quite visible and I find that kind of thing distracting, not to mention just plain sloppy. It says, "We don't bother to ensure you have the best experience possible." And this wasn't a unique event; I've seen similar things at other cinemas.
Then there was the sound. Not the sound from the movie I was watching, but from the screen next door. They must have been showing "Transformers" or something similar that was loud and violent because every now and then a bass boom would wash through our cinema making a rather surreal counterpoint to the film we were trying to view.
And that's the problem with today's cinemas: They just aren't very good. I can rent a movie at home and, while it won't be shown on a mongo sized screen, it will be displayed on a perfectly good, quite large screen without junk stuck to it and accompanied by very good sound with no intrusive sound effects.
Also at home I can pause the movie if I need to, as well as eat good food, drink something that won't send me into diabetic shock just from looking at it, and I won't have the edge of the screen obscured by the abnormally large head of some random person sitting in the row in front of me. I also won't have to listen to that same person rustle his candy wrappers through every quiet scene and mutter to the person sitting next to him or have to try to ignore his body odor.
In short, by comparison cinemas have become subpar. Thus, I contend it is just a matter of time before cinemas start dying off and online video streaming services such as Netflix become the primary film distribution mechanism in the U.S.
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