I still love seeing movies in a theater. Back in Seattle, I often made the effort to see things at the Cinerama. Here in Austin, I continue to make the effort to see things at the Alamo Drafthouse theaters.
But especially here, as often as not it's not the new releases that I make the effort for, but older movies.
There are any number of reasons I end up missing new releases in theaters. Time, money, effort.
But as often as not, I already know what I'll see in a theater before its release. I bet you do, too. I bet the vast majority of theater-goers do.
So, it wasn't a revelation to read Here, There and Everywhere... At the Same Time! by Greg Ferrara, in which he endorses Simultaneous release, but it did remind me of the issue. As he wrote, "How many more older movie lovers would give a look to the new blockbuster everyone is talking about if they could, easily and conveniently, right from their home? But they can, you say, when the DVD is released. True, but the excitement is gone..."
The people who are going to watch these movies at home could be contributing to the conversation right away. They could be part of the excitement. And possibly even a positive force in it. How many movies have been discovered by home viewers already?
Cinema isn't dead, it's just different by Jim Emerson notes that elements of the mystique of the theatrical experience are exaggerated, especially at this point. Increasingly other people are avoiding theaters altogether.
I remember seeing Aliens the first night, in a packed crowd that was just amped up for the movie. I've had similar experiences before and since, but it still stands out. Most times I rush out to see a movie early on, it feels like I'm chasing that dragon to diminishing returns.
On the other hand, I'm glad I got a chance to catch The Long Goodbye theatrically a few weeks ago, and that was terrifically satisfying. But it was one I was prepared for with an established relationship built on home video.
Frankly, the arguments against this are absolutely ridiculous at this point, raging against the inevitable. Arguing that theaters are superior only gets so far. Certainly under ideal circumstances, they are. But how often are circumstances ideal?
At this point it's like arguing that being able to watch football on TV takes away the joy of seeing a game at a stadium. There are arguments for it, but most of us are happy to watch the game at home most weekends.