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the unbearable lightness of seeing
silver screen shrinkage
by mike julianelle
6.3.09
film

Over the weekend, Pixar's latest flick opened to rave reviews and close to $70 million at the box office. Up's triumph is nothing new; Pixar has yet to have a flop. But it's not the only movie making money this year. Despite the recession we're mired in, overall box office is up 15% from last year. It seems that, in these tough times, everyone is getting some "cheap" entertainment by going to the movies even more often than usual.

Everyone, that is, except me.

I used to be the guy that saw everything. From Korean horror films to experimental Gus Van Sant movies to Spielberg's latest, I went to the local multiplex behemoth or the art-house closet so I could see them on the big screen. I went on weekends, at night, during the day and I went by myself about as much as I didn't. I have always done my best to avoid the vapid Hollywood star vehicles and glossy blow-up flicks, but I still always made it to the theater for just about everything I was interested in. But over the past year or so, the amount of movies I've seen in the theater has dwindled. I've yet to see any of this summer's so-called blockbusters and my typical bounty of indie and foreign films has shrunk to nearly zero. I still think seeing movies in the theater is the best way, so what happened?

Life, my friends. Life: I got married. And I moved to New York. Things changed.

No, my wife doesn't have my balls in a jar under the sink. And she's not some lunatic who thinks movies are the devil. But she is my most frequent companion, and that includes trips to the movies. Unfortunately, we don't always want to see the same things. Now, I'll go to the occasional musical with her because I'm a sweetheart, but she won't accompany me to one measly Swedish vampire flick! We have some overlap, sure, but not a ton, and it usually results in us seeing a Judd Apatow comedy. Or something with Paul Rudd.

I mentioned New York and I know what you're thinking. How could living in New York City be an impediment to seeing movies? You're right, access is not a problem. There are more theaters offering every kind of movie than any place I've lived. But I don't have a car and I live in Brooklyn. A subway ride into Manhattan takes anywhere from 20-45 minutes, and that's not including uptown, which might as well be Australia. What's it like past 60th street? Do the toilets flush differently? I may never know. That distance can definitely be a factor in me not going to certain theaters. It's also the reason I've yet to visit the new Yankee Stadium. That and the asshole Yankee fans.

Time can be an issue as well. Killing 3 hours at a movie when there are other things to be done can be an issue, especially during the summer. We'd rather be spending a gorgeous day drinking beer outside than sharing a 64-ounce coke inside a dark room. At least before it hits the high 90s.

In the end, the biggest factor is not any one thing, it’s a combination. Years back, I wrote about the obnoxious way the movie industry bottlenecks their best films by releasing them all from November to January. Things have gotten even worse since that column, especially since most of the Hollywood flicks that get released from May to August are horrible (I mean, have you seen the trailer for G.I. Joe?). It’s just not easy to see the movies you want when they are all crammed into a three-month period.

At the same time, my tastes have changed; I am much harder to please today than I was fifteen to twenty years ago. What can I say? I'm not fourteen anymore, and it's the fourteen-year-olds and all the other unbearable teenagers that drive the entertainment industry, especially summer movies. It's painful to reach the age when it seems like most entertainment is geared towards people younger than you, especially when so much of that entertainment is so bad. I’m still hanging in with the vaunted 18-34 demographic but I can already feel it. Especially after catching a few minutes of the “MTV Movie Awards.”

The saddest part of all is that I thought today’s kids were savvier about the entertainment they digest, having grown up with the internet and more media than ever before. I figured that the kids would have become more discriminating just by having to wade through so much of it on a daily basis, and that they would force Hollywood to create better product. But just when I think it's working, that kids have gotten smarter since the days Teen Wolf was a huge hit, and Hollywood has responded with material like the Pixar movies, something like Twilight explodes and we're back to square one. The vampires sparkle in the sunlight, for Christ's sake!

To be fair, Twilight's success isn't necessarily an indication that all teens are dumb. Just that teenage girls are. Dumb and horny.

On second thought, I take it all back. I'll go to fewer movies. I'll deal with "Hannah Montana" and High School Musical. I'll even rent Twilight. Just let me be fourteen again.


ABOUT MIKE JULIANELLE

Let's get real here. You don't want to know about me. You want to know about "me".

more about mike julianelle

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