Andrew encourages readers not to give up on a fun night out in favour of overrated comfort.
Now that movies are cheap and easy to access – paying the same price for a month’s worth of online content as a single cinema ticket – why do we still bother going out? What experience can the cinema provide that we don’t get at home, and is it worth keeping them open?
Perhaps answering in the positive is to neglect quality in favour of cheap quantity, forgetting the thrills of the cinema: the immersion, the social experience, spontaneous adventures, or simply the escape from real life. Streaming services do have their appeal: cheaper access, probably a comfier couch, the ability to pause the TV when your takeaway arrives, and, let’s be honest, much cheaper snacks – but what about the full cinema experience? Meeting your friends beforehand, discussing the latest theories (and dodging spoilers on your newsfeed) over a pint or a McDonald’s, before seeing the new most talked about movie on the big screen. The social aspects shine in comparison to falling asleep on the couch. Additionally, cinema does not always have to keep up with pop culture (finding out the next Marvel phase 10 villain, or arguing who should be the next James Bond) – but sometimes revisits an old friend. A big-screen event showing The Empire Strikes Back, a movie you were too young to have seen upon release, watching your favourite childhood movie on the big screen for the first time, or a much anticipated sequel you cannot wait to see (Avatar 2 took its time; cinema doesn’t just make memories, but it brings back old ones. As Martin Scorsese said: “(Marvel) seem(s) to me to be closer to theme parks than they are to movies”, but who doesn’t love going to a theme park? Sometimes a film doesn’t need to be a new experience, just a fun one.
However, yes, going to the cinema does have its downsides – like availability and price. Between balancing work, assessments, and socials, sometimes one has no choice except to miss the third retelling of The Grudge (don’t worry, there will be a remake), but this can be a positive, new experience. With only a few weeks for selected screening, you might miss that new Tarantino movie you’re only seeing to keep up with modern trends, and ultimately choose another movie, leaving your comfort zone in a fun, safe environment, and instead sitting through the greatest A24 black and white movie you have never heard of. When considering money, one cannot neglect the use of loyalty cards – for example: the Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) Cinecard. On top of reduced ticket prices, an online film streaming service subscription, and access to a selection of film previews, Cinecard holders also get a limited number of free cinema tickets. In situations like this, you’re not only helping yourself, but supporting independent cinemas that are struggling to stay afloat. Reasonably, many cannot attend the cinema often, life can get surprisingly busy – but by fully neglecting it (constantly streaming, telling yourself you don’t have time to go to the cinema), the choice of a big screen experience is slowly disappearing.
In addition to this, the price of streaming services look wonderful, but to what extent do we need to engage with these platforms to have the maximum effect? Many different streaming services provide their own exclusive content (to name a few: Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, Apple TV, and Sky Cinema), increasing the overall price if one wishes to stay up to date with fresh, relevant content. With services like Netflix cracking down on password sharing, paying these increasing prices happens to be the cruel reality. Of course, the option to purchase only one service exists, but with so many movies from the same franchise dispersed over different platforms, content that is rushed solely to stop you from unsubscribing, and constant TV series cancellations (featuring characters you’ve already gotten too attached to), can the true enjoyment of an anticipated movie on the big screen really be felt from home? Perhaps Dorothy was correct in The Wizard of Oz when she said “there’s no place like home”, or maybe she had never experienced the IMAX immersion, surrounded by friends, sharing a large popcorn, and enjoying a Tango Ice Blast. The fun created from the cinema is plentiful: a planned night-out, a double-bill midnight screening, or a spontaneous new indie movie at your local independent cinema. All of which beat lying on that lumpy pillow, watching on a small screen with an odd Wi-Fi interruption, paying for a service that supplies a high quantity of unimpressive options.