Optics, economics and common sense

What was the latest film you saw at the cinema? When did you last go to the IMAX? How much are you willing to pay on average for a film (in the cinema)?

An article on laser projectors in film is prompt for these questions and this post.

Said article discussed how advances in laser based projector technology will revolutionise the film industry: faster frame rates, brighter and sharper images, 3D, longer life (projectors) and so on. This will allow for a more vivid and intense viewing experience for audiences, allowing cinemas to charge more for the premium viewing “experience”.

This in turn will help help cinemas/film studios fight the competition posed by services such as Netflix and the rise of the home theatre, the smart phone, the tablet and so on. With better quality and larger TVs at prices that people can afford, footfalls in cinemas are no longer assured. An extra “oomph” factor is needed to ensure that the public leave their large TV sets, smart devices, football matches, and DVDs at home and queue up outside the nearest IMAX.

I can buy the technology improvement argument: a better visual experience for the viewer sounds good to me. However the economic argument just leaves me cold!

Still higher prices! For what used to be mass and affordable entertainment, cinema trips are now competing with live theatre/concerts/sports/gigs. That is simply crazy!

To me the philosophy of celluloid is (partly) that it is for everyman and woman. Entertainment that is affordable and accessible. Consider the facts:
– a film once made can be played over and over (millions of times if desired) and each show generates profits
– can be played to millions of people over time and across continents
– sold on DVDs for further profits
– once completed, the “stars” are not needed for the film to be played

All this allows studios to make films (putting in good money) and price them reasonably and still make huge profit. The buying power of billions of people fuels the profits that cinemas, studios, film stars and all involved in the trade can make.

On the other hand, live events (especially at smaller venues) usually command a premium in price because they are:
– live as opposed to recorded and only very small audiences can attend in comparison to film
– needs the physical presence of the “stars”!
– these stars age/die/retire/get injured and hence there is a time limitation to when and for long we can see them perform
– no two peformances are the same!

So I simply cannot understand or agree with this concept of over pricing cinema tickets. Justifying the prices on the basis of better technology, high paid stars etc. is just false or incomplete information. In my opinion this is pure greed. It is also poor economics and lack of common sense.

Consider this example:
The Wimbledon all day ticket (for matches on courts 3-19) costs £20. This means that one can watch some of the top 128 players in the tennis world play for about 8 hours. Imagine watching a legend like John McEnroe or Martina Navratilova play live.

The BBC Proms serve up some of the most distinguished classical musicians performing (live) at a historic venue (Royal Albert Hall). Whether you like Vivaldi, Mozart or prefer opera, you can potentially manage a 2-3 hour performance for anything between £7.50- £125, depending on how expensive or cheap you want your evening to be.

Or think of seeing Kevin Spacey or Ralph Fiennes on stage, live in a play by the one of the greatest bards ever. You can get standing tickets at the Globe theatre for £5.

When I went to see Skyfall (3 weeks after it was released) on a Wednesday, and not in 3D, it still cost me £18! A James Bond film is fun and the effects are definitely better enjoyed on the big screen. But should it cost more to see it than the Proms/Wimbledon/Shakespeare? Especially since I can hire a DVD and watch it on a 50” TV with Bose speakers to give great sound for a fraction of the price? For me the decision is simple: I spend my money on live gigs and watch most films on the telly… By making cinema so expensive studios and cinema chains are keeping away customers like me.

Each person would probably have their own take on this and accordingly spends their money on entertainment.

What is your’s?

By artiagrawal Posted in General

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s