I’d like to take a break from the more “heavy” material that has occupied this column and talk about something less serious.
So over the weekend, my family and I went to the drive-in movie night at Vincent Park to watch Dirty Dancing. We arrived at about 6.30pm, staked our claim to a vacant space, and settled in.
Now I have never been to a drive-in before so this was an entirely new experience for me. It was . . . interesting at first.
Any junior student forced to sit for an hour during assembly can tell you how uncomfortable hard surfaces become. And, no matter what the adverts say, the back of a bakkie will never be big enough to fit three fully-grown people comfortably side-to-side. Oh, and having a lamp-post right in the middle of your view never helps.
But you know what? I still enjoyed every second of it. There’s just something special about camping out with a large group, enjoying something as a community. It’s a similar experience to attending a music festival, I’d say.
Which brings us, finally, to the point of this article. The night reminded me why I no longer go to an actual cinema anymore. The fact is that modern cinemas are just no longer fun.
You pay way too much for a ticket, even more for popcorn and drinks, and then have to suffer the bane of movie-lovers everywhere: other people. In every cinema you’re guaranteed to have someone’s phone go off because they “forgot” to put it on silent, and you’ll have a handful of others playing on theirs throughout the movie, their bright screens killing what little ambience you have.
You’ll have the hushed whispers of people talking, which is some- how more annoying than if they’d just talk normally, and all the other tiny things that soon add up.
The current cinema is basically just paying a ridiculously high price for the same experience you can have at home. Is it any wonder that cinema as an industry is on the decline?
Cinemas need to offer customers something unique, something they cannot get elsewhere. One suggestion I particularly like is to make going to the cinema a big event. They could encourage this mindset by perhaps going the dinner-and-a-show route: convert the floor into a dining area and provide viewers with some fine dining to accompany the movie.
Granted, the above suggestion would be might costly so let’s try something a bit smaller.You could organise special event nights that correspond with big blockbusters being released. For example, when the next Marvel movie comes out, they could organise a costume contest where viewers rock up dressed up as their famous superhero and the best costume wins a small prize.
Heck, even just cracking down hard on anti-social behaviour in the theatres would make a big difference. Imagine how much more pleasant going to the movies would be if you didn’t have to put up with a bunch of rude people nattering away, or fiddling on their phones the whole way through the movie.
My point is that there are plenty of ways cinemas can improve the end experience for their customers. I used to like going to the cinema with friends and family and would love a reason to do so again but as it stands, Netflix and chill is the more reasonable option.