I've seen all the hysterical stories about the decline of the movie industry. (Those poor, poor downtrodden Hollywood folks. How will they ever afford the next Vertu phones and Prada bags and Jimmy Choo shoes and ... oh wait, I forgot ... they get all that stuff for free.) What kills me is the giant blame game going on, and the last straw for me was blaming poor ticket sales on the high price of gas. Are you kidding me? Let's all be very clear here. People are not skipping the movies because of gas prices. They're skipping the movies this summer because there hasn't been much worth going to see. Making a movie worth going to see means the movie must be ALL of the following:
* Worth piling the family in the car (or getting a babysitter) and driving to the theater.
* Worth spending at least $10 on snacks.
* Worth waiting through 15 or so minutes of extremely aggravating commercials.
* An interesting, compelling, unique story that I want to get off my butt to go see.
* Buzzworthy, and I don't mean fake buzz with silly promotions and people telling others it's a great movie because they'll get free stuff if they do. I mean buzz where someone I know actually went and saw it and said it was great. I don't recall anyone telling me that "Bewitched" or "The Island" or "Herbie: Fully Loaded" or "Madagascar" was great. In the case of "Madagascar", the lemurs and the penguins were great, but not the movie itself.
As long as the movie is great, going to the movie theater is still a good experience, despite the cost and the lines and the commercials (and in the case of my local theater, Cinemark Tinseltown 17, the pervasive urine smell seeping from the bathrooms). Sitting in the cool air, in the dark, watching "The Shawshank Redemption" or "Gladiator" or "Titanic" or "The Matrix" or "Million Dollar Baby" with a hundred other people is fun. In the end it's all about the movie. Don't blame the marketers, or OPEC.
We've got to care about the story, and be interested enough in the people portraying the characters. I knew no one would care about "Cinderella Man" and "The Last Samurai". Don't ask me how, I just knew. Let me make a bet with you right now -- no one cares about going to see "The Brothers Grimm". Why? Because they have no idea what the movie is about, and because Matt Damon looks completely ridiculous with those sideburns. If I'm wrong, I volunteer to clean the bathrooms at my local theater.