The ‘commodization’ of the movies

Movies. We see the commercials/ spots on TV,  ads in the newspapers , posters on the bus stops and digital ‘moving’ billboards, hear them tout them on radio and of course we still discuss them at the office and home.  We still go to the theaters to see them, then we go home and wait for them to be available to us on…? well, not really DVD‘s anymore. Blockbuster is going away, we really don’t run to Best Buy or Fry’s to ‘rent’ them. Maybe RedBox in a grocery store too. Some of us now are using Netflix, iTunes and some in major metropolitan cities can find them for $5.00 on a table on a street corner (illegal copies albeit, if you know where to look). And fewer of us get them from Torrents, and even less from the newsgroups. But what has happened over the past 10 years to the DVD business has caused a major shift in perception for all of us. Its no longer the ‘event’ it used to be to wait to get a movie in DVD form to bring home and watch on a weekend night. Years ago, there weren’t 15-20 movies in the theaters at once. Movies started a run in the theaters and most lasted a few months. Now, most last a few weeks, if that. Or never see a theater at all. Back then, we could peruse Blockbuster along with our neighbors to grab a copy and return it the next day (if it was a new release).  There was a sense of pent up demand to get that movies when it came out on DVD. That no longer exists. What happened? Where did that great feeling of waiting for that movie you liked so much in the theater to come out on DVD. I miss that ‘looking forward’ to a film at home. How did Hollywood lose that edge with all of us?  They blinked.

Today, even ‘Avatar‘ released on DVD or to Netflix, iTunes, etc. is a non-event. True, Hollywood tries to make it an event. They really do advertise the DVD release. Target and Wal-Mart carry it but years ago Target and Wal-Mart were not even in the running for carrying and stocking an ‘Avatar’.  I think to some extent that the loss of the trips to the local DVD store and the swing to the Targets and Best Buy seem to lend a feeling to each movie released that there a sense of ‘mass commoditization’ of the movies.  You just don’t ‘run’ to Wal-Mart for a film. You can’t even rent them at Wal-Mart or Target – they must be purchased.  To compound this, movies are being released sooner than ever before. This gives one a reason to stop before going to a theater right away to see a movie. Given the cost of a ticket, popcorn etc., a babysitter (if you need one) and you’re into 1 movies for nearly $ 100.00 if you go with 1 other individual. Ouch!

Years back, certain theaters carried certain films. There were ‘art’ houses (for independent films) , there were theaters that carried foreign films ( Goddard, Truffaut) and there were retro houses and mainstream theaters. With costs so high these days, theater owners must give way to larger bigger well advertised releases.  When was the last time anyone saw an ad on TV, newspapers, bus stop, radio, etc for a foreign language film from a well known director. It used to be Directors could lure an audience into the theaters alone.  It didn’t matter who was in the film, what the special effects were or if there were any at all. Few directors today can do this (Cameron and a handful of others can, but not too many).

Movies are a commodity today. One released after another, not much difference between them all. And once they are out and available after the theaters, they are all but forgotten.  We have no more real teams of actors and actresses that are featured in several films  (except for Tarrantino and now Rob Zombie, who do this).

I miss all of this. Do you?

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