For those of you who are unfamiliar with the idea put forward in “The Screening Room,” here is an explanation: this idea is that you don’t have to be at the movie theater surrounded by strangers to see a new movie. If you pay a certain amount of money, you can watch it at home, where you are in control (I believe the price is pretty high, between 50 and 200 bucks for a single viewing of a movie), but the idea is what’s important. Clearly, I’m a huge movie fan. Every single day, I either watch a movie, write about movies, read a book, read short stories, watch a few TV episodes, discuss movies, write stories of my own, or at the very least am in my apartment, in which I have 600+ DVD’s and Blu-rays. It’s an undeniable fact that I love movies- and that being said, I’m not a fan of the movie theater. I think that paying to see a movie in which, 95% of the time, there is somebody texting, talking, sneezing, snoring, chewing loudly, walking in front of your view, etc. in an unpleasant experience, and I will avoid it at whatever cost- even and especially means if it simply means waiting 3-4 months to see the movie for free at home. Here’s why…
In almost every city or town, there’s a public library that is made possible for tax payer money. These libraries often purchase the latest DVDs (and books, of course) for people to rent. If I don’t find it necessary to see a movie in theaters (which is most often these days), then I’ll just wait to rent the movie for free from a library or until it hits HBO or Netflix. In a way, I’m already paying for those options instead of paying to see it in theaters which is a gamble of having a good time or not. To those who say: if somebody is texting or talking, then just get a theater employee and get them to stop, or tell them yourself. In both instances, and in every instance after a person starts texting or talking, I’m put at a disadvantage because I have to miss at least some of the movie I’m paying for- which ruins the entire experience. At home, I have no problems with my surroundings as I am the sole person who is in charge of everything. At home, I get free refills all of the time, have a choice of snacks that don’t cost an entire week’s pay, can use the bathroom AND pause the movie, can take a phone call and not be an asshole, and rewind the film if i missed something.
Furthermore, it’s really not a problem at all waiting for a film to hit the library or Redbox because there is a world of free (and fantastic) content to hold me over until then. With HBO and Netflix, streaming services are delivering amazing content, and 2016 has been a year in which the movies at the theater (read my essay about this here) have disappointed the masses. I can get on Netflix or HBO or Hulu or Amazon or anything else, and see movies that I haven’t seen, or haven’t heard of, and end up loving. And, thanks to JustWatch.com, I can search for movies that I want to see and have missed, and this website will tell me where I can see them for free on streaming, or where I can rent them, usually for just 4 bucks, instead of 8-10 at the movie theater. The streaming services are undoubtedly doing damage to the theater, and to those who say that movies are making more money than ever, then you’re not seeing the many, many movies that flop per year and are only focusing on the blockbusters such as anything put out by Disney. There are only 2-3 movies per month that do a lot at the box office, and the rest fall flat on their faces. The 2-3 movies, however, make enough money to make 10-15 more films, flops and all.
A service like The Screening Room guarantees a good experience with a new movie, but I don’t think this service will take off. For the movies that I go to see such as Marvel or Star Wars or the other big films, I see them on opening night when the audience cares a lot about the film, and having a good experience. So, I don’t run into problems with them. If I don’t see the movie on opening night, then the experience at the theater with the movie will be a $10 gamble and I’ll just wait until I can see it for free at home. Since Screening Room costs so much, it’s not worth it for the big movies or the small movies, unless you can afford a $50 ticket to a movie whenever you want to see one. I do think, however, that streaming services will swallow up the theaters, and that people will have huge TV’s in their own home that will make an expensive visit to the movie theaters completely unnecessary. I worked at 2 movie theaters for 3 years total, and I get the appeal and the experience can sometimes be magical. But, when it’s not, then it’s not worth it. I’d rather watch a movie on my couch with a blanket and the ability to pause, turn it off, or anything else that I desire while the movie is playing. And I will never miss a single line of dialogue. That’s the future, and I’m ready for it.