I’ll never forget the experience of seeing “Jurassic Park” on the big screen. As a seven-year-old, watching what seemed like a life-sized T-Rex in front of me, tearing apart that little yellow gas jeep and roaring ’til my ears hurt was beyond extraordinary. I’m lucky that I got to experience that work of art in its original, intended form: the silver screen. Had I simply waited for the VHS, or even the DVD years later, it wouldn’t have been so incredible.
Throughout my childhood, rarely a week went by without my father taking me to the theater. I always enjoyed going to a movie, even if I was falling asleep before Forrest Gump ever returned from his cross-country jog or throwing up a whole bucket of buttered popcorn during “Home Alone 2.”
There was something about the entire theatrical experience that I fell in love with at an early age. Not only was I temporarily escaping the day-to-day stresses of being seven, I was spending quality time with a parent. And now that I’m older, I still get out to a movie as often as possible with a date or a few friends.
Unfortunately, not everyone shares my lifelong love for the cinematic experience, as box office earnings have dropped 10.2 percent since 2002. There are many possible reasons for the decline: increasing ticket prices, too many disturbances in the theater or the popularity of home-theaters, big screens and surround sound systems.
Many could argue that a night out to the movies is too expensive, with Marquette’s theaters charging $7 for evening shows, and a popcorn and soda together totaling roughly $10. Still, the ticket for that two hour show costs about the same as having a meal at a sit-down restaurant.
And if its the concession prices that are the issue, I suggest heading out on a “Bring Your Own Bucket” Tuesday night and filling up the biggest bowl in the cupboard for just 53 cents.
The popularity of cell phones has become a problem in theaters, alongside the timeless crying babies and blabber-mouthed teenagers. Still, these are rarities, and less likely than any of the home theater interruptions – phone calls and roommates.
Home theaters, coupled with Netflix, On-Demand capabilities and the hush-hush world of downloading pirated movies may be the biggest reason people are skipping out on the cinema. Unless thousands of dollars are put into a massive TV and a booming sound system, movie-watching just isn’t the same at home as it is at the theater. Spider-man swinging through New York City and the mindblowing landscapes in “Lord of the Rings” just don’t have the same effect at home as on they did when they were on the cinema screen. And watching them on a computer? That’s simply a travesty.
During last year’s “The Departed,” I threw my arms over my head in complete shock when the elevator doors opened and Leonardo DiCaprio’s character took one in the forehead. Would I have reacted the same way, been so completely engaged had I been watching a pirated version of the film on my laptop screen? It’s doubtful.
Spending a night at the movies — whether laughing at a comedy, shrieking with horror or sweating through an edge-of-your-seat drama — is a completely engaging experience. And spending that time with a friend, date or family member is even more rewarding.
Going to a theater makes something of a night, and it’s a social event. A group of friends can have a riot, family members can bond, and it’s an excellent idea for a date.
The Oscars are nearing and there are a lot of quality films to choose from.
Make a night of it, grab a buddy, spend a bit of cash and get lost in the cinematic experience.