Cinema vs DVD

I love films. From the time I had a TV in my own room and could watch classic cinema on Channel 4 to moving to London and being able to watch 100 films of quality a year, there are fewer things I enjoy doing more.

I had to question the future of cinema the other day when we went to see the new Narnia film. It cost £39 for the family to see this (what turned out to be fairly average) film. No, we didn’t pay for the premium seats, the latest in a long list of ploys that companies use to persuade richer (or more vain) people to pay more for the same product. No, I didn’t have to pay for 3D glasses (we keep ours in the car to avoid the £1 per person extra charge). No, we didn’t go to cinema in Central London (local cinema in Guildford). And no, we didn’t buy any popcorn or drinks; we looked like fat family of the year by each smuggling in – under our jumpers – supermarket-bought popcorn and pop.

Had we not done all of these things, this 2 hour family entertainment might have cost us £75. This seems pretty steep to me for something that should be a weekly pleasure.

Let’s contrast this with the experience of watching a DVD on a home cinema. We are fortunate to have a projector in one of our basement rooms. The cost of the equipment isn’t high, maybe 10 trips to the cinema? The size of the image is very large, maybe the size of the screen in one of the smaller screens at our local. There’s no 3D (yet), but we all know 3D is massively over-rated. The sound is excellent. The cost differentials are huge; a DVD costs around £5 to buy and £2 to rent.

Therefore, I watched the advert from Frost and Pegg at the cinema recently which extolled the wonders of going to the cinema over watching a DVD at home. Going to the cinema is still a better experience, but the differentials are smaller than they have ever been and are they really worth £70? On the positive side, I guess we shouldn’t be seeing Frost and Pegg advertising their DVDs.

For the record, we have seen 3 average films at the cinema in the last month (Harry Potter, Narnia and a film whose title I now forget about a train that can’t stop). And over the same period, we’ve enjoyed, say, 15 DVDs at home for a fraction of the price.

Seeing Jaws last night reminded me that:
– 3D is generally rubbish (point of evidence – Jaws was much better than Jaws 3D)
– You don’t need a lot of blood and guts. My children were scared witless by the editing in Jaws (incidentally, now classified as a Parental Guidance film – which means children of any age can see it)
– CGI can been fantastic for cinema (and the shark would look better in a film made today), but it can’t paper over other things a film has to get right (narrative, innovation, editing, cinematography)
– it’s still scary when that dead fisherman falls in front of the hole under water

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Richard Turner on January 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    I remember watching Jaws at CH. We were all sat on benches, chairs, etc, when the aforementioned head scene occurred. Whoever was sitting next to me was so scared they threw out an involuntary arm that caught me on the side of the head. You don’t get effects like that, even in 3D! The scene has stuck with me ever since, unlike the identity of whoever assaulted me, I’m assuming that it wasn’t you Julian.

    Reply

    • I don’t recall it being me, Dickie. Sounds like an elaborate plan for someone to get away with hitting you (and covering it up by co-inciding it with startling moment of a film). I do remember being on the bench on top of a table watching some scary film when the movements of one person caused the whole bench to fall from the table. Sadly, like you, all details elude me (id of others on the bench; identify of scared person; name of film etc).

      Reply

  2. Posted by Melville Bishop on January 3, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Well your home cinema is the biz as they say and it gives you th opportunity of viewing from home k cutting out transportation costs. The cost of going to the cinema is expensive but live theatre can be even more expensive. When I was young people went to the cinema in droves with twice weekly changes of film but despite multi-scrrens the number of cimemas has fallen. It may be that Tilly and Nancy in maturity may tell their children that such places existed.
    On the other hand our local (duplex) has a mid-week morning Silver Screen for a little over three pounds with hot chocolate and a biscuit thrown in.
    Look forward to the 1940s Canterbury Tales next time I’m up.

    Reply

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