An interesting conversation formed at my day job in wake of the midnight release for the latest Batman installment. The popular opinion was that midnight events are scary show times to be avoided. “Too many cosplayers.” And with every seat claimed, the cinema feels “too cramped with ‘freaks,'” which steals the enjoyment from watching a movie.
Cinema = Community, Inside & Out
According to the people having this conversation, the preferred option is to have a smaller audience. Less people around offers a more private viewing… Sounds to me more like watching a movie in your living room. Especially nowadays with the wider availability of high-tech, big screen TVs and sound systems.
There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. But public exhibition of films is, by its very nature, a social event. Cinemas are designed for a large room of people to sit together and have a shared experience. Much like live theatre, it’s the audience who makes the experience unique.
Both Sides of the Tracks
I’ve seen showings of films with little- to- no others in the cinema besides myself and a close friend or two. They were fantastic experiences. We didn’t have to keep our voices low; in fact, we held an open discussion on the similarities and differences from the novel.
But I’ve also experienced the joy of a midnight release party with fellow fans (for both Star Wars and Harry Potter). The energy is infectious, and comparable only to that which I feel at conventions or Renaissance faires. The energy of the nerdy. Maybe that’s the secret. Those who triggered this conversation don’t appreciate the grandeur of geek culture.
Geek Culture Overdose or Typical Social Outing?
Yet, that doesn’t solve the issue at hand. Midnight cosplay premieres aside, cinema still remains a social venue. Perhaps we don’t go there with the conscious intent to socialise, but it happens.
What are your thoughts? Is the social entertainment of midnight releases strictly an enjoyment for the geeky? Does the same social atmosphere extend to non-midnight show times?
Beyond all of that, what about home environments? How does the evolution of television and sound systems affect the social aspects of cinema? Ignoring a certain courtesy toward neighbours (and the accessibility of recently-released films), we could theoretically host the same setup in our living rooms at less cost.
Where will technology see cinema in the near future?