If it's crap ... We'll tell you
With all this talk about how the movie theater industry is losing money and theories being posted as to why, it's a wonder if any of the major movie theater companies are going to change up their act. And from my unique perspective, I can say with some confidence that they probably won't.
If you've gone to see any movie at a Regal Cinemas recently, you've probably seen a little bumper in front of their trailer pack. I tried to find a video copy of it online, but it seems that even Regal Cinemas itself doesn't have one posted up on YouTube. Here's what is played: It is a mock trailer featuring footage that could easily be found as stock for a National Geographic or History Channel show. Over the course of the bumper, the fake trailer shrinks down to the size of a computer monitor. As it shrinks, the sound becomes less grand, traveling from full Digital Dolby Surround to stereo and then finally a muted mono. A title card then pops up that says something to the affect of "Movies should not be reduced to this." The monitor then blows up as the sound returns to the Digital Dolby setting of the theater, and another title card pops up that reads "Go Big or Go Home."
This is in front of all their movies. As a consumer and a theater go-er, how can I not notice this or talk about it? Or for that matter, What are they trying to communicate. The message is just lost, and given the state of the theater industry, it's a wonder why they would put money into such a bumper to be played in front of their movies.
Let's break this down.
The first part of this bumper plays out like an anti-piracy trailer. This makes sense, as there was and continues to be a big bootleg market where someone will film the movie on a hidden camera and then post it on a torrent or burn it to a DVD. Big enough to make the news multiple times over as why Hollywood is losing money. Okay, great, I have to sit through another wave of "Don't Pirate" PSAs before the 20 minutes of trailers.
The big wrench in the gears is the final title card. "Go Big or Go Home." It completely cancels out what they were trying to say visually with everything before it. What was the point of showing us the effects of watching a movie on our computer or even on our TV? Why is that a detriment to the movie? A better question is if it is a detriment to the movie or the movie theater. Fundamentally speaking, the "Go Big or Go Home" text pretty much is telling anyone at any Regal Cinemas theater watching a movie in an abrasive manner "Love the movie theater industry or get the fuck out!" I'm sorry, but by the point you run this trailer, you already have my money. Why should I leave because I have issues with the way my movie theater experience is being shot all to hell because of high ticket prices and patrons being inconsiderate to others?
Artistically, this bumper is shooting the theater in the foot.
The wording of "Go Big or Go Home" is often associated with sporting events, where you bring all you got to the game or you might as well quit. As a theater patron, we aren't suppose to bring ANYTHING to any theater except our collective asses to fill a seat and some cash to spend on admission in. That's not asking to "go big" in any sense of the phrase. But, hey, maybe they don't mean it in the same sense as the sports industry does. Maybe they mean it in the literal sense since the average person can't brag about having a 25 foot tall silver-lined screen and digital projection system capable of RealD 3D projection technology. And if they do, the "Go Big or Go Home" phrase doesn't have that big of an impact as it should. The goal is to get people to go to the theaters and come back often. The use of the phrase means that I have the option of going to the theater, where I can hear and see the film as big and grand as illustrated at the start of the bumper, or see it as crappy and as small as my computer screen is capable of...
Wait a second. Did nobody tell Regal Cinemas about home theaters? Right now, my family has a 40 inch HD TV hooked up to a rather cheap but working Blu-ray player. We have a Dolby 4.1 Surround Sound system from the mid-90s' Home Theater Boom that still works. Put the two together, and I can duplicate the theater experience for a fraction of the cost. And we have. So to tell me to "Go Big or Go Home" now, given all this information, makes the message passive-aggressive. It comes off as the theater saying "We really don't care anymore. We'd love it if you came to the theater and supported us, but you could easily see this movie at home if you want."
What. The. Fuck. Are. You. Trying. To. Say!?!
If any theater--not just Regal Cinemas--wants to get people to come to the theaters more often than not, then how about listening to the complaints that have been published over and over again every time the subject comes up. Overpriced snacks with limited options. No enforcement of policies or policing the crowds. A push for unwanted 3D films and a price difference excuse that doesn't makes no sense to the consumer. You already had one theater chain become famous for enforcing their No Talking or Texting policy to the point where the national news and morning talk shows were mentioning them by name. Is it that difficult to follow their example?
Oh, I forgot. You can't because you make most of the money from the concession stand, and if nobody is buying the overpriced popcorn, then you can't hire more employees to do the policing and offer great service and all that. After all, you guys do need 10 theaters dedicated to the midnight of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt.1 and justify the four copies of the film you ordered from the studio.