Friday, June 17, 2005

Movies at Home vs. The Theater

A recent Associated Press/America Online poll shows that a majority of individuals prefer watching movies at home, with only a paltry 22% saying they would rather see films at a theater. Most cited personal circumstances for lack of theater attendence: money issues, child care, and such. Others noted that the quality of films coming out of Hollywood are lacking, and even the stars and their off-screen behavior leave something to be desired. Interestingly enough, an oft-cited reason for the decline in movie theater attendance was found to be lacking. Many believe the rise of DVD technology and cable are keeping people at home, but, "the poll found that people who use DVD, watch pay-per-view on cable, download movies from the internet, and play computer games actually go to the movies in theaters more than people at the same societal levels who don't use those technologies. That suggests the technology may be complementing rather than competing with theatergoing."

You can read the full results of the AP/AOL poll here.

I personally watch A LOT of movies at home, but I do enjoy the commual--even ritualistic--aspects of seeing a film in a theater. For those who make a study of ritual, I'm sure filmgoing is a rich subject area. I had hoped to find some article on this subject, but have yet to find one. If you happen to know of a great article that explores the connection between filmgoing and ritual, please let me know. I'm sure one exists somewhere! I will leave this post with a quote on "Cultural Productions" I found in Dean MacCannell's book THE TOURIST: A NEW THEORY OF THE LEISURE CLASS (1989 ed.) that I find apropos to the filmgoing experience:

Cultural productions are also rituals. They are rituals in the sense that they are based on formulae or models and in the sense that they carry individuals beyond themselves and the restrictions of everyday experience. Participation in a cultural production, even at the level of being influenced by it, can carry the individual to the frontiers of his being where his emotions may enter into communion with the emotions of others "under the influence." (pg. 26)

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