In this edition of Voices of the Syndicate, we ask our team about their thoughts on the movie-going experience and how it fares against  the advent of instant downloading sites.

Is cinema dead? Sites like Netflix, Hulu & iTunes offer instant gratification while DVD’s are getting cheaper all the time. So with this in mind, is the modern cinema dying? And if so what can it do to ensure it’s future?

I don’t think the cinema is dead as it is more of an experience than just going to watch a film (imagine how rubbish all those dates would have been if you just went to someone’s house to watch a film). I don’t think all films should just be instant download, personally for me DVDs/Blu-rays give me all the extra bits that you don’t get from download websites. However instant downloads do open up smaller scale more independent films to the mass market without having to rely on getting a distribution deal. I have to agree, it’s the cost which is killing the cinema. The cinema’s put up their prices to “pay for the new 3D hardware” however they must have paid for it 3 times over by now. Overall I still think there is room in the market for all 3 formats.

Not at all. I think cinema is still 1 of the most exciting places to be. There is nothing better for me than going for an entire day with my girlfriend and watching film after film with a big bag of popcorn. The thing that does need to be addressed is the cost. With cinema prices soaring more and more people (especially families) cannot afford to go. This means they will find other methods to see the film such as Downloading or waiting for DVD. This means kids never get to see how wonderful and exciting it is to go to the cinema. So no it’s not dead but changes need to be made.

Nothing would match the mob handed experience of seeing the LoTR movies at the pictures w all my nerdy local DnD mates. For those event reasons alone – long live the pictures! Furthermore an experience were you sit & concentrate on a film has to have value in a world of live-tweeting & constant distractions. A disclaimer my time poor life means I may be guilty of gross hypocrisy not pitting my money where my mouth is.

As I write this I’ve just paid £35 for the three of us to see a 3D movie and have a drink each. Cost is most definitely a factor. The main thing for me though is the viewing experience, which is ruined by us punters. I cannot understand why the big chains don’t police the screens and turf out the chattering, texting idiots. If there’s anything which drives me away from the cinema it’s this. I’ve turned into a grumpy old geek as I tell people to shut up but half of the time this just makes matters worse. Day & date download probably will come at some point but I don’t think the experience of home viewing is yet worth the £20+ the studios are likely to want for the pleasure.

The idealised veiw of the cinema where you go and sit down with a group of friends and watch the latest blockbuster projected on to a 100 foot screen and experience true high definition sound is long dead. What we are faced with now is a overly expensive waste of time. If I go to see a movie at the cinema and I’m paying almost £10 I expect to be sat in a comfortable chair and I expect to be able to experience the movie without interruptions from the local youth who are bored with whatever movie we are watching. If the major studios gave me a way to watch the latest blockbusters at home the same day they were out in the cinema then I would jump at the chance. Yes this would mean the eventual death of the movie theater and I would be sad that I would probably never get the chance to experience that idealised cinema environment again but I would gladly dance on the grave of the awful excuse for a cinema industry we have today.

Hmmm. I’m not sure its a linked scenario to be honest. I like going to the cinema, I enjoy the big screen experience but also the communal nature of it. Sure there is the odd bad experience but on the whole sharing that viewing time with many people, laughing, crying, cheering, is a great thing, and has increased my enjoyment of a film on more than on occasion. The prices – especially for 3D – are getting pretty stupid but I guess we’ll see how that plays out over the longer term. As for downloading – I think at the moment the entertainment industry as a whole is being pretty thick-headed when it comes to monetising the internet and it can only be a matter of time before faster releases, including very quick streaming or download access, becomes the norm. It would be a huge threat not to cinemas, in my opinion, but more to the already ailing bricks’n’mortar retailers who’ve already seem direct game and music sales slash into their margins.

Going to see the latest releases or a classic at the cinema is one of my favourite lesiure activities, so for me there is no substitute. However, I did pay £10 just to see The Phantom Menace in so-so 3D yesterday, which understandably annoyed me. The steep prices are a direct result of the cost of showing 3D (plus the glasses) and a reaction to downloading. The problem is that the quality of cinema 3D isn’t at a level high enough to justify paying that kind of money. I also hate people that talk during screenings; my suspension of disbelief was continuously disturbed by a row of inconsiderate students during The Phantom Menace, who I heard laughing nearly all the way through. Bring back the stewards! I believe downloads and pay-per-view will eventually become the accepted way of watching new movies, with cinema trips becoming a social oddity, but it’ll be quite a while before this happens. Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist has already (albeit unsuccessfully) experimented with this, offering video on demand customers the chance to watch it only three weeks after its theatrical debut, for the high, high price of $59.99. Unsurprisingly, this was met by a boycott from American cinemas and a large amount of disinterest by the American public. In short, the problems don’t just fall at the feet of cinemas, it’s the entire entertainment industry that’s broken.

For me, the cinema is all but dead. I have to be super excited for something (AVENGERS!) to go to the theatre. My frickin’ brother keeps calling me up to go see movies I’m not too interested in. My brother, BTW, is why the cinema is not dead. There are people who will just go to a theatre on a whim! Some people don’t even know what’s playing until they see the marquee. You ever look around the theater and wonder why that 70-something couple is in this movie way out of their demographic? For me, let’s get digital, digital! Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, iTunes. I want everything available at a click.

I hope cinema isn’t dead and I think there will always be a market for it. I mean as much as I prefer watching stuff in the comfort of my own home, where I’m not annoyed by the general bad antics of other cinema goers, I would miss it if I didn’t have the option of going. Some of my fondest memories come from that shared cinema experience. Hearing the entire audience gasp as the man of steel defies gravity for the first time or cheering when a farmboy and space smuggler get their medals for saving the galaxy. Experiences like that are difficult to replicate at home unless you’ve just won the lottery and can build your own person cinema in the back garden for when friends come over. If cinema is truly dead then it’s a sad loss for us all. I think that price is a big issue for me and the reliance on the majority of films I want to see now being in 3D to hike up the price does leave a sour taste in my mouth that’s worst that the ridiculously expensive coke on sale in the cinema foyer. It means that I am now very, very choosy about what I go see. In the future if films did start having same downloads available I think I would be going even less than I am now.

So what do you think? Is cinema dead. We hope not!

GS Reporter: Montoya

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