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The Movies and Today’s Generation

CEBU, Philippines — There’s no question that most people enjoy going out and watch a movie at the theater. And this is true even today, with all the other entertainment options offered by the digital times. Moviegoers don’t seem to mind the hassle of going to a movie theater, bearing with chattering in the audience, crinkling food wrappers etc.

The big screen brings a different experience they say. But the increasing box-office ticket prices tend to have prompted people to re-consider about going out to see a movie.  Okay, probably they can’t help it and so they try, instead, to minimize the frequency.

About half of the population in cities, goes out to see a movie in theaters – at least once in three months. Curiously, a study reveals that about 70 percent of moviegoers “don’t actually choose the movie they’ll see until they’re at the theater.” Their choices are determined by several factors – the cast, the director, or simply if the screening schedule fits with their convenient time.

It doesn’t mean to say that people just go out to the movie theater without the slightest idea of what’s out there. In fact, 4 out of 5 moviegoers go because of a word from friends, or having seen a trailer on TV or online. A study has found that 39 percent of moviegoers’ choices are mostly influenced by trailers, three times more than those influenced by the cast or opinion of peers.

The Oscars will be here Sunday, and the competition is heating up. The race for best picture is close, and it's between ... a bunch of movies many people haven't seen.

According to a Morning Consult poll, about 55 percent of Americans have not seen a single film nominated for best picture. Personally, I have seen "Hidden Figures" and "La La Land" (I am hopeful that "Hidden Figures" takes home the prize) and a few others that were nominated in categories such as song and special effects ("Moana," "Rogue One" and "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," to name three).

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But why is it that so many people are not going to see these movies? Or any movies? Is there just a general lack of interest in the films? Or is theater-going just not something people find fun?

A lot of people nowadays, teenagers in particular, are no longer going to the movies as often. They’d prefer to stay in the comfort of their own home and watch movies on Netflix.

In 2016, the U.S. film industry reportedly sold “the fewest tickets per person of any year since perhaps before the 1920s,” despite the fact that Hollywood is the biggest movie factory of the world. And the number of frequent moviegoers (people who go to the theater at least once a month) is said to have dropped by 3.7 million between 2014 and 2015. This scenario is likewise easy to see in the Philippines, as well, and perhaps anywhere else in the world.

The trend is most noticeable among young people. Analysts attribute the drop to the widespread availability films nowadays and the more convenient means of watching them. Video discs are now so easy to have, and it’s as easy to download a movie file to a USB flashdisk.

There’s also the so-called video streaming technology that makes it possible for one to watch a movie anywhere, using a laptop or even a smartphone. At home, there are movies on cable TV. One can just stay home and watch Netflix instead of going to the movie theater.

But going out to see a movie is not only about having entertainment – it is also a significant social event. The atmosphere of the theater is something that can’t be replicated at home. Being around other moviegoers in the same hall enhances one’s experience of the movie.

The rather slackening public attitude about watching movies on the big screen may just be an initial effect of widespread digital media. The present generation may eventually see the value of the going out to see a movie – the same value that got the past generation addicted to it. But this is possible only if the movie industry also continues to come up enhancements – both technical and artistic – that will egg people to go back to the movie theater to fully experience it. (FREEMAN)

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