For a lifelong movie buff, going to less than 4 movies a month has always been an exceedingly rare thing unless I was flat on my back in bed with the dreaded flu, on a killer deadline, vacationing somewhere remote, or there was a spate of seriously bad movies, which was highly unlikely most months. I could always find a least one movie a week I wanted to see.
The very moment my parents deemed me old enough to walk fifteen minutes with my friends to the nearest movie theater, which was the only theater in bustling downtown Olympia, I went every single weekend to the Saturday matinee, the admission money (50 cents) clutched in my fist, along with enough extra change to buy myself a Mountain Bar or a Payday. And for a couple hours, I was in heaven. I loved horror movies best, but I was transfixed almost no matter what was on the screen.
This summer I averaged maybe one movie a month and really only the month of June was out because of my back surgery in May. By July I’d figured out I could handle the theater seats with extra cushioning in the form a bed pillow and some Tylenol, if necessary. And believe me, by then I was dreaming about the magical spell of a dark theater at midday, redolent with pungent aroma of freshly popped corn and pop and fizz of tangy soft drinks. I’ve been known to hallucinate about popcorn if I go too long without it, so there you are.
Until this summer. Or maybe it started last summer, but this summer was the worst I can ever remember for movies, which depressed me no end, partly because I figured it was just another byproduct of “maturity.” I hadn’t stopped loving movies, I’d just stopped loving the selection of movies available, especially in the summer blockbuster season. I thought it was me. My hubby was still going to horror and/or action (aka, body count) movies at least once a week with his guy friends. Meanwhile, I was getting finicky and oversensitive to all the noise and explosions. I could remember my mom complaining about the noise when years ago I took her to Star Wars, a movie that I loved so immensely I saw it multiple times the summer it came out. So, it had to be age, right?
WRONG. Or at least not entirely right. As it turns out, this summer movie season was the worst since 1997! The U.S. box office was abominable, according to a recent L.A. Times article, and the foreign box office, while still healthy, didn’t begin to make up for it. We are big consumers of movies here in the U.S. of A. But not this summer. The article also listed the biggest movie bombs, which were all big budget blockbusters.
It would be easy to blame it on the excessive CGI (Computer Graphics Interface, otherwise known as special effects), which I do all the time. I want to see movies about humans I can relate to, even if they’re animated. Is that too much to ask? This summer the fare was almost entirely comic book movies about SUPERheroes and SUPER villains who could wipe out masses with their SUPER powers, whether for good or evil. Sometimes you couldn’t tell one from the other. It got exhausting. Instead of leaving the theater, my head filled with all manner of dreams, I left depleted. I cared so little about what I was watching that I actually dozed off in a couple of those “blockbusters,” despite all the noise. Now I realize it was an induced coma, my sensory system so overwhelmed that it tuned out the noise and gore, and took me with it.
But it wasn’t just me. Apparently lots of us gave up on the movies this summer and simply didn’t go. It’s really not surprising the public—and many big screen actors—are opting for television these days. While movie theater fare has declined, TV fare has improved in many cases. I hope it only gets better! I’m also hoping the powers that be in Hollywood don’t take this as a sign that they need to make the movies BIGGER and LOUDER than ever to get people back in the theaters. I may stop going entirely and that would be sad.
I won’t miss their blast-you-out-of-your-seat blockbusters, but I will miss the movie popcorn. A lot.