I’ve got nothing against The Marvels. I’m fine with Brie Larson, I liked Captain Marvel, and I had zero problems with that moment in the final battle scene of Avengers: Endgame. I just don’t think any movies are worth seeing in the theater anymore, and would be absolutely fine if movie theaters went the way of butter churning, cave painting, and Blackberry phones.
I’ll see The Marvels eventually. As an entertainment writer and editor, it’s possible–if not likely–I’ll have some kind of assignment related to the film and so may see it in the theater regardless. But without a professional obligation attached, I can’t imagine caring enough to see it before I can watch it at home.
Covid-19 almost killed the movie theater industry, and it’s too bad it didn’t go all the way.
This isn’t an anti-Marvel thing either. I feel the same about Killers of the Flower Moon, Napoleon, Godzilla Minus One, Dream Scenario, Dicks: The Musical, The Creator, Dune: Part Two, or any other films I might want to see. I’ll see them all as soon as they make their way to a streaming service and/or have a physical home release.
When it comes to the entertainment industry, perhaps my biggest disappointment of the past few years came when the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic failed to kill off the movie theater industry and throw everything online. During lockdown it looked like the streamers were going to take over everything, but all it took was a Tom Cruise midlife crisis sequel and James Cameron to remake the same movie he’s been making for decades to inspire all the streaming platforms to say, “Oh sh-t, we have to figure out how to make money.
Going to the movies now is needing to ask the elderly couple a few seats down from you to be quiet during a screening of A Quiet Place.
I have all the same warm, fuzzy nostalgia of seeing movies in theaters as the most ardent cinephile. I remember seeing Star Wars (not A New Hope, it was just Star Wars back then), Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Trek II, The Fox and the Hound, and plenty of other features in a local single screen theater whose ceilings seemed as high as the inside of an aircraft hangar, covered with beautiful designs.
But that isn’t what going to the movies is anymore.
Going to the movies now is needing to ask the elderly couple a few seats down from you to be quiet during a screening of A Quiet Place. It’s a stranger in the row behind you somehow managing to sneeze on your hand while you watch Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. It’s going to the mens room after A Haunting in Venice and wondering how many different strangers’ urine you’re standing in while managing to–unlike them–aim for the urinal.
Going to the theater is the row of jerks in front of you being kind of enough to talk loudly only during the most emotional scenes. It’s circling a parking lot a half dozen times looking for a spot while getting dirty looks and single finger salutes from drivers doing the same thing. It’s paying way too much for movie tickets and, if you’re hungry or thirsty, calling JG Wentworth so you can pay for snacks.
Denis Villeneuve wants to complain his movie was specifically made to be seen in a theater? How is that my problem? Isn’t that your challenge to overcome as a filmmaker?
Going to the theater is a 13-year-old who finds a reason to leave the theater every fifteen minutes, but making sure to jump down each step rather than walk like a human being because it’s louder. It’s a Marvel movie ending and a Brainiac walking across the theater and yelling, “There’s no post-credits scene!” who then looks confused when people yell back to shut the f–k up. It’s a couple going to see Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and seeming surprised when their newborn–who looks younger than my Diet Pepsi–starts shrieking like an alarm every ten minutes.
Going to the theater is a half hour of Maria Menounos or some TikTok influencer “hosting” a bunch of commercials, which eventually make way for a few commercials, leading to at least 25 minutes of trailers (which are, some people tend to forget, commercials). If you’re still awake by then, or you don’t have to go to the bathroom to shave the beard that’s grown since you sat down, eventually the movie will start.
Going to the movie theater is a chore. It’s work. You get just as many commercials as if you stayed home and watched sitcoms on network TV, and it’s way more expensive.
Yes, I know there are swanky art houses and the occasional second run theater that caters to cinephiles, but those are too few and far between. In a perfect world, sure, movie theaters would be great. But it’s not, and they’re not, so why can’t we just stream?
Denis Villeneuve wants to complain his movie was specifically made to be seen in a theater? How is that my problem? Isn’t that your challenge to overcome as a filmmaker? When David Cronenberg can visually format Crimes of the Future specifically with streaming in mind, what’s your excuse?
I am not going to see Dune: Part Two in the same ideal environment in which Denis Villeneuve and Martin Scorsese and David Cronenberg will see it. I will not be flanked by celebrities and celebrity hanger-ons. If I see it in theater, I will see it in a place in which black lights would reveal enough bodily fluid stains to trigger a national emergency.
Are there films I’ve seen in theaters that I would regret not seeing in the theater? Sure, I can think of one off the top of my head. The communal celebration raging while watching Avengers: Endgame was definitely worth all the headaches that come with the age of the multiplex.
But that’s Avengers: Endgame. And of course, that’s not “real cinema.” Right, Marty?