I was talking to someone about the new Jurassic World movie, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. They were telling me how unimpressed they were with the story. I sympathized, of course. Nothing has ever come close to Jurassic Park, the original. But we also agreed that there is nothing like the big screen for visuals and sound. Nothing is quite as cool as hearing Hollywood’s version of a T-Rex scream in a theater setting.
However, it’s also true that the bar has been raised. If Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom‘s story is bad (and I haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t know), is it really worth it to spend the money and time, sit next to strangers, and fight the traffic just to hear big sound and see a big screen? It all depends on your priorities, time constraints, financial situation, and why you go to the movies in the first place.
If you go to the movies to enjoy a communal event, traveling to the theater for a group experience is part of the fun. Movie theaters will always hold a place in society. They provide a way to experience story as a bonding and entertaining event. To that end, movies that reach the widest audience, have the most crossover appeal, and are the easiest to understand, will probably always do best in the theater atmosphere. The Marvel-type movies, big action films, easy romantic comedies, and animation provide mass appeal. They are generally non-controversial. And they allow us to relax our brains for a couple of hours in the company of friends, family, and junk food.
However, some of us do not watch movies to relax our brains. Having our brains stretched and worked on is part of the entertainment. Character-driven movies, independent films, foreign films, documentaries, and art-house films are more likely to draw this type of crowd. Each individual movie may not be profitable enough to show on a big screen. But, now that streaming has become such a popular way to view content, studios can create intellectual content without going bankrupt. These movies don’t require large screens or booming audio, so they can be enjoyed on a large or a small screen.
The smaller screen also appeals to people who just want a distraction for a few minutes. I think all of us fall into this category at times. During a busy work week, there may not be enough time to venture out to a theater, or dive into a deep, character-driven tale. Dropping in on a streaming show or movie for a few minutes, knowing that you can pick it up right where you left off, is the essence of the “on-demand” system.
This wider range of content is good news for writers and consumers. People are still hungry for story. And, now that there are so many other options besides theaters and cable, those of us who like niche movies and shows have a greater variety of options. I can usually find something interesting to watch on Netflix, for example, since they have everything from old movie classics to their own original programming, and everything in between.
Virtual reality may eventually become another way to enjoy entertainment. VR provides a personalized, interactive experience that is unlike any previous movie or television experience. The kinds of experiences that are becoming possible through technology may present additional challenges for writers, producers, and consumers alike. But, in the meantime, regardless of your reason for engaging in entertainment, there is likely something out there that can satisfy even the pickiest of viewers.
Peace and love,