In an acrimonious dispute last April studios such as Universal and Sony proposed VoD packages that made films available for download 60 days after release, halving the current rental release window of four months. This move outraged cinema owners, led to protests from leading Hollywood directors such as Kathryn Bigelow, Peter Jackson and James Cameron and spurred threats of boycott.
Only 6% of UK audiences surveyed, however, said this new release window would stop them going to their local cinema. Almost half claimed that films available for download would never stop them going to the cinema, even if films were released on download the same week as their theatrical release.
Respondents were, in fact, far more scathing about 3D technology and effects-driven blockbusters. 1 in 4 people cited 3D as their biggest cinema turn-off and 3 out of 5 people begrudged paying more for it. Given that most 3D titles aren't shot in 3D but are merely retro-fitted it is hardly surprising that many patrons feel short-changed. More than 1 in 4 people haven't even seen a 3D film yet and16% stated that they had no intention of doing so.
A third of respondents also claimed that special-effects driven pictures put them off seeing a film and 1in 7 people said the same thing about remakes and reboots. These findings suggest that cinemas shouldn’t bank on such gimmicks to entice customers in the long-term.
The impact of the recession on the entertainment market is also evident from this research. 84% of people stated that cinema tickets have become too expensive and 6 out of 10 people would be enticed to the cinema more often if there were special offers on ticket prices. After high ticket prices, people talking or using their mobile phones during the performance was cited as the worst thing about the current cinema experience closely followed by the over-priced snacks at the concessions stand.
1 in 10 people would like to see the return of the double bill and the same proportion of people would like to see cinemas invest in their buildings to make them more luxurious. With this in mind it seems cinema owners should focus on offering a valuable experience to customers rather than assuming new technology will make or break their businesses.
Film Historian Jo Pugh comments: “It’s practically a primal instinct for film companies to turn to 3D when they are threatened by new technology. They did it in the Fifties to ward off television and again in the Eighties when they were terrified by the arrival of the video cassette recorder. But frankly they might as well go back to hiding buzzers under people’s seats. None of this stuff has anything to do with why, fundamentally, people go out to watch a film.”
Editor in Chief of New Empress Magazine, a blossoming quarterly film publication, Helen Cox stated: "Home entertainment has long been a rival market for cinema owners but picturegoers are clearly willing to spend their money for the right kind of experience. Cinemas need to rethink their policy on mobile phones and chatty visitors but also need to draw up plans to add value for the average punter. Slapping 3D on the box simply isn't cutting it."
Survey conducted online between 1/09/2011 and 8/10/2011. 751 responses received.
More information about New Empress Magazine can be found at: http://www.newempressmagazine.com