Well, tonight are the Oscars, if I’ve finished this post up at the right time. Most years, I’ve been fairly excited about the Oscars, but this year I can’t help but feel a bit apathetic towards it. I’ve seen a good chunk of the movies that have been nominated with the wife and I think we would both agree that this year there were a ton of good movies. A quick look at the movies nominated shows that we’ve seen the following:
- Black Panther
- Bohemian Rhapsody
- Green Book
- A Star is Born
- Incredibles 2
- Ralph Breaks the Internet
- Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse
Wait… that’s all the movies we saw this year that are up for an Oscar tonight? Oh man. That’s not good. Now, there are definitely some movies we still want to see (BlackKklansman, The Favourite, Vice, just to name a few) and some movies we really don’t want to see (Roma, you come to mind. Sorry.). This post isn’t about who has been snubbed or who should win tonight (I fully expect Roma to clean house, which I’m sorry, shows just the gulf between what the Academy Award voters think versus the rest of the country).
This post is about access. And a little bit about price.
The wife and I live in Dallas and we have access to just about every movie that comes out in the country. We love movies and are usually consuming a handful of movies every week that catches our attention and that we want to see. The issue is we usually capture those movies at home instead of in the theater. Why you might ask? It’s the same reason a lot of people don’t frequent the theater any more; cost and time. For us, the biggest issue is the cost. Not the cost of paying for tickets and popcorn/soda (of which the wife and I ensure we are taking in the tickets when they’re the cheapest and sharing a popcorn/soda). No, instead it is the cost of getting a babysitter for roughly 3-4 hours. By the time we take that into account, we’ve added another $45-$60 to our total and that doesn’t count a dinner or drink, you know, time to actually have adult conversations that don’t involve children interfering into them every fourteen seconds, give or take a millisecond.
The simple truth is by the time these movies come out in a format that is digestable at home, we’re inundated with plenty of other movies. There’s a reason why last summer’s box office season was the second worst in terms of attendance in more than 25 years. Take into consideration what I just said. Imagine if you want to take your kids to a summer flick and the costs that come with it.
When you take into account that your Oscar movies are those that your children more than likely don’t want to see outside of the animated features and Black Panther, you’re paying a significant amount of money to see these movies when they’re out in theater. Now, there’s been a lot of talk about bringing these movies to your home when they launch in theaters.
In 2017, this very idea was floated out there. As the article suggests, studios would show you the movie in the comfort of your own house for $30. The problem is they wouldn’t show in the house until 30-45 days after they were released in theaters. You know, giving you plenty of time to avoid spoilers thrown out there on your friends Facebook timeline or your Twitter feed. By the time you would actually have a chance to sit down and watch that movie, it would be spoiled for you. The other hiccup is the movie theaters don’t want this to happen because they know people would stop coming to the theaters.
I don’t know if that’s necessarily true. The wife and I love going to a theater when we don’t have to pay an amount the equivalent to a car payment just to see a movie or two a month. The experience is tremendous. In Dallas, we have an abundance of your standard movie theater chains (AMC, Cinemark) while also having a great offering of premium theaters (Alamo Drafthouse, Studio Movie Grill, Flix Brewhouse). Usually when we go see a movie, we aren’t burdened with loud children or unruly patrons. The seats recline and are comfortable, plus you get the large format screens and sound systems that you could never replicate in your own home without the HOA seizing your house due to sound levels.
I think there’s still a market for that and when we no longer have kids in the year 2143, we will be going out to the theaters every single week (once again, on like a Tuesday night where we can get tickets for $5 — sorry movie theaters, we’re still going to be as cheap as possible).
The other half of the problem is the amount of movies released in just the last three months of the year. If we’re not getting out to the theaters to see the movies, then we have an onslaught of movies to see in the first 6 weeks of the year (if they’re released digitally in time for us to view them by January 1 which they’re usually not). When you look at the contenders for Best Picture this year, plus a smattering of other movies that make up the top movies of the year, this is when the movies were released in theater:
- Black Panther – February 16
- BlackKklansman – August 10
- Bohemian Rhapsody – November 2
- The Favourite – November 23
- Green Book – November 16
- Roma – November 21
- A Star is Born – October 5
- Vice – December 25
- The Wife – August 17
- Can You Ever Forgive Me? – October 19
- If Beale Street Could Talk – December 14
So that’s one movie released in the first half of the year, two movies released in August, and eight movies released after October 1. This obviously doesn’t take into account the myriad of other movies that were released in this timeframe that would’ve been huge draws that you want to see as well (Fantastic Beasts 2, The Grinch, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Aquaman, Mary Poppins Returns, Ralph Breaks the Internet). So by the time these movies are released at home, if you can’t make it to the theaters, it’s just too much to see.
So what is the solution? One, place your movies better. They all don’t have to be in the last 6 weeks of the year. I’m not sure why this always tends to be the case. Second, put the Oscars in March. Maybe you’ll get some better ratings even if more people are invested in the products you’re awarding! Third, these movies need to be available to watch at home at the same time they’re in the theaters. The advertising is in place for then, not when the movie comes out on Blu-Ray/iTunes.
The truth is my wife and I want to watch the Oscars tonight and feel tied in with the movies. We know these are some of the best movies of the year and have them on our list to watch. The reality is the audience the Oscars want are those with families, those with lives, those with jobs, etc. The audience for the Oscars shrinks every year. I wonder if the reasons I’ve listed above are the reason why more people don’t watch and less about because the superhero/blockbuster movies aren’t represented.
May the best pictures win tonight.