There is no denying that we are suckers for Hollywood myths. Tales of legendary underdogs, coming-of-age friendships, fearless crime fighters, and romance in enormous sinking ships have all lured our imaginations to wander worlds of nostalgia or worlds far beyond what many of us can discover on our own. The thing is, as much as society has changed over the years, movie-going remains a constant. Even as technology, the market and newer generations alter our cinema experience forever, we continue to go to the movies.
When projected motion pictures began to publicly weave their way into our culture in the early 20th Century, the world was in midst of wars and financial troubles – the perfect timing for a new pastime. Unlike the small screen, and nowadays also the tiny screen, the big screen allows us to take a vacation from our own lives, at least figuratively, even if for a few hours. This is why the movie industry tries to make it as memorable and as realistic as possible. With endless amounts of camera angles, special effects, images and sounds, the cinema toys with our senses. Consider this, the IMAX has converted the big screen into a massive screen, surround sound has propelled enhanced sound to us from numerous directions, and 3D has visually delivered somewhat of an illusion that we are right there in the middle of it all. Some may be surprised to learn that at one point our sense of smell was even targeted. Smell-O-Vision, not surprisingly, was an idea conjured up in the experimental 60’s. Although the concept of smelling what was happening on film did not survive past one project, the idea of such method shows us just how much we, as a society, demand from the cinematic experience. So much so, that not even hikes in ticket rates could significantly modify the moviegoer.
Taking a trip down memory lane, the first film I remember seeing at the theater was The Lion King and ticket prices, from what I’m told, were only about $4 for kids and $6 for adults. Bearing in mind ticket prices today, it would be extremely useful to find a time traveling Deloreon and set it to ’94, when tickets cost what many of us now pay for a pack of twizzlers at concession stands. Flash forward to October 2011 when I paid $17 (unfortunately, I’m no longer eligible for the kid’s price) for the 3D version of this classic Disney flick. Nonetheless, over the past few weeks, millions can say they did the same for Titanic in 3D, a film most of those audience members have probably already seen dozens of times, whether at home or in theaters (or most likely both) since its original release in 1997.
However, there is something your DVD collection of Marilyn Monroe films, your Blu-rays of Star Wars (which, I may add, are also beginning to hit theaters in 3D), or the digital copy of Field of Dreams on your iPod or phone cannot give you that the big screen can. The movie-going experience is beyond watching and listening to a story. It’s running out on a hot summer night to a cool theater with your curious friends. It’s spending time with your family for some easy laughs. It’s not knowing what movie to choose on date-night. All in all, it’s an escape via “silver screen-portation.”
Regardless of how times change, we still go to the movies because we crave journeys we’ve had before and ones we’ve never been a part of.