It seems like every time I go to the movies, the prices go up. I am spending $10-15 on a ticket, $7 on popcorn (because what is a moviegoing experience without popcorn?) and maybe $4 on a soda. As a college student, it is rough to justify spending more than $20 to see a two-hour film that I could just stream in a couple months. The rise of streaming platforms has definitely made the prospect of paying that much for just one film seem outrageous, and the emergence of MoviePass did not help either.
Ah, MoviePass. It was both a blessing and a curse. Of course, everyone loved paying $9.99 a month to see an unlimited amount of movies. As much as I already loved seeing films in theaters, MoviePass allowed me to go at least twice a week. There was one point in May when I had seen nearly every film showing in theaters — something that I had never accomplished in the past, mainly due to finances. So, when the company went under in July and began rapidly changing its business model to find a solution, it was hard to cancel my membership. At first, reverting back to spending $20 every time I wanted to see a film made waiting for its streaming release that much more appealing.
However, since I have canceled my membership, I noticed something. My moviegoing habits have not changed all that much. Sure, I may not consistently find myself seeing a theatrical release twice a week, but I still continue to go to the theaters quite frequently. The truth is, seeing a movie in theaters is a special experience that we have come to take for granted. It is not just about being one of the first to see a film or avoiding spoilers. Sitting in that dark theater with no distractions, surrounded by people who are just as invested in the story as you are, makes any film so much more compelling.
In April, I saw “Avengers: Infinity War” the week of its release. The theater was packed for a weekend matinee, and the crowd buzzed with excitement before the film began. Once the lights went down and the opening shot of space illuminated the screen, the entire audience was captivated. In the course of two hours, we laughed, cried, cheered and booed together. I am not sure I have ever been so in sync with a film or an audience, and it made me realize how awesome it is that we have the opportunity to have this experience over and over again, as new movies are released nearly every week.
Filmmaking is not easy. Directors, writers, actors, crew, etc. can spend years creating these masterpieces. They fight for theatrical releases and the success of the film is primarily pegged on its box office numbers. Yet, we would rather experience them on a small screen from the comfort of our couch. Not only is that a disservice to the creators, but it is a disservice to ourselves. I know that moviegoing is not cheap, and we could probably think of a few more dire ways to spend that money sometimes. Try finding an independent theater to support instead of a chain. Save some money each week to enjoy one theatrical experience a month. Get yourself in front of that big screen as often as possible. I promise you will not regret it.
Katherine Campione is a UF journalism senior. Her column appears on Fridays.