Dreamgirls Reshaping the Theatrical Experience?
by Alex Billington
December 18, 2006
Our colleague Peter from SlashFilm wrote a great article about "Dreamgirls and The Future of the Movie-Going Experience." Dreamgirls, which just about already has enough buzz flying around it, has been playing in a limited opening in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco in one theater in each city. The catch - tickets are $25 a piece, there are no trailers, and there is an intermission. Why, you ask? It's a special engagement, with limited edition glossy programs and exhibits out in the lobby showing the behind-the-scenes. It's a special showing tying into Dreamgirls days on Broadway, where people now pay upwards of $100 for a ticket for a Broadway show (Dreamgirls isn't showing anymore) that plays (almost) every night for years. This sort of event is something that may help reshape the future of the movie-going experience. As Peter says:
The movie-going experience has become akin to eating at McDonalds. Gone are the days of the grand theatrical events. Filmgoers rely on sequels and studio tent-pole films to create a buzz worthy of a theatrical movie-going experience of yesteryear. Attendance is dropping.
He couldn't be more correct about the current situation, and it's rough. All the studios will go around saying they've had great years (hell, we just published one saying Sony has broken all box office records ever), yet it's impossible to dodge the obvious - numbers officially (besides earnings) are down. Just look at Peter's article!
He states that in 1930 weekly cinema attendance was 80 million people. Given that was a much different time where it probably cost a dime to go see a movie and Frankenstein, The Indians Are Coming, and The Wizard of Oz were the big films, it still is an important statistic. That many people accounted for nearly 65% of the entire population. The most recent statistic from 2005 states that weekly only 26.8 million people head to the theaters, which is only 9.1% of the entire population. What happened? Why has it dropped from 65% to 9.1%? Is it the quality of the movies, the cinematic experience (problems at the theater), or something else?
I wish I could go to one of these Dreamgirls showings, as I just want to see what it's all about and see what the reaction has been. Obviously incredible, as nearly all of the shows have been selling out - even at 25 bucks a piece. I saw Dreamgirls at a screening back here in November, and it is incredible, but it's not topping my list for this year, so there's obviously just a little bit more to it. This is a very interesting consideration and it just may open some new doors as to possibilities that studios can head down to rekindle the movie-going experience.