Going To The Movies

Nov., 2005

I read recently that Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh is launching a new high-definition digital film project, "Bubble" that he plans to release simultaneously in the cinema, on TV and on DVD. Predictably, skittish movie bosses fear this has the potential to "kill cinema."

But Soderbergh says: "It is, I think, absolutely the best way to go -- give consumers a choice of how they want to see films."

I Quite agree.

Going to the cinema is a great experience — if it's the right movie. Simultaneous releases not only thwart the pirates but puts pressure on film makers and cinemas to provide a compelling enough experience to make it worth our while to go to the cinema as opposed to watching films at home on a smaller screen.

I don't know how things are now, but during my last trip to Bombay fifteen years ago, going to the cinema (for a three hour Bollywood movie) would be an event. The Cinemas were lavish, air-conditioned palaces with luxurious lobbies. There'd be a well-timed interval around halfway through the movie and it (the interval) would be long enough for people to go to the washrooms as well as gather in the lobby to buy snacks and the obligatory Chai (steaming hot milk tea to be poured into a saucer and perhaps shared). There'd be animated talk with hundreds of Indian bobbing heads chatting away. Friends, family, as well as complete strangers would be discussing the movie.

After the movie there'd be dinner at a trendy restaurant or a street stall, depending on what people wanted to, or could afford to spend. And more movie talk. Then to an ice cream parlor, and more movie talk.

What an experience. Now that's what I call Going To The Movies.

About twenty years go I went to a cinema in a small Gujrat town (Walkanare - sp?). Although the cinema had only ceiling fans and no air  conditioning, the movie itself was the latest release and the crowd's enthusiasm was no less than one would see in Bombay. My own experience was somewhat marred by the fact that there were more than a few fireflies in the cinema, which made me fear there might be other, less visible bugs around. I consequently spent an uncomfortable three hours brushing away imagined spiders and roaches from behind my neck.

My relatives thought it pretty hilarious.

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