Monday, 30 May 2011
Priced Out Of The Cinema
Film has played a huge part of my life ever since I was a child. The first film I ever saw at the pictures was Jungle Book, sitting there enthralled as cartoon characters danced and sang across a screen the size of my house. I remember as a child queuing for hours to see Snow White with my Mum and sister only for the Cinema manager to open a fire exit and place a 'Sold Out' sign right in front of us.
Standing in a que, amazed that it went around the block for Moonraker as a family, crying my eyes out at E.T. and my Dad being too embarrassed to take us outside. My face pressed up against the glass looking at the display of characters that re-enacted the swamp scene from 'The Empire Strikes Back' and wanting to go home and recreate that scenario with my toys. Spending Saturday mornings watching the cartoons and Flash Gordon with my mates, then talking about it at school on the Monday. These are happy memories from a childhood that fueled my imagination and took me to places I never knew existed.
As I got older Friday and Saturdays were spent taking girlfriends to the pictures to see the new releases, driving to the midnight showing at Warner Bros in Lakeside as if we were on some big adventure. I dreamed of one day sharing my love with the cinema and the whole experience of it with my children as my parents had done with me.
Except I cant do that now, the reason? The price. I went to the pictures today with my Dad and kids to see Pirates of The Caribbean and to my absolute horror I was charged £9.00 for my ticket. This was a Monday afternoon and I was being charged a premium rate.I queried it and was told that this was the new pricing structure, by a guy who obviously didn't care, not wanting to disappoint the kids I bit my tongue and paid. In total one adult ticket, one senior ticket and two kids tickets cost me a staggering £30.00. This wasn't the West End either this was my local VUE cinema complex on a Monday afternoon.
We went upstairs and ordered drinks and hot dogs where I was charged a further £28.75. This was for three hot dogs and four medium drinks. I could have had a large combo at a staggering £11.00 each. A trip to the cinema cost me the best part of £60.00. You could say I didn't have to pay it and yes that would be true, but my kids had been promised this for a few weeks, had done their chores and this was their reward. What was supposed to be a treat, an experience, a chance to share with my kids a love of film that my Dad shared with me as a child, was spoilt by the absolute rip off prices of the greedy cinemas.
I don't condone people buying pirate films, or downloading films from the Internet but by Christ I can understand it. I posted my outrage on my Facebook and twitter feed as I took my seat in the cinema and was amazed at the amount of people that said the same thing, how they no longer go due to the cost. A general straw poll was conducted and it appears that it costs the average family £30.00 just for TICKETS. Nearly all of those people said they no longer went as often as they did.
I don't blame the studios, the actors or the directors. I blame the cinema chains. The increase in prices has ruined what should have been a fun day out for the family, a chance to make memories to cherish a life time for pure profit.They should be ashamed of themselves. As my love of football has forced me to stop going to Premier League games due to cost so has the cost of the pictures stopped me doing something else I love as well.
I was the generation that really started to embrace the cinema again, after years of flea pit cinemas and poor service, I accepted and cherished the new style complexes that started to appear. They were fresh and clean, the service was superb as well. The problem they will have now is if I don't take my kids, and I know others that wont either, where will the customers of the future come from? Where will the parents of the future take their children?. It wont be to the cinema as they have will no history of it.
Those memories of sitting there with anticipation of the feature film starting, of watching the trailers for the next lot of releases, the films they will sit there and say 'Dad I want too see that can we?'. The excitement and joy I get from watching my kids staring at the screen, missing their mouths with the handful of popcorn they have grabbed from the box because they are so engrossed in the action being played out in front of them. The light sabre fights, the pirate sword fights, racing through the foyer as cars or watching as my girls talk about being a princess, or signing songs from the latest musical will all be lost forever.
In future I will wait for the DVD to come out, get some popcorn and sweets and try and make it as enjoyable as possible to watch the film at home. Its a shame, no its more than it, its almost criminal the way ticket prices have been allowed to increase in such a way that something I cherished as a child has been taken away from me and my family by the greed of the people that run the cinema chains. What I hoped would be a monthly trip will now be reserved for birthdays, priced out of the cinema by the very people that are supposed too care the most about it. I hope the irony isn't lost on them.