Aug 06
WHAT’S REALLY KILLING THE MOVIES by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Aug 6, 2010

Part 1

In the early part of my life, movie-watching was the centerpiece of activities for minor celebrations like birthday blowouts, anniversaries and job promotions. Going to the movies is a big deal especially to the middle and lower middle class.

The moviehouse has been a mute witness to romantic trysts, family bondings and blossoming of friendships. Childhood memories wouldn’t be complete without the anecdote on the first trip to a theater.

Especially among the youth, students would save enough money in time for the showing of their awaited movie, of couse, featuring their idol. Fans were sometimes called stockholders of moviehouses since theirs were ubiquitous faces lining up the box office.

With the emergence of the television, patronage to the movies didn’t wane albeit the television even helped thru commercial advertising of movie trailers. A movie’s cast had the opportunity of inviting moviegoers on their guesting in a variety or talk show on TV.

But the existence of cable TV somehow diminished the public’s enthusiasm for the movies for a time. Unlike the free TV where only antiquated movies were shown, cable channels are equipped to show a one-year old movie.

When moviehouses were built inside malls, the movies made a rebound. QUAD in Makati was the pioneer in this concept. Malling, the term to mean loitering or lingering in the mall, became a direct marketing arm for the movies.

But competition’s ugly head came to light again. And this time it was dressed up in full battle gear. Piracy which used to be confined in the oceans and high seas, had a successful attempt to dominate the movie viewers with cheap pirated DVDs.

OMB Chairman Ronnie Ricketts

Selling of pirated dvd prospered with the non-action of the authorities. In spite of the law prohibiting the sale of such amid the presence of anti-piracy groups like OMB (Optical Media Board) and the Philippine Motion Picture Anti-Piracy Council, the pirates have been dominating the show.Movie producers and foreign movie distributors are feeling the helplessness of the situation. Until now, they are still waiting for the big fish to be caught.

No offense meant to the elder sector of our society but the benefit of free movies granted to the senior citizens is another contributory factor to the disadvantage of the movie industry. Since the so-called pensionados comprise a big part of the movie-going public, it’s easy to compute the lost income of the movies.

The rising cost of movie ticket is also hurting the pockets of occasional moviegoers. With the more than a hundred-peso tag price of the movie ticket, practicality always wins over the lower middle class. That amount would be better spent on food.

Another major change in the landscape is the the proliferation of the so-called free movies in the internet. The movie industry, here and abroad, was caught flat-footed. Owe it to the advancing technology, the legitimate movies has long ago lost to the competition.

And while the movie industry was knocking heads to find a solution, its tormentor, the pirated movies, was now losing the fight as well. Latest interviews with vendors of pirated videos tell that there is a notable decrease in their sales.

“Halos kalahati na lang po ang benta namin,” confesses a pirated dvd vendor in F, a mini-mall fronting Megamall in Mandaluyong. Ironically, it’s not due to the enforcement of the law because selling of pirated video is still prevalent anywhere in Metro Manila.

Movie-watching in general is on a steep decline because communications technology has taken over the driver’s seat. People are now intensely engrossed in communication activities in favor of the more common hobbies and leisure.

First to attack was the cellphone with its texting capability. As what the advertisements say, some people are getting addicted to their cellphones. Most texting addicts reason that it’s all right to slice the food allowance in order to have money for the cellphone load.

One good thing going for this cellphone addiction is the effect on smoking. Particularly the youth, money which used to be allocated for cigarettes has been shifted to cellphone expenses, a good reason for the dwindling population of smokers.

The i-Phone is another cellphone, not only with an internet connection but also with a function for video streaming. PLDT has a website that caters directly to i-Phone users like a cable tv channel.

The portable Blackberry

Magnifying the problem of the movies is the arrival of blackberry, a cell phone cum personal computer that is connected to the internet 24/7. The addiction to the blackberry can be likened to the addiction to the cellphone texting.

Aside from the cellphone, the proliferation of internet cafes and, of late, the wifi (wireless fidelity) zones that provides wireless internet connection to the laptops, have given the movies another obstacle to overcome.

Although an indirect competitor, the birth of Kindle has affected the movies. Kindle is a portable monitor that enables the user to read books. Of course, it is capable of connecting to the internet to access book libraries.

Another cute gadget that’s hurting the movies is the IPAD, the latest version of a laptop computer. Compact and portable, the IPAD is the latest craze that’s hitting the town. Again, internet connection is the selling point of the IPAD.

And what has the internet to offer?

(Continued next week)

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