I am from an earlier generation of movie watcher than the majority of my blogging buddies. At the risk of sounding like some old fart telling 'when I was your age' stories, I must admit I miss the way things were done back in the day. Don't worry. This is not a diatribe on how the movies of yesteryear are so much better than those of today. There is good and bad from every single year along the cinematic timeline. My rantings on the greatness of the good ol' days applies to what happens before I even sit down to watch a movie. I simply know way too much about what I'm going to see.
A long time ago, apparently in a galaxy far, far away, I was anxious to see the big blockbusters on their opening weekend in theaters. Nowadays, when that weekend rolls around, I'm often already over it. I still want to see all these movies, eventually, but the unbearable anticipation that propelled me through city streets and deposited me theater seats is largely gone. If I don't get to see something on the big screen, it's okay. I'll live, content with my position outside the loop, where once I would have died. At the very least, my soul would've been punctured. The hole left behind might be microscopic, and therefore non-fatal, but its ache would never subside. The ring surrounding that hollowness made by never getting to see Ghostbusters in a dark room crowded with strangers still throbs over thirty years since the film's release. There is no such pain associated with any of the dozens of blockbusters I didn't make it to theaters for over the last few years.
To understand my apathy towards most of the high profile movies is to understand how it used to be. Back in the dark ages, before the internet, a trailer would begin playing as a TV spot about a month or so before a film's release. Some the film's best best moments were featured as long as they did not reveal any key plot points, the main stars were named, and its rating by the Motion Picture Association of America was divulged. For the vast majority of movies, this was the only trailer. It might be cut several ways, differing in length to provide variety, but it was usually just one, other than an even less informative radio trailer. That was pretty much the extent of news about the movie until the week of release day when critics who got to screen it early put out their reviews. Since most of these were in local newspapers, your average movie buff only read one of them, if any at all. Even the trials and tribulations of difficult shoots wasn't known to the public for weeks, months, or even years after the movie had already come out. Buying a ticket was really taking on a chance on the unknown. The dimming of theater lights meant the last surge of anticipatory jitters before they acquiesced to the excitement of simply being in the moment.
The wonderment of absorbing oneself in a playing film will always be there. The pre-show nervousness of someone about to embark on a surprised filled adventure is replaced with faint enthusiasm curbed even further by knowledge. In lieu of just starting to hear about a film a month or so before its release, we begin getting tidbits of info a year or more in advance. In some cases, it starts with announcement of a studio's plan to make a film a half decade into the future. This stirs up the fanboys and fangirls. They immediately take to the web with heated debates on who should play who, who should direct, and what the plot should be. Studios fuel the fire by making sure every step of the production process is "leaked" to the media. some of these aren't even steps, at all. they're just what the powers that be are thinking about doing. Even less significant, its occasionally what the people the big-wigs are thinking about think about being thought out. Let that one marinate a minute. I find it all rather silly, except it’s not. It’s serious enough that there are numerous articles, opinion pieces, and tiny blurbs written about each and every little crumb thrown our way. By the time some movies hit theaters I know who is playing practically every speaking role, the general outline of the plot, and even how it’s going to look, thanks to numerous set photos that show up when there is nothing else to tell. Trailers start showing up before the movie is even finished shooting. There’s a teaser which, as best as I can discern, is a trailer for a trailer. Really? Then there’s the big internet release for the first trailer and maybe two or three more over the next few months. We gobble it up, doing full-length reviews and in-depth analysis of them as if they were the actual films.
The deafening cacophony of information inevitably leads to sensory overload. The urgency I once felt for being in attendance during the opening weekend of a major release has given way to a nonchalant attitude. That I won’t see a particular film for up to another year is acknowledged with a shrug of the shoulders. I rationalize that maybe, hopefully, by the time I get to the movie in question I’ll have forgotten as much as possible about it and can go into it somewhat clean. I try to use the most obvious strategy and just ignore all the leaks and speculation. Unfortunately, this has become a theory impossible to practice. I honestly make a serious effort not to read any of the writing on those big movies before they come out. Still, every now and again, an article that’s supposed to be about something else veers down the path I was trying to avoid. The process continues through the first few weeks after said movie is released, therefore, I don’t read reviews on these movies. Again, that’s the plan. From time to time curiosity gets the better of me. No matter how great the review is, I end up regretting it.
Even if I don’t read any articles or reviews, look at any set pictures, and steer clear of all conversations about a film, there is something else I can’t help but see. Internet headlines. You know headlines, those wonderful one sentence eye-catchers designed for us to click on and be whisked away to whatever site they represent. Since our entire planet operates with attention deficit disorder, they often tell the whole story so there’s no need to actually click them. Often, a thumbnail picture right next to them ensures I’ll look that way. Before I know, I have already digested a sentence along the lines of “Actor X in talks to play Character Y in Movie Z.” The same goes for social media. My phone starts buzzing with the tweets of all the people in my circle of followees who just had to voice their opinion of this riveting news. If I somehow get through all of that gleefully uneducated, I’m smacked in the face by what I see right here on my very own sit. I look over to the right at my blogroll because I love supporting you, my fellow bloggers. I want to get to as many of your sites as possible at least several times a week. It’s a tall order with over 100 of you listed (defaulted to only display the first 25 until you click “Show All”). Some days, since we’re being truthful, you help me decide who to skip. The reason is that I see that you have decided to post about the same thing those headlines on the homepage of whatever search engine I’m using that day were screaming at me a few moments earlier. Please don’t take this the wrong way. It is not a call for my fellow bloggers to stop writing about that which you love. I know there is a global demand for this stuff. If there weren’t, it wouldn’t be so ubiquitous. Besides, who am I to say what the media shouldn’t cover, or what you shouldn’t discuss on your blog. Lord knows, I don’t want you telling me what to write on mine. I’m just touch on all the reasons I often don’t care whether or not I see something in the theaters.
The topic as a whole has been on my mind for quite some time. However, I’d be lying if I said this post wasn’t timed to publish during the opening weekend of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The omniscience of this particular movie in our collective psyche shaped it into the form you’re viewing at this very moment. The hoopla started three years ago when George Lucas sold the rights to his legendary franchise to Disney for a whopping four billion dollars. Billion. Specualation on what Disney would do with the property began in earnest that very day. Shortly after, they officially announced there would indeed be another Star Wars movie. Things kicked into overdrive once J.J. Abrams was brought on board to direct. We’ve reached the point where people who don’t care at all about jedi knights can’t go five minutes without hearing some sort of news about it, or seeing a commercial related to it in some form or fashion. Some that news lately has been about the massive pre-sale ticket business it’s done. This includes stories of people dressed as franchise characters and/or camping out in front of theaters a week in advance of the first showing. By itself, this isn’t enough to keep me from venturing out to the nearest multiplex and plunking down some hard earned cash. However, it’s not a top priority for me this weekend, or even next. This isn’t to say I won’t see The Force Awakens on the big screen. I plan to. After all, this is a franchise for which I was present for its birth, death, and first resurrection. I’ve went to a theater to see five of the first six movies in its canon, if not on their opening weekends then shortly after. I actually skipped Revenge of the Sith, theatrically, because Attack of the Clones was THAT bad. From what has snuck through my defenses, this latest face-off between rebel forces and The Empire looks promising. However, notice I didn’t say I will definitely pay to see it. I said I plan to. Sometimes, plans fall through. If they do, it’s okay. I’ll live.