A quick straw poll of friends yesterday made me realise that none of us has paid to see a film this year so far. Okay, we’re all connected to the industry and consequently don’t have to pay, but there’s a difference between being invited to a screening and actively finding a movie and forking out dosh for it. But then, I looked at what was on offer, and decided to compare it with what was on offer from a local newspaper of an earlier summer.
I submit, M’Lud, this evidence as a result.
The Top Ten UK Films June 2010
Sex And The City 2 (sequel)
Prince Of Persia
Letters To Juliet
Death At A Funeral (remake)
Wild Target (remake)
Robin Hood (remake)
Top Ten UK Films 1968
Romeo And Juliet
Planet Of The Apes
The Thomas Crown Affair
The Lion In Winter
Interestingly, Hollywood dominates in both lists. If I’d have picked a half-term week, you’d have found more ‘family’ (ie children’s) films on both lists, but it’s noticeable that family films now dominate Hollywood by a huge degree, especially if one counts ‘teen’ films as ‘children’s’ (sorry teens, but where else can you put Eclipse and St Trinian’s 2?) Of course, there will be good films in the year’s final releases – 2009’s best included Slumdog Millionaire, Moon, District 9, Let The Right One In, The Hurt Locker, Synecdoche New York, Star Trek and Red Cliff.
But the most obvious difference to me is that there’s not one film in the new list that wasn’t critically reviled (Streetdance 3D got off a little lighter than the rest as it was cheap and British). I was talking to some national film critics last night, and they’ve noted that the press is no longer sending them to the kind of festivals they once routinely visited. The changing economy is one reason, but another is that, thanks to good internet critics, people simply don’t use traditional film criticism anymore.
However, that doesn’t tell the full story, because if we were simply using online critics, the list would read very differently so far this year, and would include Shutter Island, Ghost Writer, Green Zone, Mic-Macs and so on. What’s driving the decision to see the appalling Killers or the virtually unwatchable Prince Of Persia? The obvious answer is that we’re selecting films by their availability (multiplexes), that it’s mainly kids who go to cinemas – it being an affordable option – or that we don’t really care what we sit through anymore.
Cinemas are anxious to ‘own’ 3D in cinemas as a shared experience, just as they needed to own Sensurround and before that, Stereo. But if and when the 3D-ready LED TV becomes ubiquitous in the home, we may see a further shakeup. DVD sales have all but collapsed, and it’s clear that most people don’t care about HD, but the thought of a future in which we all watch children’s films downloaded onto palmtop players is too depressing to contemplate.