Yesterday Irena and I went to see In Bruges, a fun little film about hit men taking a forced vacation in a small Belgian town. A big theme of the film is being stuck in a place you don't want to be, and in a weird way that theme spilled over into the viewing experience itself. We saw it at Toronto's Varsity Cinema, on a holiday Monday, and it was packed. After initially turning away because neither of us can enjoy a film in a sardine can, we came back twenty minutes later and decided to give the "VIP screening room" a try. For a few extra dollars you get to see the film in a smaller theatre, on a smaller screen, but with comfier seats. When it first opened a few years back, the VIP room was presented as a posh option, complete with tableside snack service. Now, it seems, there are more seats, less tables and no special treatment, and the VIP is more of an overflow room for the well-heeled or desperate filmgoer (and hey, that's us man!)
As we sat down and began to endure the late arrivers (two of whom sat right in front of us, of course), it occurred to me that the screen was about the size of the wall of our currently unused back room on the third floor. For the privilege of seeing In Bruges in the VIP room, we paid about $30. I figure I could trick out our back room with a 1080p projector, a sound system superior to what we heard in the theatre and a few comfy chairs for about $6000. (I won't count the cost of the room reno since we want to do that anyway.) So, we would only have to watch 200 films at home for the thing to pay for itself. And that's without factoring in a $4 coke.
All that being said, I love going to the movies and won't ever stop. But I wonder how many people out there are making similar calculations to the ones above. In a decade, there might not be much of a movie-going culture left. It'll just be us and that guy behind me who insisted on unwrapping his treats from their crinkly cellophane at just the right moment.