Is the cinema going the same way as Woolworths?

As a child I loved going to Woolworths, even if it was mainly to appreciate their wall of Pick-n-Mix sweets. But, I also loved mooching in their aisles of toys, Dylon dyes, music and household stuff, it was great. but did I buy anything? Not since the early 90’s.

In fact, since my childhood, I hadn’t even crossed the threshold, I just remembered it as a nice place to go, a familiar face on the high street, like an old friend you’ve lost touch with. And, yes, I was sorry when they closed their doors for good, but I wasn’t surprised. It was old fashioned and had become long past it’s best before date.

For me, it is inconceivable to think that going to the cinema would ever become retro. As a teenager, it was a place to go before I was old enough to get into pubs (even with fake ID). Cinema was the place of first dates or a night out with the girls. It was like that scene in Annie when Daddy Warbucks takes Annie to the movies for the first time and it’s like she’s going to a royal wedding…

Let’s go to the movies, let’s go see the stars, let’s go to the movies Annie you and me

When I was younger, I can remember the smell of popcorn hitting me as I walked through the grand entrance at my local cinema – nowhere else was popcorn readily available. Then I would enter into the abyss, the darkness cloaked me as the lady with the torch showed us to our seats (she came back with ice-cream at the interval). As I settled in, then came those cinematic moments that would last in my memories forever: ET, Jurassic Park, Splash (yes I loved it), Annie, Cool Runnings, Stand by Me, the list goes on.

In later years, when I was dating and the ice-cream lady had long since hung up her neck kiosk, the likes of Pulp Fiction were tantalising the nation and going to the cinema was still a thing. A big thing, because if you didn’t see it in the cinema you’d have to wait about two years for Blockbusters to have it- and there was bound to be a waiting list. It was the cinema or miss out, end of.

If video killed the radio star – who killed the cinema?

The decline of the cinema is not solely down to dastardly Covid, it was well under way before. It’s the magic, or the lack of it.

Now I associate cinema trips with wet school holidays and finding something to do with the kids. And the cost… it’s eye watering. I know you can go at different times and get deals, etc, but just to turn up and watch a movie costs a family of four over £35 and that’s without any exorbitant snacks. Snacks that are not special anymore, they’re no longer cinema treats.

But what to do?

I heard on the radio that Vue have put their prices up by 40% to help dig them out of the Covid hellhole they’ve been in. If this were Family Fortunes you’d be hearing a big loud Uh-Uh. No, Vue you’re missing the opportunity here and most definitely alienating your already shrinking market.

It’s time to celebrate being out again. It’s time to find the magic of cinema and welcome us back in. It’s a rare opportunity to say.. ‘all is well, come and fall back in love with the big screen’ because we all know that the big screen is the best screen, it’s just we’re lazy and we can’t see the value in paying a month’s TV subscription for one film.

I think it’s time that the cinema industry as a whole got together and did some clever marketing, to make the cinema an event, to bring back the razzmatazz and to make it special. To give future generations the experience we had as children. Yes, it’ll be different because it’s a cinema not a time machine back to the 90’s, but adding more expensive gimmicks isn’t it.

The essence of the cinema is its magic, find the magic and we will come in our droves. We’re all clinically afraid of FOMO so make us think we are missing out, not that we can do the same at home and pause it for a wee.

NB – The Aldi marketeers who spun the Colin Caterpillar fiasco to their advantage might have a few pointers as they seem to be on the top of their game. You’re welcome.

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