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24 October 2013

Tickets, please ... but which one?

Buying a movie ticket used to be as simple as strolling up to the box-office window, stating the name of the film you've chosen and saying something like, "Two for 'The Sound of Music,' please."

These days, gaining admission to a movie may not be as difficult as signing up for affordable health care on-line, but it's close.  There's regular (no frills), 3-D (special glasses), XD (super digital), IMAX (super-sized screen), IMAX 3-D (super-sized screen and special glasses) and even Sony 4K Digital (twice the usual digital resolution).

It's no surprise that I recently got a near-frantic post movie theater visit call from my brother:  "What is XD and why did it cost me $11.50 per ticket to see 'Captain Phillips?'"

Easy, big bro.  This is all you need to know:

Glasses280lIf you really want to get launched into the experience of what I like to call a big movie like the outer-space odyssey "Gravity" starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, I say opt for the biggest screen and even those awkward 3-D glasses.  You'll pay premium prices at IMAX theaters and even other chains boasting IMAX screens, but, occasionally, spending the extra bucks pays off in added thrills and sound.

Otherwise, I suggest just going for what we used to call the movie.  Let's put it this way, if you were at a gas pump, you'd opt for regular unleaded.  Not plus.  Not premium.  For many of us, we're just looking for "regular gas" entertainment without the frills and sell-you-up gimmicks.

That would be my chosen path for intense dramas like "Captain Phillips," comic-dramas such as "The Family" and the like.

It can be tricky, though.  My brother ended up paying a premium price because he just looked at the movie ad in the newspaper and picked out the best time.  Unfortunately, movie planning is not that simple anymore.  Make sure there is no XD, 3-D, IMAX or IMAX 3-D in that little square of the movie ad (with tiny type) that contains your chosen time.  You'll still enjoy the movie and even have a little money left over for popcorn and Milk Duds.

But don't get me started about the price of Milk Duds at movie houses these days.

This should come as no surprise

Aging movie-goers, especially baby boomers, will still line up for aging, but not necessarily baby boomer, movie stars they admire.

A recent article in The Hollywood Reporter pointed this encouraging fact out in an article and online post titled "Box Office Lesson:  Older Crowd Prefers Seasoned Stars, Shuns Youngsters."

Cited in the article as examples are the aforementioned "Gravity" and "Captain Phillips."

Phillips300r"Older audiences require a more substantive reason to see a movie than just a 'wow' factor or an effective trailer. Star power, while seemingly unimportant to younger moviegoers who appear to only care about concept, acts as sort of a movie insurance policy," says Rentrak box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

"A Hanks, Clooney or Bullock in a movie takes some of the risk out of the equation when older audiences make the decision to invest their time and money in a particular film," The Hollywood Reporter article added.

Click here to read the entire article.

The movie I'm looking forward to

I know, I know.  "Last Vegas," starring Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline as "mature" guys heading to Vegas to celebrate the upcoming wedded bliss of the last single member of the foursome, looks like "The Hangover" for geezers.

OK, then.  I'm in.  Call it a guilty pleasure.

"Last Vegas" opens Nov.1 at a theater near you.  No 3-D, IMAX or super-digital sound required.


("Captain Phillips" photo courtesy:  Sony Pictures)


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