Commentary: Cinema prices burden students

It’s fairly ironic that when the economy is consistently declining, the quality of American cinema is steadily rising. I have been interested in seeing nearly every movie that is playing right now (‘Paul Blart:’ Mall Cop’ being the noteworthy exception), especially the Academy Award’s five ‘Best Picture’ picks, all still in theatres. However, if forking over $11 for a movie wasn’t painful before, the soaring unemployment rate combined with the frugal tendencies of any college student, has nearly eliminated going to the movies as a weekend option.
Despite constantly increasing movie ticket prices, the elusive ‘box office’ took in less money in 2008 than 2007. Though this year’s Oscar picks look slightly more promising, it has become necessary to gauge the quality of a movie versus the money spent on it, and despite my efforts, I do not think I will be able to see every nominated film before the Academy Awards, which airs in less than three weeks.
Beyond the novelty of seeing the Academy’s favorite films, a number of recently released movies have social or political themes that make them appealing in such an historic social and political time. Gus Van Sant’s ‘Milk’ characterizes citizen activism, while Ron Howard’s ‘Frost/Nixon’ reminds us about the fallibility of the presidential office and David Fincher’s ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ was adapted from an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story. I am not lamenting just because I can’t afford going to the movies every weekend ‘- it is more disappointing that these organically American movies will not be seen by most Americans.
There have always been options for the college cinema fan ‘- YouTube, Hulu, HBO. Even Netflix has reported a remarkable boom in sales, gaining more than half a million new subscribers in the past quarter. I appreciate these efforts, but I know they cannot put ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ on my computer screen for only a few dollars.
Before searching the depths of the Internet for pirated copies, I can’t help but wonder if there is an outlet for popular, meaningful and important cinema to become accessible to those who desire it. One discounted rate? One free screening? I hate to ask for any industry to stop taking in money, but I believe that sometimes, (‘Paul Blart:’ Mall Cop’ being the noteworthy exception), cinema should be universally accessible.

‘- Taylor Cotter is a freshman journalism major.

Leave a Reply