Friday, May 19, 2017

On What Happens to Blockbusters

You see a blockbuster on the opening midnight screening at an IMAX theater in, let's say, Pittsburgh in the summer of 2012. The movie is disappointing, but when you get out sometime between 2 and 3 am, you feel like you had a pleasant collective experience and you tell yourself that the 15-20 dollars you just spent was worthwhile. Three years later, you're at a bar in, let's say, Portland, and the TV is on. You see part of the same movie, on a small scale, with the sound off, with commercials. 

I feel nostalgia for the poor black-and-white televisions that were out-of-date in the eighties and nineties, but which were still around in our basements, and on which we sometimes saw sanitized versions of Magnum Force (Tommy Lee Wallace, 1973) and Halloween III (Ted Post, 1982). Everytime I watch a VHS tape -- usually because there's something available on them I can't get anywhere else and which I need for my dissertation -- I remember how I discovered movies when I was a kid. I'm already feeling nostalgia for the bizarre rise-and-fall of these multi-million-dollar-plus works of entertainment, from the IMAX theater to a set of images everyone is ignoring at a bar because they're too busy talking to each other or looking at their phones.

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