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In Search of the Average Movie-Goer…

You know, I wonder from time-to-time how close I am to the experience of a regular movie-goer. Sure, I blog and I write, but I don’t get scoops and I don’t do exclusives. I essentially keep myself as up-to-date on the latest Hollywood happenings as any avid film fan. So, I wonder how close the avid film fan is to the typical movie-goer. I mean, how many people who wouldn’t consider themselves “movie nerds” or “film geeks” check out film sites regularly? How many of those actually seek out (or randomly stumble across) spoilers for films that are still in pre-production? What is the average film fan’s experience with movie news? How do they decide what to see?

I just wonder this, because it seems that everywhere I go, I am bombarded with trivia and information about upcoming releases. It seems that every little piece of gossip about “the next big thing”, whatever that may be. I’m not going to act like a victim in all this – while I don’t seek out particular information (I’d never, for example, google “The Dark Knight Rises spoilers”), I am responsible for clicking on an intriguing headline or two. It seems like everything is available on-line these days, that there are an abundance of movie clips for any upcoming film just waiting to be watched, interviews, spoilers and discussions.

I’m not going to lament these, or anything as melodramatic. Truth be told, I can’t remember a time that I didn’t stumble across these little nuggets, so I really don’t have a point of comparison. I don’t know if the amount of knowledge I have about film before I go in makes it better or worse – although I would kinda like to try seeing a major film completely blind, just once. Still, it’s just the way the world works – there are film sites and spoilers and plot treatments out there, so I live with it. But I do often wonder whether my experience with each these falls inside or outside the norm.

I know from comparison with friends, family and the better half that I am more interested in film than most, but – in fairness – most of them can count the number of trips to the cinema they’ve taken in the past decade (at least without me) on one hand. They don’t really represent the casual movie-goer. Or do they?

I attend about one movie in the cinema each week. I maybe watch another three or four on television, or DVD (and, in fairness, two of those are typically family movies). I know that this isn’t normal movie-goer behaviour. I’m aware that I’m just a little bit more “hardcore” than most. However, at the same time, I would have imagined that – at least based on how much money movies make at the box office and how packed cinemas are – the average movie viewer is just a tad more cinematically active than the people in my circles. Do they strike a happy medium?

I don’t really know what I’m getting at with this line of questioning. It’s really just a bunch of idle thoughts that are occurring to me. I guess I’m trying to figure out whether I still see movies in the same way that most movie viewers do. Of course, I know that no such thing as an average movie-goer actually exists. Everybody’s different. After all, as that ancient saying goes, “If everybody looked the same, we’d get tired of looking at each other.” At least, I think it’s an ancient saying.

We all have our different habits, and tastes, and preferences. So it seems strange that this curiosity grips me. After all, what would be the end result? Even if I could boil down all the possibilities and permutations to find something the perhaps represents an accurate cross-section of how the majority treat and process movies (and information relating to movies), what would I do? Would I seek to change in order to become more “in touch”? Would I try to position myself so I could watch movies from that perspective?

Even if I could, I don’t think I would, at least not permanently. I am happy with the movies I watch, how I watch them, and (to be honest) I’m okay with how I keep myself up-to-date with the latest movie news. Still, it would be kind of fascinating to get another look at things, to see them through another’s eyes. That is, I suppose, true of most things. And, perhaps for the best, it’s purely an academic exercise. I can’t consciously alter the way I take in films so it resembles another process, so the whole thing would seem a little pointless.

Reading back over all this, it can’t help but seem terribly insecure. I prefer to think of it as something resembling curiosity. Perhaps it’s just an attempt to understand how others see a hobby which I devote a rather considerable chunk of time too. Still, I suppose it doesn’t matter. However, I can’t help but occasionally wonder.

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11 Responses

  1. Well, everyone sees movies in a different light 😉 The fact that you write about movies on a daily basis is also sure to have made you a more analytical movie-watcher than the average Joe. You probably ponder about the structure, the cinematography, the dialogue and just overall critique the movie as it unfolds.

    For example, I often wonder while watching a movie what grade I would give at that point: “Well this didn’t start too well, it’s probably a C+ right now” ahha.

    • I do the same. A sort of a running tally. If it’s bad, I’ll actually count down the minutes until it ends (“you have twenty minutes to pull this out of the tailspin you’ve forced it into”).

  2. Interesting post and I know exactly where you’re coming from. If you read sites and keep up with news like we do it’s too easy to read reviews before you see a film, see the runtime, comparisons, spoilers… and build up a much bigger bias than Joe Bloggs that walks in cold off the street.

    I also feel that the more films you watch, the harder it is for something to impress, inspire or feel truly original

    My friends and I hit the cinema around 2-3 times a week (got a cineworld card 9 months ago) and trailers/adverts are now the bain of my life. Also, I now find myself watching more average/blockbuster type films than the foreign and interesting ones I watched pre-cineworld.

    Bottom line though: anyone with an active enough interest to start a review site is most definitely in the ‘sub genre’ of hardcore fans!!! :-p

    • Hardcore!

      I agree. I do worry that, after a few years doing this, all of my review might start to sound “samey.”

  3. I don’t really think about being a blogger or critic when I’m watching the film. I’m just watchin it. I try to enjoy it as much as possible. First and foremost for me it is about the movie experience, I love going to the cinema. So in that sense I think I’m just like everyone else in the theatre. Though it would be really cool if I could magically make a graphic appear above everyone’s head indicating who’s a critic and who’s not. That would be interesting 🙂

    • Ah, everyone’s a critic!

      I work during the day, so I only attend evening previews. And, I have to say, there’s soemthing about seeing a film with an audience who really want to love the film they are watching. I imagine a room full of critics might be different.

  4. How many people read rave reviews of vintage arthouse films and are badly letdown when they see them?

    Ian

    • I do. It actually happens a lot more than with blockbusters, because I think it’s “trendy” to bash big-budget films in a way that’s deemed “unsporting” for smaller films.

      So the bar for blockbusters is lower, and for indies is higher. Which might explain why I tend to enjoy the brainless blockbusters a bit more than some of the more pretentious and stuff indie films I’ve sat through.

  5. A great example is a pile of rubbish called “Harold and Maude”..Some speak of it as the 8th wonder of the world!

    Ian

  6. What is your first thought on remakes? Do you think that all remakes suck or do you watch tem and then make a comparison?

    • I don’t believe that all remakes suck, and to jump to such a conclusion is very narrow-minded. The 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a remake, but a good film in its own right. A Fistful of Dollars is a remake, but it’s a great film in its own right.

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