Has The Internet Ruined The Movie-Going Experience?

Let me begin by stating that this piece in no way means that I am opposed to the growth of the internet in some type of anti-progressive way of thinking.  I would assume that my internet dependency (addiction) is the same as most.  With that said, a true question could be raised: With the constant evolution of the internet, has it ruined the moviegoing experience?

Now, one can argue that it has actually improved the experience (which I will get to later), but based on recent reports that theater attendance has been down, the internet could be a reason behind this.

I will age myself by saying this, but the first movie I ever actually remember seeing in a theater was Batman 89 when I was in first grade.  Don’t judge, my dad and sister saw it first to make sure it was all right for me to see (even though he also got me a Jack Nicholson Joker poster that did somewhat haunt me for a couple years). Once the movie ended I obviously could not wait for the sequel, but I would have to wait to hear any real news until 1991.

Think about that in comparison to today’s standards.  The only news, synopsis, character reveals came only from released information from the studios themselves.  I remember getting a 1991 issue of the monthly comic magazine Wizard, in which I got my first hint at what could come from the movie, a list of characters including Batman, Penguin, and Catwoman, along with three pictures.  I would then wait months and record, on VHS, an episode of Entertainment Tonight that has a two-minute reel of movie clips from Batman Returns.  At the time, this was all many had to go off of.  No pictures on Twitter, there weren’t a plethora of websites covering the news, nor set pictures or fan blogs.  The sources of information were limited, and most of what was released was controlled by the studios, and most of the discussion was by word-of-mouth, which created great anticipation of the unknown.

Now, what does this have to do with the current state of the movie-going experience?  With the expanding internet, there are more ways for information, scripts, pictures, to get leaked as well as more information coming out through numerous outlets.  What this also leads to are blogs, fan-theories, and other posts (which I am obviously not opposed to).  This is where the issue can begin to occur.

Let’s use Justice League and Star Wars: The Last Jedi as examples.  There were some amazing fan-theories which did not come to be true.  For instance, when Henry Cavill revealed a seeming black Superman suit, I had thought the plot would focus on Darkseid and Steppenwolf bringing Superman back to life and using him as a general in charge of uniting the Mother Boxes in which the team would have to win him back.  This made sense to me based on the comics, as well as a connection to Batman v Superman.  Sounded good to me.  Then I saw the movie and it was completely different, with no black suit at all.  What came of this?  Disappointment.

The same can be said regarding Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  There is a very good chance that Kylo Ren could have been using the “space junky” parents to play to Rey’s emotions and we may find out different in the next movie.  Same with the lack of Snoke’s character development.  Many thought he would be Darth Plagueis (which would have been great) but he wasn’t, which then went on to turn into harsh backlash from fans (which some may be answered in the next movie).  I doubt the open-ended questions in The Empire Strikes Back had as much fan backlash (mainly because it was an amazing movie), because it didn’t have the same platform that we do now.

Now I am not saying that there aren’t issues with the films, but have they been overly scrutinized because there is now a platform in which it can be done? Fans are looking to these larger platforms on the internet before spending the big bucks to go to the movie, and I don’t think many are going because of what they read, or their opinion is already skewed because of what they have read/heard prior to.  It is different than a spoiler.  It isn’t like looking for hidden Christmas gifts then the surprise on Christmas Day is ruined.  It is more like trying to guess what all of the presents are, being completely off, and then extremely disappointed that it didn’t lead up to the expectations you thought.

Now on the flip side of this, others may argue that it has actually helped the experience through the amazing exposure and online debates.  Some movies that may not have previously done as well in the theaters could actually be receiving major benefits from the online discussion and promotion.

Regardless of what side you are on, the movie-going experience has completely changed over the past years.  Will it change again?  What is your opinion?  Has the platform the internet provides helped, or hurt your experiences?  Leave your comments in the usual spot, and thanks for reading!

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Mark Cook

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