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– by Mark Cook

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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  • Mad Barchetta

    The internet is the source of all evil.

    Now, please excuse while I get back to streaming porn.

    • Games

      Now this is a great comment!

  • Michael Roberts

    Dude…the beginning of this article was me! First batman…couldnt wait to see a new one. I too recorded stuff to get hints. I remember seeing trailers in theaters that we didn’t know was coming and wad in awe. Now…
    There’s little surprise anymore….

    • Mark Cook

      That’s awesome! I used to dig through Wizard Magazine and check the TV Guide to see if I could find any nuggets of information. It was few and far between, but it was great any glimpse I could get.

  • Smerdyakov

    You forgot to mention numerous articles where fanboys speculate on what’s going to happen in the film without even a sliver of information.

    • Mark Cook

      I absolutely agree with you, which I think can fall into the misinformation category.

    • Kindofabigdeal

      They have rumors.

      • Kronx

        Buddy of mine says he happened to see an open email about the death of Chewbacca and Threepio. And Kylo Ren is actually a midichlorian Force projection while the real Ben has been frozen in carbonite since he was replaced at the temple.

  • TheOct8pus

    I remember in the early days of the consumer internet when it was dubbed the “Information Superhighway” – a source for all knowledge across the world from entertainment, to medicine, to fishing and custom bicycle gears (among other things)… the concept was amazing and revolutionary. It was gonna change the world for the best!

    However, it has become so much more than an information superhighway….it’s also a misinformation superhighway, a biased opinion superhighway, a vent-my-frustrations-by-trolling superhighway, a I’ll-post-anything-to-get-views superhighway and a general source of propaganda and fake news….not to mention a gathering place for small-minded idiots to band together (we haven’t seen flat earthers since the 1500’s!)

    Ultimately, with all the information at our fingertips, we have to be a lot more judicious when absorbing it. A good dose of healthy skepticism is necessary, because otherwise we’ll just end up like those flat earth people….

    • I’m sure that your IQ has to be sub 90 in order to be a flat Earther. It’s actually really sad and I seriously worry that some of the people have real mental health issues that are not being dealt with. However I can’t agree with your points enough. I think the person navigating this superhighway must find places where they trust the information they are getting and a healthy dose of skepticism is essential in all walks of life for me.

      • TheOct8pus

        I used to think the flat earth people were just trolling the rest of the world, but they’re definitely not self aware….they must have mental issues, or a weird combination of stupidity, ignorance and stubbornness…

    • Kindofabigdeal

      Don’t forget it’s a cat video superhighway.

  • Moby85

    Firstly good topic! I like original write-ups like this from LRM that ask questions so as a loyal fanboy here I throw a signal out for more of these types of articles.

    The internet has damaged (“ruined” is too strong) my experience with movies in the past. But it’s usually been my fault, you could argue it’s 100% my fault. In the case of The Force Awakens I early on was searching for news and ended up reading a leaked spoiler which turned out to be 100%. Explaining exactly that 1.) Luke wasn’t in most of the film 2.) Han’s exact death sequence and who killed him 3.) Who Kylo Ren was 4.) Who Finn was.

    I was voraciously looking for info on TFA, yet paradoxically somehow not wanting any info I found to be spoilers. But to drop a Biblical reference that is fitting here: “one cannot scoop fire into his lap and not expect to be burned”.

    My biggest real gripe is with some of the big name reviewers though I didn’t (and should have) recorded their names. Basically they spoil major plot points in their reviews but do not give any warnings.

    • Ryan Johnson

      For any movie I’m interested in, I don’t read anything about it, no teasers, no speculation, no articles, no trailers, no reviews. Too many spoilers out there. I started this practice after an article right here on LR ruined the fact that Ra’s Al Ghul would show up in Dark Knight Rises

      • MC

        Whoa whoa. How do you have this thing known as “self-control” and where do I find it?

        • Ryan Johnson

          A few people get it every year in a special lottery. It allows you to see movies unspoiled and to avoid obesity.

  • Kratos

    no.

    • Games

      Yes!

  • Kronx

    The Internet has fundamentally changed the way we look at films in amazing ways. Now they are living documents, forever analyzed, remixed, parodied and reworked.

    The downside is the loss of respectful discourse. It’s a natural bi-product of anonymity, but it gets tiresome when you can’t have an interesting discussion without someone crapping all over it.

  • SC Polt

    I sort of agree, but I will use a couple better, albeit less recent, example. First, the first season of True Detective. The fan theories prior to the season finale might have been the most fun I’ve had following a movie or show ever. Who is the Yellow King? The detail of going through old literature to find clues, looking at the similarities in the background shots from various scenes….it was so exciting. When the finale finally came, it was a little disappointing (although still masterfully done). I wouldn’t go so far as to say these theories ruin a show or movie, but can cause immediate reaction to be somewhat muted. If we are being honest, Justice League and Last Jedi suffer from huge plot holes, poor narratives, and sloppy decisions by the writer/director/committees. These internet theories had little to do with it.

  • Atirus

    I think it has ruined expectations but then again people should not expect anything from something that they have no control over. Just enjoy things for what they are instead of hating it for what it personally wasn’t for you.

    • Games

      Another great comment!

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  • Bruce

    Movies aren’t as good as they used to be – FACT
    People are better off spending 10$ a month on Netflix where real acting and plots are happening.

    • Games

      If you have to state “FACT” after your comment it just weakens it and makes it obvious to everyone that reads it that it is just your opinion. Just trying to help.

  • Fallout Boy!

    Uhh…no. Political Correctness and agenda-driven film-making has ruined the movie-going experience. Fear of offending anyone, fear of making new things so incessantly rebooting old things, fear of having a decent solid cast of any one specific ethnicity because, shocker of shocks, diversity does not equal quality. Feminist story beats, racial fear-mongering, shitty inappropriate language and content during kids films, lack of moral core in favor of liberal SJW messaging, lack of story cohesion in favor of shoehorned diversity (last Jedi LOLOL), fucking KILLER posters for shitty movies, KILLER trailers that spoil good and shitty movies, DOA franchise reboots made with only agendas in mind, anti-this, anti-that, anti-Trump, anti-white, anti-hetero, anti-flyover, anti-America, blah blah blah. Jesus, only smug morons believe that they can make their social fantasies come true by sublimating or showcasing them in a crappy movie.

    I’ve been here for decades, kids, and diversity isn’t helping very much when you can’t have a story meeting or read-through without some smug asshole pointing out that ‘this passage is kind of non-PC”…oh, really? Why don’t you grow the fuck up and smell the COMEDY, snowflake? I’m not fucking kidding. I was at a conference the week before Xmas and this dumb-ass diversity-hire studio-hack chick says ‘We have to watch out for being insensitive here, if we’re not aligned with people’s current PC thinking it will affect audience shares. My thinking is to just tweak this section a bit to reflect a less violent approach to resolution.” It’s a fucking cartoon movie, bitch! You’re not a writer, not a producer, not a member of the cast or crew, not even part of the production! How did you get in this room?

    Imagine working on animation with someone who doesn’t understand what ‘squash and stretch’ means. I’m not even sure she grasps that the actors aren’t playing the toons live instead of just voicing them. Teach them? Fuck’n’A! Sure – IF they’re WILLING to learn – but most aren’t interested. Production people are! People who DIG making films GET IT! But this woman…On the way home in the car on the 405 at about 12 MPH for almost 2 hours we fucking laughed about her ’till we were crying! Imagine someone random walking off the street and telling you how to do your job. Not frigging joking, mates. Don’t hire a person just because they’re a different color or come from another country or they’re gay or whatnot or can’t speaka da english – fucking hire them because they KICK ASS at their job – then nobody gives a FUCK about who/what/how they are! Don’t put up a person with no experience for a job that REQUIRES experience! See, there’s a LADDER – you climb up it over time and gain priceless experience which makes you really good and knowledgeable about the thing you’ve subsequently, thoroughly learned how to do! People who KNOW their jobs get hired, get paid, and have terrific confidence in themselves and it’s contagious. If they wanna make a career move, NOTHING stops them but themselves. Upwardly mobile is available to everyone in this town – the ONLY rule is DON’T QUIT UNTIL YOU GET THERE. Persistence is ALL.

    But…Arrogant H’wood decision makers are literally panicked and desperate to pretend that – and make it appear as if – things are more ‘diverse’ than they are by sending in the clowns – people who aren’t ready for prime time to march around as if they are. Pretty pathetic stuff. Crap like this is a big part of the shoddy state of affairs. But, dudes…things WERE already diverse on every job I worked on for decades. All kinds of people from all kinds of places, from middle-aged doctors from Nigeria changing careers – giving up a medical practice! – because they love movies, to kids and adults from just about anywhere, trying to get into – or already very much in the biz. Only the shitty agenda culture has shoved it into everyone’s faces that things aren’t ‘diverse’. But do you know how they define it? Like everything else – they LIE!

    A-LIST ACTORS and Studio Heads and EP’S – you know – the noisy, shitty, hypocritical assholes that trumpet how H’wood ISN’T diverse? THEY’RE the ones who aren’t diverse! But crew sure as fuck has been – I have met and worked – in America – with fuckers from all over the planet of all different colors and afflictions (Pop-Tart, I’m talking to you!) and sexualities (the amazing tranny make-up artist whose fridge was full of two things – beer and all the severed heads she had made LOL) and you name it – and they were all pretty happy to be working in the industry. You work with some total newbie and ask them to bring you a full apple and they show up with a piece of fruit LOL – I’m instantly on that person’s side! That’s being EARNEST! Honest, real, trying! But…FUCK this PC shit. Seriously, if there’s any way at all to raise the dead I’m bringing back George Carlin and Sam Kinison immediately and maybe a few others, and then I’ll start resurrecting all the good rock stars LOLOL