As a young cinemagoer and film enthusiast I watch a lot of movies, but most of them from the comfort of my own home. Going out to the cinema is a special event to me and I choose very carefully which films to watch on a big screen. There are a number of factors impacting my decision and I would like to share some of them.
1. Is it worth the money?
Cinema experience is expensive. Yes, it’s very rewarding and extremely valuable, but this entertainment doesn’t come for cheap. It’s not only the ticket price, but also the activities surrounding the visit to the cinema – a drink afterwards, a meal, a snack for the viewing that add up to the price. Younger viewers prefer multiplex cinemas to independent venues because they can offer some great deals on family or group tickets and annual passes. Most of us still have to buy individual cinema tickets, so we have to think carefully which movie will be worth the money.
2. Can I watch it for free?
As a student or a member of a film club, you will most likely have access to many film resources. There is a variety of services available to young audiences. Most schools or local libraries have their own DVD collection with many titles you might like. Also they most likely will have access to Box of Broadcasts, which allows you to find any movie and TV title that was streamed on TV. Another great thing – services like Mubi offer a free student subscription if you log in with your university or school email. All of these come for free, but most of them don’t offer you the newest stuff. They are great to rediscover some older movies or independent work, but if you’re after a premiere of a movie that just came out you will have to go to the cinema.
It would be unfair not to mention free streaming services as many young viewers choose them as their main viewing option. The heaviest users of free files from the internet are the 16-25’s, and the services they use are often illegal. Here are some interesting statistics: 68% of film viewers said they downloaded free files for storage on personal drives. 56% streamed films from free websites. 50% of them say that they choose online streaming platforms because ‘cinema tickets, VOD and DVD are too expensive’. And another 37% think ‘some films are interesting but not worth paying for the cinema experience’.
3. Is it on Netflix?
Or Amazon Prime, or NowTV or any other streaming service of your choice. Whilst there is a growing number of subscription on-demand and streaming services available to UK audiences, the market is dominated by three main providers. Netflix (8.2 million UK homes, 54.8% of which aged under 35), Amazon Prime Video (4.3 million homes), Now TV (1.5 million subscriber homes). The development of streaming services is also changing the way we watch films. Any of them will provide you with excellent choice of films but won’t have that specific new film that just came out. You would have to wait for them to appear there or pay a small fee to stream it at home (the fee will still be smaller than the cinema ticket).
4. How unique is the experience?
When my local cinema announced that they would project Boogie Nights in 35mm I immediately rushed to buy the tickets. I was too young to see most of my favourite films premiere in the cinema and this is a great chance to rediscover them! Film projections, restoration screenings and rediscoveries are one of my favourite film events. They allow me to have that unique viewing experience that I otherwise wouldn’t have.
5. How important is the film?
Some films will make a mark in the cinema history and you don’t want to miss it. When the new Star Wars: The Last Jedi premiered in the cinemas, the screens were filled with younger and older audiences. Nobody wanted to miss it and we all wished to be the first ones to watch it. Imagine watching a film that will make history, and you were one of the first people to see it on the big screen – so that you were in fact part of that history!
6. Will there be special guests?
If a filmmaker is attending their screening, or if there is a networking event afterwards, a Q&A or a panel discussion… I will definitely attend the event. Having any kind of activity attached to the screening makes it an invaluable experience for me. It becomes not only more memorable, but totally worth the cost. Because apart from the viewing experience you are also getting something else. The majority of these special events are targeted at film enthusiast and are attached to smaller movie titles. Whilst I still find the experience extremely important, I rarely see other young people attending. This is because marketing of these events rarely reaches the 12-25 age group, who wouldn’t actively seek out news about such events. They prefer to receive updates from multiplex cinemas rather than from independent venues, where these events are usually held.
7. Is it worth the risk?
I watch movies a lot. Some of them are good, some of them are bad. I can’t afford paying for bad movies, but if I do – I can’t afford walking out of the cinema if I don’t like the movie. And I don’t like to risk it. So I will check the ratings before buying my movie tickets and I will ask others who watched it already for advice. I will most likely trust a director whose films I like or I’ll watch a film that stars an actor that I enjoy watching. And sometimes I will go to the film that I know nothing about, but the overview intrigues me. Usually it would be a foreign film with a particular style and lengthy subtitles. And sometimes I will fall in love with that film, but sometimes I won’t. You never know. But most of young viewers don’t like risking it. They prefer not to choose foreign movies as their experience will be ruined by reading subtitles. They also don’t want to pay a full price cinema ticket for a film they might not like.
8. Film events
You would be surprised how many free film events are around your town that you might be interested in. There was once a conference on Polish filmmakers that hosted a screening of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Decalog in a local university. These events are very unique. They are often free and host a reception with drinks afterwards. Where else can you watch all episodes of Decalog on a big screen and participate in in-depth discussion on Kieslowski’s art from people who wrote their PhDs on it?
9. Film Festivals
Film festivals are the best place to watch new films. The films that nobody has even heard about. The ones that the public will only see in a few months. The ones that you wouldn’t know about otherwise. The ones you didn’t expect to fall in love with. There are so many of film festivals and I’m pretty sure there is one nearby that has a free admission. Short or student film festivals are often very affordable or free! Even the biggest festivals in the country offer you the best deal if you think about it. A festival pass is normally as expensive as 5-10 movie tickets, but you can fill your film festival weekend with as many film viewings as you like. I usually watch 10-30 feature films when visiting a festival. But it’s not only screenings that make it so valuable. You will forever appreciate the opportunities of meeting filmmakers, networking, the element of surprise and unique discovery.
10. Social element
Yes, we still go on cinema dates. The Netflix & chill culture might seem to be more popular and cinema goings with your partner too romantic or old fashioned. (Who said so, anyway?) Cinema is still an important part of our social life. Going to the cinema with somebody else becomes more about the social experience itself than about the film you will be watching, so some of us film enthusiast won’t share that moment with anybody else but an empty first row. But sometimes we make an exception.
“I was one of the insatiables. The ones you’d always find sitting closest to the screen. Why do we sit so close? Maybe it was because we wanted to receive the images first. When they were still new, still fresh. Before they cleared the hurdles of the rows behind us. Before they’d been relayed back from row to row, spectator to spectator; until worn out, secondhand, the size of a postage stamp, it returned to the projectionist’s cabin. Maybe, too, the screen was really a screen. It screened us… from the world” – The Dreamers, (2003, Bernardo Bertolucci)
Make sure to check out this article in which we try to find out why there are less and less young cinema goers.
Independent filmmaker with a passion for time-bending structures and magical visuals in film. Loves everything about cameras and lenses (just wishes they weren’t as heavy).