• James Hewlett

Inovation ≥ Nostalgia


The other day I saw a post that really got under my skin. I'm not really sure why I felt so strongly about that one thing in particular but it got me thinking about the broader reasons.

There is a cinema in town that has just closed down. It was the first cinema I ever went to and I had a lot of fond movie going memories from there, but it was old, out dated and surpassed on every level by frankly, every other cinema in town.

I think a lot of people would have been surprised to learn that it was even still operating but despite all this, a good friend of mine posted a thing and shared another lamenting it's loss and using the same tired reasons of less competition will drive up prices and, oh but that's where I saw movie X.

It annoyed me more than it should have so I had to chime in. I tried to explain that even with this ones closing we still have three cinemas in walking distance from the middle of town. One is an art house cinema and covers indie films, foreign releases and special screenings. One is a massive multiplex that is pretty gross but is cheap and caters to the masses and the other is a bit more luxury, has state of the art displays and audio and nice, comfy, reclining chairs all for only slightly more than the cheap place.

I tried to explain that that is far more choice than most cities have and it doesn't even include the at least two other cinemas less than ten miles out of town.

I think that point was heard but it also fell on deaf ears because the real point being made wasn't the lack of choice, it was that his cinema of choice was closing.

I also explained that this one closing won't do squat to the prices of the others, they're owned and operated by bigger companies that aren't setting their prices on a local level based on competition and even if they were, none of them saw this place as competition anyway. I know this because I know people.

The other issue I raised was that this place was so out dated and was making no effort to modernise. The movie theatre industry is dying, rapidly, and most places are trying to do what they can to innovate and entice people back in as opposed to waiting a couple of months and watching it at home.

From what I could see this place was doing none of that. Hell my TV in front of me probably had better clarity than their screens and projectors.

People get caught up in the emotions wrapped around nostalgia. "Let the past die, kill it if you have to."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying all nostalgia is bad; it's fun to reminisce or feel something when a song comes on or you drive past a building that holds a memory, I do it all the time! I do have a problem with it though when it is standing in the way of evolution, of taking what was once and creating something better from it. Nostalgia is the natural enemy of innovation and I love new shit way more than old.

Using the cinema as an example, if the company had wanted to keep it alive they could have tried something new for this country. The Alamo Drafthouse chain that has exploded out of Austin, Texas into major markets in the US pioneered it. A prestige cinema going experience. You pay for your ticket and take your seat before the film starts. In front of you there is a small table and a menu, on the table is a few order sheets and a pen. You simply write down what you would like to order and place the slip in the slot on the table, a server collects the order and brings it back to you and at the end of the film presents you with your bill.

This isn't just drinks and popcorn, no, this is full meals if you want it! Cocktails, milkshakes, burgers, pizzas, mac'n'cheese, beers, movie related specials, you name it.

It is also done so at a high standard and because of that it encourages people to spend more money on concessions which is where most cinemas make their money anyway.

If the one in town had closed for a few months, gutted the old five screens and come back with two... maybe three, luxury screens with this kind of service or even something completely different and knew to me, they would have had an in to an untapped market and I believe would have been successful.

But in order to do that people need to be willing to let go of what once was and usher in the new.

Don't weep for old shit people. Remember it fondly but do not mourn it when it goes away. Look forward to what can be in the future!

#nostalgia #innovation #memories #movies #friends #thoughts #rant #entertainment #opinionpiece

©2017 by James Hewlett.