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I Weep For Cinema

The Prison of Cinema

Today Marvel studios announced that The Avengers Endgame will be “ re-releasing” in theaters with new additional footage.

In one statement there are two fundamental issues at play. 

 

  1. To re-release something means it has to be unavailable for a certain amount of time before it can be “re-released”. Since EndGame only came out in April 26th, and still be found in most theaters across the country, it can’t be released a second time, as it still is in its initial run. 
  2. Since this movie is still in its original run and not an older movie, it should never have had footage taken out and then immediately put back in several weeks later. This is a marketing ploy to suck more money out of consumers who were now stupid enough to go see it once (or multiple times) in the first couple of weeks and then stupid enough to spend their money again for a few extra minutes and scenes that might be slightly longer or a few extra pieces of dialogue.

 

 Now this isn’t something new, Hollywood has done this many many times before, for decades, but never this blatantly obvious as a pure cash grab. The original King Kong was re-released in theaters back in good old 1938, and actually had some scenes removed because they believed to be too violent and shocking.

Kubric did this with The Shining as well, immediately following the first showing of the film he was unhappy with the cut and edited the final scene. Clue was another film that had edits during the initial run, with different endings on the end of the reel, depending what theater you went to. Or even something from a few years ago with Tarentino’s Hateful Eight and it’s 70mm film traveling roadshow release.

 

Originally movies weren’t mass produced, so they only were on several reels and transported to theaters and had a few showings for a couple days in town then moved on the the next town (like how Tarentino did with his traveling roadshow). This is where a few months later a movie could get “re-released as the movie gained popularity (usually by word of mouth) and allowed people who haven’t seen it before to enjoy it without relying on someone retelling the story second hand. 

 

We all have experienced this in our childhood too, Disney used to re-release classics in the theater darn near 50 years after the film was originally released. I remember going with my sister to see Snow White in theater and being baffled why, when we could have just popped in the VHS. 

The reason is because there IS something special about the theater experience, and there IS something good that can come out of it, but for the life of me, I find fewer and fewer reasons why I SHOULD go see a movie in the theater, and more and more reasons why I SHOULDN’T. 

 

A new reason why I loathe the theater is this. Holding back footage on a movie is horrible. If it was cut because the content wasn’t good enough, fine… that’s why deleted scenes on dvds were invented. BUT if you have a movie that is still in the theater, and is going to be “re-released” (which we already established that if can’t be if it still is in its initial run), cutting content out and immediately putting back in is pure greed.

 

I had an issue when Deadpool 2 was re-released on Christmas.. because it was an R Rated movie that was heavily edited to make it PG-13, and added a ton of extra deleted scenes that were not included on the DVD/Blu-Ray. Again, this isn’t a friendly gesture from the studio, it’s greed at its most refined. Holding content hostage until they can release the movie a second time and forcing people who want the “full experience” and as much of what was shot in two separate packages. This is not like “The whole bloody affair” cut of Kill Bill. It was originally envisioned and shot as one movie, but because of length and violence it had to be cut in two and edited down a bit to get that R rating for the US release. It was an artistic decision that came from a real issue of “no one wants to spend over 4 hours in a theater and also can’t be released in the states because of the MPAA”.

 

With EndGame and with the way movies are created now, the decisions in editing of Endgame wasn’t even that long ago, only around a month and a half before the movie was released to the public the editing process was finalized. 

 

So back in March of 2019 the Producers got together with the other Disney executives and had an all hands on meeting. There was an issue. They needed to gold plate their swimming pools for the summer. The only remedy was to cut a few extremely minor scenes short, and show the movie “as is” wait a few weeks and restore the scenes and charge people the privilege of allowing them to help out with the rising cost of gold plating from the money grubbing hands of smelters. 

 

Again, this wouldn’t be nearly as big of an issue if this was back in the heyday of cinema. Getting a re-release of a movie you loved could be an amazing thing, but in the age of movies being completed and edited and put on digital distribution only a few months after day one release, there is no excuse to not do good by your audience and give them the full experience the first time. To cut scenes out of an arguably biggest movie ever made, with the sole intention of repackaging it a whole two months later while the original version is still making money and it’s only goal is to drain more money from the suckers who will pay for basically the same content over and over is even too much for me to handle. It’s is a scumbag move. 

 

It shows how much respect the executives really do have for their “fans” or audience. Which is to say none, and that isn’t even a hidden fact. Everyone knows Hollywood is run by a bunch of sleazeballs who in the last year and a half we have seen how absolutely terrible of human beings they are… but this goes beyond that. This is now showing their hand reaching too much to go unnoticed or unpunished. 

 

The reason I pirate movies is fivefold.

  1. Pirates are rad
  2. I don’t watch movies more than once usually
  3. I like collecting and lost most of my collection due to water damage and will never spend more money to build that collection back up
  4. That collection is easier to maintain digitally and infinitely easier to select watching with a click of a button instead of rummaging around for a disc and popping it in a player
  5. The quality of movies is so far below subpar, they aren’t worth the discs they are printed on

 

I love film, it was one of my first real loves as a kid, growing up I studied film and even took classes in high school and college with the intention of going to a film college and being an indie director. I watched Project Greenlight before most people knew who Matt Damon and Ben Whofleck were. Film and cinema and the history and study of celluloid is a passion of mine and to see it fall in such a spectacularly astounding way is both sad but justifiable. Movies have always had underlying tones of exploitation of consumers, but it’s never been agrigis. It’s never been so blatantly obvious that it is showing how nostalgia can be used for evil intentions.

 

I already hate going to the movies, and it’s mostly been because of the public at large, never did I want to sit with strangers and deal with how self centered everyone is and never experience someone who looks around and says “maybe what I am doing is bothering someone around me”…. but that isn’t the case now. Now we have to deal with the knowledge that what I just paid to see isn’t the actual final product, and was only created to get me to spend money on it now, and then a few weeks later spend money on it a second time to see the possible final product.

 

I am putting my foot down. It’s time we stand together and shout with one voice “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!!”

Movies normally are not worth our money, they are formulaic, lazy rehashes of unoriginal ideas only produced with the lowest quality writing, and production to do two things, make money and hold on to existing IPs so they don’t become part of the public domain. 

 

There are a few exceptions to this rule, but those movies are so few and far between and most of them are not part of the glitz and glamor that is the mainstream Hollywood blockbuster, that you probably never even heard of them, and that’s the fault of theaters. Marketing can only do so much, sure, but with the rise of the SuperHero genre and every movie needing to be an epic spanning trilogy… every movie made now feels the exact same. Nothing is new or fresh, and it hasn’t been for over a decade at this point thanks to Marvel movies becoming so popular.

 

Again, that’s not to say these Marvel movies are bad, but not every movie made needs to try to be exactly like them. We need more genres, more creative and different kinds of movies, just as every JRPG doesn’t need to be about one lone kid finding out he is the prophesied “one” and battles to save the world from ending. Sometimes it’s nice to just have a smaller, less high stakes storyline. 

 

If the movies as an art form is going to continue to release in theaters, and yes I do still believe there are fringe cases where seeing a movie in a theater can be the best way to experience it, the business of movies needs to change at a fundamental level. Hollywood as it is right now needs to be burnt to the ground and needs to become something completely different. It needs to change from the arms race of seeing which movie can make $100 billion dollars on opening day and needs to go back to its roots as an art form. Because as it stands now, all movies are, are merchandise, to be marketed to the lowest common denominator and be made as cheaply as possible to make the maximum amount of profit. That sentence hurt to write, because it’s true and is the saddest thing to realize. Movies were art, an expression of someone that wanted to create something, to tell a story, either beauitiful or crazy or just plain cool, but still at its heart it is art… now it’s just “what will make us the most money?”

 

I’m done with movies, I’m done with blockbuster films that are only fueled by nostalgia that prey on those concepts of heroes from our childhood. Not because they just can’t live up to them, but because they aren’t even made with an ounce of love or care, just driven by pure greed to siphon as much money from our wallets as possible. Give me a movie that spans 60 minutes, with two actors in one single take, only using dialogue to talk about life or feelings or anything that involves passionate acting over anything that comes out this Summer in a theater any day of the week. Hollywood and it’s theater going experience has now become a prison for cinema, holding the art form captive with no way to be free or creative, only allowing it to follow the same formula day in day out without deviation and stuck in the same repeating loop until a riot ensues.