the silver-screen will survive

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I do enjoy going the pictures. And I do so pretty much every-other week. Never the cinema mind, always the pictures.

My love-affair with the big screen stems from spending Saturday mornings, with a bag of liquorice laces, as an ABC Minor, and I can genuinely remember my excitement in 1975, queuing-up half-way round the block, to see the new shark film, where it was rumoured actors had actually been eaten in its production. No really. So, it’s with relief that rumours of its demise have always proved a tad premature and I’m eternally grateful that film has been endearingly resilient in the face of seemingly great adversity. First there was obviously TV that was supposed to sound the death knell. Video came and went. Blockbuster bit the dust. Sky found its paying-public niche but failed to deliver the coup de grace. Love Film, film.com and Netflix all promise to finish what the rest have started, and although audiences have understandably declined, somehow film prevails.

Enter stage left, the latest service to the fray, Screening Room. Backed by many of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Jaws’ very own turncoat Steven Spielberg, proposes to stream the very latest films, at the exact same time of release, into subscribers’ homes. But, my oh my does it come at a price. To join Screening Room you’ll have buy yet another set-top-box for £105 and then it’s rumoured that each and every new film will come with the princely price tag of £35 a pop. Ouch. The service argues that, when all associated costs – petrol, parking, Pepsi & pop-corn – are taken in account it comes in cheaper.

Yeah, perhaps, but my counter-accounting argument would seek to point out that ‘going the pictures’ is first and foremost a social experience and it’s all about the interaction with your fellow filmgoers that matters and you’re all in it together, that it’s a socially responsible activity to support the creative industry, and that nothing comes close to the pensive excitement as the lights’ dim. These are memories that can stay with you for life and upon which personality & character can be built.

Furthermore, Screening Room founders, Sean Parker and Prem Akkaraju, claim the service is specifically targeted at people who seldom make it to the cinema, such as parents with young children. Eh? In my experience, most people who seldom go to the cinema do so as they don’t particularly like films, and the invariably cash-strapped parents with young kids would probably more welcome an early night or a bit of peace and quiet. Boys, if this were a Dragons’ Den pitch I guess you’d now see where this was going? Film, I think you can sleep easy on this one and I’ll continue to look forward to going the pictures!