Film polled you to find out how you are getting your Sunday afternoon movie fixes. Here’s what we learned.
Though we all know the Internet is for porn (thanks Avenue Q), the bedroom is no longer the only area being ceded to digital territory. For every girl with daddy’s AmEx, window browsing on Fifth Avenue has been replaced with online shopping. And FYEs everywhere have virtually been rendered useless (pun intended) with the existence of the multifarious iTunes store.
Things are no different here at Penn, where the Rave gets nearly half the traffic for the midnight screenings of blockbuster hits like Twilight as Hulu does the day after the newest episode of 30 Rock airs. This makes sense. We Penn students are too busy procrastinating on Penn InTouch and designing funny lacrosse pinnies for the clubs we’re involved in to leave the comfort of our beds to watch Hugo in theaters. And we fit this mold of overworked Ivy League students well, with only about 17% of Penn undergrads watching movies at the Rave every semester.
But how about the other stereotype, the one that says all college students are poor? The free movement of information made possible by the interweb makes entertainment accessible and inexpensive to anyone with an AirPennNet account. Wouldn’t you guess then that Penn students would prefer to get their RomCom fix online with free streaming websites like SideReel and Ch131 rather than pay for services provided by Netflix and Redbox?
While 75% of us watch movies online, nearly 50% pay for it. I hear Horrible Bosses — a new release on iTunes — is hysterical, but is it worth the 1.5 salads at Sweetgreen it would have cost if I had seen it in theaters? Ramen noodles aren’t that bad, I guess.
The average Penn student (who is anything but average, if you ask Amy Gutmann) watches seven movies, more or less, every semester. Simple arithmetic proves that it’s $40 cheaper to watch said movies on Netflix than at the Rave, and an additional $20 less on iTunes (cost of popcorn and Mike and Ikes not included in these calculations). The low cost of watching seven movies on iTunes for less than 30 bucks is worth the many conveniences that online paid services afford us: not being interrupted by incessant buffering and commercials, the immunity to computer viruses and most importantly, not having to wait 54 minutes after watching 72 minutes of a movie on Megavideo.
Not to mention, it’s a small price to pay when you look at the big picture — the combined savings of the 47.7% of Penn students who pay for their online services rather than going to the movie theater is somewhere between $196,136 and $295,344, depending on whether they use Netflix or iTunes, respectively. Moral of the story is: we won’t judge if you just stay in bed.
Still, it begs the question. How has the movie industry managed not only to survive, but also to grow in today’s dot-com society? The secret lies in the enormous success of 3-D movies. Whether it is an aesthetically breathtaking picture like Avatar or yet another animated Pixar movie, 3-D movies generate 40% better ticket sales than their plain ol’ 2-D counterparts. Additionally, the tremendous profitability of book-turned-movie franchises continue to lure avid fanatics (read: batshit crazy bookworms) to midnight screenings in wizarding robes and prosthetic fangs alike.
Though the box office has undoubtedly taken a hit from online streaming, the Internet Age and the ongoing process of media convergence requires that movies be offered on the silver screen as well as cyberspace. The two can remain profitable industries insofar as iTunes and Netflix remember not to bite the hand that feeds them, for the theoretical end of Hollywood would be the demise of online cinema as well. But as long as Netflix continues making its many pricing and segmenting gaffes, the big suits in L.A. have nothing to worry about and we at Penn can continue enjoying our lazy Sunday mornings watching Elizabeth Banks comedies rather than studying for that Econ quiz.
*These graphics and statistics are based on the survey responses of a simple random sample of 100 Penn undergrads.