Thursday, February 26, 2015

Involuntary deluxe

Look, I knew Jupiter Ascending was supposed to be terrible.

But it had been more than a month since I'd seen my first movie of 2015, and that was the likely more terrible The Wedding Ringer, which I was reviewing. I wanted to get my 2015 rankings truly off and running, and you can't call them "rankings" until you have at least two movies. Besides, no matter how bad the Wachowskis' latest movie was, it was definitely the kind of movie whose best chance at enjoyment would come via a big screen viewing.

Unfortunately, I had to settle for a bigger screen than I actually wanted.

Having missed the chance to see it when my itch really started last "discount Tuesday" because of my wife's work conflict, I made sure to schedule my screening for this "discount Tuesday" at Hoyts. I noted earlier in the day it was playing on two different screenings at 9:30 at the local theater, acknowledging with a bit of a grumble that neither of them would be the base discount price of $13. One was 3D, and one was labeled "Lux." Not wanting to invest in 3D for this particular movie, I figured I'd live with the Lux option.

Of course, once I reached the theater, I realized that I had confused Lux with a third type of upsell at this theater, which is called Xtreme Screen. What's Xtreme Screen? Well, it's a bigger screen. You know, the size screen that back in the olden days, theaters thought it was their obligation to provide us without any adjustment to the ticket price.

What's Lux? Yeah, that's the one where they bring you food at your seat and you can make use of the "private lounge" before the movie starts. You also get popcorn and a drink complimentary with your ticket. Which costs $30, even on a Tuesday. It's around $10 more than that on other days. If you just want the seat and no popcorn, it's still $24.

So I grumbled again and shifted gears and decided I pretty much had to buy the 3D ticket. I'd be saving around $8.

Except no. The other Jupiter Ascending was not only 3D, it was also Xtreme Screen. So instead of $13 or even $16, it was $19.50.

$19.50 to see a shitty movie on "discount night."

I believe this multiplex has a fourth kind of upsell in the form of IMAX. At least I didn't have to get involved in that.

So when it came down to it, if I wanted to watch Jupiter Ascending at the Hoyts in Melbourne Central, I had no choice but to watch it on one of these jumbo formats.

It occurred to me that it's kind of the functional equivalent of tiered ticket pricing, which is a concept that has been discussed about how to get people to watch smaller movies in the theater. The theory is, you charge the big bucks for the tentpole movies, the ones people just can't wait for video to watch. Then you let them see the indie movies and the arthouse movies for the comparatively reasonable price of somewhere between $6 and $10.

Those indie movies are never going to play in 3D, on Xtreme Screen or on IMAX ... though I suppose they could play on Lux. I mean, I'd probably enjoy a craft beer with Birdman.

I guess our only choice, if we want to fight something like this, is to just let a movie like Jupiter Ascending descend even further on its path to flophood by waiting for video. At least by giving the movie my $19.50, I'm eroding some infinitesimal part of the studios' unwillingness to invest in future movies based on original concepts.

That's something, anyway.

Of course, Jupiter Ascending ended up being just as bad as everyone says. It overloads on exposition at times it needs to show rather than tell, then leaves whole plot points unexplained. It has no good acting performances, and one truly terrible one (Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne). It builds such a flimsy world that you never feel the weight, size or distance of it. And it is unintentionally hilarious at points.

But it's still my #1 movie of 2015.

I mean, it's still better than The Wedding Ringer.

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