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Why did movie theater attendance decline in 2011?


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It is a question as old as time, or at least this month: where did all the movie lovers go?

Earlier this week The Associated Press‘ David Germain wrote a piece entailing the drastic drop in box office revenues in 2011. With just 1.275 billion tickets sold, “that’s the smallest movie audience since 1995.” And since I personally accounted for about .650 billion of those tickets sold, that’s really bad.

In response to Germain’s piece, Roger Ebert wrote a great commentary called “I’ll tell you why movie revenue is dropping…” outlining six different reasons why attendance is on the decline. They include:

-A lack of a must-see blockbuster
-Rising ticket prices
-Rising refreshment prices
-Lack of choice

If I had to guess, though, I’d peg one reason as bigger and more important than all the others, and it’s one I wrote about already this year: the dreadful movie theater experience. It’s just not fun to go to the movies anymore. Everyone’s on their cell phone, or talking, or eating loud, stinky food. If you politely ask someone to stop, you’re considered the asshole. At a recently screening, I saw a father tell a man on a date to get off his phone. The man on the date told him in front of his children to shut the eff up and offered to fight him in the parking lot. The atmosphere in some of these places is almost toxic.

As outlined in my Movie Theater Etiquette Manifesto, there’s a lot of stuff about going to the movies that has to change. That’s why people are turning to Netflix or cable or whatever else. Why should they go to the theater to be bothered and overcharged and threatened when they can stay at home and watch any of a thousand of movies instantly on their big HD TV?

If I were an exhibitor, this would be my New Year’s Resolution: to work harder to ensure people are dying to go to the theater. It’s supposed to be special, not a hassle.

Are you going to the movies less than you used to? Tell us in the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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