17 November 2006

All-Singing, All-Dancing, All-Talking (in the Audience) Motion Pictures!

I’ve just heard that the much-ballyhooed Met at the movies thing for the Bay Area will be happening in that hotbed of the musical-dramatic arts, Dublin (and not near the BART station either, I’m sure). I wish them well but I’m a little puzzled by the whole concept, which to me has the disadvantages of theater-going without the compensating advantages. And the Met must know that any audience member conversant with the Higher Technology is going to be there with a camcorder – why not eliminate the middleperson and just release DVDs? I’d gladly pay for a DVD of Gunn as Papageno or Netrebko in I Puritani, which I could then watch at my leisure as often as I wanted. Even figuring the audiences for this are going to be better behaved than regular movie audiences, that’s not saying much, and it’s not enough to make me trek out to Dublin and pay prices even higher than for regular movie tickets (I hear the prices are around $20, which is roughly what you'd pay for a DVD). I’m guessing San Francisco movie theaters are too booked up with moneymakers at this award-season time of year (and those movies are probably drawing from the same audience pool) but it does seem as if the Met is choosing out-of-the-way theaters (maybe opera houses have official territories the way baseball teams do, and Gockley got an injunction against any San Francisco performances?). No doubt there are opera fans in Dublin who don’t want to schlep into San Francisco, but wouldn’t you have a better chance of reaching enough people to make this profitable (other than the already converted) if you showed the operas on PBS? Of course, that would require public broadcasting to do what it was actually created to do in the first place, which is to provide an outlet for non-mainstream shows, instead of their current programming, which is mostly faded Baby Boomer pop groups and inspirational speakers assuring middle-class white people that their potential is unlimited.
I'm hoping for the best, but I’d love to know what the thinking, or the market research, is here. I can't help feeling they're setting themselves up for a failure that will be taken to mean there's just no market out there for this stuff. Meanwhile I’ll just hope for an eventual DVD release – and by the way I’m still waiting for the Met’s Ariadne with Voigt (and Gunn as Harlekin), which I understand was filmed several years ago.

1 comment:

Vicki said...

The Bay Area theaters are in Dublin and Emeryville. Both are IMAX theaters, which means giant screens, the best sounds systems, and high definition. There is one IMAX screen in S.F. It is curious that that one is not being used. I'm not sure it is about competing with big money makers because the broadcasts are mostly at 10:30 a.m. So, the Regal Hacienda IMAX can go right back to showing Happy Feet by 3:00.

The Dublin/Pleasanton BART station is actually very close to the theater.

But why the simulcast? I realize that it was probably a lot easier to book a movie theater at 10:30 a.m., but c'mon. It's not like it's a sports event that loses something when its not live. Anyway, it might be worth it to deal with an audience when the technology is much better than at home.