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30 Ways To Improve The Movies

Ditch the Regions

In today's globalised, instant-fix market, it's lunacy that access to DVDs (and now Blu-rays) is still prohibited by region encoding.

Sure, the studios don't want us Europeans stealing a march on the release date, but if the film is strong enough, enough people will still go and see it on the big-screen.

Besides, your average savvy movie-lover is au fait enough with the technology to find a workaround, so it's pretty much like bolting the stable door when there's a big motherfucking tank inside.

Adopt a one-size fits all policy, and it might just sharpen Hollywood's minds into making better films.

Bring Back Projectionists

In Cinema Paradiso days, the films were looked after by kind old men who took care to make sure they were projected in the right order, size and speed.

These days, it's largely automated in multiplexes, which is great from a business viewpoint but can be frustrating if the concessions-stand monkey asked to flick the switch doesn't know the difference between 16:9 or 2.35:1.

Is it too much to ask that cinemas hire at least one person who gives a shit?

Don't Leave the UK Film Industry in Limbo

This one goes out to the Government. OK, you've killed the UK Film Council, but what's going to replace it?

We're promised greater efficiency and more money going directly where it's needed. Fine, but let's have some specifics.

How big's the kitty? How much is available for funding? Where does this leave cash for distribution, exhibition and education? It's not just yer St Trinian's that the Council helped but hugely successful grassroots initiatives like Chorley Empire Community Cinema .

It's folk like that - as much as big films - that make UK cinema something to cherish.

Don't Show Twilight on Every Screen

While it's sensible for cinemas to maximise revenue by giving the public a chance to see the most popular films, there's a big difference between availability and monopoly.

With blockbusters increasingly hogging three or even four screens out of 10 in a multiplex, other films are getting squeezed out.

A 2-screen limit would enable more diversity, and allow indies to reach towns without a committed art-house cinema. And who knows, the Twihards who forgot to pre-book might find a better movie playing on the next screen.

Bat Mobile (Phones Out Of People's Hands)

An addendum to the 'Silence is Golden' rule earlier on in this feature.

Quite simply, switch that shit off when you enter the cinema. If you're expecting a life-or-death call...why are you chillin' to a movie?

If people can't respect that the audience is more interested in what's happening to Woody and Buzz than whether Carly's going to get off with Daz or not, then it's time to implement mobile signal blocking technology so the fuckers can't answer their phones at all .

Rediscover the lost art of trailers

Memo to studio marketing departments. A three-minute digest of a movie's entire plot is not a trailer. It's a Bonsai tree. We admire the effort put into miniaturising it, but we'd rather be looking at the Giant Redwood.

Limit trailers to around 90 seconds, and make them spoiler-free. A trailer should be a teaser of what to expect, not a glossary of every major character beat or half-decent gag.

Festival simulcasts

Cinemas at the artier end of the spectrum are branching out with live link-ups with operas, theatre performances or Stephen Fry doing a one-man show.

Even the multiplexes have tested the water with sporting events like Grand Prixs or rugby matches.

Why not do the same during the Edinburgh and London Film Festivals? Not everybody can get to these cities, and regional simulcasts would extend and enhance the 'buzz' of the big premieres.

Cross the Streams

If piracy is such a big deal, work on making high-speed, high-quality legal downloading / streaming a bona-fide movie-watching reality.

People don't download movies solely for the freebie. For most, it's the way they want to consume content.

iTunes has provided a workable model for the music industry; the reason people don't buy as many movies is the restrictions placed on the content and the speed of the downloads, as well as the fact that most studios haven't allowed their catalogues to be downloadable.

But HD downloads, streamed straight to the telly, would be the game-changer to change home viewing forever.

(Intermission)

Bit of a throwback this one, but then so the running times, as Hollywood seems to have resurrected the Biblical-epic length duration.

In those days, cinemas thought nothing of having an intermission for the audience to have a wee and stock up on snacks.

If the film's good enough, it won't ruin its fluidity...and might actually enhance anticipation.

Retro-styled cinema Kinema in the Woods , in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, still has intermissions and the consensus of its loyal audience is that it's a welcome break.

Kill a tree, plant a tree

Sequel. Remake. Reboot. The three most commonly used words in Hollywood today. "Original screenplay" doesn't make the top 10.

So here's a suggestion. For every sequel/remake/reboot that is greenlit, two films based on original scripts get the go-ahead.

Think of it as a "kill a tree, plant a tree" philosophy. Let's make that forest grow.