Movie night off the beaten path

It is Saturday night. A group of friends thinks about going out to the movies. Why not try something different?

To a small but growing population of movie-lovers, going out to see a blockbuster movie at might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Affordable home theater is a decent alternative to expensive tickets, scarce choices and schlocky movies designed for broad appeal.

“I’d rather make movies and watch the movies that my friends and colleagues are making, discover new talent and see their inventiveness than watch a story that wears its entire storyline on the poster in the lobby,” says filmmaker Jonathan Lang, who is also an adjunct professor of Geomatics.

Netflix is an obvious elephant in the room that is challenging a night out at the movies. Old films, and films that have slipped through the fingers of the popular imagination, can deliver more to an audience than Michael Bay’s inevitable next stinker.

“New technology is changing the way we interact with media as MP3s did with music. We’ll need to adapt to remain relevant,” said Charles Baird, an Anchorage-based filmmaker producing a documentary, “Alaskan Pioneer.”

“Studios see that films that are made cheaply can gross higher than movies that have huge production costs. I think we will see a shift to a lot more smaller projects,” he said.

That is good for smaller-scale production companies looking to find success on a more level playing field.

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Large local theaters, such as Cinemark Century 16 on 36th Avenue, have special offers that give audiences something a little different. These showings are usually classic or cult films, and recorded musical performances like operas recorded at The Met.

Alternative theater venues have staked a claim in the Alaska film scene. In Anchorage, Bear Tooth Theatrepub has movies that run the gambit from mainstream to the obscure. In Southeast Alaska, Juneau-based Gold Town Nickelodeon Theater has showings of silent films and independent movies.

Ultimately, the movie industry is about giving large audiences exactly what they want. Large conventional theaters continue to have the edge on advanced projection capabilities and rich powerful sound. For the time being, that is enough to keep audiences coming back.