The National Association of Theater Owners made public this week what anyone who has meandered over to Fandango or a multiplex already knows: A movie ticket has become really freaking expensive.
The trade group that represents theaters revealed that the average price of two hours or so in their dark rooms has shot up to $8.38, a big 40-cent increase over last year. If you’re in a major city, you’re actually salivating over the idea of paying eight and change to see a flick; an average movie ticket in New York City, for example, is around $13.50 — and $21.50 for an Imax 3D movie. There are cheaper baseball game tickets, especially if you’re a Mets fan.
There are lots of reasons for the spike: from 3D movies to declines in actual ticket sales (maybe they’re related?). More important, however, is how you can avoid feeling like pirates just jumped out of a kiosk and plundered the gold hidden inside your wallet.
The answer is Video on Demand. Given that major theaters are clogged with big blockbusters, there isn’t a ton of room for the smart, silly, and experimental movies you’d have likely seen on more big screens just a few years ago. So, distributors are releasing more and more films on demand to everyone at the same time as they put them in a few theaters (and sometimes, way before); in 2012, the number of movies that played simultaneously in theaters and homes hit nearly 70.
A rental on iTunes is just $7 at most, and you can invite as many people over as you’d like. Plus, the popcorn is way cheaper and less buttery. Here’s a list of some of excellent new movies you can watch on demand this summer, whether they’re in your town or not.
1. Drinking Buddies
Starring: Jake Johnson, Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston, Jason Sudeikis
Directed by: Joe Swanberg
The Skinny: Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde work at a brewery. Johnson is dating Anna Kendrick, but maybe he’s into Wilde, who might be returning the feelings? Improvised, hilarious, and heartfelt, the movie just came out on VOD.
2. Only God Forgives
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm
Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn
The Skinny: Julian, a drug smuggler thriving in Bangkok’s criminal underworld, sees his life get even more complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother’s recent death. Many critics disliked this movie, but your wise guide here at BuzzFeed thinks it’s one of the funniest of the year.
3. Greetings From Tim Buckley
Starring: Penn Badgley, Imogen Poots
Directed by: Dan Algrant
The Skinny: A look at a few days in the early journey of Jeff Buckley, who visits New York to perform at a tribute concert to a dad he barely knew.
4. The Iceman
Starring: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta, Chris Evans
Directed by: Ariel Vromen
The Skinny: A biopic about the famed mafia hitman Richard Kluklinski, who claimed to have killed over 100 people.
5. Black Rock
Starring: Kate Aselton, Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth
Directed by: Kate Aselton
The Skinny: Three friends head to an island for a weekend, where they’re greeted by three killers.
6. The English Teacher
Starring: Julianne Moore, Michael Angarano, Nathan Lane, Lily Collins, Greg Kinnear
Directed by: Craig Zisk
The Skinny: An English teacher begins an affair with a former student and tries to bring his writing to life.
7. We Steal Secrets: The Story Of WikiLeaks
Directed by: Alex Gibney
The Skinny: A look at Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and the fight over leaking U.S. government documents.
8. Shadow Dancer
Starring: Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough
Directed by: James Marsh
The Skinny: Set in 1990s Belfast, an active member of the Irish Republican Army becomes an informant for MI5 in order to protect her son’s welfare.
9. Dirty Wars
Starring: Jeremy Scahill
Directed by: Rick Rowley
The Skinny: Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill is pulled into an unexpected journey as he chases down the hidden truth behind America’s expanding covert wars.
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Craig Robinson, Ken Jeong, Rob Corddry, John Francis Daley
Directed by: Paul Middleditch
The Skinny: Two teens battle their way through a religious apocalypse on a mission to defeat the Antichrist.
Starring: Alex Winter
Directed by: Alex Winter
The Skinny: A documentary about the rise and fall of Napster.
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton
Directed by: Neil Jordan
The Skinny: Residents of a coastal town learn — with deathly consequences — the secret shared by the two mysterious women who have sought shelter at a local resort.
13. A Band Called Death
Directed by: Mark Christopher Covino, Jeff Howlett
The Skinny: A documentary on the 1970s punk trio Death, and their new-found popularity decades after they disbanded.
14. The Look of Love
Starring: Steve Coogan, Imogen Poots, Anna Friel, Simon Bird
Directed by: Michael Winterbottom
The Skinny: The life of Paul Raymond, the controversial entrepreneur who became Britain’s richest man.
15. Crystal Fairy
Starring: Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffmann, The Silva Brothers
Directed by: Sebastian Silva
The Skinny: As Jamie travels in Chile, he invites an eccentric woman to join his group’s quest to score a fabled hallucinogen, a move that finds him at odds with his new companion, until they drink the magic brew on a beach at the edge of the desert.
16. Dealin’ With Idiots
Starring: Jeff Garlin, Richard Kind, Bob Odenkirk, JB Smoove
Directed by: Jeff Garlin
The Skinny: Faced with the absurd competitiveness surrounding his son’s youth league baseball team, a famous comedian decides to get to know the colorful parents and coaches of the team better in an attempt to find the inspiration for his next movie.
17. The Hunt
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp
Directed by: Thomas Vinterberg
The Skinny: A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son’s custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.
18. Europa Report
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Michael Nyqvist, Embeth Davidtz
Directed by: Sebastián Cordero
The Skinny: An international crew of astronauts undertakes a privately funded mission to search for life on Jupiter’s fourth largest moon.
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, James Franco, Juno Temple, Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, Sharon Stone
Directed by: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
The Skinny: Story of Linda Lovelace, who is used and abused by the porn industry at the behest of her coercive husband, before taking control of her life.
*Out August 9