We used to go to the cinema to see films, the local book store to buy books magazines and newspapers; it was something that has changed in recent years. Hollywood had many large studios producing blockbuster films with pre release publicity so that the avid cinema freak was ready for opening night.

In the 1980s it became possible to obtain copies of films for use at home, every house getting a VCR to show them. While initially it led the studios to seek legal redress, it gradually dawned that this could lead to a second source of revenue. It was still preferable to see the film on the giant screen in the cinema, but the ownership of legitimate copies of favourite films with people having a library of film books and VHS tapes.

The productions and special effects are such that cinemas will continue to be popular. We can all think of films that have pushed the boundaries of what we think can be portrayed that looks real yet we know is not. Everyone knew the shark in that scary 1970s film was a model on wheels. That is why everyone was so surprised by the sudden close-ups.

Several films around that time with box office success under their belts went for follow ups whether merely adding II, III, or IV behind the original name or using the same character from the successful film in different films.

But as with other walks of life, the film industry moves on. Multiplex cinemas emerged which did not lead to the successful release of more films, merely the chance to give more exposure to the ones anticipated to be successful. Films however now had another avenue direct to the public, the tape but more recently the DVD which has replaced it. Many lounges now have film books and DVDs on shelves ready for those couple of hours of leisure time once the children have gone to bed, or hubby has gone to the pub for a couple of pints.

Some films were never scheduled for cinema release and went straight to television and DVD. It is a vast world market with some foreign language films now joining the mainstream. Some things turned a full circle. The wonderfully popular cartoons which were produced beginning before the Second World War saw the development of a studio which moved into the mainstream of film production but it found its new cartoons produced half a century later just as popular and more recently 3D which has further reinforced the need to watch the film in professional surroundings.

The success of a film about gladiators restored the belief that the epic so common fifty years ago could still pay its way. Those films generally portrayed historical events from the early days of Christianity, the ancient Empires of the World or stories from the Old Testament.

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The 4th of July is coming up in the US, and wherever you are, it means time for a picnic – unless you’re down under where it’s winter!