It's really amazing how badly movie theaters are being run these days. We've already discussed to death the many, many, many reasons why people are avoiding the theaters. It's got almost everything to do with the overall experience (that includes everything from price to movie quality to overwhelming ads to theater noise to uncomfortable seats to being treated like criminals and so on and so on). These are all things that the theaters have some control over -- but they refuse to do anything about it, preferring to blame just about anything else. The latest move is especially ridiculous. Steven Soderbergh announced his plans last year to release new movies and DVDs simultaneously. Instead of looking for ways to leverage that, now that the release is happening, major movie theater chains have decided to boycott the film and they will not show it. In other words, because of their own misguided fear that it could take away from revenue, they won't even give people the choice of watching it in a theater -- instead making more people go get it on DVD. The whole point of simultaneous release is to give people a choice of where and how to watch it. The theaters should embrace this. They should recognize that going to the movies is a social experience along with the ability to watch it the film on a big screen in a theater setting. If they played up the social experience and made it more enjoyable they could attract a lot of people. In other words, make it a choice worth making. They could even do something (gasp!) creative, like offering discounts to buy the DVD right as you come out of the theater (or a combined ticket that gets you both the DVD and an in-theater screening). Imagine the additional sales from anyone who really liked the film. Instead, by refusing to show the film, these theaters are more or less admitting that they don't think they have anything special to offer movie watchers other than the movie. If they really believe that, then they deserve to go out of business. Update: Mark Cuban, who backed the Soderbergh film, rips into the theater owners and gives plenty of other examples that fit with what we said above about the theater owners not understanding what business they're in.
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