Movie Theater Owner Admits He Can't Really Compete With Home Theaters

from the why-not-improve? dept

While we were impressed that the head of Regal Entertainment Group, the largest movie theater chain in the US, is experimenting with improving the moviegoing experience by giving certain customers a pager that will let them alert theater staff to any problems (such as mobile phone disruptions) in the theater immediately, it appears that CEO Michael Campbell still is unwilling to admit that movie theaters offer much value for visitors. That's because he continues to come out strongly against any studio plan to release DVDs concurrently with a theatrical release. The so-called "day and date" release plan has been finding increasing support within the movie industry, even if its most high profile test (done by Mark Cuban) was considered something of a failure.

The issue here is simple: it's about giving consumers a choice -- which is generally good for business. If you provide consumers with more options that cover what they want, they're more likely to buy. Giving consumers the chance to get a DVD right away, just as the full advertising effort is underway is likely to help the overall business of the movie as well. Some people who just don't like to go to theaters will buy the DVD, while others will prefer to see the film on the big screen. Unfortunately, few theater owners seem to agree. They complain about the DVD threat, when all it really shows is they don't understand their own business. They're not in the business of showing people movies. They're in the business of providing a good overall social experience. If they were confident in the theater experience, then they have nothing to fear from DVDs being on sale. They could just play up why it's that much better to see the movie on the big screen. But, apparently, they just don't believe they offer a very good product, which is why they're trying to pressure the studios to give them an artificial, temporary monopoly. Campbell's comments are effectively an admission that he doesn't think Regal Theaters are very good, and he doesn't think he can improve the experience enough to compete with home theaters. That seems excessively short-sighted.

If day and date releases became more common, it would only improve the movie going experience. While Campbell claims they would boycott those movies, it would only take a few missed blockbusters for the company to change its mind. In the meantime, it would put in place more incentives for Campbell and other theater owners to make going to the theater a much more enjoyable experience because they wouldn't just be competing with other theaters, but the home theater as well. They'd have to play to their strengths and focus on how to make "going out to the theater" a totally different experience from staying in to watch a movie. On top of that, there are plenty of additional things the theaters can do, from giving you a discount on buying the DVD as you walk out of the theater to using movie tickets as a way to encourage word of mouth marketing to get others to the theater. The potential is enormous, but we won't see much of it if theater owners can remain lazy and uncreative by keeping studios from giving customers the choice they deserve.


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  1.  
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    duh, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 12:50pm

    I have to disagree with your point of view. The theater owner has nothing to do with the distribution of the content. Same day release is in direct competition with a theater owner. Why would anyone go to a theater when they could watch the same movie at home?

    Sure, the movie theater model may be going out of style, but why would you advise theater owners to cut their own throats?

    Did the Bells decide to start lowering prices and offer VoIP service on their own? Of course not, they didn't introduce it until they saw that cable companies were introducing it and stealing customers away. In the past, there was no reason for them to offer it on their own.

    Why would you expect companies that do things that hurt themselves when they don't have to?

     

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    Darren, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 1:04pm

    Lower Prices

    All Mr. Campbell has to do is look at the outrageous prices he is charging to go to a movie and that says it all. DVD's are a much better value, you can rent them for cheap + you get all the extra's. Lower the price of admittance and lower the price on popcorn and pop and guess what - you will be back in business in no time!

    This is a great idea to release both at the same time!

     

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    Kyle, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 1:06pm

    One of the problems is that movie theaters dont make much money during the first several weeks of a movie release. ive read anywhere from 70-100% of a debut weekend movie ticket sales goes to the movie company and the remaining percent (if any) goes to the theater. CNN reports its 70-80% on opening weekend, dropping in increments each week thereafter.

    http://money.cnn.com/2002/03/08/smbusiness/q_movies/

    so of course theaters are going to object to day and date releases. if everyone sees a blockbuster within the first two weeks of a release AND they are able to purchase a DVD at the same time, the theaters wont make any money because nobody would visit them by weeks 3+, which is when they finally start getting significant percentages of the ticket sales.

    now, thats not to say movie theaters shouldnt work hard on bringing people in. turning movie going into a true experience should involve more than just the 2 hours you spend in your seat. from the moment you pull into the parking lot (valet?) to the moment you leave, theaters should be catering to you (quite possibly, literally)

     

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    Mike (profile), Nov 30th, 2006 @ 1:09pm

    Re:

    Same day release is in direct competition with a theater owner. Why would anyone go to a theater when they could watch the same movie at home?

    To have a better movie going experience. Why do people go out to restaurants when they have perfectly good kitchens in their home? Based on your logic, restaurants should be looking to ban in-home kitchens. The fact is that going to the movies is a social experience. It's "going out." Movie theaters need to learn how to make the experience good. If they do that, they'll be able to keep people coming no matter what the competition is.

    Sure, the movie theater model may be going out of style, but why would you advise theater owners to cut their own throats?

    It's not cutting their own throats. It's making their own product better.


    Did the Bells decide to start lowering prices and offer VoIP service on their own? Of course not, they didn't introduce it until they saw that cable companies were introducing it and stealing customers away. In the past, there was no reason for them to offer it on their own.


    Yeah, and now they're paying for it, since Vonage and the cable companies are kicking their ass in signing up new customers. If someone's going to cannibalize your business you need to do it first. The telcos made a huge mistake here, and hopefully the theaters won't do the same.

    Why would you expect companies that do things that hurt themselves when they don't have to?

    Because if they don't make these changes, they'll be hurt far worse. They won't be in business at all.

     

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    Tyshaun, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 1:19pm

    so far off!

    So aside from asserting that this should be so, what valid evidence do you have that movie theater owners should abandon the fight to stop simoultaneous DVD release? Seems to me they have absolutely nothing to gain by seeing it happen, they get no additional at all. In fact, the position you advocate might help them fight against the current trend but if simoultaneous release became a reality it would pretty much be the nail in their coffin.

    Now that I think about it, same time release may actually hurt movie studios who can currently count on people watching the movie and (if they like it) later on buyign the DVD. Anecdotally I think this works because the time between initial screening and release of the DVD is just enough to incubate a desire to pay for the same content you've already seen, again.

    Not to say that DVD release changes wouldn't be excellent for customers, it would, but advocating that movie theater owners should somehow support or stop fighting against it seems to be bad business.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 1:21pm

    Theatres make me wish i stayed home

    I'm in NYC and every time i go to the theatres since they jacked the prices up over $8 per ticket, i end up hating the movie. I dont hate the movie because it was bad, but because no movie is worth the $23 (11.50/tkt) it costs to sit with my wife in a theatre for 2 hrs.
    Maybe its just the Jew in me.

     

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    UniBoy, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 1:27pm

    Movie+Dinner

    Some towns have movie theates where you sit at a bar or a standard dining table. A waitress comes by your table before the movie starts. Your food arrives shortly after, then the movie starts while you continue to eat, drink, whatever.

    It's not exactly my thing, but I know some people like it and such places seem to do a decent business, just by being different from the other theatre.

    Point is, there are options for the theatres, and they ought to embrace change before change just happens to them.

     

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    Norm, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 1:29pm

    Better then your home theater?

    Theaters make their money because of the current method of having a temporary monopoly on releases. If that monopoly is taken out from under them, they will compete more with the consumer's home theater then each other. Since the consumer would has a choice to watch it at home (and not have to wait a couple of months) or go to a theater, the theaters must make the experience worth it.

    Many movie theaters today have abismal video/sound quality. If I go to a theater and see a blurred screen and sub-standard THX even when the THX logo is displayed, usnsatisfactory is a mild way to put it. I would rather deal with my crappy TV then pay much more money (on the movie and the popcorn) for something only marginally better.

    Regardless of quality, some people will simply stay at home. Dealing with a reduction in attendance that would happen no matter what, and the costs of making the theater experience worth it could be quite a blow to the theaters.

    But what do I care? I hope that they do so that I can have a better experience watching the movies that I want to see in a theater and not have to wait months to see the "rental" movies.

     

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    ElCuervo, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 1:30pm

    Am I the only one old enough?

    to remember when movie theaters were like mystical palaces? And when TV first came along, the movie industry was in a terrible panic that it would kill off movies - and then VHS - and then DVD... now the Internet...

    Just make it a remarkable outing at a reasonable price and people will be happy to continue going. Even drive-in theaters are staging a comeback in some place, and all because of the enhanced experience. People will always love going out to movies - but maybe not enough to satisfy all the Hollywood bean-counters!

     

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    Andrew W, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 1:36pm

    How about this? Theater owners and filmmakers collaborate on selling DVDs *at* the theater after an audience has just seen the film. A moviegoer shows his/her ticket stub to confirm they just saw the film, they fork over $15-$20 for the DVD, and the theater and the filmmaker split the profits.

    Moviegoers are most excited about a good movie right after they see it--the point they're most primed to by a DVD version--not four or five months later.

    And bootlegging already happens no matter what, so why not get a piece of the pie?

     

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    Rational Beaver, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 1:41pm

    Duh, duh

    "Why would anyone go to a theater when they could watch the same movie at home?"

    Because they have a small TV. Because they want a night out away from the kids (or away from their parents). Because they like watching movies on a huge screen with awesome sound. There are lots of reasons, and there could be many more if theaters got the hint and improved the experience.

    In addition, I think that theater owners should recognize the bargaining power they have here. The studios want to do same day release because they know that it will dramatically cut back on piracy (by properly fullfilling market demand- people like 'duh' who don't want to wait six months for the fricken DVD). In addition, it allows them to capitalize on that initial marketing push. However, ticket sales still make a lot of money for the studios. In addition, theater goers are some of the biggest marketers/buyers for the DVD. The studios can't afford to lose the theaters. The solution, of course, is a compromise that benefits everyone, including consumers.

    In order for the theaters to happily accept same day release (and not be destroyed by it), the studios should offer them a much larger cut of ticket sales (enough to allow them to drop ticket prices while still earning more per ticket). They should also offer nice margins on post-show DVD sales as well as merchandise sales.

    At the same time, theaters should get smarter about their business. Learn a lesson from drive-ins. Your business is not guaranteed and the same old thing won't work forever. Make the experience more comfortable, more convenient, and more accessible (cheaper). Drop your concession's prices to bargain basement levels and promote the heck out of them. Also, diversy the selection, not everyone wants a bucket of ultra greasy popcorn.

    Yes, same day release would hurt theater owners in the short term, but it has the potential to bring back the glory of a fading industry.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 1:43pm

    Re:

    the idea of selling the DVDs to people who just watched the movie is awesome. make it available only to those who have seen it. therefore you're only cutting out people who would go more than once. and honestly, i don't think thats a huge demographic. and hell, if they're willing to go more than once, maybe they still would even with the DVD available to them.

     

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    Duh yourself, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 1:51pm

    Re:

    "Why would anyone go to a theater when they could watch the same movie at home?"

    Because I love to see it on the big screen and generally love the moviegoing experience over sitting on a couch and watching it on a small or at the most 42" screen. You may not like it, but that does not mean everyone thinks like you do.

     

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    Brandon T, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 1:53pm

    Cost

    When taking a family of 4 to a movie costs $50 w/o popcorn and drinks, a simultaneous release might force theaters to lower their prices in order to compete with the DVD. But if the theaters cant pay the studios because nobody comes or they don't make enough with the lower prices then the studios are going to raise the price on thier DVD's to compensate and we are going to be in the same boat again.

     

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    dude rancher..., Nov 30th, 2006 @ 1:54pm

    Just my opinion... I think it's a big chain reaction as to why theatres are going down the dumps. For a couple to go to the movies, cost what... at least 25 bucks (2 tix, 2 small pops, 1 popcorn)... to buy a DVD, average cost 20 bucks. To burn a DVD?? 20 bucks a month unlimited rentals at blockbuster online, 3 out at a time, burning 3 movies every couple days.... box of 50 blank dvds', 15 bucks!!! so what... about $1.40 to make a movie, considering you burn 25 a month. Now just think, if theatre's charged a reasonable price.... and if DVD's were only like 5 bucks a piece.... A large percentage of people will buy dvd's and go to the theatre instead of illegally burn them.. People are willing to wait to see movies just to save lots of money.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Duh, duh

    Good points Rational Beaver. I was with you up to
    diversy the selection


    Huh?

     

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    Technically, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 2:02pm

    Re:

    I don't burn,
    I Backup.

     

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    Sanguine Dream, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 2:06pm

    Re:


    How about this? Theater owners and filmmakers collaborate on selling DVDs *at* the theater after an audience has just seen the film. A moviegoer shows his/her ticket stub to confirm they just saw the film, they fork over $15-$20 for the DVD, and the theater and the filmmaker split the profits.

    Moviegoers are most excited about a good movie right after they see it--the point they're most primed to by a DVD version--not four or five months later.

    I agree. However I would say offer a discount as a "Thank you for coming out." The movie goer shows her/his ticket and can get a copy for say $10 and once the movie is out of theaters everyone that didn't get it will have to wait few months and pay the usual $20+ for it.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 2:09pm

    Shut down home kitchens?

    Same day release is in direct competition with a theater owner. Why would anyone go to a theater when they could watch the same movie at home?

    To have a better movie going experience. Why do people go out to restaurants when they have perfectly good kitchens in their home? Based on your logic, restaurants should be looking to ban in-home kitchens.


    No comparisons here whatsoever. You go to a restaurant for food you don't have time to make or couldn't make yourself. I can't 'make' the same movie to watch at home that hollywood can.

    I think same day release of dvds in the theatres only would be a great idea. It will also show how well a movie is liked by how many people actually buy the dvd after seeing it, instead of buying it to see if its good.........

     

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  20.  
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    wolff000, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 2:11pm

    It's Already Over

    When somebody Like George Lucas steps up and says theaters are dead; people should take note, especially if own a movie theater. The movie thaters of yore are long gone. No longer are they thick-carpeted, gilt-arched, wall-sconced palaces of our dreams. They have become huge multiplexes with no real style and usually filthy. Even the nicest theaters I my area aren't that nice and everything is way over priced. If movie thaters want people to come in instead of staying in the comfort of thier homes they need to coe up with ways to sell the experience and the studios will worry about the movies and distribution.

     

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  21.  
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    wolff000, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 2:13pm

    Last post typos

    That's what happens when you type fast and don't proof read. My english professor is probably rolling in his grave right now. Sorry, Doc H.

     

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    BlargTheGreat, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 2:16pm

    Movie Theaters are a rip off

    Wah, Wah, Wah to that CEO. Technology is changing and his business is threatened. Adapt or perish.

    The only reason theaters make money is by charging $12 for $.08 worth of soda and popcorn. I go to the theater occasionally to see the 'big' blockbusters, and about 85% of the time the "big-screen-experience" is ruined due to errant children, inconsiderate people on their cell phones, failed audio or video systems, or other unpleasant events. I welcome the day that the DVD is released on the same day as the movie. But until that day comes, I'll just continue to be 6 months behind the rest of the world and enjoy the movie experience at home in a clean and pleasant environment with the friends and family that I care about on my far superior (to the theater) home system.

     

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  23.  
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    Paul, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 2:20pm

    LOL

    The restaurant analogy belongs in the book of worst 100 analogies ever.

    People go to restaurants for several reasons: so they don't have to cook, so they don't have to do dishes, they cant cook as well as the restaurant, and of course the only reason you were thinking of, the experience.
    A lot of people don't like going out to a restaurant because of the experience, at a lot of restaurants it is a BAD experience. Crowded, loud, long service times, snotty waitress, ill-prepared food are just a few downsides a restaurant experience can yield.

    The same can be said for a theater, there are good and bad experiences. The only problem is that theaters can only offer 2 advantages over dvd: theater experience and advanced viewing. If you launch DVD titles at the same time as a movie goes to theater then they only have 1 advantage and for those who don't like going to the theater that becomes a disadvantage.

    Home theaters are becoming more superior to regular theaters every year. Unless you have the luxury of living near a brand new theater then this goes double. In a theater you have to deal with a crowded viewing room so you may get a horrible seat, it is a gamble and you never know until you walk in the theater. You have to deal with other peoples loudness or cellphones, or their head blocking your view. You have to deal with the smell of the hot dog they brought in with them from the concession stand, or worse the smell of a near-seated unbathed patron.

    Most movies suck these days. Lately almost every movie has been a remake, a sequel, a prequel or some other rehash of an old used idea. Why should I risk a bad theater experience to watch a bad movie. I would much rather watch a bad movie on a 42" screen with surround sound on the comfort of my own couch in my living room with a group of friends than in the theater.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't hate theaters and I used to go to the theater a lot. With advancing technology getting cheaper and more available to the average Joe, however, theaters are riding less on the "movie going experience" and more on the delayed DVD factor.

    There is no way that a theater could enhance the experience enough to make up for the loss unless some epic technological revolution comes around that enhances the audio or visual experience in some mind boggling way (read: 40 point surround sound and 9720p resolution video)

     

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  24.  
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    Tim, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 2:20pm

    Re: Re:

    Same day release is in direct competition with a theater owner. Why would anyone go to a theater when they could watch the same movie at home?

    To have a better movie going experience. Why do people go out to restaurants when they have perfectly good kitchens in their home? Based on your logic, restaurants should be looking to ban in-home kitchens. The fact is that going to the movies is a social experience. It's "going out." Movie theaters need to learn how to make the experience good. If they do that, they'll be able to keep people coming no matter what the competition is.

    ......

    So you're comparing purchasing a DVD to not only having the ability to cook a decent meal, but the time and work needed to do it? People go to restaurants because its EASIER than having to cook a meal at home, then clean it up. People also will watch DVDs at home because its EASIER than having to go buy overpriced tickets and sit in a crowded theatre. Your argument trying to compare the two is as poor as they come and your article title is a complete joke.

     

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  25.  
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    EdB, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Re:

    Your dinner analogy is very lacking. I don't have to cook and clean up after eating dinner out. Therefore when I choose to eat out, which by the way is most of the time, I trade travel time for pre and post work. What benefits does watching a movie at a theatre offer me? "None" comes to my mind, so how about saying exactly how a theatre can enhance the experience?

    It's a way to see motion pictures that's long past it's prime. It's going to go away. Why pretend the old geezer has something to offer?

     

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  26.  
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    EL Wapo, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 2:24pm

    Non-Theater Goer

    I have gone to the theater 3 times in the last 15 years. Not because I don't like seeing a movie in the theater but for a few other reasons. I have had small children and do not want to disturb other theater attendees, Many other parents of small children bring their children and do not control them ruining the experience for everyone, Most films are not worth the price(9 out of 10 are not worth the dollar rental from red box). Many adults are rude yapping through the whole movie or taking cell phone calls in the theater. Until theater owners address these things I will not be a customer of anything but DVD's. Am I alone with these reasons or do others avoid the theater for similar reasons?

     

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  27.  
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    DJK, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 2:24pm

    Diversify your theater spelling

    Diversy = Diversify Thaters = Theaters/theatres

     

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    DJK, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 2:25pm

    Diversify your theater spelling

    Diversy = Diversify
    Thaters = Theaters/theatres

     

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  29.  
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    DJK, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 2:28pm

    No more theaters

    I quit going to theaters long ago, when prices went over $7 per ticket. M&Ms for $5???? WHAT? I work too hard to pay out the nose for their crappy theater stuff. The big guy is raping the little guy....It's the principle of the deal. Why would you want to go to a place that is giving it to you...and I don't mean in a good way.

    No theaters
    No Fast food
    No Milk
    No Soda

    I know..I'm crazy.

     

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  30.  
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    Duh, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 2:47pm

    Mike, you know as well as I that a same day release on video or on pay per view would kill theaters. There is no added benefit to the moviegoer if they can get the dvd the same day. The people that go the the theater for the "experience" will continue to go to the theater. Same day releases will eat into theater owners profits, there is no doubt about that, it certainly won't encourage more people to go to the theater.

    I agree that theater owners need to improve the experience, but same day release of content has nothing at all to do with that, and you know it.

    From a studio point of view, of course this additional channel of distribution would probably be good for them, but it would cut the legs out from the theater owners, which is an important customer for them. I can see a time when there is instant release, but by that time, I doubt that theaters will play much a part in any serious percentage of revenues.

    As for canablizing your own business, you really don't want to do it before someone else does it. Thats just nuts, and I think you know that too. Cut prices across the board and lose X amount of revenue or wait and lose X minus something? Come on, you know better than that. Drug companies don't make the profit on label drugs in Canada than they do in America. They know re-importation is coming, should they cut their prices in the US right now? Of course not, they have their plans, and once the tipping point comes, then they put those into place, but they sure don't do it before the numbers make sense.

    People don't live off tomorrow, they work in the here and now. Prepare for the future, but don't kill yourself in the present.

     

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  31.  
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    nd, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 2:48pm

    Just Serve Beer

    I almost never go to the movies bc its too expensive. However, a theater is a great place to watch concert movies (eg. the recent Neil Young movie and the Beastie Boys' MSG concert movie). It's also a great place to watch action movies with big special effects (especially since my TV at home is pretty lame).

    BUT, I used to go to a lot of movies at one theater when I lived in Madison WI bc they served beer (and big ones to boot) even though it was just as expensive as anywhere else. The theater also had all sorts of food you could order, and the middle 6 rows of each theater had a table surface you could put your stuff on (and put your feet up on too). I had a friend who worked there who said the beer sold more than anything else. It also inclined some people to tip when they bought stuff (we're trained to always tip our bartender), which in turn helped motivate the staff to do a better job. And because the price of the beer was competitive with area bars (and came in a HUGE movie theater size), it wasn't unusual to see some people show up early and sit in the theater talking and drinking. Think of all the ads they would be exposed to sitting in the theater that early, which goes against the trend of services telling people the actual start time of movies so they can show up late and miss all those ads.

    Yeah, there are all sorts of ways to improve the experience to make it more attractive to people, but serving beer seems the easiest and most straightforward. People are used to $10 cover charges to get into some bars, but for cheap beer and a movie, the expense of going to a movie doesn't seem as much of a ripoff all of a sudden.

     

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    Mike (profile), Nov 30th, 2006 @ 3:03pm

    Re: LOL

    People go to restaurants for several reasons: so they don't have to cook, so they don't have to do dishes, they cant cook as well as the restaurant, and of course the only reason you were thinking of, the experience.

    Uh. The "not having to cook, not having to do the dishes, can't cook as well as the restaurant" IS part of the experience. The point stands (as does the analogy) that the overall experience of "going out" is beneficial.

    A lot of people don't like going out to a restaurant because of the experience, at a lot of restaurants it is a BAD experience. Crowded, loud, long service times, snotty waitress, ill-prepared food are just a few downsides a restaurant experience can yield.

    I don't see how that disproves the analogy.

    The same can be said for a theater, there are good and bad experiences.

    Yet you say that my analogy is bad? Huh?

    The only problem is that theaters can only offer 2 advantages over dvd: theater experience and advanced viewing

    They only offer two advantages now. They don't offer more now because they can get away with not doing it -- but the anger over the overall experience and the increasing quality of home theaters means they can't get away with that much longer. There's lots of stuff they can do to improve the experience -- which was the point of the post. If they do improve the experience people will want to go out.

    So, once again, the analogy still stands.

    In a theater you have to deal with a crowded viewing room so you may get a horrible seat, it is a gamble and you never know until you walk in the theater. You have to deal with other peoples loudness or cellphones, or their head blocking your view. You have to deal with the smell of the hot dog they brought in with them from the concession stand, or worse the smell of a near-seated unbathed patron.

    Yes, those all contribute to the bad experience, which is why theaters will need to prevent those things from happening to make the theater going experience worthwhile.

    Most movies suck these days. Lately almost every movie has been a remake, a sequel, a prequel or some other rehash of an old used idea. Why should I risk a bad theater experience to watch a bad movie.

    That's a totally different issue, and out of the movie theater's hands.

    Though, there are efforts underway for many theaters to show other things, such as sporting events and concerts.

    There is no way that a theater could enhance the experience enough to make up for the loss unless some epic technological revolution comes around that enhances the audio or visual experience in some mind boggling way (read: 40 point surround sound and 9720p resolution video)

    So you believe. It's good you don't own a theater then. I think there are tons of things they could do to enhance the experience... and in fact, lots of theaters are already doing exactly that. They realize that going to the movies is a social experience, so why not make it more fun and social? You can't replicate that aspect at home. You can't replicate the size of the screen or the overall sound system (without a ton of money). You can't offer other perks as well, such as tie-ins from the studios. There's plenty of stuff that can be done. Just because YOU can't think of ways to improve the experience it doesn't mean that it's impossible. It just means you shouldn't be running a theater right now.

     

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    Mawkus, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 3:04pm

    Wish I would have been higher

    The only theater I go to anymore is Alamo Drafthouse. basically they have taken out every other row of seating and installed a bar where waiters serve food & drinks before and during the movie. It is a little more expensive, but is a much more entertaining and social way to see a movie. Not to mention you get to drink.

    Also, there are no children aloud and they have special promotions for certain movies. Like with Spiderman they had a giant velcro wall with a trampoline. They gave you a velcro suit and let you launch yourself onto the wall. Another cool one they did was for Open Water, the one with the sharks. They played this movie on Lake travis in Austin, TX on a projector hanging over the water. Everyone was given a floatation device and they served food and drinks. That was a great experience to be floating in Open Water while watching Open Water.

    Movie theaters are a novelty and Alamo Drafthouse understands that. Other theater chains could learn a great deal from them.

     

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    Mike (profile), Nov 30th, 2006 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    So you're comparing purchasing a DVD to not only having the ability to cook a decent meal, but the time and work needed to do it? People go to restaurants because its EASIER than having to cook a meal at home, then clean it up. People also will watch DVDs at home because its EASIER than having to go buy overpriced tickets and sit in a crowded theatre. Your argument trying to compare the two is as poor as they come and your article title is a complete joke.

    Yikes. There are many reasons why people go out to eat, just like there are many reasons why people go out to theater. They're not exact comparisons, they're just making the point that just because you have something at home, it doesn't mean you won't go out for it. You just have to make the experience better in some ways.

    For you, going out to eat is "easier". That's the "better". All the theaters need to do is focus on what makes them "better" in some cases than viewing movies at home. The analogy works perfectly.

     

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    Adam, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 4:33pm

    Irony

    For a long while Theater's like Regal Cinema's held somewhat of a monopoly over the "movie scene". So much as to charge Upwards of $7 for popcorn and $5 for drinks.

    Bring on the DVD's!

     

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    C. J., Nov 30th, 2006 @ 4:35pm

    RE: Duh

    Rational Beaver, "In addition, I think that theater owners should recognize the bargaining power they have here. The studios want to do same day release because they know that it will dramatically cut back on piracy" How might you figure that it will cut back on piracy? Making a DVD quality version of the film that one can walk away with the same day the theater version came out would only root-out the "Shaky-Cam" pirates floating around. I can almost guarentee that if DVD's and movie theaters had a day and date release, piracy would not be stamped out. It would only bolster the efficiency on the time-scale in which pirates could push it over torrents. As to the idea overall, I am not quite sure which side of the fence to fall unto. Being a consumer, the day and date release is really in my favor. However, I do not regularily purchase theater tickets; as my brother's girlfriend is a staff manager at a very nice theater around my area. /excuse me if the pirating point had been brought up already, perhaps I jumped the trigger.

     

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    Celt, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 4:58pm

    I may be called crazy or flamed for this, but I would not mind paying $8 or even $10 a ticket at the theater even if the DVD is released at the same time. Its a social experience. Still though, if they want to make it more appealing, knock down the prices on your snack bar. I can go to McDonalds and get a huge Coke for all of $1.29, so why does it cost me $3 for a small at the theater? Depending on the theater, that could still be a big drink, but usually not.

    Another option was as someone else said, offer a discount on the DVD at the theater with the movie ticket stub. If I can get the DVD as I walk out of the theater and pay $12.99 for it, I'm going to be much more inclined to buy it.

    You also have to look at the movie industry model right now. They spend a huge amount of money to promote the theater release and then another bundle at the DVD release time. This saves them a bundle and could easily allow the cost of movies to come down somewhat while still giving the industry an increase in profit.

     

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    googly_eyes, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 5:01pm

    It's the stupid people

    I have to say that there isn't a whole lot the theater owners can do to make going to the movies pleasant when a large portion of the people who go to movies are cave dwelling morons.

    These are the people who chat on the phone, talk during the movie, and act like unrestrained orangutans in heat (yeah buddy, kick my seat some more), and ruin it for the rest of us well mannered folk.

    It's nearly impossible to enjoy the movies at a theater when parking is a nightmare (yeah I'm talking to the idiot who parks his SUV across 3 spots), prices are so high on both the movie and the concessions, people are rude and selfish, and the movie sucks to boot.

    One suggestion is to hire bouncers to stay in each theater to kick out the riff raff. I know it costs more, but then you will more than make up for it by increased attendance.

    If the studios are gouging out the profits, then the theater owners should band together and do a collective contract that kills the studios from taking all the profits.

    Otherwise there is no way they are going to fix their leaky sinking ship.

     

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    anonymous jew responder, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 5:24pm

    Re: Theatres make me wish i stayed home

    hey man, i'm jewish and not cheap. you shouldn't say stupid shit like that on the internet. as minor as it may be, the worlds view on jew's is bad enough. no need to worsen it.

     

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    Oz Sager, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 5:28pm

    Re:

    Theaters do not make money from the movies.

    They do not need to.

    They make money from having a restaraunt with very cheap food (popcorn and fountain drinks) that has a steady flow of customers and I can tell you from having worked at a regal cinema that they make a ton of money.

    Seriously a movie theatre on an opening weekend would be a much better place to rob than a bank!

     

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    Cleverboy, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 5:56pm

    re:duh

    :: I have to disagree with your point of view.
    :: The theater owner has nothing to do with
    :: the distribution of the content. Same day
    :: release is in direct competition with a theater
    :: owner. Why would anyone go to a theater
    :: when they could watch the same movie at home?

    I also disagree with the general tone of this "story". While I appreciate hearing the idea discussed, as I've discussed this notion actively with a friend of mine in the past.

    The problem UNMENTIONED in this entry, is the fact that movie theatres generally are paying the studios all the box-office revenue for the first couple of weeks a movie is out, and only start making their PROFITS sometime after that. During those first crucial weeks, the box-office is dramatically effected by people who see the movie more than once, and in extreme cases, even more than that. This movie-going-behavior is immediately LOST by the studios on a DVD release.

    Let's face it, theatres are the most practical form of DRM the studios have ever used. The "analog-hole" is someone bootlegging with a portable camera, generating a much degraded version of the film. Meanwhile, the theatres anxiously look forward to the gamble that the movie will resonate enough that people will still be turning out to see it long after opening weekend. Collapsing in this "day and date" method, would immediately pull a HUGE amount of money out of the market (for studios and theatres). What's more realistic, is a staggard release, where the movie is released, and the DVD is released 2 weeks later.

    As noted, while this ALSO will cut into first-profits for the studio, it will also bankrupt most theatres who rely solely on tradition and practice to sell their product. There's a documentary out on the death of the drive-in theatre. What killed them? VHS. What will kill the theatres? Dropping the other shoe.

    1st. There were only movies. We watched in theatres. We enjoyed re-releases.
    2nd. VHS. Most people watched the movies. It came too late, and cost too much for the video, so we waited, then we rented. Eventually, the price dropped, and we bought. Copying/dubbing slow, poor, and real-time.
    3rd. DVD. Many people watched the movies. It came too late after the movie was released. So we waited, then we bought or rented. Rentals experienced a decline. Copying fast and high-quality.
    4th. DVD day & date? Few people watched movies. It came the same day, and easy digital copies from friends were dubbable that same day. Home entertainment centers and good planning created a better-controlled atmosphere than theatres for most avergae-to-affluent movie-goers.

    Ask yourself... forget about the theatres for the moment. Assume they'll eventually die out. How much money do you think the studios will lose if they do day-date? Stop and think about it. How many couples would simply buy the movie for $19, rather than pay $22 for two people to see it? How many single fans will buy the movie ONCE for $19 and pimp his home theatre, rather than seeing the movie twice in a large room with people who can't shut up, for no particular reason?

    A beeper for someone on a cell phone? How stupid. What's more irritating... someone answering a phone for 20 seconds, or a security guard communicating with that person after you had to page them and wait? How often will that even make a difference? Once the movie experience is ruined, its ruined.

    :: For you, going out to eat is "easier".
    :: That's the "better". All the theaters need
    :: to do is focus on what makes them "better"
    :: in some cases than viewing movies at home.
    :: The analogy works perfectly.

    Mike, I'm sorry. For someone who actively looks over DRM issues, you've let this one slip right by you. There is no real "better" for theatres to be. I've been to a "premium theatre"... ONCE. Nice wide seats and tray tables. Waitress. Beer. Higher price. Limited seating. ONCE. That'll save them? --That's pure insanity. I've seen this happen before. Think "emporer's new clothes".

    Close your eyes. Imagine the coolest theatre going experience you can imagine. Think, "Why would I go OUT and see a movie?" Short of using mind-altering drugs, I'll bet you a million dollars it has little to do with the venue, and more to do with the company you keep. People go to theatres mostly because they HAVE TO. Due to ticket prices, its only people with a lot of disposable income that see movies multiple times. These same people generally have nice home theatres or friends with them.

    An apt metaphor for any studio dumb enough to be pushing for day-and-date is the ancient fable of the Golden Goose...

    Look! People love DVDs, and if we put the movie in their hands right away, maybe we'll have even MORE sales and revenue! --SHIT! The major theatres are going out of business left and right. --SHIT! The remaining small chains don't charge enough and are willing to wait for better prices for "semi-new" movies. --SHIT! Our "box-office" figures look like crap, and we've destroyed the ability to sell our content multiple times in the initial release to theatres (while they're still working off our fees). --SHIT! Is that a bootleg? Crap... its a high quality digital dubb! Ok... who's getting fired?

    I like drinking the kool-aid as much as anyone else... but this logic has got something in it. Smells real toxic. The same poor logic would lead studios to have tv shows come out simulataneously as broadcast premieres, and as digital downloads (no delay). They don't, because it immediately allows people to ignore the broadcast altogether. Remember the furor when Disney announced its original deal with Apple? The network affiliates were the "theatres" here.

    Don't pretend they don't have a point. Just come out and say that most theatres shouldn't exist and need to be shut down. --Cause that's what would happen. If you think the piddle of people venturing out of their house for even high movie ticket prices would work out, you're smokin' the gange.

    Come on... sometimes these arguments read like someone surprised corporations don't poor money on us. "Hey, we'd love it! You're missing a real opportunity to please us here!"

     

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    Cleverboy, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 6:02pm

    re: It's the stupid people

    :: If the studios are gouging out the profits, then
    :: the theater owners should band together and
    :: do a collective contract that kills the studios from
    :: taking all the profits.

    Um, yeah... I'd agree. Ditto on the parking, and the drunk ASS that kicked my seat during Phantom Menace. Eesh... day-and-date, and that's one movie I would have glady seen over a friend's house... or, only part of before suggesting we watch something else. Theatres are an artifical construct. They're vestigial organs that began retracting with the death of the drive-in from the dawn of VHS. We can still keep them, so long as there purpose as DRM isn't erroded.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 7:19pm

    The only reason I go to the teather is b/c I don't feel like waiting for the movie to download.

     

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    QuiGon, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 7:32pm

    Movie Theaters Aren't Enjoyable Anymore

    The main reason my wife and I do not go to the movie theaters anymore to watch new movies is simple. It's not fun. Most theaters in metropolitan and city areas on weekends are awash with out of control teenagers, rude cell phone users and outrageous prices on concessions. Why should I have to get to a theater an hour before the movie starts just to wait in long lines, deal with unprofessional employees and obnoxious people. No thanks! If our children want to see a movie at the theater, we take them during the day, when children under 18 should be out and about; not after dark.

    The second reason we stay home to watch our movies is convenience. We can pause the movie, we can provide the same concessions cheaper for ourselves and no-one to disrupt the movie.

    Suggestion: After 7PM on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, no-one under 18 is admitted...period!

     

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    QuiGon, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 7:32pm

    Movie Theaters Aren't Enjoyable Anymore

    The main reason my wife and I do not go to the movie theaters anymore to watch new movies is simple. It's not fun. Most theaters in metropolitan and city areas on weekends are awash with out of control teenagers, rude cell phone users and outrageous prices on concessions. Why should I have to get to a theater an hour before the movie starts just to wait in long lines, deal with unprofessional employees and obnoxious people. No thanks! If our children want to see a movie at the theater, we take them during the day, when children under 18 should be out and about; not after dark.

    The second reason we stay home to watch our movies is convenience. We can pause the movie, we can provide the same concessions cheaper for ourselves and no-one to disrupt the movie.

    Suggestion: After 7PM on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, no-one under 18 is admitted...period!

     

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    Thad, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 8:23pm

    This shit had me rolling. Look people the movie industry has been ripping off the consumer and theater owners for years. That's why the pop corn and goodies cost so much. If they try this it will kill the theaters and the movie industry. More people will just rent and copy. bootlegger pays 4$ for new release, puts on web PERR to PEER or sells bootleg DVDs. If movie industry and theaters want to make some real money they would lower their prices. If movie tickets were lets say 3 or 4 dollars and DVDs were 5 to 8 dollars, now it wouldn't be worth the time to bootleg it or take the chance of getting a virus downloading, and more people would be willing to pay.

     

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    Thad, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 8:34pm

    There is no way that a theater could enhance the experience enough to make up for the loss unless some epic technological revolution comes around that enhances the audio or visual experience in some mind boggling way (read: 40 point surround sound and 9720p resolution video)
    Paul I love what you wrote, all of it.
    Your absolutely right.
    Their is such a place though, maybe not mind boggling but COOL. Omnimax you should check it out it cost 11 dollars but wort it.

     

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    Mousky, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 8:34pm

    Re: Shut down home kitchens?

    You go to a restaurant for food you don't have time to make or couldn't make yourself.

    Hmmm, I sometimes go to a restaurant just to get out of the house. Sometimes, I take my wife out on a date that involves going to a restaurant. Other times, I go to a restaurant before seeing a file or live show. Sometime I go out to a restaurant to socialize with friends and family. It's not all about not having time to cook or not being able to make something for yourself.

     

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    misanthropic humanist, Nov 30th, 2006 @ 9:58pm

    endemic mutual intollerance

    I think there's an important social aspect to cinemas. Going to see a movie with a large crowd of people is a different experience with different effects than sitting alone at home.

    From the posts I'm reading above, and from some of my own recent experiences, that is actually the problem now. It's not that people no longer have the manners and respect necessary to engage in participatory social experiences, it's that the public space, whether it be cinema or shopping mall is hostile to that experience.

    Micro-managing the bahaviour of customers is not the answer. Going to the cinema feels like going to an airport these days. The security and propaganda element is quite offensive. I don't like being patronised like an immature child when I go out for the evening. It seems we are all growing less and less tolerant of each other. People paying half a days wages for a ticket and then being treated like idiots develop a sense of entitlement to misbehave, put their feet on the seats and throw food on the floor. More social nannying by snich police isn't going to foster real interpersonal respect, it actually reinforces the anti-social resentment and ill behaviour.

    There's definitely a wider psychological/sociological context to this. Perhaps movie theatres have grown too big and corporate and need to be re-invented from a grass-roots level again. Maybe small home theatres for private audiences will form part of this process and inject some humanity back into the experience of shared viewing.

     

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    McTurbo, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 4:40am

    Re:

    i was a general manager for Carmike Cinema's for 6 years.. quite simply.. we dont make money off the movies. only on rare cases on movies like titanic, finding nemo.. and generally movies that have staying power past what anyone expects does the theater make any money off the movie.. normally the box office reciepts go to the people who make the movie.. (i know they call every night to get that quote on how much buisness each movie does)

    the reason your being charged 5.00 for popcorn and 3.50 or more for drinks is because of the fact movie theaters are getting less and less of the gross from movies on opening day. we have to pay all the employees, managers, lease, insurance, advertising, general expenses to run everything.. out of the concession profit.. thats why candy and drinks and popcorn is so high...

    and the general fact of the matter is that we cant compete with digital home theater systems on high definition TV's because thier digital and 99% of theaters are still using film.. which gets dirty. which breaks, tangles, sticks together, and generally causes all kinds of issues over a period of time.

    not all films do this but it does happen and theres absolutly nothing the manager of the theater can do to stop it... sometimes just the weather changing can give you problems with film upstairs as the air becomes humid and sticky..

    the push to digital is going to be expensive and with declining theater sales.. companies are afraid to invest heavy into it as a single projector can cost you 250,000 or more.. think about having to install 24-32 digital projectors in a single multiplex theater... and you begin to see the scope of the problem.

    add on to the fact that when the film does run perfect its generally the public thats causing its own disruption as people bring babies to action movies or small children to horror movies.. we cant stop them.. its thier right.. but after a few complaints we can say something to them.. problem is.. by the time we can say something.. everyone is pissed off and unhappy and god forbid something happens to the movie after that.

    now with digital projection in the home.. and same day release dates for dvds.. the theater's will go out of buisness slowly.. but it will happen.

    the only way to save it is for the movie companies to share more of the initial profits with the actual entertainment venues.

     

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    McTurbo, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 4:48am

    If same day releases happen. what your going to see is theater's dumping employees.. youll see vending machines that give you your tickets, candy, and drinks and popcorn, and all theater's will have to be digital so as to remove any need for projectionist...

    only thing your going to need is someone to check tickets and clean auditoriums.

     

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    XFactor, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 5:01am

    Movie Companies need to consider one other aspect.. same day releases will loose them money.. do you really believe that group of 5-6 people who buy a ticket togeather and come to see the movie on opening day are all going to buy the movie? or is one of them going to buy it and they are all going to watch it at his house.. to me that seems a more likly senario.

     

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    Cleverboy, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 5:02am

    Re:

    : now with digital projection in the home..
    : and same day release dates for dvds..
    : the theater's will go out of buisness slowly..
    : but it will happen.
    : the only way to save it is for the movie
    : companies to share more of the initial profits
    : with the actual entertainment venues.

    I'm hoping the next TechDirt story is informed by posts like this (and mine) and give proper weight to the reality of this situation (and others). Simply saying "the theatres need to do more" is really, really, wrong headed.

    It won't stop people from thinking it though. If you want theatres to continue, the answer isn't simply to have theatres "do more" to get customers. Its that type of attitude that contributes to a serious misperception of where we, as a society, can look for solutions. In my conversations, I've discussed with friends that theatres might make money from selling the DVD, but they'd have to sell it at a premium, and if they have to compete with BestBuy or Walmart, with a loss-leader strategy, they're still in enormous trouble.

    Answers aren't always snarky & easy here on the flip-side. I mean, sure, all the snarky people can wait for theatres to go out of business (as they are), and then pretend they know why (they didn't do enough to motivate customers?)... but if you're simply wrong, what purpose does that serve?

     

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    BikeRanger, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 6:12am

    Could it have anything to do with the MOVIES?

    No one seems to be mentioning the reason I don't go to movie theaters anymore -- the movies.

    I am not saying there have been no great movies lately, there absolutely have been. But it also seems like more and more of the movies that do come out are derivative and entirely predictable.

    Maybe my attention span is getting shorter, although occasionally a film comes out that I have no problem sitting through attentively.

    Maybe it has to do with all the other things competing for my time, from the Xbox to the mountain bike.

    But if there were movies coming out that were worthwhile to stand in line, pay money for one viewing that might or might not be spoiled by a dips**t on a cellphone, sit through commercials and "In a world..." previews and then hope the picture was in focus and the sound worked, well I'd be there to see them. Even with my high-def surround sound home theater, I won't argue that the big screen sometimes offers more.

    But movies generally just don't warrant the hassle and expense. If we rent a new release on DVD and it sucks, oh well, we can just turn it off and do something else and be out $4.

    If a movie is really good (and they do come along once in a while), then I'd probably rather spend the money buying the disc (or now HD-DVD) so we can watch it again, see the deleted scenes, hear the director's commentary, etc.

    If the movie sucks to begin with, then all the grumbles about oily popcorn, squealing children and sticky floors are really just bullets in the corpse.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 8:06am

    Re:

    Sure, the movie theater model may be going out of style...
    Kind of like how buggy whips went "out of style" with the advent of the automobile.

    but why would you advise theater owners to cut their own throats?
    I would advise them to get off their lazy asses and improve the theater experience to make it worthwhile. Of course, they're so used to the gravy train that they would probably view that as cutting "their own throats".

     

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    Jeff, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 10:02am

    Multiplexes are dying

    If I had a killer home entertainment system, I guarantee you I wouldn't go to the movies much at all. I don't go much now but its more because I've got twin 3 1/2 year olds. The only time I really enjoy the theater now is when I go to a dinner theater. And the last time I went to one of those was when LOTR:Return of the King was playing two years ago. I don't have the killer home entertainment center yet, but I figure by the end of 2007, I'll will finally have the 50"+ HDTV.

    Theaters in malls is like going to McDonalds whereas independent theaters are like going to a nice restaurant.

     

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    bob, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 10:49am

    "The so-called "day and date" release plan has been finding increasing support within the movie industry, even if its most high profile test (done by Mark Cuban) was considered something of a failure. "

    that's because it was some lame ass indie movie. Try that with a "big name" movie and the results will be way different.

     

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    John, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 10:56am

    And no commercials in the theater

    And if you buy the DVD and don't go to the theater, you don't have to sit through 10 minutes of commercials that you *literally* saw on TV the day before!
    I know theaters need to make money, and I know they're not getting any of my $10 ticket, but do I really need to see an ad for BMW that I saw for free during yesterday's repeat of "Home Improvement" on TBS?

    I sometimes wonder if the studios are almost trying to kill the theater market. If theaters don't make any profit until the 3rd or 4th week of a release, who do they think will be coming back to see "Dukes of Hazzard" or "Let's go to Prison"? These are the kinds of movies that are pulled from theaters after the second week because of low attendance. Yet the theaters are almost required to show these movies because someone somewhere thought they would make money.

     

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    MythicalMe (profile), Dec 1st, 2006 @ 11:28am

    Re:

    One of the problems is that movie theaters dont make much money during the first several weeks of a movie release. ive read anywhere from 70-100% of a debut weekend movie ticket sales goes to the movie company and the remaining percent (if any) goes to the theater. CNN reports its 70-80% on opening weekend, dropping in increments each week thereafter.
    Maybe the theatre owners should bargain with Hollywood, say get rid of the incremental structure for day and date releases. If the theatre owners could realize a profit sooner, and improve their product, they'd be less concerned about the release to DVD right away. I don't go to the movie house any more. Uncomfortable seating, high popcorn and drink prices, and movie quality all have made watching the movie at home more alluring.

     

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    Monarch, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 11:48am

    People go to movies for DIFFERENT Reasons. Mostly it's the reason to get out of the house for a social occassion.

    Me? I quit going to movies years ago. Maybe see 1 or 2 movies a year in the theater. But you know something, I moved a year ago to an area that has 2 drive-in theaters within 20 miles of where I live. Guess what, I enjoy the drive-in movie experience! Guess what, I went back and back again! Saw MI3 three times this summer, and it's not that good of a movie. Saw every summer blockbuster and some. Loved everything except the long line for the women's restroom. But guess what, I still enjoyed the experience more that either downloading a pirated copy off torrent and watching on my 46" home theater screen or going to a multiplex (God Forbid).

    Me, the theater experience generally sucks. I only go to the small artsy restored theatres if possible.

     

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    Bernard Swiss, Dec 2nd, 2006 @ 12:03am

    The trouble is, theatres are abusing their custome

    ... instead of getting together and negotiating sustainable deals with the studios. Yes, the theatre only makes costs (if they're lucky) over the first 3 or 4 week of a new release. The real kicker is that the studios make far more from the DVDs -- they see the theatrical release as part of the advertising campaign.

    But the theatres are making it even worse than it needs to be. For example; because my friends couldn't wait, we went to see the new James Bond flick at a nearby cinema-plex. We arrived a half-hour before the stated show-time, then while half of us parked our butts -- thereby barely managing to get decent seats -- the other half bought our ration of severely overpriced junk-food. Then, 10 or 15 minutes before show-time, the lights went down, and the commercials started (well... lots were trailers, actually, and that was OK; can't really complain about that. Thats arguably even a useful service.) And then a little before showtime (7pm, as posted on the signs, newspaper adverts, etc) the commercials went into high gear. And then some more commercials. And then even more commercials. Then finally, a good 30 minutes late (ie. 7:30), the movie actually started. (I hear that in France, newspapers compete in part by informing the public what time the movies really start).

    Now, I understand that the theatre wants to make some money, or at any rate defray their expenses while demand is high. But they're doing it at my expense -- and in fact, the extra time taken up by going to the cinema, allied with the captive-audience commercial bombardment, only worsens amount of agravation involved. I'm begining to feel that the limitations of a quite modest "home entertainment center" are a small price to pay for avoiding "The Big-Screen Experience".

     

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    ayhana, Feb 28th, 2007 @ 4:54pm

    Re: Non-Theater Goer

    I agree with you, and I don't like it either!
    ayhana:)

     

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    Mr MovieMan, Mar 7th, 2007 @ 5:16pm

    All of you complain about prices but take a look at the bottom line of theatre chains you see a 20-25% profit margin in a good year. None of you factor in the total price of running a movie theatre, instead you factor just what you see.

    Try
    Box office receipts split in half with half going to the studios
    Rent
    Labor
    Food cost
    Shipping
    Security
    Taxes (local, federal)
    Maintenance (try maintaining a venue that in visited by tens of thousands a year)
    Electricity
    Janitorial

    That is not counting any capital improvements that they may want to make.

    Day and date movie releases on DVD and theaters would kill the theater business an American industry for the last hundred years, radical change movies forever (why spend on special effects or pioneer sound if you are going to watch your movie in a 100 square foot room on a 40 TV.)

     

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    Hal Diggs, Mar 9th, 2007 @ 12:58pm

    I have to agree

    with the movies theatre owners. I also agree with those that are mentioning the turkeys with the cell phones. What about the 12 year old that gets bored and starts playing games on their backlit cell phone! I just want to choke'em.

    Personally I like that I can see a movie for less than half the price it costs to buy it. Not only that, I get to see it on the biggest screen possible. Who wants to have 400 DVD's around all the time. Sure I collect a few but jeez, why not enjoy the whole flow of the entertainment industry. I love taking the family to the theatre.

     

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    jacob olson, Mar 10th, 2007 @ 2:05pm

    kgg;gglfjgfjhgdgfd

    hlglf;hl;gglmmbglgl;l;glml;glfg;gfl;glglghl;l;lghl;hl;lghllgffkfkglfglkglfgklgkbngfklkg;fdgfpdglfgh

     

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    Gonnosuke, Apr 25th, 2007 @ 2:15am

    I disagree with the TechDirt editorial and wholeheartedly agree with those that think same day release would only serve to accelerate the demise of movie theatres. I see no advantage or benefit to the theatre operator -- none, zero, nada.

    From the customer perspective, there would be short term benefits; more choices, more options is always a plus for the customer. Those benefits are only temporary though -- as movie theatres go out of business and the multiplex cinemas go the way of the drive-in, customers will end up having less options. The simple fact of the matter is that there will be no more movie theatres if the business of theatres is not viable.

    It's clear to me after reading these threads that there's SO MUCH hostility towards the "movie experience" that I can't help but feel the demise of theatres is inevitable. In the public conciousness, the perception is that movie theatres are filled with nothing but crying babies, annoying cell phone users, idle chatters and laser pen wielding teenagers. These horror stories are so pervasive and so often repeated that I can't help but suspect that customer dissatisfaction has turned them into urban legend. Sure, I've had bad experiences at the movies -- some of the very ones I just listed -- but they are the exception rather than the rule.

    I work in IT (like many others who frequent TechDirt) and this whole backlash against movie theatres reminds me a little of the Microsoft backlash. At some point, the hostility towards Microsoft became so prevalent that it almost became hip to hate them. I knew Microsoft was in serious trouble the day I overheard two co-workers with absolutely zero technical skills/knowledge talking about the evils of Microsoft. They were essentially just repeating (mangling might be a better word) all of the negative things that they heard someone else saying about Microsoft. These were the kind of end users who say things like "I went to The Google last night..." and yet there they were, doing there best to imitate a couple of angry Slashdot veterans. The tone of the conversation was such that if Steve Ballmer had suddenly appeared in the room, I would have been witness to the birth of a lynch mob (minus the pitch forks and torches...damn OSHA to hell).

    That last paragraph was sinfully off topic but what I was trying to convey is that I don't believe there's anything that can save the theatre business because there's just too much bad blood between them and their customers. Releasing DVD's concurrently would be like replacing the coffin maker's hammer with a nail gun...

    -Gonnosuke

     

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    Jesse, Apr 25th, 2007 @ 12:58pm

    theater experience

    I used to be a fairly heavy theater user, but have only been to one a handful of times in the past 5 years. When I do go, it is generally because the movie in question will have a much larger impact if it is on a big screen (ex. the Star Wars films).

    The reason I avoid them most of the time nowadays is:

    1) There are rarely people posted in the projection booth (or the ones there don't pay attention), so when a movie is too loud or off-kilter I have to go searching for someone to fix it.

    2) Ticket and food prices are too high for what you get. I don't mind paying the higher prices if I'm getting decent quality for my expenditure, but that is rarely the case.

    3) Theaters seem to have stopped cracking down on those who talk or use cell phones during the movie.

    4) Most chains won't show NC-17 or unrated movies. A lot of my favorite movies fall in that category.

    5) This is probably the biggest of them all - most chains are now showing COMMERCIALS before the movies. I don't pay to see commercials - I'm trying to get away from them. I don't like commercials - I mute them on my TV at home.

    Though I have always loved the general experience of going to see a movie, the five things above really ruin the experience. I have little sympathy for theater owners nowadays.

    - Jesse

     

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    JukeBox Hero, May 6th, 2007 @ 3:28pm

    My view on this....

    I've seen a lot of good points made,but i personally like to add my own view of this matter. The theater experience for me is not as bad as some you are having,and to tell the truth i don't really mind going,EXCEPT for the high cost of everything there.

    It's kind of absurd to charge what they charge for concessions,but after reading the former manager of cinemark's post,i can understand why they do it,even if i don't like it,hell they gotta eat too. What they(theaters) should do is band together and MAKE the studios give up more of the profits,so that they can afford to make the experience better by having more money to fund the improvements proposed.

    The studios need to consider this:WHEN they finally get done helping facillitate the demise of the theaters by being stingy with the profits,who will show the movies? There'll be no more big paydays like the big weekend for Spidey 3,because there'll be no more theaters to show their movies because the will have starved them to death. And for those thinking that they'll make just as much money as they did before off of DVD,BD,or HDVD sales...think again,as time progresses people are becoming more and more "morally ambiguous"which basically means that,more people are seeing downloading a movie for free,as basically harmless,not theft. And therein lies the a part of the problem...WHEN they release a feature,on DVD(esp the high def formats) there will be high def downloads of it within the first 2hrs(or less) of the initial release,people will not be paying for the movie,and will d'l it for free rationalizing that it's okay,as long as they delete it after they finish watching it. And if you read a little further into that,you'll see the COMPLETE death of the rental buisness,in ALL it's various formats. And companies that plan to rely on DRM to keep things nice and locked up,think again..u can use the old saying they have about locks:"they are only meant to keep honest people honest"people will tolerate a bad analog signal,and bad capture BECAUSE THEY HAVEN'T PAID FOR IT! so realistically speaking,they haven't lost anything for what they're getting. If the studios and distributors continue to be stingy with the profits,their short-sighted greed,will actually cause the entire glass house that is the movie"industry" to come crashing down....just as is happening with the music"industry"who's content is MUCH easier to pirate.
    As for the people who are having problems in the theaters with talking assholes,and little kids and such..My remedy is that i generally go to the LAST showing of any given feature i want to see,the main reason is that most of the trifling teens are usually home because of curfew issues,or if it's rated R there'll be no children allowed anyway. I rarely have problems with this,but when i have,i either talk directly to the person causing the disturbance,and ask them to quiet down,by reminding them that we all paid good money to see this so we shouldn't risk missing a part,for a conversation,or comment that can be made at a later time,or depending on the situation,simply saying DIRECTLY to them:"hey man,take that shit outside,I paid good money to get in here,and ain't gonna waste it on your conversation". If it's a small child,in a friendly manner i suggest that "we" watch the movie,that "we"don't want to disturb the other people in the movie,i whisper when i do this to reassure them that it's right type of voice you should use when you're in a theater. They usually agree with me because i'm an adult,and probably look like I'm as big as The Rock:P..Teens are a little trickier because most of them want to be cool,and be the badass that "stands up" to the adult,mostly because they think that there's nothing you can do to them,so i just ask them bluntly"can you please shut the fuck up,or take it outside?"they usually catch my drift and there's silence afterwards. But like I said,these experiences are VERY rare,but IF or when they occur,that is my remedy for them.Hope it helps:D

     

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    brady miller, Feb 27th, 2008 @ 2:57pm

    I work at a movie theatre and they dont make money from the screens they make money selling popcorn. its a rule that we have to try to upsale on popcorn and drinks, if we dont, we can get written up, and if we get written up, we are fired

     

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    David Bradley, Mar 17th, 2008 @ 7:42am

    Movie Goers Face Extinction

    Are movie goers a dying breed or is this the same situation we were in when TV first arrived and then VCRs? Is advancing multimedia entertainment technology set to ruin the movie theater industry, do movie goers face extinction? Or, is it just this generation’s equivalent of the disruptive technologies that were first television and then the VCR, which led to renewed interest in going to the movies? db

     

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    Joshua Howard, Mar 22nd, 2008 @ 1:38pm

    DVD's shouldn't be released immediately

    I think most people (except for those with lots of friends around the house who have very nice home theatres) would agree that there is an added social and epic value to seeing films in a theatre setting.

    To give a good illustration, most people would also agree that going to work regularly in some manner is beneficial for social and psychological good health. In spite of this, if people didn't feel that they needed to have jobs, they would more than likely stay home.

    Likewise, in the movie industry, people enjoy seeing films in theatres; but if new titles came out on DVD at the same time they showed on the big screen, a large number of people who might otherwise enjoy or even prefer a superior theatre experience would instead opt for the convenience and practicality of buying the DVD and watching it over lunch break on a laptop.

    I think that a logical compromise would be to permit the single sale of a DVD to anyone who pays for a ticket at the theatre first; though such a system would invarably open up another rather messy can of worms, namely piracy and how many unwaranted eyes would actually wind up viewing those sold DVD's.

    Overall, I like the system as it is; people don't want theatres to close, but they also want DVD's released right away; it's sort of similar to the way Americans want the low prices of cheap chinese goods sold at monopolizing retail giants, but also want to keep the value of the American dollar and economic class. You can't have both worlds, but since the consumer doesn't always understand this, it's usually best to sanction certain restraints for the general protection of our ways of life.

    Service Stations fell prey to the new age of Self-Service. Don't tell me that consumers don't like to be served when they pull up to the pump. Why don't they then? It's practicality; but when it comes to the entertainment industry, practicality shouldn't enter into the formula---because when I step into a theatre, my mind isn't on business or economics; it's focused on an American tradition and a work of art, and we shouldn't let that change.

    People who don't think that they should have to wait for anything are also the sort of people who would rush a museum tour for the sake of those who have business appointments afterward, entirely ruining the experience for everyone else.

     

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