What A Concept: Make It Enjoyable To Go To The Movie Theater

from the good-news dept

For many years, plenty of folks have been trying to explain that it's not "piracy" that's a threat to the movie industry, but the fact that the movie-going experience sucks. The movie industry has always really provided a service, that of "entertaining people," and that has nothing to do with copyrights. If people want to enjoy a night out, they are more than willing to pay for the experience. Of course, rather than make the experience better, many in the movie industry have instead latched onto the "piracy" excuse to actually make the movie-going experience that much worse. They don't do a good job of policing troublemakers and they treat their customers like criminals to ward off this bogus "piracy" threat. In the end, that just makes it worse. If you know that you're going to be forced to hand over your cell phone because it has a camera in it before you go to the movies, you're less likely to bother. Luckily some theaters, mostly independent ones, have started figuring this out and worked to improve the movie going experience and actually provide positive incentives to get people to go out to theaters.

Alex Billington writes in to point out his own analysis of Mark Cuban's attempt to make going to the movies an enjoyable experience again. Cuban's turning the latest theaters in the Landmark theater chain he owns into places adults want to go. No noisy arcades filled with kids, but nice upscale bars and lounges. He's also offering the ability to include food and snacks (higher end snacks) in the price of the ticket itself to avoid viewers feeling gouged when they see that they're paying $6 for $0.10 worth of popcorn. Finally, he's making the viewing experience even better -- putting in more comfortable and unique seating, including couches and even bean bags. The idea is to make it more like the home theater that so many people now claim is a better experience -- but doing so in a way that most people are unable to do with a home theater (bigger screen, better sound system, etc.). With so many examples of entrepreneurs making the movie experience better, why is it that the big studios and big movie chains still insist this is impossible?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    tim stevens, May 9th, 2007 @ 4:47pm

    the movie "experience" still sucks in America

    Why it still sucks:

    1. Noisy children, screaming babies and their indulgent parents (don't negotiate with them, drag their squalling asses out of the theater!)
    2. Rowdy teens and other adolescents (mostly male, but the females are becoming a problem too)
    3. Nasty low class trashy people (you know the type: mouth breathing, poor hygiene, looking for a fight types who treat the movie theater as a playground for their illegitimate, uneducated brats).
    4. Arrogant cellphone users (someone please pour an overpriced soda over this douchebag's head)
    5. Commercials (I pay $10 for commercials but can rent it for $4 and its commercial free - thanks to fast forward).
    6. Gum, soda, popcorn in the seats
    7. Gum, soda, popcorn overpriced at the concession

    I could live with 5-7, but 1-4 (the human factor) makes the decision to avoid movie theaters a no brainer. People really do suck.

    No wonder torrents are so popular.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2007 @ 6:19pm

      Re: the movie "experience" still sucks in America

      Re, "Why it still sucks" by tim steven.

      Did you even read the article?

      And regarding "torrents", it must be nice being 13 years old again... or at least acting that way.

       

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    dorpus, May 9th, 2007 @ 5:13pm

    What's his problem?

    Movie theaters are still packed full of people on weekends, whichever part of America I've lived in -- including Silicon Valley. Hollywood continues to break attendance records. I don't know where this blog gets the impression that the movie theater industry is going downhill.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2007 @ 6:21pm

      Re: What's his problem?

      Wow dorpus! I guess you you live in the only city in America where MOVIES THAT DO NOT SUCK, get released all the time?

       

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      SailorRipley, May 11th, 2007 @ 8:59am

      Re: What's his problem?

      Then what is the movie industry bitching about piracy??? if movie theaters are still packed full of people, how could piracy be costing them movie theater-money? Unless there are hordes of people that used to pay for a ticket to not get in I'm not aware of

       

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      Monoto, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 1:57pm

      Re: What's his problem?

      It's not Techdirt claiming that the theater industry is dying, it's the MPAA whining that piracy is going to be its downfall.

       

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    RandomThoughts, May 9th, 2007 @ 5:23pm

    I agree that theaters need to improve their product, that is a fact.

    That being said, only an idiot would think that piracy doesn't cost the movie industry money.

    Oh, and most movie studios don't own the theaters.

     

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      TriZz, May 9th, 2007 @ 5:39pm

      Re:

      How do you think that piracy does cost the movie theater money?

      I don't know about you, but I've never downloaded a movie that I'd rather see in a theater. If it's a movie that I HAVE to see on a rather HUGE screen with an amazing sound system (Star Wars flicks for example) then I'll go the theater. Else, I wouldn't go anyway. I hate their communist prices. I hate the people that go. I hate going to a packed theater and having to sit in the very first row because, well because it's packed. If I can avoid the theater, I do. Essentially, they're not losing money because I wouldn't have gone in the first place.

      And I don't know anyone who's said "I really want to see this movie when it comes out!" and then went and downloaded it. Doesn't make sense.

       

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      Wizard Prang, May 10th, 2007 @ 6:18am

      Random indeed

      Oh, and most movie studios don't own the theaters.

      Nobody said they did... but see John the Manager's comment below.

       

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    acruxksa, May 9th, 2007 @ 5:56pm

    Hmmmmmm,
    Family of 5 $40 just for tickets, another $30 for junk food.

    New Release DVD $17.99, Dinner

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2007 @ 6:17pm

      Re:

      You can afford 3 kids, yet the cost of a few movie tickets is too expensive for you to fathom?

       

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        Wizard Prang, May 10th, 2007 @ 6:07am

        Another missed point

        He is not talking about expense.

        He is talking about value.

        The movie going experience is, for most of us, a poor value.

        I did not see a single movie in the theater in 2006. Does that mean I have six kids? No, it means that there was nothing that I felt that I had to watch in the theater.

         

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    htr, May 9th, 2007 @ 6:10pm

    Downloads don't hurt the movie companies

    Downloads don't hurt the movie companies. I used to download movies until i got warned by my service provider. I haven't downloaded a movie since(it's been 3 months).
    Did i go to the movies instead? No!
    I just watch TV. I went and saw the 300, which i would have watched in the movies anyways.
    Did they lose revenue because i downloaded movies? No!
    I don't go to the movies more often just because i stopped downloading.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2007 @ 7:23pm

      Re: Downloads don't hurt the movie companies

      You fully believe that you have the right to download a movie and say that the movie studio didn't lose money? Had you bought them and watched them at home that would have been one thing. You didn't pay to see the movie, but you still saw the movie....

       

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        hjc, May 9th, 2007 @ 9:28pm

        Re: Re: Downloads don't hurt the movie companies

        no, i didnt pay to see the movie, but if i didnt have the chance to get it for free, i would have never went to the movies to see it!
        By the way, if you let your buddy borrow your DVD for free, then is he a pirate? (he didnt pay for the movie and still saw it)

         

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        JDog, May 9th, 2007 @ 9:42pm

        Re: Re: Downloads don't hurt the movie companies

        If it's the difference between me downloading and watching the movie for free or not watching it at all, then the studio lost no money, and I cannot see how you could believe otherwise.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, May 10th, 2007 @ 2:37pm

        Re: Re: Downloads don't hurt the movie companies

        You can watch the movie on tv and go to the john during the commercials, you can check them out at the library, you can borrow them from a friend, you can download them off the net, you can pull them out of the dollar bin at the wal-mart, you can see them over the fence if your house backs up to a drive-inn. The point is there are a ton of ways to see a movie without paying 60 bucks to go to a theater with your partner, and the only movies that are going to make it in the theaters anymore are blockbusters. The movie companies can offer a product that is easily obtained and good quality or they can go the way of the dinosaur. The movie theaters can improve on the experience and offer creative alternatives or shut down.

         

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    n3rdkw, May 9th, 2007 @ 6:13pm

    I live right next to a movie theater and I go there A LOT. I do not however, notice popcorn/soda on the seats, rowdy teens hanging about, nor trashy idiots patrolling around. The theater employees are quite nice, or just normal, and no one asks you to turn over your cellphone before entering the theather (I Personally think that's bullshit).
    And I have seen at most 2 movies in which some idiot talked loud enough for me to hear, and no I am not hearing-impaired.
    I still don't get why this blog is noting the absolute opposite.
    And if the experience is SO unenjoyable, I don't think movies theaters would still be around.
    Well, I do live in San Diego...

     

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    Ajax 4Hire, May 9th, 2007 @ 6:16pm

    I am a frequent movie goer and from my experience.

    Yes, the teenagers are noisy/rowdy but they show up after 9:00pm, I go to the earlier showing for a discount (not much of a discount but it helps).

    I NEVER buy food in a theater.
    Last time I went (Saw Spiderman 3), I noticed a Coca-cola machine selling 20oz bottles for $3.50. wow, I mean WOW!
    Never buy food in a movie theater.
    Go out to eat later.

    I am not clear on how piracy of DVDs affect the movie going experience, explain to me again, how illegal downloads of movies affects my movie going experience?

     

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    Ajax 4Hire, May 9th, 2007 @ 6:24pm

    Pirated movies should make movie going better beca

    the pirates are typically the rowdy bunch. I know it is a sterotype but there is a reason behind the sterotype.

    I have to agree with "tim stevens";
    If theaters lowered the prices and kept the roar to a minimum, I would go to movies a lot more often.

    Its still the classic date: movie and a dinner (in that order).
    Go to the movie first then you have converstation for dinner.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2007 @ 6:30pm

    Blah, blah, blah. They are ALL over-paid, rich, spoiled little whining douche bags. May the MPAA and the rest of the whiners go bankrupt like the rest of the middle class. And then it will have come full circle, as it always does!!!!! And no I am not bankrupt, nor rich. Just tired of the same shit different day. Better experience, that's a funny!!!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 9th, 2007 @ 6:44pm

      Re:

      I get free movie tickets from work. I would rather download the movie and watch it in my living room than drive down to a theater and watch it. If I could buy it as a fresh release DVD or on-demand I would pay for it no problem. I later buy every movie I enjoyed that I downloaded and I have a collection of hundreds of DVD's to prove it. They sit in the foil, while the download sits on my media pc. I might be willing to try a dinner theater/movie experience, but that is not available in my area. I know I speak for a lot of people because I have helped dozens set up their own systems for the same reason. They also have a DVD in the foil collection, I dont know why I buy the DVD, it isnt guilt- I do like to own a bonafide piece of the media though. Go ahead, flame me until I am crispy but that is the way it is. I recently checked my collection and I own 5 different Star Wars collections and the last 2 I bought I didnt even open I just wanted the fancy container or box, but the avi is what I watch.

       

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    identicon
    Jackson, May 9th, 2007 @ 7:18pm

    Quality of movies.

    There are a few reasons why I hardly ever go on a movie date.

    1. The quality of movies coming out these days doesn't thrill me like in my college or school days in the 80's and early 90's. They are just not up to par.

    2. Some of the really good movies are never on the big screen, you need to get a DVD or download it.

    3. The inconsiderate losers who patronize the cinema make me run the other way. I used to get into arguments with boorish cellphone users, but I just got too sick and tired of it.

     

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    fiery, May 9th, 2007 @ 7:33pm

    It's Not The Product It's The People

    I stopped going to the theater a while back because of the inconsiderate people I that always seem to be near me. I still go to see movies that should be watched on the big screen like 300, but even then I had to threaten some kid with a cell.

     

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    David, May 9th, 2007 @ 7:54pm

    Ill tell ya, I would always much rather wait a bit for a movie to make it to the second run theater by my place where i pay $3 to get in and i can get a local microbrew and slice of hand made pizza, and let me tell you the beer is cheaper than the smallest sodas at the big theaters and they seem to be doing just fine.

     

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      Esahc (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 1:24pm

      Re:

      I went to a place like that in SLC and left wondering why more movie theaters did not do this. It was the greatest movie theater experience I'd ever had. I think the place was called Brewvies.

       

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    movie companies losing money?, May 9th, 2007 @ 8:42pm

    i dont download movies, except for maybe an independent film that is being offered free to download i hear about once in a blue moon. i dont go to the movies either, hardly any movies are worth seeing now days, and its so inconvenient.

    anyways, i would start sympathizing with movie companies once actors and others stop making millions and millions of dollars that i consider undeserved. some people complain about doctor bills which i agree are usually absurd, but they are much deserved profits than that of a fricking movie, so some person spent six months partaking in the movie...they really deserve 20-30 million dollars? give me a break, when i see ads showing keygrips complaining that their jobs are at stake because of piracy, just ask keanu to take a $10k cut so you can keep your job doing whatever it is you do to make $15+ an hour, i'll be at taco bell working a whole day just to take a girl on a cheap date, geez what a bunch of garbage, want to blame someone, blame the greedy...

     

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    WheelieBoy, May 9th, 2007 @ 9:21pm

    I HATE THE MOVIE THEATER EXPERIENCE!!!! My local theater, (across the street) has offered me free movie tickets for the last 5 years. I am in a wheelchair and because I can't use the stadium seating they offer me 2 tickets per visit. Over the years, my attendance has gone down. I am tired of getting kicked in the back by the people behind me. Tired of the guy talking on his cell phone. I had a guy texting on his phone all movie long, I couldn't get to him to ask him to stop because of the seating. As my home theater gets better, I find staying home is so much more enjoyable.

    What I want from a theater experience.
    1. A less expensive night.
    2. Dinner and a movie at the same location.
    3. More comfortable seats.
    4. The ability to pause and rewind the show. (TIVO Baby)
    5. I want the ability to watch a new release in my home, through a satellite or cable link. I would be willing to pay the same as a theater ticket, but I want it in my home where I can control my experience.

    That is not asking too much is it? And oh, they never lost money on me, if I liked a movie I had downloaded, I bought it.

     

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    John, May 10th, 2007 @ 2:43am

    I used to be a manager at AMC...

    I used to be a manager at AMC. You probably don't know this, but approx. 90% of the box office money goes right back to the movie studios; movie theaters make their money selling those overpriced drinks and hot-dogs! So now you know why it's such a rip off!!

     

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      emw, May 11th, 2007 @ 9:33am

      Re: I used to be a manager at AMC...

      I used to be a manager at AMC as well. It sucked! $10.50 an hour to be responsible for the entire building.

       

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    W.B. McNamara, May 10th, 2007 @ 6:24am

    McMenamins' Brewpub/Theaters

    The McMenamin brothers have operated a small chain of brewpub/restaurants in the Portland, OR area since the early 1980s, and waaaay back in 1987 they opened their first theater/pub -- good food and drinks (I still miss their Black Rabbit Porter and Hammerhead ale), comfortable environment, and movies.

    I left Portland about ten years ago, at which time the McMenamins had two or maybe three such theaters. Checking their Web site, I found that they have eight of them now...it appears that the idea has some merit.

     

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    KipEsquire, May 10th, 2007 @ 7:35am

    No "Right Way"?

    This all presupposes that there is indeed some "right way" to run a movie theater in the modern era.

    There is no "right way" to manufacture buggy whips. Or 8-track tapes or Polaroid cameras. The markets are simply dead.

    I see no viable "moviegoing experience" that could ever compete with my 40" plasma tv, surround-sound system, Netflix subscription / VOD, leather couch and refrigerator.

     

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    wtf, May 10th, 2007 @ 11:15am

    I go theater during week early around 3 to 4, and wait for hot movie blow over so when you go during week only be like 3 or 4 people like Monday I went to see the The Reaping, there were only 5 people including me so had best seat and no noise no teen no annoying wanna be bad ass adults.. only thing annoyed me was the damn Commercials.. The concession to expensive, limit varieties.. I live in nyc the loews in nyc had food chicken etc.. now that made concession interesting lol.
    yeah I prefer watching movie home, but sometime like getting out the house into theater because kill the bored and get to check out girl asses and wife is not around lol

     

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    htr, May 10th, 2007 @ 6:08pm

    Wtf is kind of right.
    I personally only go to the movies if something really good action/sci-fi movie comes out. You can't reproduce the surround sound a movie theater has at home. But other than a couple of movies a year (3-4) it's not worth it. There too many cons that overweight(high prices,ignorant people, time and gas wasted going back and forth) the pros(sound/picture).

     

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    Movies Theaters Piss Me Off, May 10th, 2007 @ 7:11pm

    I almost exclusively download movies now due to the horrible movie experience provided at local theaters [one chain now owns them all].

    Paying $30+ dollars for two people to "enjoy" a movie where people constantly talk [if I return to theaters I will end up in a fight I'm almost certain], I feel violated paying for pop corn and a drink [a cup of yogurt = $10]

    Movie going experience = worst value for my dollar I can think of. Why theaters don't hear their customers on this boggles my mind

     

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    darkbhudda, May 11th, 2007 @ 12:19am

    I used to go every week, but gave up last year. I was tired of my seat getting kicked (they need more non-kickable seats), young people talking, pensioners talking (they are just as bad but they go to different movies than the younguns), cell phones, the sound not working, the picture out of focus or slipping, babies crying during horror movies. Even waiting a few weeks into theatrical release didn't help. Straight after work used to be a good session to go to, but even they have gotten bad.

    Now if I'm in the mood for a movie I will go to a Bollywood movie. There are so few patrons there that it is a guaranteed good time. Plus 3 or more hours of entertainment for the same price.

    So from 50 movies a year, I might now only see one.

    The Gold Class cinemas, twice the price but for large reclining seats, limited patrons, food service, and a far better experience are booked out most of the time and are difficult for me to get to. Now if they had one nearby I would be going to the movies at least 20 times a year again.

     

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    jek, May 18th, 2007 @ 6:07pm

    worst comivie theater

    “This place has the worst customer service ever! with so many theaters to go in NY why bother with this dump! Employees are rude, management doesn't handle things well, when asked for corporate number manager had the nerve to tell me that complaints were gonna get back to him anyways so why bother. I will never spend my money with AMC ever again and will pass the word around!”

     

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    dona, May 18th, 2007 @ 6:10pm

    look how fast they work????

    “I once watched a worker there take 5 minutes to get a bottle of water out of the fridge behind them. It's actually faster to just jump the counter and do it yourself.”                                  

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2009 @ 1:54pm

    Anonymous Coward is a whining little bitch...

     

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