Chinese Movie Industry Recognizes Movie Watching Is A Social Experience

from the at-least-someone-does... dept

Yesterday we noted that the MPAA and movie theater owners were whining about how much people coming in an taping movies was hurting their business. The obvious response, we pointed out, is to recognize that going to the movies is a social experience. It’s not just about the content (though, that is important), but the overall experience. If they improved that, then people would want to go — even if they could score the same movie off the internet or a cheap DVD bought off the street. While the folks in Hollywood refuse to entertain this idea, someone (anonymously) in the comments to that story pointed to an article in China noting that this is exactly what Chinese movie theaters have done. After years of declining attendance, they finally shaped up and made going to the movies cool again. They improved the overall experience, putting in better equipment and more comfortable seats. They improved the sound and the lighting as well. It sounds like they also made some theaters to be more like bars, to help attract young adults away from traditional bars. Yet the supposedly “creative” movie people in Hollywood insist “nothing can be done” to get people into the theater.

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Comments on “Chinese Movie Industry Recognizes Movie Watching Is A Social Experience”

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dorpus says:

Optimization Issue

If theaters were made more as a social atmosphere, as some “dinner theaters” in the USA have long experimented, then it will cause patrons to talk more, and maybe make out too. It hasn’t been too successful here. I think the article is referring to the fact that China is making movie theaters approaching US standards, compared to previous generations who had to sit on blocks of hay in subzero temperatures, because wow, a moving picture!!!

MobyBrain says:

Re: Optimization Issue

Social atmosphere? That’s going in precisely the wrong direction.
I’m from the era of the “roadshow” with reserved seats, state of the art presentation, and curtains– and no hyper-manic trailers and certainly no commercials. People dressed for the occasion which was one of elegance and decorum.
Cinema is not a social experience. It is a shared immersive experience, not a giant living room or bar.

Levi Wallach (user link) says:


Here in the DC area, there are several theaters that I know of that cater more to the experience of going to the movies rather than simply being the same old multiplexes with your standard concessions of crappy overpriced foods. In particular there are places that are combo theaters/restaurants which serve food during the movie, but they play second run films. There’s also places that are more oriented towards art films which have bars or cafes within them (Visions in DC, but I know of one in Baltimore and the Angelica in NYC are similar). Then of course there’s SilverDocs, which is AFI’s theater in Silver Spring, MD.

All of these are great places to go, but I think the problem is that the movie industry sees their big market as being those under 18, and these places aren’t geared to them. Of course if the movie industry and theater chains actually tried to put more of these adult-marketed theaters around, they might at least see a lot more 20+ year-olds going out on dates or even for married couples without kids.

beebels says:

theaters are always packed in taiwan...

despite the fact that there are cheap-as-dirt bootleg dvds on every street corner, and they are usually out before the movie opens. can’t really explain the phenomenon. theaters there are no-frills but a little cheaper than in the US. outside food is also allowed, so you get groups of people bringing dinner and beer in and making an evening of it. it isn’t any noisier than in U.S. theaters with their candy-wrapper-crinkling of wrappers and popcorn-crunching.

Anonymous Coward says:

Some more links

On topic: I wonder if someone will make money by rediscovering old-style movie palaces.

A search of the ChinaDaily site for “Flying Daggers” (aka the movie with the best
boxoffice earnings in China) showed a few other interesting articles
including one on

Warners Home Video’s efforts in an environment that
includes significant copyright infringement
Hint to these guys: subtitled and dubbed.

Another article
talks about the Chinese film industry.
The focus here is about foreign investment
and an overview of the industry.


B-Man says:

Can't take the rude folks either

I have an observation that hasn’t been mentioned. When I’m trying to be immersed in the cinematic experience there is always some group of miscreants having a party in the back row. How about the theaters get serious about ejecting these morons WITHOUT refunding their money. Until the atmosphere is conducive to an immersive experience, I’ll immerse myself in the quiet of my own home.

Richard says:


even with the high prices, people would go if they knew the theater owners/managment cared- by kicking the annoying people out. someone gave a great idea- return of the theater usher…keep ’em quiet or get ’em out. i went to see The Mist the other day, and someone brought his 3yr old in, who talked to the screen the entire time! it ruined my movie-going experience. i think assigned seats would really go well too, so you automatically know that you’ll have a seat with your friend/date, rather than scouring the theater or sitting in different places.
Most important on my list, though, is the noise control…if that could be handled better, i’d go to the movies way more often.

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