by Brett

Megaplexes Still Struggling To Recapture Faded Glory

from the need-another-better-mousetrap dept

If megaplexes were indeed a "better mousetrap" that goosed movie industry profits, as AMC's chief Peter Brown says in an AP story, then it's time to build another better one. On the occasion of the megaplex's 10-year anniversary (has it really only been that long?), the AP story tries to explain how the supersized movie houses started out so strong and are now coping with declining attendance and plummeting profits. Here the theaters are portrayed largely as victims of their own success. For example, whereas they originally boosted revenues with their ability to attract huge crowds, what they've really done is exhaust most of the potential audience in the first few weeks of a release. So the studio pulls the film from circulation and leaves some money on the table. This analysis is mixed with other typical reasons for their problems, such as competition from DVDs. What gets little attention is the inability of theater operators to fully understand the nature of moviegoing. Rather than recognize that the theater experience is really a social experience, they treat cinemas mostly as big airplanes where the public is herded in and out for a couple hours at a time. Theaters in China have caught on, making their venues more comfortable and conducive to socializing. Some chains are starting to create luxury theaters -- for a slight premium you get a much cushier experience. Why don't more theaters experiment with these ideas, or others, to make the overall experience more appealing? Probably because it's much easier to blame people who tape movies in theaters.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Chris, May 19th, 2005 @ 7:46pm

    No Subject Given

    I'm sure the $10 it costs for a soda and bag of popcorn has nothing to so with decline.

    I actually prefer watching in my basement - my sound system is much better than any theater. And for $10, and I can put a 12 pack in a cooler by the couch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Joe Badermderm, May 19th, 2005 @ 8:52pm

    No Subject Given

    What about all the cinemas (excluding Century) that play half an hour of ads before the movie starts? You can get that experience at home too. I've forsaken going to the movies for going to the mailbox to get my latest Netflix arrival. Much, much cheaper. And with pause. And no one on a cell phone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2005 @ 12:28am

    No Subject Given

    I can't agree more with Chris and Joe: the Home Theatre experience is even now way more fun than the Theatre Experience.

    And it's more social, too! Chris has his beer, they both have better prices, and really, too, they can invite a gang over and sit where they want.

    I want to be Joe and Chris.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    eeyore, May 20th, 2005 @ 4:44am

    No Subject Given

    I miss the theater pubs they had in Florida. They had comfortable swivel chairs and waitresses to bring you beer and you could order pizza and chinese food while you watched the movies. And since they were usually second-run movies admission was only a buck or two. Some movies needed a pitcher of beer to be truly enjoyable anyway, like "Dune."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Freed, May 20th, 2005 @ 5:15am

    No Subject Given

    Hey! The megaplex at the beginning of the article is the one right near my house. Cool!

    Seriously though, I almost never go there. My two favorites are a locally owned 18-plex with GREAT sound systems, and a little 4-plex that has $2.50 shows of stuff that isn't on the marquee anymore at the AMC's. Both are several times the distance farther from my house than the AMC listed in the article. Going to the AMC just feels like rolling down an assembly line.

    I used to work at a theatre (minimum wage cashier, first steady job after I got my Business degree) and I guess I just like the Movie theatre experience. In fact, for lots of big new releases, the $2.50 theater doesn't get until after it comes out on Video. I'll still go there even though it costs a little more than renting because I like the experience of going out to see a movie, and my wife won't let me make popcorn with coconut oil at home (damn).

    By the way, despite what the Megaplexes tell you, the old ways can be profitable, they just don't make money hand over fist like the big theatres can with a multi-blockbuster summer. Case in point -- one of the best movie theatres in the country:

    I've got an 80" projection screen at home myself, and I still prefer going out for movies. I mostly just play games on the big screen.

    - Freed

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Jeff, May 20th, 2005 @ 7:16am

    Too many theaters now

    There are just way too many theaters out there now. Like everyone else said, I hate the commercials. But I do like previews for upcoming movies. I do like the balcony seating. I hate the prices for snacks and refreshments. Thats why I sneak my own in. I hate the cell phones in movies. I hate people talking in movies. And please leave your babies at home! I've got twin 2 year olds. We didn't bring them to the movie as babies.

    I prefer to go to a renovated theater which does dinner before the movie. Giant screen. Cushioned seats. Table to eat at. Saw all 3 of the LOTR movies there and I plan to see SW 3 there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    thecaptain, May 20th, 2005 @ 8:44am

    No Subject Given

    While its all well and good for them to try and make the "movie experience" more comfortable and more won't be enough...

    Here's a hint for theaters:

    1 - Prices: Why the heck do I want to pay 14 dollars (that's right, 14bucks) for a movie when I can buy it for 22 dollars a few months later (if that) and watch it comfortably and sociably (with my friends who I KNOW won't behave like asses..more on that below) on my home theater system? Why should I pay 15 dollars for a large coke and a bag of popcorn and perhaps that mini chocolate bar you get with that "super-deal package" (actual name of one special) when it costs me a heck of a lot less to get the same thing elsewhere? A markup is fine...but that's insane...I predict in 10 years you'll be offering financing on those snacks.

    2 - Atmosphere: Simple. Stop being afraid to reign in the jackasses and teen gangs. Nothing's worse than going to see a movie with idiots who think a laser pointer is funny or who absolutely HAS to call his buddies during the movie...not once has any staff EVER been willing to even speak to anyone unless they open an exit door and trigger an alarm (and even THEN, they simply asked them not to do it again, to the kids' laughter).

    3 - Value value value: Find ways to profit other than gouging, merchandise is fine, a wider selection of food? Great..some theaters do this already and its great. Premium screenings? Awesome if you don't allow the kiddies in? I'll pay the 14 bucks I pay now to see a movie.

    Its too much to hope anyone who WOULD benefit from these hints will read this...but a guy's gotta try.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Donald Jessop, May 20th, 2005 @ 8:47am

    Some theatres get it...

    Just went to Revenge of the Sith last night at the local megaplex. Famous Players Silver City at West Edmonton Mall. These guys get it.

    Within Silver City is a Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Starbucks Coffee, a bar, arcade games for the kids and a fire breathing dragon that shoots flame every 20 - 30 minutes. When you go to a show at Silver City you are entertained from the moment you enter to the moment you leave. They've made it as simple as possible to buy tickets (12 automated "tellers" + over the web purchases) and as easy as possible to spend time within their environment, with your friends.

    It does take a lot of space, a lot of people and a lot of money to set up the environment, but they do very well. To be honest, as good as home theater systems become, nothing beats the social experience of attending a good movie with good friends.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Ivan Sick, May 20th, 2005 @ 10:35am

    The social experience of going out to the movies.

    1. cell phones
    2. "Aw, HELL nnnaww! HELL naw! [laughter]"(repeat x ~10 people x ~3-8 dialogue lines/actions)
    3. at least one lit cigarette or joint
    4. people repeating lines after they're said one to two times
    5. In general, ~10-25% of the audience can't just BE QUIET and WATCH the damn movie.
    Paying $10 for this? No thanks.
    This behavior used to be common only at theaters in the ghetto (where I lived then and still do) but it has spread to fancier "upscale" places in hip rich neighborhoods (where my boss likes to go when we "hang out")
    I don't go to the movies any more. It's a shame but it just ain't worth it

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Gowron, Mar 28th, 2007 @ 2:09pm

    mop the washroom

    There is nothing more disgusting than the urine stains infront of front of stalls. And the smells. When I worked for Chinook Cineplex (simiilar to the above post about the dragon fire breathing dragon, except ours is a malfunctioning King tut head that shoots lazers about). Anyways, with 20 K people that place stinks to high heavens. I try to mop it, but the stoners I work with don't. now the cines are going to smell like well piss. Like what is fun about standing in someone or 20 thousand peoples' piss stains, complete with pubic hairs! dammit! a 5 min mop down does the trick.

    Also with the teenagers, what the hell is fun with being in a cine full of smelly greasy teenagers that throw pop corn everywhere.

    Burger king (like the West Edmonton Mall), we have a Burger king. the stoners just stood there and laughed at each other, argued with each other. and the burger was cold!

    I'm bit torrenting my movies from now on!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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