by Mike Masnick

Young Men Avoiding Movie Theaters

from the uh-oh dept

The trouble the movie industry is having in attracting people to the actual theater isn't new. Many people have been saying that they just don't like going to the movies any more, and there are three pretty clear reasons: (1) The movies themselves don't seem compelling. (2) The movie-going experience (price, sticky floors, tons of commercials, screaming babies, ringing phones) just isn't that appealing and (3) there are so many alternatives for our entertainment dollars, from DVDs to video games to TV recorded on DVRs to the internet, that going to the movies just doesn't have the same draw. In a normal industry, of course, people would look at these changing conditions and try to deal with it. In fact, a few in the movie industry seem to be getting it, admitting they need to improve the quality and even improving the experience of going to the theater. However, these moves still appear to be on the margins, while the core of the industry does nothing but point fingers. Well, the longer they point fingers, the more people they're going to lose. Going even deeper than earlier surveys, a new report, sent in by alex, finds that even more than any other demographic, the always important "young male" demo are increasingly avoiding movie theaters, preferring to watch DVDs at home or play video games instead. Of course, there are some (outside of the young male group) who might say that the fewer young males there are at the theater, the better the experience will be for others...

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  1. identicon
    a young male, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 12:42pm

    the problem with theaters

    The sticky stuff on the floor is incredibly difficult to clean off my raincoat

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

  2. identicon
    another young male, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 12:45pm

    Re: the problem with theaters

    Yes, I tend to stick to DVDs. *ba dum pum*

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

  3. identicon
    Ned, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 1:21pm


    For me the real downer to movies is simply the cost. . . 7$ per person, plus cost for optional items like popcorn, soda etc. . . A 2 liter bottle of coke from the corner stora is around 1$ where the cost of a small soda at the theater is around $2-3.

    Oh, not to mention the lack of movie selection.

    For the cost of one person going to the theatre, I can rent several movies, make my own popcorn, and entertain as many guests as I like . . not to mention the ability to pause, rewind, and fast forward.

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

  4. identicon
    Tony K, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 1:35pm


    You would think that the movie industry would take the cue from the recording industry, and look at internal problems, such as quality, and value before trying to blame everyone and everything else.
    The homogenized pablum coming out of all elements of the entertainment industry is leading it right down the drain. As the corporations get larger, they get further away from their core, putting them out of touch with mainstream America, thereby driving people to alternate forms of entertainment. I personally find myslef at the library more than ever.

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

  5. identicon
    Chris, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 1:46pm

    No Subject Given

    Not that anyone really cares, least of all the movie studios and theaters, but I don't go because:

    1. A half hour of boring commercials before the movie.
    2. $8 a ticket is absurd.
    3. Dirty theaters without enough leg room, and I'm only 6ft.
    4. People coming in 45 minutes after showtime because they know there is a half hour of movies before.
    5. Horrible movies.

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

  6. identicon
    kow, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 1:52pm

    No Subject Given

    Movies suck lately
    The price is absurd
    The patrons are unruly
    I've seen 3 movies at the theatre in the last several years and the all started with Star Wars.


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

  7. identicon
    Just Me, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 1:56pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    [6] Being treated like a potential criminal when the movie is over. There were two (2) drones waiting outside Serenity to make sure we didn't jump to watch another crappy movie.

    Aside from that movie, the only other thing I'm going to see this year is the new Lion Witch and the Wardrobe because the CGI looks awesome.

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

  8. identicon
    Joe Schmoe, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 1:57pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    I've seen 3 movies at the theatre in the last several years and the all started with Star Wars.
    No wonder you're bitter

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

  9. identicon
    ch, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 2:06pm

    No Subject Given

    the one and only thing that makes me think twice before going to the movies is the half of the audience that is so immature they need to ruin the movie with comments and laughing at the wrong times. when a pack of retarded hynenas start whooping it up right at the beginning of a horror movie, I usually leave and don't go back to that theatre.

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

  10. identicon
    Adam, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 2:29pm

    Young male demographic avoiding the theaters

    Just to add this to what has already been said. Less young males (the key demographic here) leads to less young females and small children too. If less young single men enjoy the movie going experience, they are likely to stay away from it as a "date" option. Going to the movies on a date is so cliche anyway and it doesn't leave room to talk and get to know each other (**slap**...sorry that was the female in me taking over, though it's true). On the other side of the coin, young males with families are less likely to take their children to the theater. Since young children typically belong to younger parents, their fathers would be the ones falling in this demographic and causing them to miss the theater experience.

    This leaves young women and old people, which together don't make a good movie audience mix. Young women are the ones you see answering their phones at the theater. Also, in groups young women can be quite annoying, because you know they can't keep their mouths shut for and hour and a half straight. All of these qualities are sure to upset the older couples who just want to sit their and enjoy the movie like they have in the past.

    With the decline in ticket sales, movie theaters do need to push the movie-going experience. I've seen some places try it. I've seen theaters with cheap admission and elaborate menus, making their primary profit off of the dinner experience rather than charging $10 for a tub of popcorn. I've also seen movie theaters adapt a bar atmosphere, their primary profit is based off of the drinks rather than the ticket price. The problem I've seen with these types of places is that they are forced to show movies that are older. Most have never had a movie the first week it was released, actually most had never shown a movie that was still in (movie-only)theaters.

    I don't know the little things about the theater business, but I can imagine that it comes from the Production companies. I imagine that the production companies wants the theater to charge a certain price per ticket when new films come out. Either that or the cost to have new movies at a theater is too expensive for these places who primary source of profit doesn't come from ticket sales. These theories lead me to think that the responsibility lies with the production companies. If they are going to require such high amounts to show a movie then they have to make movies that people want to see.

    A good example of that is Project Greenlight. I watched it when it first appeared on basic cable earlier this year. I didn't make it past the first episode where the picked the script. The impressions I got from everyone involved is that it was between 2 scripts one was a good story and the other one was more profitable. Though everyone got to give their input, the production company got the final say in which movie got made, because they were paying for production costs. I haven't heard anything about the movie since. I have heard that other project greenlight movies failed....I wonder why?

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

  11. identicon
    Luke, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 2:54pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    That never happens here. I've been to a few movies in the last little while, and I have NEVER EVER had kids be annoying. Ditto with the cellphones, never happened.

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

  12. identicon
    fantababy, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 3:04pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    There is nothing wrong in watching original DVD's. But Piracy should not be allowed.

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

  13. identicon
    James, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 3:07pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    I agree, I am going to watch Narnia: The Lian, The Witch and The Wardrobe on december 9th when it comes out. I loved it when I was younger and I am curious to see how it gets butchered or bettered.

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

  14. identicon
    James, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 3:43pm


    I am 18 and I go to the movies once a week. I never have a problem with sticky floor or noisy kids. The staff at the theater is really nice (infact I have befriended most). The only drawback I even see with the movies would be the 2.75 for a drink and the 2.50 for hottamallies.

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

  15. identicon
    Rick, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 5:53pm

    Infants in the movies

    Movies are not the same... Much of the fun when going to the movies is the reaction from the audience when there is something scary or exciting on the big screen.
    Unfortunately when I went to see "The Ring" the reaction from one member in the audience made for a disappointing evening.
    It was not long after the movie started that an infant started to cry. Who brought their baby to see the Ring?! It was not the crying that bug me so much as to who would subject a baby to such violence and why did the ticket seller let the mother take her baby to see this move? PG13 is not 13 months so I was a bit upset about the whole thing. Needles to say the baby cried off and on through out the whole movie.
    I would hope the ticket seller would be more careful who they sell tickets to.

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

  16. identicon
    Iridium, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 6:17pm

    Re: Movies

    Average movie price in Los Angles area is between $9 and $11 per Adult (12 years and older)

    The popcorn is $4 for small and up to $12 for "jumbo".

    Drinks tend to run $3.75 for "Jr size", up to $9 for a cup.

    The theaters will not let you enter past 15 minutes after the "showing" time, but the abundant amount of commercials are sometimes over after 45 minutes - it was noted in a study a few years back, that most people become extremely uncomfortable after sitting for 90 minutes - and several resources advise to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes.....and with a 110 film and 50 minutes of previews, thatís a lot of aching after that movie.

    My point is that if movie houses want more attendees, they can keep the admittance prices as high as they currently are (or more), but severely cut the cost of the beverages and condiments to something more REALISTIC. And if you want to show commercials for other items prior to showing the movie, turn up the lights and show your commercials in place of the standard PSA "slide shows" you normally run during that time -- donít say the movie starts at "X time", when really it starts at "X time, plus 50 minutes".

    I wonít even go into the outrageous cost of parking some of these movie theaters in Universal City or Hollywood charge...

    I visit the movies about once a month -- a $50 trip for 2 to the movies has become average in my budget, but now that these flicks are being released on DVD within 3 months of their big-screen debuts, I think a membership to Blockbuster-Video and desert for two (under $10) looks more appealing on my wages.

    22 Year old movie-goer.

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

  17. identicon
    Jason, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 8:01pm

    No Subject Given

    Locally, our theatergoing experience in general, excluding price, is pretty good, the theaters are clean, treat you like people and the crowd is not obnoxious nor loud, and the commercials that i've been to have run in the 15-20 mins range. But i find 9.50 for an evening showing, 7 dollars for a matinee absolutely absurd, not to mention the 4 dollars for a soda, 3 dollars for a candy bar and the like. I'd rather wait for the thing to get to the rental store and pay .99 for a DVD rental for an evening, and/or buy the thing for $15. when the cost of going to the theater and getting a soda for one is roughly the price of purchasing the thing, it shows that they're pricing themselves out of their market.

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

  18. identicon
    Movie Fan, Oct 11th, 2005 @ 10:34pm

    Nothing that interesting

    My wife and I subscribe to Netflix. We get to watch great movies, and if we happen to get one that is crappy, well, at least the only thing we are out is a little bit of time. In our opinion, most movies don't need to be watched on the big screen. Some action flix, or flix with really good special effects can be enhanced on the big screen - but those are few. War of the Worlds and Sin City are two that had great action and special effects. They were movies that featured something that just can't be duplicated on the TV. Walace and Gromit brings excellent animation to the table, and is one that got my movie $$ because it will loose something when I watch it on my TV at home.

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

  19. identicon
    Bob, Oct 12th, 2005 @ 12:05am


    That's the year wiki says film was invented, give or take. Nearly 150 years of film.

    Could it be the technology or form of entertainment is getting old?

    I'm sure Hollywood will figure out a way to beat one more out of this dead horse.

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

  20. identicon
    janeway, Oct 12th, 2005 @ 3:11am


    I don't know how it is in the US but in Australia as well as in the Netherlands they've been turning up the sound louder and louder. I now no longer go because of ringing ears.

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

  21. identicon
    satoshi, Oct 12th, 2005 @ 8:23am

    Re: Infants in the movies

    As an employee at a movie theater, I have to disagree with you. It is not the employee's responsibility to tell the parent which of their children they can and cannot bring to the theater. If the parent wants their 13 month old child to see a PG13 movie, so be it. Just the same as if a parent accompanies their 12 year old child to an R rated movie. As long as the parent is there, there is nothing bad going on.
    However, there is a problem (on the theater's part) in your situation. I bet they didn't have any ushers or other such employees check the theater to make sure everything was alright. If an employee at my theater had caught the women with the child screaming, we would have kindly asked her to take the child outside because it was disrupting the movie. If she refused, we'd get a manager in there to take care of it.
    Again, the ticket seller is only responsible for not selling tickets to PG13 and higher movies to kids under 13 that don't have supervision as well as not selling tickets to an R rated film unless the person is over 17 or has someone that is at least 21 years of age supervising them. And even if they screw up, the ticket taker should catch this too. At least, that's how it is at my theater. I can't speak for any other theaters.

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

  22. identicon
    Bob, Oct 12th, 2005 @ 11:29am

    Re: Infants in the movies

    So what you're really saying is that the theatre's sole responsibility is to sell it's tickets. After it sells you the ticket, you're on your own. House rules are nothing but toothless 'recommendations', rather than being actual rules enforced by staff.

    I'm afraid I must disagree with you. It IS the theatre's responsibility to enforce 'Rules of the House'. While they used to long ago, the reason they no longer do so today is the constant threat of an age discrimination suit, or any other suit brought for silly reasons. Theaters make absolutely no money off the film itself (100% of theater revenue today comes from concession sales), so they can ill afford to be the target of a lawsuit, and a public one at that. So a fine line must be tiptoed to please everyone.

    Unfortunately with this policy they please no one, which is apparent today with declining movie ticket sales.

    I'd like to see a return of STRICT enforcement of house rules. No mother should be admitted with an infant to any movie. Period. In my city a vintage theatre exists that does exactly this, with ushers, and the crowd is well behaved, silent, and courteous throughout the feature. It also turns a tidy profit and shows are nearly always sold out.

    So yes it can indeed be done.

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

  23. identicon
    Andrew, Oct 19th, 2005 @ 11:18am

    Re: No Subject Given

    I have to say that for me i havent had any problems with noisy kids and/or exspensive tickets i buy them online then go in you can get them for the childrens price at $5-5.50. but the drink and popcorn prices are insane. a small size is 3 dollars and a small popcorn is 4.

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

  24. identicon
    MindTrigger, Oct 25th, 2005 @ 8:15am

    No Thanks

    I really only go to the theater for *some* huge blockbusters. Most movies aren't worth the trip. Increasingly I have found myself rating movies like this:

    I'd go see that at the theater.

    I'd buy that DVD.

    I'd rent that DVD.

    I'd rather disembowel myself than see that movie.

    Most movies these days land in the "rent" or "disembowel" categories. Only a few blockbusters were worth actually going to the movies and spending the time and money. I saw the Star Wars flicks, LOTR, and very few others.

    I'd also like to point out that the sound systems in most theaters SUCK. I don't care if they are using THX, they can't touch the sound of my home theater system, and I didn't spend a fortune on it. I've been to a lot of high-end theaters, and NONE of them have impressed me. There is no excuse for crappy sound.

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

  25. identicon
    chase, Nov 3rd, 2005 @ 4:26pm

    Re: No Thanks


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

  26. identicon
    Starla, Aug 17th, 2006 @ 5:12am

    Quality and demographics

    The whole dilemma also highlights the movie industry's over-reliance on a certain demographic -- the demographic, ironically, most likely to download a movie off the internet. Older audiences are less price conscience (well, maybe; I saw a 45+ year old couple buy two juvenile tickets for themselves recently and my parents are notoriously and ridiculously thrifty), but are probably even less tolerant of inferior viewing conditions or poor movie quality than the younger market. The assumption that only market that matters is young people, specifically young men, and that this market will watch anything in any environment has gotten the industry to this impasse -- and it's a little late in the game to start extricating themselves.

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

  27. identicon
    Dug, Aug 17th, 2006 @ 10:39am

    Since this post has be resurrected via another Techdirt article, I thought I'd throw in my 2c.

    My wife and I completely stopped going to the theatre because of all the reasons listed above, but have found that the ICE ( ) is where it's at.

    The staff is usually really helpful, and the price is slightly less than that of normal theatres. They have plenty of screens, comfortable seats, leg room, and all the latest movies, and it's usually not crowded at all. When it is crowded, the folks are usually a LOT more quiet than other theatres too, especially those with kids (the kids usually get smacked and shut the hell up).

    The reason it's hardly ever crowded is that it's in what some folks might consider shady parts of town, but anytime we go to the movies... this is the only place we go.

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

  28. identicon
    Spikyface, Aug 18th, 2006 @ 4:53am


    Here in London, ticket prices are ludicrous (£8 or so), screens are tiny and the queues are a minimum of 30 minutes

    It's just not worth going to the cinema here

    In Birmingham (where I'm from), you have Star City which has 30 huge screens, good seats and the prices are roughly the same, that's the only cinema I actually go to nowadays

    Annoying people in cinemas is always a problem, if it's kids that are ignoring the movie and talking/pissing about I usually shout at them to shut the hell up cos nothing short of fear seems to work on them

    I have never been in a cinema where the ushers have actually been in the audience and ejected people for being noisy, I've always had to go outside and ask them to do this

    I have worked in a cinema too so I know the reason for this is because the staff are supposed to be working, not watching films for free

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

  29. identicon
    Drew Brodnax, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 12:00pm

    Why can't we buy a beer at the movies?

    This is America for god sakes. Why can I not buy a beer in the movie theater? This is the 21st century.

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

  30. identicon
    baylie jay digesualdo, Oct 23rd, 2007 @ 7:30am


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

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