Culture

by Carlo Longino




European Movie Theaters Say They're So Bad That They Can't Compete Without Exclusivity

from the foot-stuck-to-the-floor dept

The debate over windowed movie releases -- releasing to theaters on one date, then video on demand later, then DVDs later and so on -- has been going on for some time. Despite the advantages and opportunities simultaneous releases would create, theater owners condemn the idea, basically because they can't provide a movie-going experience that can compete with watching movies on DVD at home. The debate is kicking off in Europe again, where some theater chains in Germany and the UK are refusing to show a major-studio film because it will be released on DVD "just" 13 weeks after it's out in theaters. Theater owners say such a short window will keep people out of their theaters, and they need a long period of exclusivity to ensure they'll sell some tickets -- a pretty clear admission that they're doing such a poor job of giving customers a good experience that they can't compete any other way. The German movie-theater association says that with a release window of less than four months, its members starts losing customers. Their theaters must be pretty awful if they'll drive people to wait up to four months to watch something at home. It's pretty amazing to see these companies basically admit their theaters are so bad, and it also shows a complete and utter misunderstanding of their business. Instead of trying to succeed by being the only place new movies can be seen, why not work to make movie theaters a place people want to see movies?

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  1. icon
    The Dukeman (profile), 6 Feb 2007 @ 12:37pm

    Theatres have always been a tough business.

    Why else would there be so many failed ones across the country? That's why only large companies can operate them. The 'New Media' ways to watch movies have made the business even tougher. In my town there is an old 'Art' theatre that was finally going to be destroyed. If a billionaire (Mark Cuban) hadn't bought into the company it would have closed for sure. As an experiment, it was renovated with very posh leatherette lounge type chairs and has nice built in tables. The 3 screens are small like those in the cineplexes, but still bigger than your average home theater setup. It is the best theatre experience I've ever had. Sadly, the company's newest theatre is modeled after the standard 'stadium" (meaning small, slim, and uncomfortable) seating arrangement of the big cineplexes. If more venues would operate like that experimental one, they wouldn't lose so many customers. Unfortunately for consumers the cineplex companies crowd small, uncomfortable seats together trying to maximize per viewing capacity. Instead, people stay home where they can sit in comfort and watch their films. So more and more cineplex seats remain empty. Kudos to Mark Cuban for the experiment, but too bad he didn't continue expanding it. The question is...can anyone but a billionaire afford to make theatres this way?

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