by Mike Masnick

Movie Theaters Realizing They Don't Need To Just Show Movies; Experiment With Video Games As Well

from the about-time dept

Every time we hear movie theater owners complaining about how they can't compete with DVDs these days, we wonder why they don't recognize the advantages of having a big room with a giant screen, a good sound system and lots of (hopefully) comfy seats. There are plenty of other things you can do with such a room -- and in the past we've seen movie theaters try showing sporting events or live concerts. Now, apparently, a few European theaters are experimenting with turning their theaters into video game rooms. From the article, it's not entirely clear how the theaters are set up, but apparently people can sit and play against each other at individual screens or watch the action on the big screen, displaying highlights from the individual screens while also keeping track of the scoring. While it's not clear how well such experiments will do overall, it is good to see theater owners realizing that their future doesn't just need to be with showing movies.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Beck, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 10:19am

    rwod blsrcmae

    What game could be more exciting than guessing the jumbled-up movie star names on the big screen?

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

  2. identicon
    Neal, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 11:06am

    Interactive Movie

    Imagine an interactive movie. The theater is wired with devices that sense (no touch, ick) your finger over keys A,B, C and Yes, No. As the movie plays out little icons occassionally appear on screen on door, windows, cabinets, etc. The audience has 10 seconds to react and then, based on the highest chosen option, the movie takes that route.

    You could go to that same movie 50 times and never see exactly the same show. One choice might lead the characters through a gut busting funny scene and the other through a dramatic and scary one, but on the other side one would end up out of breath saying "whew, my heart's racing.. we need to get going" and continuing along the main plot.

    Imagine the discussions between friends about the scenes they'd seen and all the people going back again to try and see all the scenes they missed.

    Or maybe the plot does change dramatically... even better.

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

  3. identicon
    James, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 11:10am

    Agreed, but...

    While I think its good that theatres can explore other forms of revenue, I think they need to focus on doing a much better job of providing that for which they are generally tasked.

    How many movies must we sit through w/people talking, answering cell phones and other BS before these theatres get a clue they are shooting themselves in the foot.

    My suggestion? A PREMIUM-theatre, charge $15+ a ticket, offer reasonably priced refreshments in a nice cinema-friendly environment, and don't put up with any BS (no talking, no cellphone answering, noisey kids removed, etc. etc.).

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

  4. identicon
    Stute, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 11:16am

    LANing on a Movie Screen...

    That'd be FTW, seriously... Have everyone hook up to a spiltter so that they can be fed into a central hub, and throw up various people's screens when they're doing good or something funny happens to them, instant replays... Maybe even throw in one of those things they use in the NFL to draw on the screen...

    That'd be the best/most expensive LAN ever.

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

  5. identicon
    N8, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 11:32am

    Re: Agreed, but...

    I think this is a terrible idea. A premium theatre? $15 tickets? An $8.75 ticket (cost for 1 adult ticket in my area..and when I go see a movie I usually take someone with me so that makes it $17.50 just to get inside) is way to high in my opinion, and its what keeps me from going to the movies 99% of the time (not worth the $17 to see most of the movies coming out these days). I would rather go spend $10-15 on a dvd and watch it as many times as I want, and there are no screaming kids/cell phones to bother me at home (which honestly I do not consider a big deal while at a movie).

    As for the branching out I think thats a good idea. Everything has had to innovate in some way and I don't see why a movie theater (espcially at the prices they charge) should be different. If they want to keep their crowds coming in they need to come up with new ways to do so. Especially since prices have only been going up while movie quality has been going down. Video games could easily be incorporated into the smaller screens (the closest theater to me has 20 screens, so like 14 or 15 of the biggest ones could be for movies and then the 5 or 6 smaller ones could be video game rooms or something). The multiple story line movie would be cool but in a big room with lots of people it might not work...say you have 100 people in the movie and there are 4 choices for the next scene...if 30 want option a 20 want option b 15 want option c and option d wins with 35 votes, you still have 65 people who arent satisfied with their movie. And yes this would definitely make me want to go see a movie may times to get all the options, but this would probably drive costs (way) up, and again I think prices are much to high to begin with.

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

  6. identicon
    Anymouse, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 11:37am

    Interactive movies have been tried (and failed) before.

    I'm not sure how much of what was described here is so different from a typical LAN. Grab a projector and you've basically got the same setup? Maybe it's better than the comments make it sound.

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

  7. identicon
    Luke, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 11:40am


    Premium movie going would be useful, but as in all things movie theaters already have rules and reminders for people to be pleasant during movie viewing. Unfortunately it becomes a problem of enforcement. How do you cow some asshole that just wants to be loud and annoying? Or an idiot that doesn't turn off their cell for whatever reason?

    See a premium theater would still suffer the same problems as a normal one. Enforcment is the issue. (Well that and manners in general.)

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

  8. identicon
    teknosapien, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 11:48am

    I see a new industry popping up

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

  9. identicon
    Joe Schmoe, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 11:53am

    "How many movies must we sit through w/people talking, answering cell phones and other BS"

    I'll see that and raise you. I've never been in a theatre where the people were near as annoying as that pimply kid with the orange light saber walking the isles at least 3 times per showing!

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

  10. identicon
    Joey van Dijk, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 12:02pm

    Just the start...

    It is a conservative world ....that of the cinema owners. The big point is that the digital projectors are 4 times as expensive as normal 'celluloid' projectors. This is a big reason why they did not wanna take a risk.
    Even so with the business model, it was providing only But now with fiberglass-Internet-connections it is possible to use the Internet for live or download-views.

    Why only think about gaming, shows and sports? Why not make the cinema a entertainment hotspot, by in the morning opening it up for students following international (streaming) presentations from high-profile professors/content, in the afternoon movies for kids and in the evening just docus and films. If a sport-event is happening, show it in the cinema or show (for the women) some alternative tv-series (sex in the city) you and your girlfriend can go 'together' to the cinema.
    I already investigated this, during a studyproject 3 years ago, but the thing is...if you don't have money and a big brand are shouting in the empty valley.

    So, why not start implementing solutions and maybe connect multiple cinemas together for live-interaction or live-discussions worldwide?
    The technology is available, now the content suppliers (Warner Bros, Paramount,...) need to open up their protective ideas that security cannot cope with these kind of applications all together, they can!!!

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 12:02pm

    worse still, ive had those damn kids come in and pull a friend of mine out when sin city came out. We were both 19. They sold us the tickets no problem. But they messed up and gave us 1 ticket for Sahara or something even though we never mentioned that movie. So they pull him, his ticket says sahara, but luckily his credit card recipt said sin city.

    Funniest thing was a week later we went to see it again with some other friends and he got pulled AGAIN for the same crap at a different theatre. He didnt see the first 30 minutes of the movie until it came out on DVD.

    I agree with an early poster, improve the quality of what you ahve before you expand. Most movie going experiences are 2nd rate now.

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

  12. identicon
    James, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Re: Agreed, but...

    N8 lots of things sound terrible until properly thought out, planned and executed... you've heard of bottled water right? When it came out ppl scoffed at the idea of "paying for water". Perhaps those who buy it now consider it a step up over tap?

    I think a premium theatre done CORRECTLY could be successful, but it wouldn't be if offering the same thing as the other guys. It would have to return a PREMIUM movie going experience, and (dare i state the obvious), might appeal less to those who are concerned that $9 is too much for a movie ticket.

    It might help to think of this in the same vien as a high-end retailer, not everyone shops there, but there are those who can and do.

    There are ways they could do this, and since the current system appears to be broke its certainly worth a try.

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

  13. identicon
    Brad, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 12:46pm

    National Amusement is also testing this in the U.S. Their Showcase Cinemas in Ann Arbor, MI, is one of the first sites.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 12:54pm

    We have a small theatre here that has a moderately sized screen and no 'convential seats' only tables and chairs like a diner or restuarant, and the show 2-6 month old movies, never first runs. And they serve a lite menu and alcoholic beverages by a wait staff. It is very succesful. They have a lounge/bar off the lobby that has karoake contest regulary. And they play Rocky Horror picture show every saturday night at around midnight. And nothing is overpriced. It is a A++ experience. If more cinemas adopted this, I think it would bring a lot more value to movie-goers.

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

  15. identicon
    JustMatt, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 12:59pm

    How about no kids and more alcohol

    And maybe real food. And a little table beside the lounge chair. Do all of that without jacking the ticket price up and make it a place that adults want to go. That might get me back to the theatre. As it is there are too many children running around, crying, spilling food, talking, and generally making the movie less enjoyable.

    If the industry doesn't change I'll wait for it to come out on one of the many movie channels to which I subscribe. I'm an adult, I have patience, I don't have to see a movie on the day it comes out in order to be one of the cool kids. I can wait for a year or two, if necessary.

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

  16. identicon
    Chuck Hoffmann, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 1:06pm

    Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse

    Here in northern Virginia we have the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, which shows second-run movies but also has a full service bar and serves appetizers and other light bar-type food.

    They also have other events, like live music and comedy shows.

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

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Interactive Movie

    Why is the first thought I have go to porn on this idea...

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

  18. identicon
    Clay, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 1:28pm

    Re: Agreed, but...

    Or even better, a theater in Vegas I went to has a "VIP" booth. You're watching the same movie at the same time as everyone else, you're just in your own sound proof booth with 15-20 people that paid even more for the overpriced tickets. I belive they even bring your $6 66oz coke to your chair so your lazy ass doesn't have to get up!

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

  19. identicon
    kaso, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 1:37pm

    they did this for the "i love bees" promo/demo of halo 2 in nyc...suffice it to say, it worked out pretty well...
    they linked a tv where a guy was playing in the theatre, and and another guy playing a arizona or something and displayed those simul on the big screen.

    its a pretty cool thought, playing on such a big screen, but im pretty sure that you won't be able to see the finer details, like the look of bewilderment on the guys face right befoer you blow his head off.

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

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 1:54pm

    Eh,I go to a movie theatre to watch movies. They have no problem filling up when there's a good movie out there to watch. My only beef is to either a: make movies cheaper or b: make snacks a lot cheaper.

    Everyone knows you can get awesome quality movies at home by whatever means you prefer, but no one goes to a movie theatre "just" to watch a movie, after all. Otherwise they would be out of business. It's a social and entertaining environment on more than one level. There's a reason you don't go to the movie theatre alone, and it's not just because if you do you have no friends and are uncool - but also, it's just no fun alone.

    Movie theatres ain't going anywhere, and if you prefer to spend several thousand dollars to replicate the experience at your home and invite everyone in your community to join you whenever you want to watch a movie, then feel free - as for me, I'd rather call up a friend, catch the $5 matinee, and have a good time.

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

  21. identicon
    Mr. Cinema, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 2:09pm

    Alone is good...

    Um, actually I go alone. There are some movies I just have to catch on the big screen. If it's a blockbuster with tons of sound and special effects, I'm perfectly happy to go it alone. But usually I hit the matinee!

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

  22. identicon
    Tyshaun, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 2:19pm

    Do you folks get out much?

    In reading over all the comments I just wanted to point out a couple of things:

    1. Premium theaters already exist. When I lived down in Ft. Lauderdale I went to a small chain called muvico:

    They went so far as to have valet parking, reserved seating, seat-side service, a full scale restaurant on the second floor, and a couple of other nice amenities. Nice place, but very pricey and I only went their went I wanted something "special", but didn't feel like getting dressed up. I don't this will be the norm for theaters.

    2. Back when I was in grad school the local theater had "gamers" night where they had various PS2 games shown on the big screen Very popular but I think it was discontinued because they realized that they made more money on the movies than on the gaming (think lots of teenagers coming in at $5.00 and spending hours there, but not spending much money. In the same timespan they could have shown 2 or 3 movies and probably made more.)

    In general, sure diversification is good, but as it was pointed out it may not be fiscally worth the risk. I agree with those that believe that capital improvements like better sound systems, seats, concessioins, and ushers to control the crowd is the best way to improve attendance. All the other stuff, that's nice too, but I don't think PS3 parties are going to be AMCs saving grace as much as investing in the latest dolby. I have a nice home-theater but there's still something about seeing a movie in a theater that has an enduring charm that shouldn't be given up on just yet.

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

  23. identicon
    ShadowSoldier, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 5:08pm

    Interactive Movies and Premium Theaters

    Alright this has been driving me insane since I was a small child. A movie came out in the early 90's where you controlled it at the chair. I remember seeing the previews and wanting to see it, but never going. I might just have to imdb. Anyway I assume this failed as I have yet to see another type of Movies. Also if anyone lives in or around Philly and South Jersey they may be familliar with a samll chain called Ritz (Two in philly, one in Jersey) The tickets are around $9.00 and you get better quality food, no kids under 16 admitted without a parent, I'm not positive if they have an absolute limit, but I don't see any little kids there. The seats are nice and the theaters are small but not tiny. The website is if you want to learn more.

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

  24. identicon
    Nishant Thakkar, Feb 26th, 2007 @ 11:31pm

    This exists in the US

    The Chateau Theatres in Rochester, MN has been doing this for a few years. They had 8 player halo tournaments weekly on adjacent screens.

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

  25. identicon
    anonymousse, Feb 27th, 2007 @ 5:48am

    Been there, done that

    Has already been done here in Germany, Lan-parties at movie theatres where they converted every second row to a "table row" to hold the PCs and monitors, routed power lines and so on. 100 - 150 players per big theatre room (less in smaller theatres), so everyone had roughly 3 seats in a row for himself.
    Quite comfy, and when you play in a tournament via the provided servers they can put the action on the bigscreen, if they have a video compositing machine they can even switch between several games or use picture-in-picture.
    The air conditioning is quite taxed by all the heat generated by the pcs though.

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

  26. identicon
    Ilona, Mar 6th, 2007 @ 3:37pm

    No children under 16 allowed without parent

    As a theatrer manager of a small private theater, I really like this idea for possibly one nite a week.
    I would love to hear more info or experiences with this concept.

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

  27. identicon
    dan, Mar 11th, 2007 @ 3:25pm

    i hate you

    this is a horrible site by

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

  28. identicon
    ryan hastings, May 3rd, 2007 @ 7:32pm


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

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