Whisper It, But Maybe Movie Theaters Are Grasping The Need For Change

from the sticky-floors dept

There have been several signs over the past year that movie theaters are beginning to understand that they need to change their businesses if they are to stay in business -- for example: bigger and better screens, more luxurious environments, richer technology like 3D, even making the pre-show ads more entertaining. While we're skeptical about some of these enhancements -- particularly when they're really only used as justifications for higher ticket prices, it does reflect that theater owners have recognized they have to change. One idea that's getting more and more attention is that theaters don't have to limit themselves to just movies. It's become common for theaters to show special events like concerts, or the Metropolitan Opera, that are well outside the typical fare of Hollywood films. This week, a number of theaters nationwide will show the BCS college football title game, hoping to draw some viewers away from their couches or sports bars. That might seem like an exercise in futility, but the theaters can offer something more: the game will be in 3D. Movie theaters used to be relevant because, apart from waiting for movies to show up (if ever) on TV, they were about the only place to catch films. When home video came on the scene, their position began to erode, and it continues to do so as home theaters get better and better. As a result, many theaters offer a comparatively poor movie-going experience. In addition to improving that experience, theaters will do well to un-pigeon hole themselves as movie houses, take advantage of their unique offerings, and diversify their content.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    John Doe, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 10:30am

    With the switch to digital and an addition of surround sound, who needs a theater? Besides, I can have a beer with a movie at home.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:32am

      Re:

      at the theater by my house you can have a beer there too

       

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      Rose M. Welch, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 9:15pm

      Re:

      I can have a beer, a martini, appetizers, or filet fucking minion in comfy recliner-like seats in an awesome kid-free balcony at the Warren Theatre in Moore, Oklahoma for 12 bucks a ticket.

      :D

       

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    Gregg, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 10:51am

    Sporting Events

    This is something that other countries have already been doing. The big Pacquiao vs De La Hoya was being broadcast at every major theater in PI. Good to see our theaters following their lead on this.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 10:52am

    as far as im concerned as long as the seats are cumfy, the sound is surround im good only problem the movies suck

     

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    Peavey, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:01am

    Free Refills

    There's a new theater near my home (NCG Cinemas) that are now offering free refills on drinks and popcorn. That's a nice change.

     

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    David T, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:04am

    It costs a small fortune...

    Back in the day, I remember getting a ticket for an evening show, candy and a bag of popcorn for 9 bucks. Now the same show with popcorn/drink runs around 25 bucks. If the movie theater industry continues its tradition of targeting the 15-25 demographic, they need to bring the price point down to a place where young people are inclined to go on a regular basis.

    Social pressure to hang out is the only thing keeping warm bodies in the seats right now, given the myriad of other public entertainment options available. If theaters want to survive, they had better start adding social value.

     

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    David, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:05am

    The only theaters I go to anymore are pub theaters, its all about the price to enter the door. for the same price as the major theaters, I get a ticket $3, beer and pizza $6 and a show. I am willing to forgo a brand new movie for a much better experience any day. But then maybe its because you have to be 21+ to get in...

     

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    noah, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:06am

    Austin's Alamo Drafthouse has been there a while

    Austin' Alamo Drafthouse (http://www.originalalamo.com/) serves food and drinks (@John Doe), and routinely has special events. Tickets often cost over $100, but still sell out within a day. It's about the only place I care to go anymore.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:09am

    Well the last time I went to a theater, besides having to pay for the ticket(wich is the regular way and I usually don't mind) I still had to put up with 20+mins of the same commercials I have to put up at home before I could start watching the movie. There seem to be a growing trend here in portuguese theaters in having commercials before the movie starts. Now I'm not going there so soon.

     

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    Silver, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:10am

    Adult only?

    How about this: Adult only showings, regardless if the movie is rated G or R.

    One reason why I stay home more often, is because of whiny, loud kids and babies, instantly ruining the evening for me.

     

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    Michael, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:20am

    How about dumping the ads

    Nothing annoys me more than to have to watch ads when I paid to see a movie. I'll be more likely to go into the theater if you dump the ads and put something more engaging like trivia, puzzles, or other fun games.

     

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    TDR, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:36am

    Agreed. The ads have gotten far too long and are just getting longer. People don't want to be advertised to. And one doesn't have to advertise in every possible space in existence in order to get sales. Somebody needs to make these ad companies practice some restraint. Did you know that the average person is exposed to over 16,000 forms of advertising per day? Now that's excessive and a sure sign of too much marketing in the world.

    Oh, and theatres need to get with the times and convert from film projectors to digital ones. It is the 21st century, after all. Kill all preshow ads except for movie previews and other show previews. And drop the prices of everything. And perhaps starting putting the movies on dvd/brd when they're in the theatre, so after you've seen something you like at the theater, you can pick up the dvd/brd right there at the theater right afterward before you leave instead of waiting for months for it to come out. And quality movies should be made again, of course.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:37am

    theaters def need to step it up to get my money

    yea, here in mn our theaters are very lackluster.

    they need to get RID OF commercials before the show. i'd rather have short cartoons play than the same f$##ING coke or M&M commercial play over and over. i'm sorry but i already paid $8 for the ticket and prob another $5 for bag of popcorn.

    that alone is reason for me NOT to see a movie in the theater.

    and having a full highdef setup at home makes it hard to justify spending that $15 for a subpar experience.

     

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    Mark, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:39am

    Ad's

    I have to agree with Anonymous Coward and Michael. The ad's drive me nuts. As soon as an ad comes on I'm instantly annoyed and put into a bad state of mind. Makes it harder to enjoy the movie. Hell, I bought a pvr just so I can avoid commercials at home. Why would I want to go to a movie so I can pay to watch a commercial. I just spent $50 bucks for me and my girl. I think that $50 bucks should garantee me an ad free evening.

     

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    Mark, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:39am

    Ad's

    I have to agree with Anonymous Coward and Michael. The ad's drive me nuts. As soon as an ad comes on I'm instantly annoyed and put into a bad state of mind. Makes it harder to enjoy the movie. Hell, I bought a pvr just so I can avoid commercials at home. Why would I want to go to a movie so I can pay to watch a commercial. I just spent $50 bucks for me and my girl. I think that $50 bucks should garantee me an ad free evening.

     

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    Mark, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:39am

    Ad's

    I have to agree with Anonymous Coward and Michael. The ad's drive me nuts. As soon as an ad comes on I'm instantly annoyed and put into a bad state of mind. Makes it harder to enjoy the movie. Hell, I bought a pvr just so I can avoid commercials at home. Why would I want to go to a movie so I can pay to watch a commercial. I just spent $50 bucks for me and my girl. I think that $50 bucks should garantee me an ad free evening.

     

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    Mark, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:43am

    Triple post

    Hmmm.. that's odd. Sorry for the triple post readers.

    I still hate ad's at theatre's.

     

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    Nick, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:58am

    Cell phones

    Nothing worse than seeing one light up when someone is busy checking it, talking on it, or text messaging. Talk about making the experience suck. Need a device or special paint in all theatres to block cell signals inside the room with the screen and sound.

     

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    MoFinWiley, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    Never Again!!

    I am about 95% percent done my home theater setup and will never goes out to see a movie ever again. In my late teens and early 20's I went many times a week, but I just can't stand it anymore. Annoying kids that just text during the WHOLE movie, people talking, kicking you seat, noisy candy wrappers... BAH!! Not to mention the outrageous prices now. I'm done with the whole experience. Now that my wife and I have our newborn, its even harder to do...Two tickets, drinks, snacks, and now a babysitter too??? F that. I have a 92" screen (15ft veiwing distance), 1080p front projector, BR player, 7.1 receiver with loseless...add in a netflix subscription, and I can pause and go to the bathroom anytime I like.

    Why go out to the theater to sit next to some smelly bastard that doesnt shower. Now I can be the smelly bastard at home, IN MY UNDERWEAR, watching movies.LOL

     

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    Memphis Movies, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 12:08pm

    What Happened to Movie Attendants?

    What happened to removing people that disrupted a movie?

    I can rarely go to a movie here that doesn't get disrupted by some thug yelling at the screen, talking on a cell, a baby crying or couple arguing.

    I don't care how much you "upgrade" a theater, I won't attend it as long as you allow bad behavior.

     

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    BdgBill, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 12:08pm

    Bring Back the Ushers

    It was the other patrons that caused me to stop going to the movies more than any other issue.

    I cannot remember the last time I was able to enjoy an entire movie without some jerk screwing around with his (or her) cell phone, talking inccessantly or propping up their size 13 Timberlands on the back of the seat next to my face.

    I would like to see an employee inside the theater for the duration of the movie to immediately toss anyone using a cell phone (including people using them to text).

     

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    JJTC, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 12:34pm

    Great New Theater

    So out here in FL we got a new type of movie theater. Its the CineBistro. Its 21 and over not matter what the rating. The seats are huge leather seats. You can order food and alcohol. Its only a few bucks more but so worth it. Tickets are $17 and the best part all reserved seats!!! Get your tickets in advance online and your seat is reserved. They are all top of the line everything. After going here I could never go to a normal one.

    http://www.cobbcinebistro.com/

     

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    Jeff, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 12:41pm

    the drafthouse

    For years the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin has been doing this right. A large amount of their content comes from non-movies: music sing-alongs, movie quote-athons, live tv coverege (heroes, lost, football), etc. They also generate a lot of their own content including a mystery-science 2000 style live show and random things like a 90 minute mockery of crazy Japanese television.

    Don't show any commercials before real movies. Instead they usually show videos that are related to the movie. For example, when Hot Fuzz was released they compiled a bunch of "On the next episode of ..." clips from the 80s show TJ Hooker staring William Shatner. The rapid succession of bad explosions and shootouts with William Shatner quotes was astonishingly hillarious.

    And finally--they serve alcohol, hard liqour, and quality food for reasonable prices. They have real nice seats and nobody ever obscures your view because there's a bar table in front of you.

    While are smaller in scale than a Cinemaplex, they are always busy and appear to be amazingly successful. If you're looking for an example of a modern day movie theater--this is it.

     

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    ReallyPissedPatron, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 12:41pm

    Texting Douches and Ushers

    I ponied up 18 bucks for tickets and 14 bucks for popcorn and drinks last week only to have fucking idiots texting in the theater - trying to hide it in purses - when I told the one nearest me to stop it, she gave me shit. I talked to the manager about it and he said I should let him know - I should pay 33 bucks to do HIS FUCKING JOB??? He said I should.

    These morons don't and won't ever get it.

    I bring my own M&Ms now, and I throw them at the asshats using phones. Oh, and I bought a Sony Bravia and Surround so I don't have to put up with this shit anymore. We just thought it would be nice to see a movie during the holidays. Big mistake.

     

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    Cecil Green, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 1:00pm

    Why pay to put up with other people?

    I've had to deal with morons texting and playing games on phones, morons walking into the wrong movie -- sitting down and talking about how "duh... we're in the wrong movie... yeah, but let's watch some of it... duh... okay... hey, you gots dem hot fries?"

    The seats are never THAT comfortable, the sound and picture can f*ck up, the movies and concessions are both overpriced, I have to drive to get there, I have to sit through crappy ads for crap I don't need and movies I'll never wish to see ALL OF THIS while putting up with the rest of the borderline retarded population I spend so much time trying to avoid.

    ROKU, baby, ROKU. 'Nuff said.

     

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    Jess, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 1:09pm

    new fan of draft houses

    I recently became a huge fan of a local Cinema and Draft House. They only show second release films...I actually went to see the Dark Knight a couple weeks before it was released on DVD. They do do other stuff, comedy shows, sporting events etc...

    Anyways, because it was a second release viewing, the ticket price is only $5. The great thing is that it's a full service restaraunt (with actual entrees) with beer and all the goodies you could possibly want. And the prices for the food and beer is actually cheap - I think it was like $6 for a platter of fully loaded nachoes that a couple people can split. And the beer pitchers were as cheap as going out for happy hour.

    I ended up paying a boatload more than I would if I was seeing a new release movie. And I was perfectly fine paying that much...I mean, sitting around splitting pitchers/food with a group of friends while watching the joker make pencils disappear is a glorious affair. The downside to the theater is that it's rather run down and could go for some serious renovation (The theatre is VERY old). A movie theater could actually make up a ton of their revenue with discount new release tickets by doing a similar thing in a cleaner and more state of the art theater.

    Sort of like the happy hour philosophy...Sell you cheap beer to get you there and make it up in food sales.

     

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    Nathania, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 1:22pm

    Hate the theaters...

    I hate going to the movie theater. I'd rather just pay to see the film at my house.

    Wouldn't the distribution costs be lower if consumers could just order up movies via cable/satellite?

    Not sure. But I'd rather sit in my living room than have my seat kicked by a loud, obnoxious teenager sitting behind me.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 1:50pm

    At home I can pause for a piss break.
    At home I can drink beer.
    At home I can make my own popcorn for pennies.
    At home there is no annoying kids text messaging through out the show.
    At home I have the best seat in the house.
    At home I have 57 inches of viewing glory.
    At Home I have 7.1 surround sound system.
    At Home my floor are not sticky and I do not fear picking up something from the ground.
    At Home I can watch the movie in underwear.

    I find I only go to the movie theater for the 'experience' and typically remind myself why I like watching movies at home. Last year I saw two movies at the theater - Batman and the latest Bond flick. I have the Batman DVD at home and it does not lose much on my home theater system.

    The theaters have to offer that something extra that warrants me spending that extra cash. The more 'extra' that something is the more I might be willing to part with my cash.

     

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    kezia, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 1:52pm

    captioning please

    i just wish with the upgrades they would add captioning. that is a big market the movie houses miss out on. when is the last time you saw a deaf person at the movies? they like movies too but don't go because they cant enjoy the movie on the same level as hearing people. and as a hearing person i would like the captioning because half the time you miss what was said anyway.as for those of you who whine that the captioning is too distracting suck it up and learn to read faster, ignore it,or it doesn't even have to be on the screen, there are such things as digital glasses that only the wearer can see the captioning.

     

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      Isotopian, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:07pm

      Re: captioning please

      I work at a 24 screen in Maryland, where we have Open-Captioned shows of current releases on a biweekly basis.

      So, we have them. And guess what?

      I've never seen more than 8 people in one of the shows. So theaters aren't missing out on much of a market at all, as it appears people just don't really care.

       

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    Headley, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 12:50am

    If they stopped ripping me off for drinks and snacks I'd go more ofter. It's not that I want their drinks and snacks, it's the attitude that sucks.

     

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    Tom, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 3:46am

    Easy solution- ban the teenagers. Then the majority of customers will have a good time, and come back.

     

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    tim stevens, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 7:13am

    Don't forget to block cell phones, gag the snotty, spoiled screaming children, ban the aggressive teen toughs (yo yo yo homes), eliminate the noisy-while-eating know it all a$$hole who manages to get every scene wrong.

    Oh screw it, just rent it in dvd.

     

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    TDR, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 7:28am

    Still, I've yet to see a tv made anywhere near as big as a movie screen. And I never understood what the big deal was with Netflix - I mean, you'd really pay every single time to watch a movie (rent) rather than pay once at the store (buy) and then be able to watch it as much as you want whenever you want? I dunno, maybe I'm just sick of seeing all their ads all over the internet. Seems like every other page is infested with them.

     

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    Pat, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 11:09am

    Movie theatres as concert venues

    Further proof, if proof were needed, that there is nothing new under the sun. Almost every concert I went to as a teen/20-something in London in the 60s and 70s was in a movie theatre. Beatles, Rolling Stones, Byrds, David Bowie, etc, etc.

     

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    Conrad, Jan 11th, 2009 @ 2:50pm

    here's an idea

    BRING BACK INTERMISSIONS!

     

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