How to Make Moviegoing More Attractive for 2012

As the (very) old song goes, “the theater, the theater, what’s happened to the theater…?” With 2011 bringing international box office to a 16-year low and U.S. revenues down for the first time in the last six years, it’s beginning to look like curtains for the movie theater. What can be done to turn this around? We’ve got some suggestions…

Lower Prices
This one is a no-brainer, isn’t it? “Going to the movies” as an experience these days can be ridiculously cost-prohibitive, between ticket prices, travel and whatever snacks you end up buying when you’re there. Considering the economic climate, surely it only makes sense that, if you lower prices and make the whole thing more easily affordable to more people, attendance would rise…? I am somewhat spoiled in this respect, living in Portland and surrounded by second-run theaters where tickets cost anywhere between $2 and $6 and movies are constantly sold out as a result.

It’s not even as if all costs have to be dropped across the board; why not promote special lower-priced weeknights, or take full advantage of the possibility of cheaper matinees? Prices can be kept up for high-traffic times and 3D or IMAX movies so that theater owners don’t get too upset at the idea of losing so much revenue. Which reminds me…

Make Bigger Movies
Not for nothing were the biggest movies of the year at the U.S. box office essentially missing from the list of the most torrented and pirated movies of 2011; with the increased focus on movies that emphasize spectacle in a way that doesn’t really translate to the home theater experience, no matter how big the screen (i.e., movies in 3D and IMAX). This is where movie studios come into the business of trying to keep movie theaters alive, by trying to produce films that demand to be seen on a scale too big for your laptop or television screen. Along those lines…

Take Advantage of The Community
No matter how many people as you might be able to pack into your living room, there isn’t a more communal movie experience than a movie theater, and some movies – comedies and horrors predominantly – become far more enjoyable when watching them with big crowds (Think of the Paranormal Activity movies, for example; they’re as much about the collective fright than anything else). If there was some way to promote that and remind people that some movies just need a room full of people going through the same thing that you are, then you’ve given people another reason to buy a ticket.

Popcorn Isn’t Enough
The final thing I’d like to see theaters taking into consideration when thinking about how to bring people back is something more than candy and popcorn on offer in the concession stand. Again, I’m spoiled here in Portland with theaters that offer pizza, beer, burgers or even full meals in a couple of cases. But having something more substantial on offer to accompany the movie turns the theater-going experience into something more than just watching a movie; it becomes a more complete “night out,” and that makes it more attractive an option when compared to watching a movie at home. After all, anyone can buy some popcorn and stick it in a microwave, but the idea of crossing a restaurant with a movie theater…? Who can compete with that (without a lot of effort)?

What am I missing? What changes do you think are necessary for movie theaters to become more of a destination in 2012 – or do you think they should just be left to quietly die off in favor of streaming movies directly to your personal home screens? Feel free to leave comments and weigh in on the debate.

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Comments

  • http://twitter.com/annielicious14 Annie Howard

    I love  going to the movies!  sigh

  • Wayne

    One big thing a few theaters do: No kids under a certain age. No screaming infants or whining toddlers. Alamo Drafthouse does this, the two Sundance Theaters have a 21+ section, and a handful of others handle it in different ways. 

  • Mr. M

    This isn’t a slam or a put-down of anyone’s movie-going habits…but does offering “more than popcorn” really add to the experience?  Popcorn is bad enough, but adding more food/drinks would seem to take away from the enjoyment of the other movie-goers.  Think about the crunching, the slurping, the smells…and the unwrapping of snacks.

    I’m not against food in theaters…especially the theaters that have GOOD popcorn, but full on meals always seemed a bit excessive to me.

    But if you’re talking about theaters that have a separate food areas with tables to basically eat before ot after the film, that’s a different story.

  • Thompson500

    My local theater has free unlimited popcorn refills no matter the size bucket (S,M,L) and pop fountains in the hallways for free unlimited refills of drinks. Plus the extra leg-room between aisles is a plus.

  • http://twitter.com/thearniec Arnie C

    Seriously, more theaters like The Alamo Drafthouse would be ideal.  I hate paying a premium for movie tickets, especially in 3-D, and then people act like they’re in their living room, putting their feet up on the seat next to me like it’s a footrest, taking calls and texts and not stepping out, and worst children who are too young for the movies ruining it.  I had 3 films last year, 2 rated R, 1 rated PG-13, ruined by parents who decided a movie ticket was cheaper than a babysitter and brought toddlers or young children who did not shut up the entire film.

    The things you list above, more food, etc. actually are steps in the wrong direction.  Make theaters a more classical theater experience, LESS like a living room, not more where you can have pizza delivered, and louder food

  • Daniel Worthington

    A big one is already being done: stop texting during the movie. The theater I frequent has a notice before the movie (where it used to tell us to be considerate and turn off your phones) that says that if you text during the movie, they WILL kick you out of the theater. I approve, and have found going to the movies to be FAR more enjoyable since then.

  • Jamesmoore36

    An incentive of some type of exclusive thing you can get only by purchasing a movie ticket could help people get to the theatres more often. It could be anything from a free movie poster for blockbusters like Transformers or X-Men to a book signing for adaptations like an Alex Cross movie or The Hunger Games. Or with all the apps people like, you could have a QR code on the ticket stub that would show you exclusive behind the scenes footage or a special message from the lead actor or something along those lines.

  • Matt Rapier

    I enjoy the theatre experience much more than sitting at home alone watching on my TV, but the big problem I have is the quality of people attending these movies. I feel like a lot of viewers go in without respect for the other people sitting in the seats around them. The theatre needs to be strict on the no talking rule so I don’t have to leave my seat and find an attendant to take care of the problem. The price issue would also be helpful to get me back out to a theatre. Viewing at home as become more enjoyable to me because of the way people disregard the fact that a movie is showing on the big screen.

  • Tom

    Be happy you have the chance to pay $2-6. Damn, I have to pay like $14 a movie here in Aus – can you see why I haven’t gone to the cinemas in like 2 years? And for most of the sh*t released these days, I refuse to bother – and we certainly don’t get free refills of anything.
    We always get these anti-piracy ads here too, I wonder why it’s so prevalent?

  • Madcat

    Cell phones and rude people (and their children) who constantly feel the need to feed are the reasons I stopped going to the movies and invested in a home theater system.
    Now I just constantly have to tell the wife to shut up!

  • sandwich eater

    I don’t think having meals at the movie theaters is a good idea.  Snacks and drinks are fine, but kids eating messy foods in the dark seems like a recipe for disaster.  Furthermore the patrons of my local movie theater are loud and raucous enough without the addition of alcohol.  The movies aren’t a sporting event, and serving alcohol seems like it will encourage some people to be disruptive.

    To me, the movie theater is a necessary evil.  I’d rather watch a movie at home where I am free of interruptions and distractions, and I can rewind and pause if I want.  I only go the movies for movies that I don’t want to wait to come out on DVD.

    The movie theater is kind of an outdated concept.  Just like home consoles have all but eliminated arcades, I think that within 20 years or so movie theaters will disappear.  Eventually studios will start financing movies that are released straight to the internet, and when people start to lose the perception that web content is low-budget crap (which it mostly is now) then movie theaters will be obsolete.

  • Chuck

    One of my local theaters has started the dine-in-theater, needless to say I’m never setting foot back in it. its a theater that now seems to care more about the food than the theater. each seat has a giant table that can’t be put in and there are lights on each of the tables that can’t be turned off, making it not a movie experience but more an annoying restaurant that shows a movies. Now I understand not all theaters have that but it was an AMC and if theaters start to do that it destroys the movie. Plus, I was at a first time for a movie and there was no matinee, it was ridiculous to have to pay $13
     

  • Ramsire07

    Forget the toddlers in the audience, I find it’s the idiot adults who can’t keep their traps shut that are ruining the movies. Whether they’re on their phones or just running their mouths among themselves, they’re completely ruining the fun of going to the movies. The theater operators are too scared or just plain indifferent about the problem and I’ve had at least two altercations with other patrons, one group were teens, the other middle aged men, in the last couple of years because they were acting up or heckling the movie. I love the Alamo Draft House’s policies and wish more theaters would take a tougher stance against people interupting the movie. 

  • Sandinista

    1.) Invest in cell phone blocking technology. Seriously. Put signs up warning patrons that this is in place. This is a HUGE problem. You would think that in 2012 people would know NOT to use their cell phones in a theater but a lot of morons have seemingly missed the message. Constant texting, answering calls, games, etc. 

    2.) Stop hiring teenagers to run your theaters. They don’t care about the work and are scared of enforcing the rules like telling loud people to shut up. Hire some bouncer types and off duty cops. 

    3.) Stop selling tickets to anyone under 18 after 8 pm. Stop selling tickets to anyone with a baby to any films above PG-13. In fact…have a separate room just for people with babies to watch films. 
    This is BY FAR the reason why I have stopped going to the movie as often as I once did: packs of bored teenagers who are not interested in watching the film but are being exiled to the theater by annoyed parents. 

    4.) Have some variety in your showings. Show indie films as well as big blockbusters. Show sporting events, TV programming like the Oscars, musical shows, classic films, etc.  Have theme nights where you show like, the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy back to back or shark movies or all of Tarantino’s films or something. 

    5.) Have smaller rooms like indie theaters have that groups can rent for the night. You can have local geeks watching Star War marathons, old ladies watching Clark Gable films or immigrants watching Bollywood. 

    6.) Hire some computer people to figure out how to stop pirating. This always shocks me. We have the technology to put a man on the Moon and these studios seem utterly unable to figure out a way to secure their films. 

  • Dan Foster

    No cell phones, no talking.  Put ushers in the theater to escort people out with no refund when they become a problem.  The prices do suck, and movies should be cheaper, but the real issue that keeps me out of the theater is the rest of the audience.  When an audience is into a film, it’s the best experience in the world.  When the guy next to me is texting, or someone beings a four year old to a ten PM showing of an R-Rated movie, or the “Oh Sh*t!” guy is sitting nest to me, it ruins my movie experience because I will make a scene.  Having to argue with people to get them to do what we all PAID AN EXCRUCIATING AMOUNT TO DO makes me wait for the home theater rather than waste my time in the town theater.  

  • http://twitter.com/p_keely Patrick Keely

    There is a movie theater in Lexington that does the whole restaurant experience.  They have managed it well, I thought.  It was a nice place to go on a date.  I think the flow of waiters in and out of the theater actually helped reduce noise because they could help monitor the noise and control when people would talk.

  • Ravi311

    I agree.  Only let infants, toddlers, and smaller children into movies geared specifically for them (Chipmunks) and have specific “children allowed” screenings for other movies.  My wife and I are soon to have our first child and there’s no way we’re taking her into anything other than a kids’ movie until she’s MUCH older.

  • Wayne
  • http://twitter.com/OtherwhereCo Otherwhere.co

    The theaters around my small part of the world have been steadily disappearing. However the ones that have survived are amazing! They serve a plethora of food (including Starbucks), have reasonable prices and have kept up with the technology, updating their screens and systems. 

    And don’t forget the art houses, we have Landmark and they’re the only theater you can enjoy a beer. Which for me made Captain America watchable.

  • Sean Fahey

    Yeah…I got this crazy suspicion that we’re not going to have this problem in 2012. Call it a hunch I guess.

    (The Hobbit, The Avengers, Spider-Man, Superman, The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus, World War Z, John Carter another Twilight flick another G.I. Joe flick)

  • Iron Maiden

    I am totally against offering pizza, etc in the theaters the way they are currently configured.  Yeah, if you are in one of those specialty theaters that are set up that way with table seating, that’s fine.
    I was seated near  two heavy set  women who smuggled in a Chinese dinner in their purses and they stunk up the row.  Not to mention the sounds of them eating.   No way would I want to be near some slobs like that again. 

  • Mat

    I can’t agree with the food issue. Popcorn is all there should be in my opinion. The biggest detterant for me when it comes to going to the cinema is the worry of people ruining it all by talking and general dickish behaviour. Theatres need to clamp down it by either having someone checking each scen regularly for a quick 5 minutes or something. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen someone tell someone to “shhh” just between customers.

  • Guest

    how about banning cell phones and cutting down on the commercials. With commercials and previews it’s a half hour until the movie actually starts.

  • Capitalism

    How about some half decent movies…stop the remakes and the sequels…

  • drainbead

    did an 8 year-old come up with these ideas?

    why write an article if you can’t think of anything remotely novel

  • drainbead

    ps – Portland isn’t the only place with Mugs and Movies. It’s a niche
    market – they rarely fill capacity, and they have to supplement their
    income by showing sporting events and stuff on the big screen

  • Peapod2000

    Here in the UK there a promotion called orange Wednesdays which allows orange mobile phone user to get two tickets for.the price of one. It’s by far the busiest night of the week and may be one way of saving cinemas for the future generation.

  • stealthwise

    Dinner theater?  if you can find a way to promote films that could take advantage of a more interactive (not 3D) and full experience, then maybe that’s the way.  The best experience I’ve ever had at the movies was going to see GrindHouse.

  • drainbead

    it’s not the opera guy – it’s entertainment for the masses

  • drainbead

    hey, at least those things distract you from the low-quality, plotless movies that are being churned out these days

  • Josh

    Better movies would be nice. 

  • Sean

    The movie theater as a business model will only survive if the ridiculous profit sharing model between the theaters and the film companies is revised.  The theaters make practically nothing off the films in their first three weeks of showing which forces the theater to rely on the profits of overpriced concessions to make their profit.  This forces the theaters to maintain lower staffing numbers and lowers the expectations of what those employees will need to do.  You can not expect people who are making close to minimum wage to maintain clean theaters, clean bathrooms, police behavior, maintenance in general, sell tickets and concessions.  How many extra duties do each of us take on at work for the salaries we make without expecting compensation.

    By the time the theaters are making more profit on the film, the production companies run less commercials to advertise the films and most people who intend to see the movie in question more than likely have already been to see it, not wanting to wait that long.  With new films coming out each week and theaters needing to fill seats to sell concessions, many theaters need to pull the longer running films in order to make room for the new films to balance their profit margin accordingly.

  • Darren Kingsley

    Actually having ushers involved in keeping noise down would be a big help.  I dont got to theaters anymore in Philadelphia since its sometimes actually hard to hear over the talking and phone calls. Theater owners seem to be scared to kick people out anymore (since there have been shootings!)

  • Excelsior

    Make BETTER MOVIES~!

  • Demoncat4

    besides make new type of movies instead of remakes . this list sums it up perfectly

  • Madcat

    I have a tendency to avoid those types of movies…needless to say I hardly go at all anymore.

    So all of the eating machines and bad parents can have at it I’ll wait a few months for it to come out on blu-ray in order to watch it in peace.

  • drainbead

    if I didn’t know better – I’d say Grame directly plagiarized Roger Ebert

    http://www.rogerebert.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20111228/COMMENTARY/111229973/

    wait, he did plagiarized Roger Ebert

  • Talesin_x

    Cost is the main thing. At the moment, unless I have free tickets, I don’t go to the movies. This means, whilst tickets may be $16, they male $0 off me per year. If tickets were $8 then I would probably go at least once per month which means at a minimum that would be an extra $96 per year from me.

  • drainbead

    you probably pay nearly that much per month for your cell phone

  • Anonymous

    Stop slapping lazy, half-baked scripts on great franchises like Green Lantern?

    Stop spending millions on sloppy CGI that makes films look like video games?

    Spend more (much more) on making the stories good and entertaining?

    Have your stars, directors, executives, etc. stop insulting half your audience every time they open their mouths about anything except their movies? And often then as well (hello, Alec Baldwin, Matt Damon, etc.).

    Stop supporting pedophiles and child rapists?

    Stop wasting time, effort, and money on preachy anti-war movies no one wants to watch?

    Stop slapping shoddy 3D conversions on films that don’t need it? Or just end the 3D experiment altogether; I haven’t seen a film yet that profited from it past about 15 minutes in.

    Stop hiring pretty boys to play tough guy heroes and girls to play women?

    Stop charging people through the nose to sit in dirty theaters with threadbare seats and stick floors while some idiot behind you yammers on his cell phone and some parent (?) and 5 year old have a loud conversation about the R-rated movie the former brought the latter to?

    Stop hamstringing technological advances like streaming films (hint: you’re in the entertainment business, not the theater and DVD business)?

    Stop remaking the same tired, cliched, unrealistic plot lines and characters over and over and over again? If we see a religious Jew or Christian on the screen, we know they’re a villain. If we see military people, there’s a very high chance they’re either evil or insane. If we see a journalist, odds are they’re a crusading hero. If we hear a British accent in a film otherwise bereft of them, we know the character is either a genius or a villain. If one character is descended from a Native American tribe, they’re almost certain to be vaguely spiritual and in touch with nature. The guy with the attempted Southern accent is a racist. The token black guy always dies first (hello, X-Men:First Class). And so on.

    Am I missing any?

  • Gregory Hecht

    No cell phones!  Find a way to block them or to force people to turn them in when they enter the theater.  Or, if you can’t do that, be *really* aggressive with kicking out people who text or talk during a showing.  
      
    No tickets to under-18-year-olds after a certain hour (8:00 or 8:30 pm, for instance).  

    And no children *at all* under a certain age in R-rated movies.  (I’ve seen 10 year olds and under at R-rated movies running around in the aisles.  Babysitters were invented for a reason!)
      
    This isn’t rocket science, it shouldn’t be a great big mystery as to why going to a movie theater has less and less appeal.  

  • RichVince

    I quite reading Graeme’s cloumns quite a while ago because he was so uninformed about movies and the exhibition industry.  I tried this one because, having managed theatres for many years, I was curious to see what he had to say.  Graeme only confirmed my impression that he lacks even the basic knowledge of the average movie-goer.

    Is he really unaware that theatre ticket prices are driven by the fact that film distributors get most of the money (which in turn gets spent on $100 million+ movies) or that the reason for high concession prices is they support the operation of the building?  Or that there has been tons of research showing that prices do not correlate with attendance.  When I started running theatres many years ago I took pride in the fact that we had the lowest ticket price of any first run theatre in the area.  But the end result was we could not book the best films because the studios wanted theatres that gave them the highest gross.

    And is he unaware that attendance has actually been declining for over 25 years?  Price increases have been making it up until just this year because the attendance drop was so severe, probably due to the recession as well as a lot of weak films.

    Apparently Graeme is unaware that many years ago there was a national trend towards $1.00 Tuesdays.  That ended after a year or two when the theatres realized that all they were doing was shifting the audience from the weekends to Tuesday nights but not attracting more customers.

    Serving food such as dinners is being done throughout the US with little success.  It has yet to make a theatre better attended and seems to appeal to just a small segment of the population.  I personally have tried it and found it too distracting from watching the film.

    Promote the communal experience to people?  Does Graeme really think the public is so dumb they don’t realize that?

    The only effective suggestion he makes is about making bigger movies that are best seen on the big screen.  Great idea except that idea first came into vogue in the 1950s.

    Graeme, the first rule of writing columns is do your research first!

  • Brian Hibbs

    Kind of the reverse (a restaurant that shows movies) but you moved away from…

    http://foreigncinema.com/home.html

  • Mr. M

    Sure they SAY they’ll boot the texters…but will they actually do it? Most like;y they’d do it selectively to minimize confrontations.

  • Mhorton83

    I agree with Wayne. I especially would love to see adult only showings for pixar films. I LOVE pixar films (im 29), and I know alot of people my age and older who goes to see them. but my wife and I wont go see them earlier then midnight out of fear of having a bad movie experience with kids in the theatre. Yet every time there is still at least 5 kids in the theatre at midnight accompanied by bad parents. I would be nicer about this but Two months ago I had a woman thrown out of a theatre (at an 11pm showing of a movie) because she changed her babies diaper in the theatre in the handicapped area in front of everyone, she used her iphone as a light when she held the kid up cleaning his backside of poop. And she couldn’t understand why she was getting thrown out. This was 2 feet in front of us and the poop smelled up the whole theatre and the kid was whaling crying. 

  • Gerry O’Brien

    ZERO TOLERANCE for people who talk, text or otherwise interrupt other people’s moviegoing experience. This is the single greatest reason I rarely go to the movies: too many people (of all ages, and from all backgrounds) who believe there is nothing wrong with them providing their own ongoing commentary to their friends.

  • Talesin_x

    No I don’t, but in any event hardly relevant to my position and in any event for most people a cellphone is an essential part of their regular day to day, cinema going is not. Movies for me are a luxury item and, since spectacle and special effects do not entice me to see a film, there is generally no benefit to me seeing them on the big screen. I might as well wait to they are out on dvd where I don’t have to put up with the other problems mentioned and I save my money. If they were not so expensive then I would go more often

  • http://foo-gos.com/ Foogos

    I read a great article last year about luring people to the theatre. The author made a convincing case for theatres to offer memberships, like Netflix. Pay a monthly flat fee and see as many films as you want. At chains like AMC, you’d pick two local theatres, flash your card and see as many movies as you want for $25 or so. I wish I could find the link.

  • Brian

    Clearly written by someone that has no idea what they’re actually talking about. Do you know that theaters pretty much break even on ticket prices? That’s why the popcorn and other junk is so expensive.

  • Mwedmer

    I also tend to go to theaters that offer a more rounded experience. Where I live we have the Cinema Cafe’. You can get a full meal there such as pizza,subs, burgers and even deserts. They also serve Beer, Sodas and Lattes. All handled before the trailers roll and delivered before the start of the feature.
    Ticket costs are generally 3 dollars lower than other theaters that offer less, and the chairs which are high back leather, are far more comfortable.

  • wrecksracer

    Sure it’s not the opera, but the problem with doing anything today in a public setting is the complete disregard people have for other people. I’m in the Chicago area. Going to a film here is like visiting an junior high class being taught by a substitute teacher. I’ve been to punk rock shows where people had better manners.

  • dave chisholm

    let’s face it: tv has been kicking the trash out of movies for awhile now. breaking bad, game of thrones, community, madmen, boardwalk empire, etc. are all so so strong and so fresh.

    movies need to step up, make the product better…it would also help if they weren’t soooo expensive! 

  • HeWhoLaffs

    I used to love going to the theaters to watch movies, but it’s just too damn expensive, and the overall movie going experience just isn’t what it used to be.  I am one of those people that now only go see those blockbusters that must be seen in theaters with only a few exceptions (mainly horror films), and even then only during matinee pricing (before 5:00) and never get anything to eat or drink while I’m there.  $5.25 for even a small popcorn is ridiculous.

    And the comment about being surrounded by fellow movie goers to make it that much more enjoyable is completely the opposite for me.  I now go as early as possible to try to avoid having many people in the theater as I am sick and tired of people who don’t shut the hell up and still to this day will talk and text during a movie.  I don’t know if it’s just horrible luck or what, but I always seem to get these chatters/texters around me all the time.  

    I went to see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo last week.  First showing of the day.  Only around 30 or so people in the whole theater so very much empty.  I walk in, pick the area where there is the least amount of people, the movie starts, gets about 6-7 minutes into it, and sure enough, a group of 4 people then decide to walk in and sit down right behind me of all the places they could have sat.  Sure enough, the two women have a comment for almost everything going on. So I ask them to please be quiet and I get looked at like I’m the villain here.

    Most movies coming out are not must see in theaters.  As much as I love seeing movies on a huge high quality screen with booming surround sound, with the cost to see them now, and the rudeness of people today, I usually prefer to just wait a few weeks and rent most movies On Demand for just $6 or just wait for it on Netflix.

  • Johntwentyfive

    Going to the movies is great. Nothing beats it. It’s not the same watching at home on my tv. Having people monitor the theater to root out shitty behavior would probably help. Being told what to do sucks but if people can’t be respectful of others then rules and order have to be put in place. Or maybe people actually taking it upon themselves to police the theater and speak up when others are being rude.

    The theater experience will never be beat at home.

  • The Lensman

    There are plenty of movies that are not remakes or sequels, they’re called “indy” films and most people, despite their “no remakes or sequels” talk, don’t go see them.

  • Kungfuhustler84

    I’m in Eugene, not far from Portland and I have great moviegoing experiences at the local theaters. I agree with everything except “make bigger moves.” People can make whatever movies they want to make as long as it’s not boring.

  • Squashua

    It is not just a matter of lowering prices.  Prices need to be lowered and then scaled to the quality of the film.  Tyler Perry’s NEXT MOVIE should charge 60% less than a ticket for, say THE AVENGERS.  Etc. etc.

  • Anonymous

    After a bad 2010 (just ONE movie in the theaters), I went to see just about everything I wanted to this summer.  Thor, Kung Fu Panda 2, Super 8, X-Men First Class, Green Lantern, Transformers 3, Captain America and Cowboys and Aliens …… I went nuts. 

    KFP was in Digital 3D and fantastic, Super 8 was at one of AMC’s Cinema Suites, where your order food just like a restaurant (GREAT food too for a good price), Transformers 3 amazed in IMAX 3D (visually anyway …) and Cowboys and Aliens at one of AMC’s ETX theater’s in Orlando was pretty special (visually and audibly that is …).

    So, long story short, going to the movies is AWESOME and I prefer it to watching stuff at home in just about every single way.  I just don’t always have the time or money to do it as much as I did this past summer.  I think they’re doing a ton right (at least where I live anyway).  I typically go when there aren’t kids and stuff, but even so if the theater is big enough I usually don’t here the talking and distractions, especially if the movie is awesome.

    So, tl;dr, going to the movies already is better than ever.

  • aPo

    sorry but I hope that will never happens. I can’t imagine watching Dark Knight Rises or The Hobbit on the Internet and on a tiny screen.

  • http://saneinsanities.blogspot.com/ Andy E. Nystrom

    1. Fewer 3-D movies.  Aside from the price they can be hard on the eyes, give headaches, etc.  If a film has both options, try to make both options available if possible.

    2. For movies that are 3-D, let people get a discount if they reuse the glasses. Don’t make people pay again and again for glasses when a pair used once is perfectly reusable.

    3. Have ushers patrol the theatres at 15 minute intervals to deal with disputive patrons. One theatre actually told me to hunt someone down if someone was being disruptive, which would have taken too much time from the movies.  The police who’ve bought the tickets shouldn’t be the ones policing the other patrons.

    4. Related to the above, if a patron has questions or concerns, be respectful and acknowledge the patron even if you disagree.  At the same theatre as above, when I asked about why you need to pay for glasses each time, I was told, “That’s just the way it is.”

    5. Regular bubble gum clean-ups.

    6. One theatre had staff dress up as Watchmen characters when that was released. Do fun stuff like that.

    7. Screen the occasional non-Hollywood stuff like Troma movies.

    8. The occasional gimmick like Smell-o-vision can be fun. Try not to use the same gimmick too frequently though.

    9. Fewer non-movie ads

  • Ginkasa

    This article is silly and misinformed.  It makes a lot of assumptions.  First off, domestic revenue was the third highest ever.  Sure, it was “down” compared to 2010 (which it and 2009 are the two higher grossing years), but I still think the money is rolling in.  While you could point out that attendance itself is at a 16 year low, which is significant, I could also point out that plenty of years prior to 1995 were even lower than that.  Is attendance in a great place?  No, but its not spelling the end of the movie theatres as we know it either.  To declare it so is lazy, ignorant, and a greedy grab for views.

    The ideas presented to “raise” attendance aren’t very well thought out, either.  “Lower prices” is the easy one.  Yeah, sounds good to the movie goer and I’ll agree that the 3D and other “premium” surcharges need to go.  But making a movie and running a theatre is expensive.  You have to pay for that somehow while making a profit and you can only go so low without ruining your business.

    “Maker bigger movies?”  I thought we wanted to lower prices!  Not only do I think movies are “big” enough as they are, making them demand even more spectacle (i.e. expensive special effects and big budget casts) does nothing for your prices.

    I don’t think its a great idea to try to remind everyone that when you go to a theatre you’re watching it with other people.  Sure, its great to watch a movie with a good crowd that cheers and laughs at all the right spots.  But most people are concerned with texting and talking which is caused by those crowds.  If you knew anything about movie theatres and the business you would recognize this.

    Finally, the suggestion to add more than “popcorn and candy” to the concession line-up is old hat.  This the trendy thing for theatres to do now.  Multiple chains across the country had added “hot foods” to their line-up including snacks like cheese sticks, chicken tenders, personal pizzas, etc. Other chains have included full service restaurants into their theatres that serve you while you watch a movie.  Surprisingly Portland is not a mecca of premium moviegoing in a barren country of nasty seats and stale popcorn.

  • Paul

    Speaking as someone who works in a cinema (although, in the UK), no, I would say offering burgers or pizza is a bad idea.

    Firstly, it stinks and make the cinema smell which can disrupt the enjoyment for other cinema goers.

    Secondly, popcorn is a nightmare to clean by itself but you start adding cooked food and it becomes impossible. Auditoriums need to be cleaned inbetween showings and often you don’t have much time, having a ton of cooked food sticking to the floor would not help matters.

    Also, if you’re going to a cinema on a regular basis then many cinemas offer membership schemes. Here in the UK, Cineworld offers a £14.99 a months unlimited card which allows you to see as many 2D movies as you want for no cost (it’s £1.50 extra for 3D).

    Some customers go to see five movies a day, meaning that membership more than pays for itself.

    And the simple reason that food is expensive is because money taken from tickets goes straight to the film companies (so, ticket prices are kinda out of the cinemas control), so if food weren’t expensive then cinemas could not afford to pay their staff and would need to shut down.

    I think most people accept that cinema food is expensive, it’s just one of those things that can’t be helped.

    Again, I don’t know the exact situation is the US, but cinema membership does seem like the best option if ticket prices are a concern.

  • Mark Whittington

    The thing is, given the current business model, I can’t see how cinemas can compete with the home for me. As an avid gamer I already have a large good quality 3D TV at home, with a powerful sound system and internet. I pay £10 a month for Lovefilm and debating adding Netflix now it’s in the UK for another £6 a month. This £16 is the same amount it would cost for me and the missus to go and see ONE film at our local cinema of an evening, instead it allows us to watch as many films as we like in a month, only having to sit with people we choose to invite, who we know will be respectable during the film, eating and drinking what we like without paying through the nose for it. Given that DVD/BluRays seem to be out within a few months of films coming off at cinemas now, the whole sordid and expensive cinema experience doesn’t seem worth it.

  • Raskal67

    Needed Improvements for the movie theater going experience (in addition to those suggested:)

    What theaters can do:
    Cell Phone Jamming / Box Office Check In (like a coat check)
    Sell Something beside popcorn that makes a lot noise when sitting next to some who vigorously chomp the stuff.
    Keep Babies out of films not marketed to children / Young Child Free Showtimes

    What Hollywood can do:
    New, original material AS WELL AS sequels and re-makes.  One should not come at the expense of the other.

  • http://twitter.com/tylerralphward Tyler Ward

    I’d also love to see Alamo’s practice of throwing out talkers/texters spread to other theaters.

  • Magnusjragnarok

    Two quick ideas:

    1) Childcare for parents who want to see a movie. They could charge $10/kid per movie. I can’t count the times that my wife & I wanted to go see a movie, but finding a sitter and coordinating the whole thing was just a fiasco. So instead of them getting zero of my dollars, they get to sell 2 full priced tickets and collect $10 for watching my little one.

    2) Theater membership. Create a tiered system that creates steady, reliable revenue. For example: $25/month for 4 movies, $60/month unlimited, special offers or screenings for members only. This will allow theaters to better budget for income if they know exactly how much they have as recurring revenue. Also, theaters kill on concessions, so even if someone went to see 20 movies in a month on an unlimited plan, they’d still probably be selling drinks and popcorn and such.

  • Lady05giggles

    I love going to the movies too! I wish the seats were more comfortable. Some theaters have sofa lounge type seats, where others have those hard seats with no cup holder. They can be cleaner and also add more of a design or theme to the old out dated theaters. TheGrauman’s Chinese Theatre is still one of the coolest looking theaters. I have to completely agree with your last statement. My best movie experience was in Woods Hole Massachusetts, watching The Dark Knight, having a bear, calamari and fries. Amazing experience. Probably one reason I saw The Dark Knight twice. I would disagree slightly on only having more bigger films because I will take a good story on a spectacle any day. I am still proud to say I did not like watching Titanic or Avatar more then once, as an example.

  • Lady05giggles

    I understand what you mean, but I will say when people are eating and watching a movie, they are much more distracted then doing anything else, like talking or using their phone.

  • Thompson500

    Buy a Sharp Aquos 90″ LED tv. Won’t miss the theater at all.

  • Tank

    I can’t imagine a movie theater not letting someone in just because they have kids – do they like making money? Surely they do. It is annoying when people talk and take phone calls, etc, but it’s part of it. Deal with it or leave. Or complain to the management. Or go on nights where the crowds are not as big. I would never go to a movie on a Friday or Saturday night. Or a holiday night. 

  • Frank_piss

    The price issue isn’t just a no-brainer; it’s the number one thing that puts people off going to the movies. People don’t mind paying a reasonable price to go and see a movie, and for the accompanying popcorn or snack. But when the gouging is so blatant- charging $10 for a coke and popcorn that you know costs less than a dollar to produce- people will stay at home and download movies with a clear conscience, or wait for it on DVD. The main reason box offices are taking a hit is because they won’t sacrifice their profit margins- they’d rather make 60% of nothing than 30% of something.

  • Dalghryn

    That’s kind of what the whole article’s about… how to make it more attractive and what makes it so unattractive you won’t go.  Your “Deal with it or leave.  Or complain to management.”  is exactly why I don’t go.  As I said before, I understand it’s difficult to regulate something like that.  They choose not to, and that’s their call, but unless they do, I simply won’t go… no need to deal with it, leave or complain if I’m not there at all.