The Death of Movies: Less Than 5% of U.S. Goes to Movies ‘Frequently’

I hope you’re sitting down, because I have some difficult news to share: Almost everyone hates going to the movies. After cinema attendance hit at 16-year low last year, a new study has found that only 3% of U.S. consumers consider moviegoing “a frequent source of entertainment.” Is this news as bad as it seems? And if so, what can be done about it?

Maybe the most depressing thing about the survey in question is that it’s really easy to imagine why movies have fallen so dramatically in popularity (Two years ago, 28% of people rated moviegoing as a frequent source of entertainment, to give you an idea of just how sharp the decline is). After all, going to the movies is both expensive and, often, not that fun of an experience; bad crowds, bad seats and bad movies can all end up ruining the night out. When you start to think about all of the variables that can make moviegoing a less than optimal way to spend your time, suddenly alternative plans become much more attractive.

What exactly is the problem, though? Consider for a second Marvel’s The Avengers, which has been breaking records as easily as most of us find breathing since its release last month; when you look at the success of that movie, there’s a sense of “The movie industry’s in trouble? Really?” Add in the hype/expectations/hope for things like Prometheus ahead of its release, or The Dark Knight Rises, and there’s a sense that perhaps the problem isn’t moviegoing in general, but that most movies just aren’t trying hard enough to excite audiences.

Certainly, that’s something that seems to be suggested in the survey itself; results show that bad movies are quickly killed on social media, lessening people’s desire to venture out for one of their apparently infrequent trips to the theater to try it out – John Carter‘s swift fate, anyone? – and so, maybe the answer to the problem of “How can we lure people to the movies more often?” really is just “Make better movies.” And yet…

…There’s a sense, for me at least, that what really helped Avengers become the juggernaut that it is wasn’t that it was a good movie – or not just that it was a good movie, at least – but that it was an event. Like The Dark Knight Rises is currently doing, Avengers was promoted not as a movie, but as an inevitability: “You’ve come this far, seen all these other movies with these characters,” the advertising seemed to be implying, “Don’t you want to see what it was all leading up to?” Even before the movie opened, expectations and anticipation were at an unusually high level of fever pitch; it’s not as if Avengers was just any movie that happened to be awesome, it was the result of literally years of planning and teaching the audience to be excited about.

That’s not an easily repeatable feat, and the idea of cinema needing more of that is… not necessarily a good thing, in my mind. Not only would it be exhausting to find yourself constantly in a push-and-pull of different franchises building themselves (and you) up into a climactic frenzy over a number of years, going from the Marvel movies to the DC movies to the toy movies to the and so on and so on – Hell, I find the summer movie season exhausting even now, the idea of extending that to the rest of the year is horrifying – but it’d be amazingly expensive and risky to the studios to actually make happen, considering the cost of those movies and the potential for another Battleship or John Carter (Oh, Taylor Kitsch, what did you do to deserve such a cruel box office fate this year?).

Not to mention, wouldn’t that make the movie industry even more homogenous? It’s not as if there’s a spectacular variety in the movies that make it to theaters these days as is, and so trying to create even more movies-as-events in the hope of finding a regular stream of films that will push infrequent moviegoers out of their seats and into the theater’s more-plush-more-dirty seats seems like a recipe for a very dull selection at the multiplex, to say the least.

None of this, of course, can be seen as good news for theater owners. Movie studios, after all, can find new lives with alternative distribution models – “You don’t want to see movies in theaters? Fine! We can sell them to you on DVD or Blu-ray or stream them to you or let you download them, whatever you want!” – but the theaters themselves? This is genuinely bad news for them, and there doesn’t seem to be a silver lining to be found anywhere soon. Perhaps they should look to their own alternative business models, too; show the big movies on evenings and weekends and more specialist fare during weekdays, perhaps?

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Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/moffattbooks Matthew K. Moffatt

    when you heavily promote movies for the Summer season and the end of the year holiday season but put lesser attention on movies the rest of the year of course ticket sales will go down.  I’ve only seen 2 movies in the theater this year, Hungary Games and Avengers.  If  you wanted better sales, space the mega movies instead putting them in the American summer just because kids are out of school.  And stop making things PG-13, if something should be rated R because the source material would be, don’t kiddie it just to get more ticket sales.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/José-Marrero/100003829940048 José Marrero

    Movies nowadays are expensive and boring… enough said…

  • http://www.multiplexcomic.com/ Gordon McAlpin

    I found the original source for this: http://www.slideshare.net/EdelmanInsights/dert-2012-deckreportmaster-61112-final-for-public It comes from a survey about “value and engagement” in entertainment by Edelman.

    The actual question on the survey was “What source of entertainment do you turn to MOST often?” Not “A frequent source of entertainment,” but “MOST” frequent.

    Of course it’s not movies! You have to leave your house to watch movies! But if you watch a movie on Netflix, it falls under Internet. A respondent could feasibly watch movies at the theater MORE often than two years ago but if you watch movies on Netflix more frequently, you would have to answer “Internet.”

    And the drop from 28% looks to be because accountable by a change in the way “Internet” was (Perhaps in 2010 people who watched Netflix most often putting that down as “Movies” instead? But that’s a guess, because there’s no information about that in the Edelman deck.)

    The point of all this is, this is an inaccurate and erroneous conclusion based on a misapplication of Edelman’s data.

    The MPAA has much more appropriate and targeted data here: http://www.mpaa.org/Resources/5bec4ac9-a95e-443b-987b-bff6fb5455a9.pdf

    According to THOSE statistics, 10% of the population of US and Canada are frequent moviegoers (1 or more times per month).

  • nailsin

     Well done Mr. McAlpin.

  • PattiEFink
  • Ed

    It’s not hard to control at all: simply turn off your phone before you walk into the auditorium. I’m sure you won’t be missing anything important by not having it on that extra few minutes before the previews start, and that way you are making sure you don’t forget to turn it off when the movie actually does start. It’s just common courtesy. Granted, yes, the guy who yelled at you might have jumped the gun a bit. But I’m sure he was just afraid that you were going to keep it on all throughout the movie and wanted to make sure to nip it in the bud.

    This is the number-one reason why I myself hardly ever see movies in the theater anymore. Way too many people these days have absolutely no idea how to be courteous to and respectful of others.

  • michael

    When it costs $40-50+ for a family of four to go to one movie (much more if they get popcorn and a drink) when they can buy a DVD AND a delivery pizza or two for the same price or less and have the ability to watch the movie more than once, most families will wait until a movie hits DVD. Individuals and young boys/girls will go to the theaters because traditionally it’s teens and 20s that have the disposable income (ie no mortgage or rent) to afford things like movies and clubs. That’s also why Hollywood bends over backwards to make 80% of it’s output for people under 30. 

  • Shadowchaser076

    I hate going to the movies now because of the crowds. They’ve become rude, talk during the movies, play on their phones, constantly getting up and down and worst of all bring their babies and young children to the movies, especially if its rated R. People have seem to forgotten respect and they’re not at home. Only times I go to a movie is usually during the summer for a big movie. These days I’d rather wait for a couple of months for the dvd. 

  • Lastnamecumbie

    The problem is pricing on everything I do not want to pay 14 dollars a ticket to see a movie I might or might not like. I do not want to spend 20 dollars on some popcorn and a drink so I can have something to enjoy my movie with. I like most Americans wait for the movie to come on dvd because it is cheaper to rent it and watch it on my big screen television along with my cheap popcorn and drink.

  • Alex

    Yeah, it really bites. I haven’t b een to the movies since last year. I doubt I’ll go again. It’s just a different time. A time of mobile devices and people walking around staring at their little screens texting instead of actually interacting with people. Bizarre, strange century.

    back in the 90s it was still a lot of fun to go the movies. We went to see Speed and we were the only people there, but it was fun and a great thing to do. I don’t see the movies have much of a future when there are literally 6 differentways to watch it. The Theater, then downloadable cloud thing, Bluray, DVD, I-PHone, Redbox, and Betamax. Where does it end?

    I don’t see the big creative thing from either the big movies or the little indie ones, so I don’t know what stuff the movies have for people down the line anyway.  I hear the Avengers is pretty good, though.

  • Ste1bro

    Erm… no offence meant, but YOU are what’s meant by the ‘bad crowds’. Anyone who doesn’t turn a phone off by the time the lights are down deserves a bit of grief. He probably thought you were going to keep it on throughout the film. 

    Mobile phones, loud snacks and general lack of courtesy to others. They’re what’s ruining the cinema experience. I’m totally on that guy’s side.

  • Demoncat4

    the thing is that has the movie industry  not having as many go to theatres any more besides all the different ways of seeing a film from dvd to streaming is mostly the high cost of the tickets plus adding in stuff like popcorn  or candy but moslty hollywood just now doing remakes or reboots of films people have already seen in earlier versions over and over. no taking risks of giving movie goers who pay the ticket price something new to spend the time in the theatres

  • Dr No

    Redbox and Netflix are making it much cheaper to see movies for those who are willing to wait. In a down economy, folks are much more careful where they are spending their money. People are not going to plunk down $15 for a movie at a theater when they could watch it much more comfortably at home for much cheaper. 3D and other new theater amenities like dine-in theaters can be nice, but often make the trip even more expensive.

  • Leader Desslok

    I LOVE the movie-going experience. The cost is pretty daunting but I just say, what the heck? I’m making it a special treat: whether I’m alone, with a friend or a young woman, I’ll just get the popcorn, candy and Nachos with a soda and have fun. The problem is that I haven’t seen any movies that get me excited enough to want to invest the time and money.The last contemporary American movie I saw that wasn’t related to comics; where I felt I had enough fun to justify the price tag was STAR WARS:REVENGE OF THE SITH, a whopping SEVEN years ago, and even that was essentially part of an established franchise.
    Most of the movies in recent years have been tremendous disappointments. If there was a good idea, the execution faltered; if a good script, the acting was pathetic. Most so-caled dramas have lame plots and the casts have been strictly pedestrian to the point of resembling not America of today nor even America of the 30s where the only Third Worlders that could be found were Steppin Fechit and maybe Europeans (Whites) made up to look like Latinos, Asians and Native Americans! There were indeed actors of all three persuasions available in those days but theirabsence could have been attributed to short-sightedness or outright bigotry. But what’s the excuse for the present day? There is none. Unless the producers wanna throw in an Asian (but not TOO Asian looking) woman to appeal to the nerds but still satisfy the illusion of diversity! But even so, the final product is usually a vapid, violent drama with all the suspense of a soggy corn flake or a foul-mouthed, marriage-mocking romantic comedy bordering on the pornographic! Yet, somehow these crappy “epics” get thrown into theaters anyway and movie goers like myself are fleeing in the opposite direction–heading for the nearest revival theater or BluRayDVD outlet!

    When I am occasionally excited by something I “discover” on video like LET ME IN–I am saddened to learn it is actually a watered down, Hollywood version of a better Foreign film (LET THE RIGHT ONE IN)!

    “It figures,” I think while shrugging. “That’s where movie-making is these days!”

    I once read an article in a left-leaning periodical called THE NATION wherein the writer lamented that our contemporary culture just isn’t advancing but holding still. He (or she) pointed out that our “junk” fiction isn’t as good as the same product of  Yesterday. And I believe he was pointing out the demerits of novels like “BRIGHT LICHTS, BIG CITY” in comparison to the works of the great Pulp writers such as Chandler and Caine; heck, I would even go so far as to unfavorably comparemodern-day “soaps” like “Grey’s Anatomy” to “Dallas” or even (*Gasp*) Dynasty.
    The point he was making was that our culture, American, that is, isn’t growing but collapsing and feeding on the “greatest hits” of yesteryear; while in return, vomitting-up inferior imitations. He was largely looking at literature both “High” and “Low” but I think, without question, that his or her premise could definitely be extended to Film.

    I am thinking about going to see Oliver Stone’s SAVAGES. It seems that only Stone and Scorsese do it for me anymore but even their work is looking a little long-in-the tooth. When they retire–who will intrigue me enough to want to go to a movie theater anymore? Who?

    Ooops, I just remembered, they’re showing THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES at the BOGART THEATER in about an hour– BUH-BYE!

  • Lion_okitkat

    Keep your phone on vibrate and just ignore the haters. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your phone on vibrate. No one has the right to yell at you. Maybe ask you politely to put your cell on silent but to yell? 

  • Avid Movie-goer

    No surprise there.

    Why would anyone want to sit in a smelly, dark room with a bunch of self absorbed strangers? Think of the last time you went to the cinema and how many of these you had to endurePeople eating loudly (with their mouths open so you can hear them chewing)slurping/drinking ( down to the ice at the bottom of the cup so everyone can hear that rattle(you know the one))getting up and going to the bathroom and thus walking in front of peopletalking(usually about some private gossip/ obscene shit that NO-ONE wants to hear about)coughing (thanks for spreading your germs)
    sniffing (tissues aren’t that expensive, or better yet stay home if you have a cold)
    texting (oh, whats that light shining over there like a torch)sitting in the wrong seats (if your ticket says J23 guess what your seat number should be?)taking there shoes off (wtf? like the cinema didnt already smell bad)

  • Richard

    Bad crowds. People chatting through the film. kicking the chair or using it as a foot rest.
    With any decent home theater what is the benefit of paying just as much or even more to get the experience ruined by the crowd. If people were polite and could be quiet during the film then it would be worth the hassle of going out. With bad audiences and theater staff unwilling to do anything about it. Where is the downside of waiting a few months to see a great copy of the film at home. Legally.
       If the theaters could raise awareness and once in a while tell people to shut up the whole experience could be improved.

  • RunnerX13

    A point to the movie theaters being a problem’ here on Long Island one of our main cable providers, Cablevison, offers “Optimum Rewards” when you have all three services (phone/internet/TV), and one of the perks is free movie nights.  Well, the theaters that participate are the worst around, I rather pay the $12 or not see the movie at all, then see it for free in a crappy theater.

  • Kevin

    Seems like I’m in the minority in that I haven’t had any issues with crowds. My issue is for 2 tickets, 2 drinks, popcorn, and babysitter, that runs around 60 bucks. Or snag it on blu ray and have my own food and drinks for the whole family, and it runs around 30. And I now have a copy of the film to watch over and over. It costs about a quarter what it costs to go to the theatre to wait for the video release, and that seems to be down to about a 2 to 3 month wait. Which is reasonable. So I only go to the theatre for movies I REALLY want to see.

  • Weerd1

    Every time I go to the movie I have to contend with the “Oh Sh*t” guy, or giggly teenage girl group, or texters, or people who bring toddlers to PM showings, or people with running commentary, or some other jerk who thinks they have the right to act like they are in their living room when they go to the theater.  I would spend a hell of a lot more on theater films if it weren’t for the fact every time I go I regret it.  I don’t mind paying the price if I know I will be able to watch the movie in peace.

  • darthtigris

    Once again, Graham get’s upstaged in true journalism by a commentor.  Not even surprising anymore … : /

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NAEBLKG2WRIPHUO4P42X5EIWD4 J

    It really is as simple as give us better movies.  The event theory doesn’t work because honestly, if The Avengers had sucked or been even just ‘good’ or mediocre would it have had as many repeat viewings?  Say what you like The Avengers is a new movie, not another Thor or Iron Man or Captain America.  It isn’t just giving us the adventures of any one character alone against a new foe, its showing those characters at battle with each other and a totally new foe.  It gives an entirely different angle on them … it isn’t just another movie.  The Dark Knight, which I want to go see, I’m less apt too, since I’ve already seen the first two movies.  This isn’t to say I won’t try to get there but I’m more likely to miss out on that movie than go to a new movie … and the reverse may be the same for other people.  That they know that the Batman movies are so well done, they would rather see something they’ve had before than risk it on something that’s just like everything else out there.

    Less sequels would be better, and I sincerely believe a really brilliant movie will bring out an audience more than some foolish gargantuan event epic.  Hollywood wants quick returns on its investment and rather than make 5 solid movies that entertain, they’ll put all their money into a tentpole that becomes too big to fail and then does just that because it isn’t anyone’s passionate vision but rather the work of a committe following a previously plotted out plan to make a cake out of the same ingredients as the last cake … er movie.  Only the first cake/movie was a romantic comedy and the new one is a vampire zombie alien invasion cake/flick.

  • coalminds

    People openly laugh at trailers for movies like Battleship. Maybe if the powers that be stopped pandering to every single demographic with safe, plastic-wrapped PC content and came up with something new we’d have more desire to go to movies regularly. I can’t wait to boo the Candyland trailer.

  • RichVince

    Speaking as someone who worked in the motion picture industry for over 30 years, including as a consultant, Mr. McMillan has once again displayed his shortcomings as a journalist by writing an article displaying an appalling lack of knowledge about the motion picture exhibition industry.

    To state that this statistic represents the “death of movies”, or even a substantial decline is silly.  Had Mr. McMillan done a little research he would have discovered that as far back as the 1970′s Time Magazine did a survey that showed that less than 10% of the U.S. population were considered “regular” moviegoers.  And their definition of regular was at least 4 times per year!  You will note that the article he links to does not even give a definition of what they consider regular, which means the statistic could be based an even higher frequency.

    His comments about what is chasing people away (as well as some of the comments to the article) have been perennial complaints as far back as I can remember.  In truth, if nothing else, theatres are more comfortable with better seats than ever before.  There have always been bad movies and bad crowds.

    And there have always been event movies.  Apparently Mr. McMillan has never heard of “Star Wars”, “Dr. Zhivago”, or even “Gone With the Wind”.  Indeed, if measured by attendance instead of dollar gross, the total attendance for “Gone with the Wind” may remain bigger than ”The Avengers”.

    While it is true that there has been a decline in motion picture theatre attendance, that decline has been occuring ever since World War II.  Some of the decline right after the war is attributable to the advent of television as well as the birth of the baby boomer generation, but later the video industry also had an impact, long before the advent of cable or the Internet.  And even more significantly, research as has shown that movie-going declines as people age, some some decline with the aging of the baby boomer generation is inevitable.

    The simple fact is movies have always been driven by the appeal of films (not necessarily quality since a lot of great movies have failed at the boxoffice and terrible films have been hits.)  And boxoffice appeal has always been difficult to predict.  Somewhere between 350-400 films are released every year and most people wouldn’t even recognize the titles of any but the 50 most attended.  Film making has always been a high risk business.

    Why is the writer allowed to write articles such as this about an industry he clearly know so little about and has even less desire to research?

  • Savonti

     They’re not “haters” you are asked to turn your phones off, not on vibrate. Those are the rules if you can’t follow them, or are unwilling to follow them perhaps you shouldn’t go to the movies.  Luckily I love near an Alamo Drafthouse, they’ll kick you out for a vibrating phone.

  • Firedrake551

    For me, the main reason is just 3D… It’s just too expensive, so I stopped going to the movies altogether. For about the same price, I can just buy the blu-ray when it releases… Plus I don’t really enjoy it, so paying more for something I like less? No thanks. So yeah, 3D killed cinema for me, and I know many friends/family in the same situation as me…

  • The Insider

     Of course an industry person is going to downplay the whole thing. 

    “His comments about what is chasing people away (as well as some of the
    comments to the article) have been perennial complaints as far back as I
    can remember.”

    Shouldn’t that tell you something right there?  It means the problem has never been fixed.  Thanks, movie industry. 

    I watch movies for free and most of the time I don’t want to put up with what goes on inside of a movie theater. 

    The theaters and studios are slowly eroding what’s special about going out to a movie.  Film looks better than digital, so they eliminate the film.  Theater popcorn tastes better than microwave popcorn, so they price it so you need a loan to buy it.  You want to be shown a film by people that love films (film, ha), so they pass them over for raises to make them quit and replace them with someone they think will do a better job of hounding the customers into buying more crap than they need.  Next time you go to a theater, ask the employees about the movies and which ones they watched recently.  Most of them haven’t seen anything but the most popular and only after it has been out for a couple of weeks.  They’re there for a paycheck, just like most theater owners.  They may have started out as lovers of film, but they became lovers of money that just happened to show films and sell overpriced popcorn to make that money. 

    Movie-going declines as people age?  Well, considering a person on social security can’t AFFORD a movie ticket, that’s not surprising.  

    “as far back as the 1970′s Time Magazine did a survey that showed
    that less than 10% of the U.S. population were considered “regular”
    moviegoers.  And their definition of regular was at least 4 times per
    year!”

    That’s misleading.  In the 70′s, there were about 150 movies released per year which is 1/3 to 1/4 what we get now.  Most movie houses had 2-4 screens, if that, and were spread out making moviegoing more of an event.  Only the most popular films made it into the far reaches of the country.  Of that 150, the average american could be expected to have the option to see maybe half, and that’s just over 1 movie release per week.  Out of the 4 movies per month, maybe 1 would interest you enough to want to watch, and then you’d have to contend with whether you’ll actually go.  4 per year WAS regular…just like 2 per month would be regular now because of how exponentially prevalent theaters have become.  Leave it to the industry guy to skew the point in his favor.

    By all accounts, theater attendance should be UP, and up A LOT.  The studios and the exhibitors have gotten so greedy that they can’t see the truth behind their huge piles of money. 

    Why is it that it’s so hard to find movie lovers in a billion dollar movie industry?  Because it’s full of money lovers, and movies are a technicality.  Thanks for ruining it for the rest of us.

  • The Insider

    ” The speakers are shot and the projector not HD.”

    HD is BS.  Film, when projected by a properly maintained projector, looks better than HD.  Film is an UPGRADE from HD.  Wanting an HD projector means you want a lower quality picture.  I’ll grant you that your theater probably sucks all around, but the absolute best picture I’ve ever seen is an IMAX 70mm film in a real IMAX theater with a brand new bulb…and I’ve pretty much seen it all.  Digital has its advantages, but if you want to watch something the way it’s supposed to look, then film is your HD.  The problem isn’t that the projector isn’t HD it’s that the theater doesn’t care to give the best presentation possible, so it’s not a surprise that you feel you get a better presentation at home with a big HDTV.  You probably do, but it’s not film or the projector’s fault.  It’s the fault of the theater operator.

  • Trama80

    At the end of the day, it’s the money. Until theaters adopt economies of scale, attendance will suffer. Because for every packed screening of Avengers, there’s a half full (if that) screening of Dark Shadows or Battleship or That’s My Boy. 

    If more theaters adopted the Alamo Drafthouse model ($10 evening prices, full food and drink menu, and a no tolerance policy against texting/talking) or tried reduced prices on Sundays or during the weeks – they may entice audience to try movies there instead of waiting four months to pay $1.50 for a BluRay through Redbox. 

    You don’t have to have a Masters in business to realize that 250 seats at $8 or $10 a ticket will make you more than 100 seats at $13 or $15 a ticket. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/7heHeat Herson Cruz

    I love going to the movies, even though, I have only been to the theatre twice this year (Avengers and Prometheus).

  • RichVince

    My point in posting was only to illustrate the errors in Graeme McMillan’s thesis that the motion picture exhibition industry is “dying” and using the research about 5% of the population being regular movie-goers as evidence.  I take issue with anyone spreading misleading information.

    I’m sorry you had such a poor experience in your theatre job, but you are projecting your experience on the entire industry and making a lot of factual errors in the process.  I don’t think this is the proper forum for either of us to either rant about personal issues or try to  analyze an entire industry.

    That being said, I do want to correct some of the misleading statements you are making:  There were many, many more than 150 movies released per year in the 1970′s as you claim. To quote the 1979 edition of the Motion Picture Almanac, “Total number of new feature films rated by the Code and Rating Administration in 1977 was 374, compared to 471 in 1976.”

    You state that in the 1970′s  ”Most movie house had 2-4 screens, if that, and were spread out, making moviegoing more of an event”.  But the same edition cited above reports that in 1977 “10,044 were indoor theatres with 12,692 screens and 3,536 were drive-ins with 3,802 screens.  The first twin theatres were Jerry Lewis Cinemas and they were developed in the early 1970′s and the concept was just taking hold by 1977.  Larger complexes came much later. 

    I’m not sure what you are talking about theatres being spread out.  In larger metropolitan areas most theatres were grouped together downtown.  The concept of suburban theatres was just developing.  Was moviegoing more of an event?  Probably, but it was because all movies played exclusively in one theatre, sometimes for as much as 3 months or even over a year and the theatres themselves were much more elaborate.

    As for your contention that “only the most popular movies made it into to the far reaches of the country” and your calculations about how few films residents in small towns had the opportunity to see, apparently you are unaware that in that era prints for most films were circuited into small towns and, since most small towns could only support one theatre, it would typically show 2 films on a split week, one for 4 days and another for 3 days, to fit them in.

    As for “Movie-going declines as people age?  Well, considering a person on social security can’t AFFORD a movie ticket, that’s not surprising.”  Well, no.  The MPAA has done research on moviegoing ages since they started research in the 1960′s and consistently frequency has declined as the population got older starting in their ’30′s amd continuing through middle-age (their high earning years).  Frequency actually INCREASES for seniors.  Which is why many specialized market films are made and targeted towards the senior demographic, “Marigold Hotel” being a recent example.

    Are movies expensive?  Sure.  But you are probably unaware of .50 Tuesdays that became an industry trend many years ago.  Even brand new movies could been seen for half a buck.  And the theatres would sell out every Tuesday.  But, what everyone discovered was that those theatres were dead on Friday and Saurday nights.  The audience just shifted with no overall increase in attendance.  It’s easy to say a lot of people don’t go to movies because of the cost, but the reality is there is no evidence lower prices increase attendance or prices chase customers away if it is a movie they want to see.

    Indeed, comments about prices fail to address a deeper problem:  When movies cost as much as $200 million to make, the money to cover the cost has to come from somewhere, especially when most movies lose money.  It is a very high risk business.

    This issue even pervades to the theatres themselves.  Despite the high prices at the concession stand and the often low wages you complain about, you seem to be unaware that 8 of the 10 largest theatre chains in the U.S. filed for bankruptcy 10-15 years ago.  Even today, a lot of theatres are profitable only because the cost of building them, sometimes as much as $20 million for a 12-plex, was written off in those bankruptcies.

    Before either you or Graeme McMillan start posting comments you should do your research.  You are presenting opinions to everyone that reads this about issues that are a lot more complex than you realize.  I think that is irresponsible.

  • CRG

    Roudy teenagers are one thing, but when men in their 20′s and 30′s are the most loudest, rude and sometimes violent in the theater, then it’s time to reconsider seeing something first run as oppossed to home release.

    Will guns be allowed in movie theaters to allow you to protect yourself?  Yeah, that’s how bad “bullying” has gotten.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kiel.west Kiel West

    Sad, but long deserved.

  • Tron

     Prometheus is a very good movie.

  • The Insider

     I am no fan of Graeme McMillan, but you are the one misleading people. 

    “To quote the 1979 edition of the Motion Picture Almanac, “Total number
    of new feature films rated by the Code and Rating Administration in 1977
    was 374, compared to 471 in 1976.”"

    That means a feature was submitted to the MPAA, and it does NOT mean that it was EVER given a release.  Furthermore, even if it had been officially released, that could mean 4 screens for 1 week for all anyone knows.  You keep talking about us checking our facts, but you’re using facts that don’t mean anything to draw completely unrelated conclusions.  I did and DO check my facts, and you’re looking at maybe 150 movies which the average american has a real opportunity to watch in a movie theater.  Your smokescreen of “facts” is only making it harder for you to see your own BS. 

    Is the movie theater industry dying?  Yes, but slowly.  Will it die completely?  Probably not (any time soon.)  Considering how it’s what pays your bills, I can see how you’d freak out when sometime tells you you’re not wearing any clothes. 

    “I’m sorry you had such a poor experience in your theatre job, but you
    are projecting your experience on the entire industry and making a lot
    of factual errors in the process.”

    That’s called misdirection.  What you did, not what you accuse me of doing.  I have a great time at my theater job, thanks.  It’s what motivates me to be critical when I see people ruining a good thing.  Most likely people like you.

    “You state that in the 1970′s  ”Most movie house had 2-4 screens, if
    that, and were spread out, making moviegoing more of an event”.  But the
    same edition cited above reports that in 1977 “10,044 were indoor
    theatres with 12,692 screens and 3,536 were drive-ins with 3,802
    screens.  The first twin theatres were Jerry Lewis Cinemas and they were
    developed in the early 1970′s and the concept was just taking hold by
    1977.  Larger complexes came much later. ”

    This doesn’t contradict anything I said.  If anything, you proved what I had already figured was an incredibly generous accounting of the availability of theaters.  “If that” means “at most” or “you’d be lucky to find one that big.”

    “I’m not sure what you are talking about theatres being spread out. [...]since most small towns could only
    support one theatre, it would typically show 2 films on a split week,
    one for 4 days and another for 3 days, to fit them in.”

    These two paragraphs only support my points that people had fewer opportunities to see fewer releases in a given year leading to 4 times per year being “regular.”  Thanks for proving my claims. 

    “As for “Movie-going declines as people age?  Well, considering a person
    on social security can’t AFFORD a movie ticket, that’s not surprising.” 
    Well, no.  The MPAA has done research on moviegoing ages since they
    started research in the 1960′s and consistently frequency has declined
    as the population got older starting in their ’30′s amd continuing
    through middle-age (their high earning years).  Frequency actually
    INCREASES for seniors.  Which is why many specialized market films are
    made and targeted towards the senior demographic, “Marigold Hotel” being
    a recent example.”

    Only because that’s also you skewing things in your favor.  They go more than they did when they had jobs but not more than any other demographic.  If I have to listen to one more old lady telling me how she’d come see more movies if they were cheaper because she’s on a fixed income, I’m gonna go nuts.  Sure, old people get one movie every now and then, but teenagers are the coveted demographic.  You get one Marigold Hotel for every 30 teen films.  And you’ll notice that Marigold Hotel is only doing okay business while PG-13 teen-targeted films (like The Avengers…get over it, it’s for teenagers) are rolling in it.  

    ” It’s easy to say a lot of people don’t go to movies because of the
    cost, but the reality is there is no evidence lower prices increase
    attendance or prices chase customers away if it is a movie they want to
    see.”

    Lower prices probably wouldn’t increase attendance because the people you’re trying to court with the lower prices have realized that in addition to the ridiculous prices there’s also another 10 reasons to just NOT GO to a theater.  You’ve already screwed the pooch on that one with your greed.  So you’re going to keep losing customers and keep raising prices and keep trying new/old gimmicks (3D, ugh) until it’s down to 1% of the population or .01% of the population because “there’s no evidence blah blah blah.”  It’s the same thing with comics prices.  And gas prices.  Once you get the idea in your head that you can charge more for something, you’ll do it IF ONLY because you CAN.  And when there’s a subsequent decline, you blame it on the product and not what you’re charging for it when you should be blaming both because they’re in direct correlation with each other.  When most of what you put out isn’t worth paying for AND you’re asking me to pay MORE for the privilege…well, you know what you can do.  Tell you what… you open a movie theater directly across the street from my movie theater and we show the exact same movies at the exact same time with the exact same quality in presentation and concession offerings, but YOU charge $10 per ticket and I’ll charge $1 per ticket and we’ll gather some evidence.  What do you think?  Betcha I win.  

    “Indeed, comments about prices fail to address a deeper problem:  When
    movies cost as much as $200 million to make, the money to cover the cost
    has to come from somewhere, especially when most movies lose money.  It
    is a very high risk business.”

    So what?  That’s not MY problem as a paying customer.  Movies don’t cost $200 million to make.  Studios SPEND $200 million.  There’s a BIIIIIIIIG difference.  It’s the movie studio’s risk, and they’re the ones that have to cover the cost.  Don’t charge me an extra dollar for Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil so that you can hedge your bets on Battleship.  Oh, and you’re messing up with your facts again.  Most movies don’t lose money.  Most make a profit but use “creative accounting” to avoid showing it so they can write it off on their taxes.  If most movies lost money, then you’d operate at a deficit as an industry, and only the government is allowed to do that.  

    “you seem to be unaware that 8 of the 10 largest theatre chains in the
    U.S. filed for bankruptcy 10-15 years ago.  Even today, a lot of
    theatres are profitable only because the cost of building them,
    sometimes as much as $20 million for a 12-plex, was written off in those
    bankruptcies.”

    You seem to be unaware that there are two types of bankruptcy–Chapter 7 and Chapter 11.  They’ve all filed for Chapter 11, NOT Chapter 7, which provides protection while the company restructures in an effort to remain solvent while paying back its creditors.  Part of that restructuring is NOT writing off the cost of building new theaters.  That’s only possible as a Chapter 7 filing where the company’s assets are sold off and anything not sold gets counted as a loss before payment to creditors can proceed.  So, what you said is just not true. 

    “Before either you or Graeme McMillan start posting comments you should
    do your research.  You are presenting opinions to everyone that reads
    this about issues that are a lot more complex than you realize.  I think
    that is irresponsible.”

    Pot…meet kettle.  Take your own advice, sir.

  • Cyberschizoid

    And now to my
    rant about British cinemas. I can truly say that the multiplex movie theatre has
    completely destroyed the cinema-going experience for me. These soulless,
    uncomfortable and overpriced boxes are so badly sound-proofed that you’d be
    hard-pressed not to hear the thundering soundtrack of the crappy Hollywood
    action movie playing on the screen next door. That’s if you can hear anything
    over the constant chattering of the brain-dead teenagers who think that
    it’s acceptable to talk constantly throughout the movie or text or tweet a
    running commentary on their mobile phones from start to finish. But the icing
    on the cake is the fact that these awful places now keep the lights on so
    brightly throughout the screenings that I can barely even see what’s going on
    in the film particularly if the scenes are taking place in the dark. The light
    glare is so bad that it makes watching horror films a
    particularly frustrating experience. When complaining about this fairly
    recent phenomenon I was told that it was due to “health and safety”.
    So people in this country are now so fucking stupid that they can’t even find a
    seat in a darkened cinema without falling over, injuring themselves and
    presumably suing the arses off the multiplex owners. Give me a fucking break!
    Bring back the days when movie goers were treated like adults and consequently
    behaved as such. Maybe the way forward is to just attend the smaller boutique
    cinema screenings at places like The Roxy Bar & Screen near London Bridge,
    The Aubin Cinema in Shoreditch or The Electric Palace in Hastings. What do you think? Are you fed up with todays multiplex cinemas or are you
    content to put up with being treated like shit every time you shell out your
    hard earned cash to go and see a film?

  • http://www.dealflicks.com/ Sean Wycliffe

    We’ve found from our research at Dealflicks.com that theaters are typically ~88% empty on average. While revenues have increased slightly over the past decade, most all of this had to do with an increase in ticket price driven by 3D, IMAX, etc. versus tickets sold. We’re currently partnering with theaters across the US to help them fill some of their empty seats – I guess we’ll see what happens.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brianna.gunter.3 Brianna Gunter

    Rising ticket prices and the vast amount of stupid movies are honestly what are keeping the crowds away. Nowadays people only go to the movies to see something they really want to see– they don’t just go because they need something to do. Going to the movies now is an event, not a way to pass time. 

    The answer is simple; lower ticket prices and keep the crappy movies out of theaters.