Movie Theaters Trying To Lure Customers With Any Non-Movie Event They Can

In a bid to save the movie theater industry, venues around the country are turning to just about any other kind of entertainment event they can possibly show that isn’t actually a movie. If you’ve got that big old screen and seats for plenty of people, why not pull in some business with say, a nice opera or live boxing match?

The Los Angeles Times reports on the escalating trend of movie theaters hosting special events like live concerts, plays, operas and sporting events, as attendance for traditional movie blockbusters wanes. Combined with better food, huge screens and 3-D capability, theaters still have a few things to offer that people can’t get in the comfort of their own homes.

“We want theaters to be community centers, where people can come hang out and enjoy themselves and not just watch a movie,” said Robert Lenihan, president of programming at AMC Entertainment Inc. “If we can offer better and fresher experiences, we think they will visit the theater more often.”

Movies used to be physically shipped to theaters, but with the digital conversion expected to be complete by 2013, about 2,000 theaters nationwide will soon be connected to a new satellite distribution network. That will allow studios to cut distribution costs and let theater owners get movies to your eyeballs faster, as well as the ability to broadcast live events easier.

One downside for theaters is that making money is a bit tricky with this non-movie game. The price of tickets to events doesn’t always cover the costs for things like the right to major sports leagues’ licensing fees.

It’ll be interesting to see how this all pans out, or if consumers will continue to prefer staying at home in their recliners with fully-stocked fridges close at hand.

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  1. smo0 says:

    I see advertisements for this all of the time, but I don’t (personally) know anyone who attends. I have to wonder if they make any real amount of money from this.

    I don’t think I’d enjoy a “stage production” of anything on a movie screen.

    Most sports fans like the comfort of their own home or a small bar with friends and a hot waitress making sure the wing basket never stays empty and the beer glass never stays dry.

    Also, I’ve never seen a company rent out a theater for a corporate event.
    I’ve worked for a few Fortune 500’s and they have their own set up for stuff like this.

    • who? says:

      I’ve worked at a couple of different places that have rented movie theaters for events. They were mid-size companies that didn’t have any meeting space large enough for the entire workforce, so they rented a movie theater or church. It’s a win-win. The company rents gets cheap meeting space, and the theater collects rent for a morning when the theater would otherwise be empty.

      • cowboyesfan says:

        Worked at a one place that bought out a whole theater so we could all see the first Harry Potter movie.

    • vizsladog says:

      Give me a cookie or I’ll tell everyone you don’t get out much!

    • Laura Northrup says:

      I went to see “La Bohème” at the Met projected at a local movie theater. It was nice, but I I didn’t get a lot more out of it than I would have watching the same performance on PBS or a DVD at home. Opera makeup and body language are really not suited to closeups projected on a theater’s screen.

      Sometimes you don’t get another chance, though. The (UK) National Theatre films many of their productions and shows them on movie screens worldwide. I’m not sure any of these will be released on DVD, and I didn’t have a chance to fly to London to catch “Frankenstein.” But I can pay fifteen bucks and watch it at the movie theater down the street.

      • P=mv says:

        Several people I know love the theater but cant afford the price for live shows. They were considering going to one projected at a movie theater.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      I dunno – we see this occasionally when it’s time for the Duke vs. UNC-CH game. Not enough space at either venue to contain the crazies, so movie theaters in the area will sometimes screen the games.

  2. microcars says:

    We went to see WAGNER’S DREAM on a Monday at 6:30pm because that Theater was the only venue for this documentary.

    Nice idea, but poorly implemented by starting the thing 10 minutes late, and then we found out that it had THIRTY MINUTES of previews touting “upcoming events” such as the actual Ring Operas (which I found out later would not be shown at that theater anyways).

    After about 10 more minutes of this stuff repeated over and over, all the old folks (like me) in the audience started booing. Pretty funny. A few minutes later the previews “paused”, then a menu for a DVR came up on the screen! You could plainly see that the thing was 2hr 30 minutes long. Mystery cursor began to Fast Forward past the repeating ads and previews, then it kept going about 15 minutes into the actual program. Then it hit PLAY.

    So now we missed the first 15 minutes. More booing.
    I called the theater from my seat on my phone. (I had their number handy)
    Then we watched as the DVR paused and it rewound past the beginning into the previews and ads again.
    More booing.

    Then it went forward to the start point.

    I thought it was a nice change from the usual crowd at the theater and would actually pay to see this kind of stuff with like-minded people but the theater ruined it by having it run by someone who had no clue how the equipment worked.

    AND- the company that puts this stuff together ruined it by sticking THIRTY MINUTES of crap at the front end! THIRTY MINUTES OF REPEATING Promos. Many of the promos simply touted the company who put this stuff together and how great they were. aaarrrrghh.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Oh well, at least it’s a great story. This made me laugh out loud.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      It’s the future! You directly controlled your movie experience. B)

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      LOL! Good post!

      We saw the first broadcast of Satyagraha in a theater and it was fine. We saw a replay a week later and they had a few Met promos up front but nothing like 30 minutes worth.

      • microcars says:

        some might think I am exaggerating when I say THIRTY MINUTES in caps, but the show was scheduled for 2 hours and the DVR plainly showed that the show was 2hr 30 minutes long and once the menu came up on the screen you could clearly see the progress bar at the bottom of the screen go to the 30 minute mark before the actual “show” started.

        perhaps this stuff was supposed to start playing while you were waiting in the theater if you got there early? if so, someone did not get the memo.

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      I, for one, an eagerly awaiting the release of the home version of this speech recognition DVR. I would love to “booo” my way through commercials.

  3. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Better food would do it for me. I don’t want to spend that much money on junk. I might be open to combining my lunch/dinner and a flick I’ve been wanting to see. We don’t have Alamo Drafthouse here. Usually I eat before I go. This past weekend, waiting to see Prometheus downtown, I found a tiny coffee lounge that I didn’t know was there, and had the most delicious grilled cheese and bacon sandwich and Italian soda. That is soda water, mango syrup and CREAM. BEST SODA EVER. I wished like hell I could have gotten a bigger one and taken it with me. I think I need to get a bigger purse and rig up a drink holder in there. I’ve got one that won’t fit in my car that would work perfectly.

    It doesn’t have to be a full-on meal on plates or anything, just better. Sammiches or something would be good. I don’t know how movies can compete with the little coffee place, though.

    • microcars says:

      The above-mentioned Theater showing WAGNER’S DREAM (Opera Documentary) as 12 “Cinemas” but is “split” into 2 separate theaters for some reason.
      8 screens on one side, 4 screens on the other.
      The 4-screen side is supposed to be the “art house” side. It has a liquor license and full BAR!

      You can buy drinks and bring them into the theater! But only on the “art house” side.
      The Opera Documentary we saw was on the other side for some reason.
      A nice glass of Cabernet would have made the whole ordeal more tolerable.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        We have a place here that serves beer. But I don’t drink when I go out alone, and I don’t like beer as a rule. I still want to go there cuz it plays indie films the big theaters don’t get, and it’s downtown where a whole bunch of cool stuff is. 8-)

  4. duncanblackthorne says:

    *shrug* I’ve seen this, and I say, “Why the heck not?”. They’ve got extremely hi-def video and audio capability and (presumably) a really big pipe to the Internet, and capacity for hundreds to view something simultaneously in relative comfort. I don’t think it’s my cup of tea per se, but it’s not an unreasonable idea by far. If they could get hi-def cameras and microphones set up in at least two theatres, they could even host virtual conferences (or parties, or what-have-you), I’d think. This has possibilities. The RIAA/MPAA may not be able to adapt as time progresses, but it’s a good sign that theatres are trying to adapt.

  5. MickeyMoo says:

    Recently attended a major publishing software event @ an Imax theater – the venue was not optimal for the presentation(s)

    • madanthony says:

      I went to a Microsoft launch event a couple years ago that was held at a theater -it wasn’t bad, actually, although I was mostly there for the free t-shirt and copy of Windows 7 Ultimate.

  6. Such an Interesting Monster says:

    If you want more people coming into your theater you need to lay down the law and start kicking out unruly patrons.

    I used to love going to the movies as often as finances allowed. Now if I go twice a year that’s a lot. Between the skyrocketing prices for the tickets and concessions and the intolerable chatter, cell phone lights, and non-stop grazing and cud-chewing it’s simply an intolerable experience.

    • bhr says:

      Well, besides you overly insulting tone, I’ve experienced almost none of that. I go to a ton of movies and have never had an issue with unruly patrons (outside of the PG County Magic Johnson Theater)

      If hearing people eat/drink is really that big of an issue for you maybe you are better off staying home. I have never hear someone eating over the audio of a film. I think you are just a dick.

      • RevancheRM says:

        O_O

        Wow…you get offended easily, dont’cha, you little snowflake. He indicated he didn’t enjoy certain aspects of communal entertainment and you get all Internet Tough Guy-ey. Either you see yourself as the unruly offender in his comment or you’ve just self-identified as a dick yourself.

        I vote for both.

        • bhr says:

          How else would one take “grazing and cud chewing?”

          • RevancheRM says:

            Alongside the issues of “skyrocketing prices for the tickets and concessions and the intolerable chatter, cell phone lights” that he also identified as being part of a less than valued experience for the cost of doing so.

            In the end, if he doesn’t like how he’s being treated at the movie theater, he stops going. That’s now the movie theater’s problem, not his.

          • RevancheRM says:

            Alongside the issues of “skyrocketing prices for the tickets and concessions and the intolerable chatter, cell phone lights” that he also identified as being part of a less than valued experience for the cost of doing so.

            In the end, if he doesn’t like how he’s being treated at the movie theater, he stops going. That’s now the movie theater’s problem, not his.

            • JJFIII says:

              And there’s the rub. It might turn HIM away, but should the theater alienate the customer who comes and expects that things will be a certain way in public that are not to his tastes. Pf course, his post has nothing to do with what the article is about. The theaters are marketing to very SPECIFIC events. I doubt if you work for a company and they are having a meeting there, he will run into the same customers he would at The Avengers. Having been to many meetings at hotels and theaters, I generally find theaters to work very well. I can give presentations to employees in a place designed for performances in front of crowds, as opposed to a banquet room designed for a wedding.

              • Such an Interesting Monster says:

                Well the point is that theaters are turning to these events in an attempt to drum up business due to low turnout for movies.

                My point is that if they cleaned up their acts it would bring back moviegoers who got fed up with the substandard experience and they wouldn’t need to find other ways to use their space.

          • Such an Interesting Monster says:

            Well when the 400 pound cow along with her 2 fat piglet children sitting behind me slurped, crunched, crumpled, and slovenly masticated thru the entire 2+ hours of a movie I think I was being rather accurate in my description.

            You’d think after my kindly asking her and her children to graze a little more quietly she’d get the hint. But alas, no.

            Oh, and I forgot all about bringing little screaming children into the theater, especially for R-rated flicks. And people who parade in like elephants 15-20 mins after the movie has started. I mean, yeah, the list goes on and on and on and on. There is absolutely no common courtesy or decency anymore. It would be nice if all theaters were like that one in Texas that routinely kicks people out when they misbehave.

            Consider yourself lucky you don’t get exposed to this when you go to a theater. I think if you did you’d likely feel the same as I do.

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      Cell phone lights appear even in live theaters and it makes me livid! If you want to text during a movie, rent one and do it from home. I’m not paying to see a movie or play only to be distracted every 5-10 minutes by a cell phone light.

  7. bhr says:

    I personally haven’t done special event, but I have friends/family who have done the MET or other traditionally live shows at the local AMC.

    I have done corporate events though. Best example though is my friend, who was a pharma rep. Since they had reps across the country it was a lot cheaper to rent local theaters out for their big annual meetings than flying everyone in to one location.

    What I am waiting for is TV viewing parties. I could easily see (and would probably pay decent money) to do a big watch party for shows like GoT or Walking Dead, if the theater did it right (food, lead in, ect).

    I also expect to see comicon type panels simulcast into theaters.

    • MrEvil says:

      The Alamo drafthouse in Austin already does events like those “TV At the Alamo” they’re called.

      • Cor Aquilonis says:

        They NEED to franchise. This is the type of theater I would attend.

        • varro says:

          We have the McMenamins theater pubs in Portland doing the same thing – I know they have Mad Men and Portlandia viewing parties.

  8. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Loca dinner/liquor/movie combo theater has aired several things for free, including The Walking Dead on Sundays.

    As far as I know, there’s no obligation to buy anything.

  9. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    How much would they charge for me to, say, plug in my Wii and play the biggest, most epic match of Super Smash Bros. Brawl EVER?

    • Amp says:

      For the biggest, truly most epic ever, you’d need about $15,000.

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      You still use your Wii? %] Personally, I don’t think I’ve actually used mine since the day I bought my new TV set about 5 months ago, and that was only to see if I hooked it up right. Before then, I can’t remember the last time I actually played a game on it. Though I will admit I did love Brawl — especially fighting as Wario, because you know he rules!

    • speaky2k says:

      My local independent movie theater has this with a X-box 360. You can rent the theater out by the hour when they aren’t showing movies to play, and the wireless controllers work anywhere in the theater. Or you can rent the theater for a party and bring your own DVD/BD to show on the big screen. They charge $75 per hour as a flat fee for either of these, if you want to watch the current movie for your party it is an extra $3 per person charge.

  10. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Fathom does this, some of the things are pretty good (30th anniversary of Poltergeist?).
    My ‘local’ theater doesn’t do this yet, but they have the Sony 4K digital SXRD behemoths in all 12 of their auditoriums at my theater. Nice to have 2.4 million to invest.

  11. bigTrue says:

    I’d be down. Our local high end theatre chain, EMAGINE, had the CEO on the radio talking about this sort of trend. He made a point to talk about how quickly the Radiohead opening concert for the current tour, in NYC, sold out. Now, I wouldn’t pay a full price ticket, but say, 20 bucks to get surround sound at optimum levels and a comfy seat away from the smelly teenage masses while still getting a view that would be like a floor seat in an intimate setting? I wouldn’t do it for Radiohead, personally not a fan, but for a band I enjoy that doesn’t tour all the time, I’d be down. Shpongle comes to mind, for one of their actual live shows instead of just Simon spinning. I recently went to the Detroit stop on the current tour, had piss poor sound with the bass all high to appease the mostly sub 25 audience who thinks everything should sound like dubstep which missed all of the high end awesome that is Shpongle, in a venue that is basically a giant concrete block room so even with decent sound mixing the place sucks.

    Also, any of the classic rock bands I saw in the 90’s for 30 dollars but now are touring older and fatter, but want 80-150 bucks a ticket. See, Van Halen, AC/DC, etc.

    • nishioka says:

      > Also, any of the classic rock bands I saw in the 90’s for 30 dollars but now are touring older and fatter, but want 80-150 bucks a ticket. See, Van Halen, AC/DC, etc.

      Count me out if it’s Guns n Roses. No sense paying $20 to sit in a theater while Axl Rose deliberately holds the show up for 3 hours.

  12. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    The fundamental problem is that theaters no longer provide a better experience than you get at home…and it costs a lot more.

    Say you and one other person want to watch a movie. $25 in tickets…on top of driving to the theater, for whatever that costs.

    Even ignoring the price of food, which of course is pretty inflated because the theaters have to try to make big margins there to make up for what are often low margins on the movie tickets, that’s expensive.

    I can (wait a month or two or whatever), and buy the DVD/BD for $15-25 dollars. Honestly, I personally probably wait until it’s under $15, but whatever. Some people need instant gratification.

    Then, I can watch that movie with as many people as want to watch it for that ~$20. And I can put it on the shelf, and watch it again later…or I could sell it, or give it to someone, or even donate it.

    All this on my home theater setup that gives a better movie-watching experience than being in the theater anyway. Big-screen HD TV, surround sound with house-shaking subwoofer, no one on their cellphone or talking to the screen or trying to steal homeplate next to me.

    …and yeah, I can pop a bag of popcorn for like a quarter.

    The era of the movie theater is just simply coming to an end, and that’s about all that can be said about it. Unfortunately for them, their format really doesn’t necessarily translate into a good facility for purposes other than watching films. And as a rule, they don’t have stages that are big enough to actually host a real play, or live music, or whatever else.

    So…time marches on. I really don’t think the future has anything in store for this industry but a wholesale loss of the vast majority of theaters…ultimately I think only major urban centers will have a couple theaters for the few people who actually *like* going to the theater. Pretty much everything will be home-based…movie producers will start having to release their stuff on disk/streaming/whatever at the same time as the theater, because that will be their primary market.

    Stuff comes and goes. Let it go.

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      I miss Drive-In theaters, to be honest. They’re more or less the same thing (and having died out, suffered from the same problems) but they did have one thing going for them…

      Nobody gets pissed or uncomfortable if you’re banging your date in the seats.* ;3

      *except perhaps if your seat is the back seat of a Volkswagen.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        I miss them too. When I was a kid, my mom would pop a huge amount of popcorn and put it in a paper grocery bag, and we’d all pile in the car and go to the drive-in. I saw Superman, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Jerk, and many more there. Had lots of drive-in dates in college. Those were the days…..

        My mom and dad actually MET at a drive-in, where my dad was the manager. I owe my VERY EXISTENCE TO THE DRIVE-IN. 0_0

        • RandomLetters says:

          I got to see Star Wars at a drive in. I’m sure I saw more there but thats the only one that stuck in my memory.

      • Agent Hooter Enjoys Enhanced Patdowns says:

        I live just outside of Pittsburgh and I have to say we have oodles of drive in theatres here. The problem, of course, being family that treat the damn space like their house. Seriously had a whole passal of the trash setting off fireworks before the last show. Aside from that though, nothing like pulling in with your comfy chairs, pizza, and drinks and watching the show.

      • sponica says:

        we have one in NH, and it’s cash only. people start lining up their cars about 2 to 3 hours before sundown on a friday and saturday night.

        I don’t think the guy actually makes any money, he does it because its fun.

    • cowboyesfan says:

      You are old.

      Prime market for theaters are teens. Who wants to sit in the living room with their date and watch the 60″ plasma with surround sound next to Dad??

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        Teens are why the movies now suck donkey balls. They’re all marketed at 15-year-olds with the attention span of a gnat.

        • Reno Raines says:

          Movies are marketed toward the same age group they’ve always been it’s just now you are old and are no longer in that group. You sound like a complaining baby boomer who’s upset that not everything is about them anymore.

          • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

            You mean marketing isn’t geared toward old assholes who complain about everything?

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      I’m afraid you’re correct. I can remember when theaters where luxurious and had men in red deacon suits with red-tipped flashlights to get you to your seat. These theaters were often huge and there was nobody making a fuss. Babies went to the ‘cry room’. It was an experience for only $3. They died off when the mega-plex-corp-warehouse style became popular. AMC has been one of the nicest in this genre but it too will suffer extinction not so much due to cost, but to lack of ‘the experience’.

      The last alternate thing I did at a theater was watch a live Bill Gates tout his new Windows 95 operating system. He made me laugh out loud with his claim that it was impervious to viruses. Later, he made me sad when I found out the $25 sales pitch included a CD beta version of W95 which had a secret 90-day logic bomb implanted. What a bastard!

      The only route I can think of is to have AMC create / buy / or contract with a film studio company. Of course, that would tick off the other ones if they don’t do it tactfully. The big studios are completely milking all the seat revenues. The theaters hike the prices of the food, play gobs of ads, etc. which only makes it worse. AMC really needs to start pushing ‘indy’ films if they are to survive.

    • Southern says:

      …and yeah, I can pop a bag of popcorn for like a quarter.

      I have to say, though, I’ve never found a bag of microwave popcorn that tastes anything like fresh theater popcorn.

      Sometimes I stop by my local theater just for a bucket of popcorn. :)

      I’ve seriously been considering investing in one of those $199 popcorn machines at Sams Club.

      • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

        “Fresh theater popcorn”. Hahahahaha. Around here, the stuff they sell was popped three weeks ago in a small foreign nation, and covered in recycled and recolored liquids from the BP oil spill.

      • StarKillerX says:

        When I was in the fire service we bought one from Sam’s club and it was AWESOME!

        I miss the old counter top hot oil self stirring popcorn poppers but of course all any stores around me stock are hot air poppers, and with those are horrible. Maybe I’ll practice my google-fu and see if anyplace still makes and sell those units, they weren’t expensive and the flavor is so much better then air or microwave popcorn.

  13. Snapdragon says:

    I saw a Fathom Events (? not sure) presentation last Thursday of the National Theatre’s ‘Frankenstein’, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller (for which they won a BAFTA). Well worth the money, considering there’s no way I could have seen it otherwise (since it was filmed months ago, in London).

    • katarzyna says:

      Same here. I would have prefered to see it live, but I was glad I had the option to see it at AMC. They were definitely worth the hassle.

    • nekussa says:

      I also saw both versions of “Frankenstein” and really enjoyed it. Everyone in the theater audience was fairly well behaved; I suspect that the higher ticket price weeds out some of the folks just looking for casual entertainment.

    • katarzyna says:

      Oh, and by the way, it wasn’t Fathom, it was National Theatre Live.

  14. RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

    I’ve enjoyed a few operas at my local Regal Cinema, as well as every installment of Rifftrax Live (the guys from Mystery Science Theater 3000 re-grouped to bring fun back to bad movies.)

    Watching an event live with a large crowd gives you an experience you can’t get at home, no matter how nice your home theater setup is. To hear a few hundred people laugh at the same spot, or spontaneously break into applause at some kickass moment (not in the opera, though), is an experience those who have eschewed theaters have lost.

  15. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    there’s a second run + dinner theatre near me that has been doing monday night football, superbowl and used to run “24” on the big screen while it was on the air.

  16. cowboyesfan says:

    Since when is the theater industry failing anyhow??

    $600 million in tickets sold for Avengers…

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      You know they only get like, a nickel from each ticket, right? I mean, that’s great and all, but the theater isn’t making $600 million, is what I’m getting at.

      • cowboyesfan says:

        They get 50%.

        • Dagny Taggart says:

          When I was in public accounting awhile back, one of my clients was a movie chain. Back then (and I don’t think things have changed much), the theatre got to keep 10% of the gross the first week the movie opened. That amount gradually increased the longer the movie was in the theatre. By the time it hits the bargain movies, the theatre’s share is closer to 80-90%.

          • Such an Interesting Monster says:

            I think I’ve read recently that theaters get nothing for the first 2 weeks, and then a slowly-increasing percentage after that.

            But I’ve always felt that theaters do it to themselves. Since studios rely upon them to show their movies why don’t they stand up and demand more money? It’s not like the studios will have any alternatives. So instead of providing crappier and crappier service and charging more and more for concessions how about they go to the horse’s mouths and say “enough is enough, we need more dough”? Until they stand up for themselves against the studios I really don’t have much sympathy for their self-inflicted “plight”.

            • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

              Except there’s one little problem with your argument. Last time I checked, there’s more than one movie theatre chain. Thus, they compete with one another to snag those major blockbuster films from the studios. How do they do that? By giving those studios up to 100% of the gross for the first few weeks–some may even pay an upfront on top of that for the biggies–just to keep that competing chain from showing that movie in the market it’s in. Wonder why that small bag of popcorn costs $10? There’s your reason.

              Or are you suggesting those chains collude to play strong-arm tactics with the studios? I can see the anti-trust lawsuit happening in 3…2…1.

              • GoodBytes says:

                Ok, but at the end of the day all theaters have the same movie. The only time where a movie I anted to see was available at select theaters are the really small ones (which is probably due to size restrictions of that particular theater location), or independent small film.

              • Such an Interesting Monster says:

                Every major chain already belongs to the National Theater Owners Association, so in essence they are already “colluding”, and it’s 100% legal.

  17. cbatt says:

    Silly execs think that content is the problem. The problem is a) It’s too expensive for a family to go see a movie, and b) There are too many annoying aholes that ruin the experience for everyone in the theater. Showing televised concerts and Shakespeare films isn’t going to fix that.

  18. kingdom2000 says:

    God forbid theaters just compete with better pricing. Sure most major businesses in the world do just fine with volume sales (Target, WalMart, McDonalds, the list is epic) where the profit is made by how much is sold rather then hold much profit is made per sale (the theater model). They do that because they know that selling 1000 of something for a 10 cent profit is better then selling 100 for $1 profit. Why? Because the customers come back more often and therefore spend more in the long term.

    I bet if a theatre chain would drop their ticket prices by half and concessions prices by about 2/3 (so prices match the real world average price), they would probably start having constant sold out shows. Its the same thinking that often leads to these second hand ticket sales booths in Vegas and Stadiums where it is better to sell the ticket at a cheaper price then have an empty seat (aka make some money rather then no money). The economics clearly work and yet their greed prevents them from doing it while blaming everyone but themselves for the state of things.

  19. Lyn Torden says:

    I blame the movie theaters … for wanting to make more money. This is what the free market is supposed to do. Maybe it will succeed or maybe it will fail.

  20. rdclark says:

    As a former projectionist and current media specialist, I avoid movie theaters simply because they have become unfamiliar with (and therefore unable to maintain) the minimum technical standards of the industry. Projector bulbs that are improperly dim. Incorrect framing. Focus issues. Unbalanced or absent surround sound.

    I know there is a handful of well-run, high-spec independent houses scattered across the country. They exist in tiny numbers because in the mass market, neither the vendors nor the consumers seem to care about the quality of projection. Most people sit so far from the screen that they couldn’t see the difference between decent and abysmal projection anyway, and they’re too busy with other things to listen to the quality of the sound.

    So I built a home theater that has better technical performance than any but the top-tier independent theaters. It’s not that hard to do, and not overly expensive, either.

  21. RandomHookup says:

    The local independent theater near me has a 35 seat “micro cinema” that you can rent out. You can play whatever you want (DVDs primarily) and invite your friends.

    Of course, this 100+ year old place has a 900 seat hall for concerts/films, so they are used to doing a variety of events.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Oh my that is cool. We have a similar thing downtown, a very old theater. Mostly it does events, although it does show movies from time to time. They’re usually tied into an event, however. I still have not been to it because tickets to most of the events are out of my price range.

      • RandomHookup says:

        You can get some weird connections. There’s a reasonably well known musician who is playing there tomorrow night. I saw him a couple of weeks early in a premiere of a movie he acts in (he’s done a handful of TV/movie roles, but not many). I think I saw Ira Glass preview a movie in the same room the day before.

  22. Donathius says:

    I went to a Rifftrax live thing once a few years ago. Me and the other 15 people in the theater really enjoyed it.

  23. friesentl says:

    This is going to make me seem SO COOL.

    When I was in high school, I was really into drum corps – this was like, 6, 7 years ago? My family used to go to our local theatre to watch their invitationals. It certainly wasn’t live, but it was cheap entertainment.

    Still, every time I see those previews for weird events (currently my local theatre is offering some sort of commentary on African-American film history, don’t know why as my area is largely Hispanic), I wonder who would go to them.

  24. chucklebuck says:

    We’ve seen operas at our local movie theater. It’s quite nice actually. Great view of what’s going on on stage, subtitles for the lyrics, great sound, and you really get to see the details of the sets & costumes. Cheaper than seeing a live opera and in some ways better, IMO. Plus, you can watch the opera while downing Sno Caps & Cherry Icee, which opera houses generally frown upon.

    • catgirl4276 says:

      You have just sold me on opera-at-the-movies. If there was anything Puccini needed, it was cherry Icee. I’m dead serious.

  25. 2 Replies says:

    Remember Arcades?
    They wanted the same thing, then the console gaming market exploded.
    (Key word here….”remember”)

    Theaters need to evolve or go extinct.

    • guspaz says:

      Isn’t that exactly what they’re doing? Diversifying by expanding to classic films, live events, even console gaming?

  26. human_shield says:

    Lower the price. If it didn’t cost so much, I’d go to the movies more often. $11/ticket, $8 popcorn, $6 sodas each…don’t get any candy! $50 for a movie date night. Is it any wonder they are hurting?

  27. yossi says:

    So – The theaters always claim they have to charge $9 for 20 cents worth of popcorn since they make almost no money off the movies, right? Therefore, when they have these special events and they make big profits off the tickets, we can expect to see affordable snacks, right? right?

  28. dourdan says:

    you mean fathom events ?

    if so then – no. that will not save movie theatres.

    ANY event from fathom events (boxing, music, opera, etc) gets shown maybe twice at one theatre per city, at 7:30 pm or some other random time.

    and i mean literally once or twice. – if you miss it on june 3rd (for example) you missed it.

  29. alexwade says:

    I would love to have a well-maintained theater that shows only the classics. First, the classic movies would keep away the crowd I try to avoid when I see a movie anyway. (Which I why I almost always go to a movie during the afternoon when the crowds are less.) Second, I will know ahead of time it is a good movie. Third, for some movies I will have nostalgia.

    I would love to see The Empire Strikes Back on the big screen again. I would love to see some Hitchcock movies on the big screen. And I even would love to Batman: The Dark Knight again, which I consider a classic even though it isn’t old.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Didn’t see this before I made my post below.

      This is exactly my thinking as well. I would love to see the Lord of the Ring movies, and other select movies on the big screen again,

      I would think they could do limited screenings at specific times on set days and make out well. For example showing a different classic every Sunday at noon with ticket prices half the normal cost, and since they would get a larger percentage of the ticket price they would still make out since with a little advertising at the start, and with some thought put into movie selection I think they could make out pretty good.

  30. yankinwaoz says:

    A friend of mine in San Diego is a serious opera fan. He loves the HD broadcast from the NYC Met operas at the Mission Valley Cinemas. He loves that he is comfortable, and he doesn’t have to pay the sky high prices to see the show live in NYC. They usually broadcast them Saturday morning. He tells me that the theater is rather full.

    http://www.metoperafamily.org/metopera/broadcast/hd_events_next.aspx

    I’ve also noticed that a bunch of small churches do their services at cinemas on Sunday mornings.

  31. Shorebreak says:

    In Texas, movie theaters earn extra income by renting out their venues to churches on Sunday mornings. I’m wondering if that income is then tax-free?

    • SilverBlade2k says:

      Church at a movie theatre? That seems such an odd idea.

      I wonder if people eat popcorn while at the service…and the ‘holy water’ was just from the fountain dispenser.

  32. ITDEFX says:

    I am still scratching my head as to why they are going to play a few episodes of TNG HD next month. The show was shot in 4×3 and they plan to project that on the big wide screen? No thanks..they could have come up with a better gimmick to promote TNG HD season 1.

  33. OnePumpChump says:

    Remove half the seats, put in tables, serve food and booze.

  34. Mad Monk says:

    Sad part is Hollywood blockbusters. Special Effects and overproduced films do not make up for a bad story line.

    Part two the raping of movie goers with crappy food at exorbitant prices

    Part three the 10 to 20 mins of B.S. you have to see i.e. Trailers before you see the movie. Time is money and I don’t feel like wasting time viewing this crap. Movie producers want to get me excited play the freakin’ movie.

  35. Claybird says:

    I miss physical film…

  36. Harry Greek says:

    I would never host anything at a movie theater. Not even a birthday party.

    The set up generally does not work too well in a movie theather, for anything other than sitting in the dark for a couple of hours and staring at screen.

    Sporting events? Bars, beer gardens, etc. You know, where attractive women can be seen. No way in hell would a hot chick want to hang out in a stinky moldy theater to watch a game, with the prospect of meeting a guy.

    They have to rejigger the theater set up itself to be able to make it viable for other types of events.

  37. Gamma1099 says:

    A local religious organization rents out one theater in my neighborhood multiplex for 9 AM Sunday morning service.

  38. delicatedisarray says:

    I really enjoy these events. It allows me to “attend” something I otherwise would have been unable to. I go to the DCI events every year, I have also (and am planning to again this next month) gone to see old/classic movies that are being released as one night deals. I’ve not gone to an opera event, but am hoping this leads to more theatrical showings. I would be throwing my money at that, I live in a culturally starved area so this is one of the very few ways of seeing events like this.

    My husband and I will be attending showings of Clockwork Orange and Cabaret in July.

    These events have gotten me to the theaters more than I use to go.

  39. rockelscorcho says:

    I’m seeing Citizen Kane today at my Cinemark Theatre. It’s totally worth it because I would never seen that film outside my own home. This is what they need to do more of. Classic films. I would kill to see Fight Club, The Fountain, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Jurassic Park, There Will Be Blood or others at a theatre again. There is no risk in playing these films for one day. People will come and pay to see it. However, seeing new films are a “risk” because of the uncertainty of the film.

  40. txhoudini says:

    I recently went to see the This American Life Live event at a local theater. A horrible thunderstorm interrupted the satellite feed about 2/3 of the way through. We were given passes to a future movie (not a live event). It was very disappointing.

  41. jiubreyn says:

    The Alamo Drafthouse here in Texas serves food and beer during their movies. Seems reason enough to bring Austinites to the theatres! Not to mention they have some of the cheapest tickets around.

  42. StarKillerX says:

    Personally, I’ve long thought that in the theaters, should have limited screenings of older movies, with a reduced ticket price. Maybe one screening at a special time (such that they can easily prevent people from buying a cheaper ticket and then going into a different movie.)

    For example, I think they would sell far more tickets for a Sunday noon showing of Lord of the Rings for $4 a ticket, then they would by having it as yet another screening of Battleship or the Dictator at $8 a ticket. Then the following weeks show The Two Towers and then Return of the King, and I would think that the theater would actually make more per ticket as well.

    With a little planning, a little bit of initial advertising, and the wise selection of movies I think this could be a great new revenue source, which as an added benifit could get many people used to going to the movie theater again.

    I’ve got a 55″ HD setup at home, and it’s amazing but I still feel that some movies just need to be seen on the much larger theater screen.

  43. guspaz says:

    Here in Canada, the dominant theatre chain (Cineplex) now does a bunch of alternate programming, and I love it.

    It started years ago when they started carrying pay-per-view wrestling events, then they started doing broadcasts of opera and ballet and such, and then they started doing their own film festivals. For example, once a year, they hold “The Great Digital Film Fest”, where they take a bunch of popular movies from before the digital era (70s, 80s, 90s, everything from Alien to The Hunt for Red October to Back to the Future) and have a pretty packed schedule for two weeks. Ticket prices for these are normally cheap, with tickets going for $5 instead of the $10-20 you pay for normal movies (depending on if it’s 3D, IMAX, etc).

    Recently, they expanded this with regular events. They now have a “Most Wanted Mondays” thing where one Monday a month they air a film from decades past, and customers vote on what movies they want to see on facebook. Next month is Wrath of Khan ;) They also started doing this for classic films (basically the same idea but 30s-60s mostly). On top of this there is the occasional promotional screening, like when Funimation screens some new anime movie, or next month they’re screening several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation to promote the bluray release of the first season of that.

    Yeah, this is really just all about Cineplex making more money, but I love it. I always lamented the fact that there weren’t any repertory cinemas in Montreal, and that there were a ton of favourite older films that I never got to see on the big screen. Most of my favourite movies were from the 70s or 80s, but I was born in the 80s, making me too young to have seen these films the way they were meant to be seen. Heck, even some from the 90s; they did Jurassic Park a few months ago, something my parents refused to let me see when it came out (I was under 13 at the time). This sort of thing that Cineplex is doing is a win-win. They get to make better use of dead time in the film release schedule, and I get to see all sorts of amazing older films in a real movie theatre complete with the full cinema experience.

    I apologize for how this post kind of got out of control on me, but I really do love what they’re doing with this stuff, and I really encourage cinemas elsewhere in the world like AMC to follow suit.

    • guspaz says:

      Ironically, there is one AMC in Montreal, across the street from me right now. It’s the only AMC theatre in the whole province of Quebec. And it’s basically exclusively for showing documentaries and indie films. They show very little Hollywood fare. Considering it’s a huge megaplex, I don’t know how they stay in business doing that, they get very small crowds.