The Movies Are Dead
Well, not even a supercute baby chicken and a whiny fat pig can save the movies from themselves. Why?
Yes, I know we've covered this ground before, but so has the major media and yet they are still whining about it as though mystified by the strange behaviour of the sheep in flyover country. I'm here to tell you that I (unsurprisingly) have the answer. Sure, we can go on and on about how movies generally are teh suck and you get get them for nothing on BitTorrent and everyone now has a state-of-the-art home entertainment system. All that is true. But what is even more true is that the poor beleagured theatre managers have slowly strangled their golden goose over the last decade.
It used to be limited to "Let's all go to the looooobbbbyyyyy and buyourselvesasnack!" with the dancing popcorn and the phallic hotdog. Now it turns any 90 minute feature into a three-hour snore with talking paper bags and faux hippies extolling the virtues of sugarless drink. Great. Fake hippes, fake cola, fake people. And then there are the ads for television shows. TNT may know drama, but do they fully comprehend how little I care? And how I'd rather spend $9.00 to have Hare Krishnas throw hot wax on my armhair than listen to former actors from 'ER' talk about how much they love to cry? And then there are the previews for the movies no one wants to see, but they show the previews so many times that you are rooting for the movie to do badly. If I saw a shirtless The Rock--who looks like a giant circumcised penis when he has no shirt on--once this summer I saw him 10 times. Clue: if I want to see DOOM, I'll play it. If I want to see a giant penis blow things up, I'll hire a therapist or start my own graphic novel business. Or maybe both.
In a world where TiVos are flying off the shelves and much is made of the busy lifestyles of the American people, you'd think theatre owners would figure it out. It's time to rework the paradigm.
1. Kill visual advertising. It eats into the time. People want more time, not less.
2. Sell real food. People like to eat. Let them eat during their movies. And eat real food. Try a Panera or Atlanta Bread Company that sells relatively non-odorous eats with a touch of class. Bagels work well, as does frozen yogurt. Just no pizza or McDonalds.
3. Slather your dining areas, menus, food wraps, etc. with print advertising. And coupons.
4. Announce preview times seperate from movie start times. Charge $.25-$.50 less if people come for the previews. Sort of like charging less for free TV than for premium cable. It works well in that paradigm, why not in the movies too?
5. Every theatreplex has multiple screens. Reserve at least one screen for popular movies that is "adult only". Not porn. Just no kids kicking your seat, screaming, crying, throwing popcorn etc. It'd be a huge motivator for adults who want to spend adult time with other adults. The Y has adult-only locker rooms and adult-only swim hours. It works for them, and they're a family business. Why not do it with theatres?
I've always toyed with the idea of opening my own theatre and playing by these rules. If no one else takes me up on it, maybe someday I will. And we'll have the used bookstore right next door. Coble Nerdplex to the rescue.