06 November, 2005

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.


At 11:16 PM, November 06, 2005, Blogger John H said...

Are you saying you don't like 'The Twenty'??? (c;

Sign me up..I'll work behind the counter at the Nerdplex or sell tickets for cheap, if you'll let me hang around...

At 12:13 AM, November 07, 2005, Anonymous Beth said...

I want to buy a house next to the Nerdplex and spend all my free time there.

While you're at it, why not have a screen dedicated to dog lovers so people can bring their best friends to the movie with them if they want?!

At 8:34 AM, November 07, 2005, Blogger Aunt Lydia said...

Can you add a child free supermarket and restaurant to that shopping center? Don't get me started on our Green Hills Grille experience yesterday..."

At 9:07 AM, November 07, 2005, Blogger Michael said...

Sign me up for that one as well....

At 9:51 AM, November 07, 2005, Blogger P. K. Nail said...

Hurray for Nerdplex! I'm so there!

Seriously, it's not at all that there just aren't any good movies anymore. It's that the moviegoing experience is a pain in the butt for a LOT of people.

I'm with you on charging less for people who come for the previews. Either that or charging people more for getting to the theater late. There are few things that annoy me more than people who come in after the movie has started.

And the kids - I place them in the same category as I do the incessant talkers and people who let their cell phones ring. It's called respect, and too many moviegoers just don't have it.

At 10:11 AM, November 07, 2005, Blogger Casey said...

Please make sure you install cell phone jammers too.

At 11:13 AM, November 07, 2005, Anonymous Muffy said...

The cinemas in Singapore are like, food courts almost. I mean a lot of the foods you can't bring into the theater but my friends and I have successfully smuggled in fries or sandwiches and stuff... either way, they also have a huge sit-down area where you can eat and watch trailers. It's very clever. Because it encourages people to hang out there, and almost every time, people will say "Well we're here, and there's this movie at this time so let's just go see it."

Did that make sense?

At 11:27 AM, November 07, 2005, Blogger Ivy, the Great and Powerful said...

I would SO come to that theater. Especially to the adults only room. My husband and I go out to the theater very, very rarely. One of the reasons? Asshats that bring their children! For God's sake, I go to the movie theater to get AWAY from the children, not listen to some other jerk's children!!

At 11:32 AM, November 07, 2005, Blogger Kat Coble said...

I am so tempted to print out all of these comments and go get myself a tasty business loan... ;-p

There IS an empty cineplex 3 miles from my house.

At 12:41 PM, November 07, 2005, Anonymous Tim W. said...

Thanks for the post, Katherine.

The one and only reason why I go to the movie theater is to share an experience with my wife and/or friends. That's it.

To my mind, there is NO other redeeming value to those places. The cell phone ringing, cellphane crinkling, rude talking, et cetera ad nauseam, make watching a movie in a theater an otherwise "trying" experience, to say the least.

Frankly, I literally close my eyes during the advertisements because I REFUSE to pay money to watch them.


At 2:43 PM, November 07, 2005, Anonymous Sarcastro said...

A possible answer is the Cinema and Drafthouse concept. This is very popular in other markets. Movies are shown in a bar atmosphere. Waitress bring pitchers of beer and assorted bar food to your table while you watch a movie that may not be first-run, but it isn't at the DVD/Pay-per-view stage. This keeps kids out by making it over 21, and the social groups will go because then they can talk and be distracted. So the social groups will stay out of the normal megaplex. Now all you need to do is convince Regal to enforce the no kids in the rated R movie policy. If you are complaining that too many kids are sitting in Harry Potter and the Condom of Fire, well boo-hoo.

At 3:19 PM, November 07, 2005, Anonymous Muffy said...

And that's why I'm waiting a couple of days to go see the new HP movie.

Preferably a late late night movie on a week night.

At 4:14 PM, November 07, 2005, Blogger Kat Coble said...

I will be there, in the IMAX on opening day. Hopefully with few friends, if I can scrounge anyone up.

I don't mind the kids then. But also (and Muffy, here's a good pointer) the IMAX is more expensive and tends to have fewer kiddies in it. And it's frakkin HUGE.

But, as the ever wise and wonderful Sarcastro says--can't complain about the yungstas in a kid-skewed film.

At 4:47 PM, November 07, 2005, Anonymous Sarcastro said...

I saw one of the LOTR (the second one, I think) movies at the Shopry Mills IMAX. I can't recommend that experience. Sure the movie looked great, but on one side I had Frodo and his girlfriend discussing how the narrative strays from the book. On the other side the old couple with a few hours to burn: He slept while she would exclaim "Oh, Come On! This is unbelievable!" Whenever the giant talking trees made an appearance. In front was the Weekend Dad trying to catch his kids up on what happened in the first one and how this ties in. "See that guy, he was the guy who did [fill in activity from first movie], remember?", and behind me were the hipsters who were trying to remember what happened in the first one and could have really used weekend Dad's commentary to enhance their experience.

At 5:49 PM, November 07, 2005, Blogger Kat Coble said...

Not to play Weekend Dad and offer running commentary on YOUR comments but...

The LOTR screenings were slightly different. They were the ones that were the same price, and the same film lensed up to fill 2/3rds of the IMAX screen. So you got the crowd who was pretty similar to the main plexies.

The HP IMAX is one of the newer generation of films adapted to IMAX screens in that it fills the entire screen and is actually formatted for the IMAX with the better sound, etc. And it costs $11.50 versus the $8.50 for the regular plexie print. And they don't run commercials in front of it. It's pretty much better all the way around. Oh, and there are more cineophiles so the chatters get boo'd more loudly and hush it up.

It's still not perfect but it's better. Sorta like voting Libertarian.

At 4:57 AM, November 11, 2005, Blogger Henk said...

Hello, I noticed that you have an interest in Music and movies Just like me.I started a new blog. This blog is about the ethical aspects of downloading copyrighted materials for free from the Internet, so if anybody has an opinion about that, I love to hear from you


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