4 Ways Movie Theaters Can Become Relevant Again

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I guess I might just be old fashioned, but I love the theater experience. There’s nothing quite like watching a film on the big screen, feeling your chair vibrate from the volume of the speakers, and being able to share a good story (hopefully) with those around you. However, there are a number of things now that keep this once fantastic experience from being entirely enjoyable. Regardless, it’s still something I want to see stay alive. I don’t know about the rest of you, but as much as I love technology, I can’t bring myself to watch a movie on the tiny screen of my phone. It feels like I’m doing the movie an injustice. Even watching them at home on Blu-ray (the way God intended films to be viewed at home), isn’t quite the same as seeing them on the big-screen, so even Home Premium doesn’t appeal to me.

While DirectTV’s service has been catching some flack lately, and many claim it could lead to the demise of the theaters, the truth is the movie-houses have been declining for a while, and it’ll need more than Home Premium ceasing it’s service plan in order to save it.

Concession Stand

Better Concession Menus

All right, this one may not seem that important, but in an increasingly health conscious society, would it be so bad to start offering some better alternatives to their greasy foods and candy? Seriously, I know that I haven’t been interested in the concession stand in years for that very reason (unless an Icee is involved), and the only time I’ll eat at a theater is when it’s combined with a restaurant.

Since theater owners are so dependent on concessions to bring in their profits, it would seem only natural to expand their menu options, and provide those alternatives for people who desire them.

3D movies

Adjust Ticket Prices

This one isn’t solely up to the theater owners, I know, but they do have a measure of control over it. Jacking up a ticket over $5 for a 3D experience, when you’re using cheap glasses that cost about a penny to get is kind of ridiculous. Especially considering the fact that you make us return them!  I know that theaters have to pay for those massive and expensive 3D projectors some how, but to the general consumer it’s hard to see where that extra cost is going.

Maybe a $2-$3 increase would feel a little better, but I think the general idea is that anytime you are going to increase your price, you need to increase the quality of the experience in some way.  Perhaps the easiest solution is to ensure that you offer both a 3D and non-3D viewing of the film.  While some owners may balk at eating up more valuable screen space, it may help bring in the customers who don’t want to pay the 3D price, but still want to see the movie.  Some theaters do this, and some don’t.

On top of that let’s look at our prices in general.  While ticket prices have been increasing, sales have been decreasing.  So maybe it’s time to bring back $2 Tuesdays, or something like the special deals they used to offer up for tickets in the past.  While several theaters do have deals and coupons at times, they aren’t with the regularity that they used to be.  In an economy that’s still recovering, you may be more likely to fill a theater off of a special.

Projectionist

Service Check the Theater

When it comes to enhancing the theater experience, it seems to make sense that it’s important to ensure all the technical aspects are well-maintained and taken care of. The fact is, most theaters let themselves go and won’t address any issues until someone (usually me) complains about something.

It could be something as simple as a split frame on the screen, or the camera not being centered and part of the frame is hugging the ceiling instead of the screen, but it’s little things like that which detract from the experience, and turns it into a hassle, rather than something fun. Hell, when it comes to watching things at home all you have to do is hit play…

There is plenty of time between screenings, when they go in and ‘clean’ up the theater (which is something else they should be a little more vigilant about). During that same time period it would seem fairly easy for the projectionist to hop down, make sure the projector is lined up properly and operating smoothly. I mean….that’s why they still hire projectionists (and if they don’t have a dedicated one, they need it). This would go a long way towards making every screening go smooth and be enjoyable for everyone.

And at least once a day, check the screen lighting. This is especially true these days in the era of 3D. If the screen isn’t lit properly, it can throw off all the colors, and make incredible shots, look okay, and can turn good 3D into “I paid $5 extra dollars for this!”.

Movie Theater Usher

Don’t Be Afraid to Kick People Out

This is probably my #1 pet peeve when I go to the theater: people talking or interrupting the movie. No matter where you go, inevitably, there will be a person, or group of people somewhere making a lot of noise. It could be a group of giggly teenagers, or just an asshole who doesn’t want to shut up or put down the cell phone, no matter who it is, it’s awful. It can ruin the experience and make you wish you could just see it at home in order to avoid those distractions.

The real problem is that these days, theaters don’t have ushers patrolling every screen with any sort of vigilance. They are there occasionally to take up a food or drink item you may have snuck in, but even then, they aren’t around that often. So they aren’t there when you really need them to tell someone to tone it down or get out.

Hell even if by chance they are around, more than likely they are about 16-17 years old, and let’s face it, aren’t very intimidating. But it’s not only that; the mentality has changed as well. Theaters are so eager to keep customers in their seats they are reluctant to throw anyone out for being rude or distracting other patrons. What they don’t realize is that more people would likely stay loyal if they knew their theater didn’t tolerate inconsiderate and stupid people.

Movie Theater

Well, that’s what I’ve got. Are there other things they could do? Sure. They could bring back the awesome arcades they used to have, more free swag, and recliner seats, but those are somewhat frivolous. These basic elements that I’ve mentioned could really enhance the theater experience and once again make them more relevant to the movie-goer and average consumer crowd. Just by fixing up the basics, I think they’d go a long way towards not having to worry about going the way of the dinosaurs.

-Jordan