Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Movie Theaters: A Roller Coaster Ride of Ups and Downs

It seems that at this day in age movie theaters are feeling the aches and pains of decreased attendance, ticket sales, and therefore, lost revenue. The CBS Sunday Morning segment “The End of Movie Theaters?”, really paints us a broad picture on all of the possible reasons for this slippery slope, of which every theater is dealing with.

One seemingly major downer for the Theater companies is the current condition of the American economy. There are plenty of people who are being very cautious of their spending, and expensive movie tickets just don’t seem to be the smartest way in getting the best value in cinematic entertainment. In fact, it is very hard to believe that a large amount of the population would pay up to 11 dollars for a movie ticket when renting a movie is considerably healthier for your wallet. A Red Box machine costs only 1 dollar per rental and can be found on every corner with various different choices.

During the “Pre-TV” days, movies were the only real available option when it came to enjoying theatrical entertainment. CBS told us that around 60% of Americans went to the theater EVERY WEEK! If you compare those numbers today the difference is drastically less satisfying. One demographic that has truly lost touch with the theater experience are the desired “eyeballs” of the young male audience. It appears that multi-media is often the culprit for the recent distractions from the world of cinema. Video games, Netflix, YouTube, and sites like Facebook, are all things that have substituted such expensive entertainment.

Looking at sites like Netflix and Hulu, one thing becomes clear. People are simply replacing the expensive trip to the movies with the more comfortable, cheaper feel of “in-home entertainment”. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a great movie in a lazy boy as opposed to the cold and crowded theater? You would think that movie theaters would pick up on this idea and try to incorporate this style of comfort. Well it turns out that indeed some have!

Some theatres have experimented with the home theater mood by bringing recliners, gourmet food, and even waitresses into the mix. Not a bad strategy to try to incorporate the people who like to be pampered into the theater. Peter Jackson’s new film “The Hobbit” has incorporated a new type of cutting-edge audio system to bring to the cinematic universe.  Peter stated that he intends “to make movies that allow the audience to participate in the events onscreen, rather than just watch them unfold. Wonderful technology is now available to support this goal: high frame rates, 3D, and now the stunning Dolby Atmos system,”. This new production could be the start of a new reform in theatrical experience, and therefore bring in greater audiences to awe.

Many individuals believe that in order to restore the decreased attendance in the sticky seats, production studios must create more blockbusters in hopes of packaging just about every demographic all into the same theater. Films like ‘Avatar’ did exactly that. Women, men, and children were all rushing to the multiplex at the same time to generate the production a price range of just over 300 million dollars. In 2011, there were astonishingly only 2 major blockbusters.

The more we observe these modern day problems of the struggling projectors, the more we seem to find alternate and creative solutions for bringing in the dough. However, in my opinion there is only one real solution that has proven successful throughout the history of the lens. Quality content and entertaining productions seem to be the best way to please the masses. It isn’t perfectly clear what the master plan is for these troubled theaters. However, I believe that somewhere there lies a mixture of these proposed solutions that just might do the trick.

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