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Getting People Into Movie Theatres

Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by scotrace, Aug 13, 2016.

  1. scotrace

    scotrace Head Bartender Staff Member

    The local multiplex theatre closed its doors a couple of years ago (it's now a Marshall's- great improvement), leading to the restoration of the 30's movie palace downtown. It also considerably increased business at the nearest multiplex 25 miles away.
    THAT place, a Regal Cinema, has changed out all their seating. All the chairs are full-sized, fully functioning leather recliners. If the movie stinks, you can nap.
    And now I see a place called Studio Movie Grill, which has a location in Columbus, OH. You get your ticket, have a seat, and they bring you food and cocktails while you watch the movie.

    Are you seeing changes in the way theatres are trying to bring in customers?
  2. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

    Next thing you know they will be making movies worth watching. Nah they can't be that desperate. Waiting for Lizzie to weigh in with the expert opinions.
    Redshoes51 likes this.
  3. Inkstainedwretch

    Inkstainedwretch Practically Family

    Aside from the fact that there are no theaters within 50 miles of me, one thing that keeps me out of theaters even when traveling is the brain-rattling sound systems. I'm losing my hearing but even I don't need sound that loud.Theaters now seen to assume that all audiences are deaf.
  4. We provide a clean, well-maintained, or at least as well as I can maintain it, environment -- and we militantly discourage cellphone use with a pointed but humorous homemade trailer before the show. We also keep our lobby free of video games, claw machines, or any other sort of distraction targeted at kids. People come here to watch shows, not dump their kids for an afternoon while they go off dillybopping.

    We also show more than just movies. "Alternative content" is the current buzzphrase in the exhibition business, and we show the Metropolitan Opera, the National Theatre of London, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Bolshoi Ballet, and an assortment of special one-shot shows featuring just about every possible genre of entertainment, from pro sports events to Monty Python to Ira Glass to the Big Apple Circus.

    We do *not* and *wlll not* ever offer recliners. We have fifty-year-old theatre seats that are kept clean and in good repair by me personally. We specifically do not try to recreate or replicate the "at home" viewing experience. If that's what you want, stay home. We offer the best take we can offer on the *movie theatre* experience, and that's what theatres need to do rather than meatballing the experience by trying to appeal to the recliner and remote-control crowd.

    As far as the quality of the movies goes, we show the best current independent pictures we can get, and we leave the exploding-testosterone schlock to the multiplex up the road. The movie business is like the pickle business -- the multiplex can peddle their big dill on their side of the street and we'll sell our little gherkins on this side.
    Talbot, Mae, Redshoes51 and 2 others like this.
  5. How does the "Alternative content" do - does it, overall, draw well / meaningful add to the bottom line? And what is an example of a one shot pro sport event you showed? I'm just curious about the model, I have no point or agenda.
  6. My local cinema is a lovely little independent. I did Rocky Horror there for years. Great fun. They do a lot of cult cinema nights, music and poetry nights in their bar, table quizzes.... a lot of cool stuff. Helps that they're very close to a university campus. We tend to go on a Monday or Wednesday, as those are the half price nights. The cinema has become a very expensive night out if you're not careful. In some parts of central London, a ticket along can be GBP15.00; we've had tickets to the opera in Covent Garden for that (and people claim the opera is elitist!!).

    What often puts me off - certainly why I often wait a week or two before going to see a new film - is other people. At a screening of Suicide Squad last week, I had to shush the young lady sitting beside me three times before she shut up. There seem to be an awful lot of kids between twelve and thirty these days who simply cannot stay silent for two hours at a time. They really seem to treat even the cinema screen as a backdrop to their night out with their pals rather than as something to which to pay attention. I blame in large part this modern phenomenon of there being no ushers in the auditorium to tell people to shut the hell up.
  7. In NYC, as I'm told in most places, movie theaters continue to close and most of those that aren't able to become super-large multiplexes (the city has a few, but very hard to get that kind of space in any affordable way here) are trying something - bigger seats, recliners, more extensive food, hard drinks, seat service, etc. - as they search for a successful model.

    My girlfriend and I gave up on movie theaters all together about eight or so years ago as - in NYC - many were dirty (I'm not talking wear and tear or not-spit shine - they were gross with, what seemed, days of food in the seats, very sticky floors, unkept bathrooms, etc.), the audiences were noisy (cellphones use and loud talking were common), expensive (tickets, then, $10 and with a shared soda and bucket of popcorn, it was approaching $30 for two to see a movie) and a general message of "we don't care" from the theater owners.

    The last straw for us was when, about eight years ago, they became the major source of bed bug infestation - I think they've since gotten their hands around that, but that was too creepy and disgusting (to say nothing of expensive if you bring them into your apartment and have to get rid of them), so we slowly upgraded our home stuff (nothing crazy by today's standards: a sound bar, two Sonos speakers and a decent TV - for a little over $1500) and took out a Netflix subscription.

    Financially, we are now ahead if you consider all the money saved on not going to the theater and that we would still have needed to buy some home TV stuff anyway - and probably need some subscription like Netflix for movies you don't see in the theater. So, while we both used to love going to the movies - and the theater that Lizzie describes sounds like heaven to me - we are probably lost to it forever as the new stuff they are trying to the theaters - noted above -doesn't appeal and our "stay at home" program is meeting our entertainment needs in an economical way.

    All that said, my retired mother, who doesn't like watching movies at home, is very cranky about the loss of traditional theaters and hates "all the new fangled nonsense they do to drive up the price." If she lived near you Lizzie, she'd be a regular (and she's very polite to everyone, which based on your stories, would make her stand out as a customer).
  8. My wife and I are huge movie fans AND we rarely if ever bother to go to the theatre. We have a decent sized new TV and would much rather stay at home, eat our own food/drink, pause and talk when we wish. It is a far better experience than schlepping to the Cineplex. They have added the VIP rooms for an extra fee and you can order food/alcohol at your seat but that still does not entice us. The only time we will go to the theatre is to see a Live at the Met opera or a movie that has spectacular scenery that our home TV will not do justice.....but those movies are few and far between.
  9. Alternative content is huge for us. The opera lately sells about 140 season tickets a year -- out of a total capacity of 350, and most individual shows sell over 200. Wagner is the only stinker in the pot -- we'll usually only get 120-130 for those. The main disadvantage to it is that the audience is gradually dying off, and it's not bringing in the new people, hence diversifying into other alternative shows.

    When we first started the opera it was insane -- old people were sitting in camp chairs on the sidewalk in subzero weather for hours waiting for the box office to open. We switched to reserved seating after the first year to put a stop to this -- I didn't want to be responsible for somebody's grandmother getting frostbit. Somehow Peter Gelb heard about our success with the shows, and came here in person to see if it was for real. He left suitably impressed.

    British theatre is very popular here with a wide cross section of audience -- the older folks enjoy the plays, the younger people like seeing Benedict Cumberbatch, David Tennant, and other TV favorites doing stage roles.

    We've done an annual Super Bowl party each year since 2007, and it's always a big hit. Because we have a liquor license for special events, we count as a "sports bar" for the night, and we admit people free to watch the game and make our money on snacks -- beer in the balcony, along with hot dogs, homemade chili, and whatever else we think of to do.
  10. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Puccini is always my draw card; preferably with Anna Netrebko or another diva in a leading role. Pity that younger adults do not patronize opera.:(
    belfastboy likes this.
  11. Trenchfriend

    Trenchfriend I'll Lock Up

    I think, opera got always the old problem, that it's just not suitable for the masses. Too much high-cultural. I think, the more entertaining operetta will survive opera.
  12. Re, the opera and age demographic. Even in NYC - NYC of 10 gazillion people - the radio market can only support one "Class-B" (lower broadcast power) classical music stations (what a sad day it was when the station had to change its dial position, to a stupidly high number, owing to the power change:(). Growing up on the late '60s/'70s (i.e., not the 1900s), I would have told you opera and classical music would always have a reasonable sized audience - but man is it shrinking.

    Re, the Super Bowl. I'm trying to envision how that works. Do people buy their food, go inside and sit and watch the pre-game and game, cheering like they do in a sport bar, but with an overall movie theater vibe or does the entire place take on a party / bar atmosphere with people actively / randomly flowing back and forth to the concessions and seating area, standing around watching the game from the aisles, chatting a lot - more bar like?

    Last question, somewhat unrelated, but my girlfriend saw I was on FL and responding to you and she asked if your theater has real butter on the popcorn. I told her I didn't think so - you tried it but it didn't work for some reason and, then, I added, but I don't trust my memory on this one at all. So real butter or no?
  13. And one more, why no love of Wagner - the Hitler connection?
  14. A substantial percentage of our opera audience is Jewish, so I think yeah, Wagner isn't ever going to be a particularly good sell for this market. Plus the sheer length of Wagner's operas is daunting, especially for an audience where the average age is 70.

    The Super Blow is pretty much an up-and-down-and-all-around thing. People filter in and out, have a hot dog and a beer, sit and watch as much of the game as they want, and cheer quite lustily thruout. When the Patriots are in it, attendance is way up. When it was the Patriots vs. Giants, you couldn't find an empty seat.

    We had real butter originally -- or actually, anhydrous butterfat, which is what all theatres that serve "real butter" serve. Actual butter like you have at home would go rancid very fast in a theatre setting, but extracting all the water leaves a substance that can stand many heating/reheating cycles without going bad.

    Unfortunately, our audience thought "real butter" didn't taste buttery enough. So we switched to a product called O'Dell's Topsit NT, a combination of anhydrous butterfat and sunflower oil that tastes more buttery than butter, and contains no trans-fats.
  15. We have a patron who zealously collects the posters we put together each year to promote the opera season, and is especially fond of Ms. Netrebko. Some of her more pneumatic poses are displayed on the walls of his office.
  16. Yes, but you at least live in the city and can still listen! I was living in northern Westchester when WQXR became a public station and went from - what was it? - 10,000 watts to 600 watts. From a listening-everyday-in-the-car staple, it suddenly only came in halfway decently when I was well south of I-287... and only in some places.

    Now I live further north, on the Putnam Country/Dutchess County border, and I listen to WMHT out of Poughkeepsie. An even better public classical station than WQXR.
  17. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Mine is a more chaste admiration;). Albino Shagimuratova will perform in Lucia di Lammermoor at the Lyric Opera this October, Anna seems to have canceled several engagements.:(
  18. Thank you for all the info / answers and nice to know that every once in a while my rickety memory gets one kinda right.
  19. Trenchfriend

    Trenchfriend I'll Lock Up

    I got a great idea for alternative movie-theatres!

    Offer a special movie theatre-event:

    "THE SCREEN WILL STAY BLACK - EVENING" or something like this.

    The audience is invited to hear a complete movie-soundtrack without any screen-action. Let the audience come in, turn the lights off, pump up the volume and let kids have fun: ;)

    That's a HAPPENING!!

    What do you think, @LizzieMaine ?? :cool: Movie-(sound)theatre without age restrictions?
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
  20. It is the Five hours plus that I think is the deal breaker. And Wagner, in the peoples mind offers the stereotypical opera with the fat lady singing with the horns and breastplate. Which is a pity as his music is lush and flat out gorgeous.

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