How the movie theatre survives

How the movie theatre survives

Movie theatres should have died five years ago.

The price for a family of four was no longer reasonable, the concession cost more than admittance, and you had to arrive at least 45 minutes prior to show start so you weren’t stuck with seats in the front row. The floors were always sticky and gross, battle lines were drawn over arm rests, and you had to contort your body or hug your popcorn bag while trying not to spill your drink as you rose to let someone pass.

Why did we tolerate this nonsense?

It’s simple. Going to the movies was an experience, a night out, an opportunity to lose ourselves in make-believe while we indulged in salty, buttery goodness.

And then came Netflix. And HUGE televisions. And on-demand. And a slow realization – followed by a lightening fast adoption – that we could watch movies in the comfort of our own homes without blowing our budget or even getting out of our pyjamas.

The theatres were suffering. Seats were empty. Popcorn was going stale (and still being served). Employees were being let go. They tried to entice us back with bigger screens, better sound, more interesting offers at the concession stand. Investment in IMAX theatres and an immersive 3D experience brought a lift in attendance when a blockbuster was released, but then ticket sales flatlined again.

It was do or die time.

I’m going to go cliche – the movie theatre rose like a phoenix from the ashes.

Some multiplexes built food courts, others retrofitted theatres to offer a dinner, drinks and a movie experience. 3D upgraded to 4D with seats that rumbled and shook with the action. What better way to get people moving by making their seats move?

With every innovation – ordering tickets and treats online, LED screens, reclining seats – the theatres were slowly winning back their customers. Over the course of the last 3 years, movie theatres have made themselves relevant again. They’ve embraced mobile technology and developed apps, they brought back real (ish) melted butter, and they made the theatres more user friendly and comfortable.

For me, the two biggest draws that brought me back to the big screen are the reclining seats and the ability to select our seats when we order our tickets. If you haven’t yet experienced reclining seats,  grab a blanket (it’s ok, you won’t be the only one) and try it out. You’ll notice there are fewer seats, loads of leg room and no fighting over arms rests.

While it’s not quite like being at home, it’s pretty darn close.

What brought you back to the movie theatre?

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