Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Coming Death of the Movie Theater

In yesterday's future-predicting post, one of my forecasts was the death of the movie theater. My prediction was largely based on technology trends, with a little push from social trends, but the death of the movie theater may also come about just because going to a movie these days is a crappy experience.

A posting on Techdirt has over 20 negative comments about today's movie-going experience that can be summarized into a few key points:
  • Impolite Patrons - This is my biggest beef: People who bring infants to the theater, talk on their cellphone or talk to each other. People seem to forget that there are other people around them who are trying to watch the movie. This comes under the category of oblivions who seem to be taking over our society and driving people away from a variety of public events.

  • Commercials - In the past few years this has become THE reason I hate going to the theater. After paying a Hamilton just to get in, I believe I have right to sit down and have the MOVIE start at the designated time, not 20 minutes of commercials (although I do like watching 2-3 trailers, which was one of the items I actually liked about the movie-going experience). These days you have to sit through 7-8 commercials just to get to the previews.

  • Insane Pricing - I might grudgingly pay $9 for a ticket, but I won't pay $6 for a few cents of popcorn and $4 for a few pennies of coke - especially if I can just wait three months, pay for the DVD out of my monthly Netflix rental (making it essentially "free") and pour myself a martini that has cost me about a buck for the retail ingredients.

  • Theater Comfort - This is actually an area where I haven't had too much trouble, but many of the complaints are about dirty theaters and lack of leg room. Like an airplane, I do prefer if there is not a stranger elbow-to-elbow with me, but for a sold-out show I will deal with it (or not notice it since everyone around me is talking).

  • Crappy Movies - The movie-going experience has come so bad, that a movie has to compel me into a theater to watch it. And guess what: most movies just aren't compelling these days. For 2005 it looks like I will end up seeing two, and only two movies in a theater: Star Wars III and Narnia. That's it. The rest just screamed "rental!".

Keep in mind that I home office and often have a few hours to kill in the middle of the day. I would like to go to a movie during the day occasionally, but all the reasons above keep me away. And if someone who is bored rather not go into a theater, I think it speaks volumes about the viability of the business.

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