Sunday, July 4, 2010

Chris Thilk - Talking about Theaters

"I’ve been trying to figure out why a story about theater owners focusing on strategies involving 3D and digital presentations (Hollywood Reporter, 6/24/10) rubbed me the wrong way. Finally it occurred to me that the problem with this strategy is that they’re relying on Hollywood to continue to keep the theater-going experience relevant to the movie-going public instead of embracing their own future.

In the restaurant business new places are usually judged on “bread and circus,” the former being the food itself and the latter being the overall environment of the establishment. But, barring something horrible happening, the conversation about going to a movie theater is almost exclusively about the “bread,” the movie itself. If someone is asked about a new theater by a friend, the response is usually limited to a generic “It’s a nice place” or something equally as noncommittal. Especially with the rise of the multiplex in the 90′s, the theater going experience has become a generic one and if a particular theater closes it’s just fine to shift one’s habits to getting the exact same experience elsewhere.

So instead of relying on Hollywood and their current fascination with 3D theaters need to figure out ways to create consumer word-of-mouth. That’s the only way they’re going to survive the next five years in a healthy condition considering those same Hollywood studios are increasingly experimenting with release window changes that are going to impact theater business. The studios have their own best interests in mind and will go where the money is. So theaters need to look at alternate ways to engender a conversation not about the movies but about the theaters themselves if they want people to choose that experience over a Redbox rental and a night in." - Chris Thilk

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