Back in July, we discussed the 7 reasons why movie theatre attendance was declining.
If you blinked, you may have missed the WSJ’s holiday weekend take on the issue — The Multiplex Under Siege — including what some theater owners are belatedly attempting to reverse the trend:
"With attendance down and movies popping up faster on DVD, theater
chains are scrambling to pry you off the couch — trying everything
from discount tickets to curbs on rude patrons. Their fight to stay
relevant in the flat-TV era . . .
The big theater chains say they’re aware of the industry’s problems and are taking steps to make cinemas more appealing. They’re planning to improve picture quality with new digital projection systems and clamp down on rude audience members with more roving ushers — they’re even looking into jamming theatergoers’ cellphones. At the same time, shrinking attendance makes it more critical than ever to eke the most dollars from each customer. And some of the primary options there — increasing revenue from concessions and preshow advertisements — risk turning consumers off more."
One of the things that caught my eye int he article was this line: "We have to be creative, and attack the concerns that our patrons have raised with us," says John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners.
Here’s my gift to the theater owners: Before each movie, stage some guerilla theater. Roll a fake preview clip, and then 30 seconds into it, have an audience plant cell phone ring LOUDLY in the theater. Stop the clip, partially raise the house lights, and then put a spotlight on the offender. Have two ushers confront the guy out — he’s wearing makeup and a corny outfit (i.e, zoot suit), so it looks real campy — but have the goons drag him out, kicking and screaming. It should be both theatrical and real looking.
People would talk about this for months.
Here’s how the Journal rated the theater going experince at a variety of chains:
The Multiplex Under Siege
(with Bruce Orwall and Peter Sanders)
WSJ December 24, 2005; Page P1
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