Cinemas adapt in changing times

posted by schmadrian on September 26, 2006 at 4:56 am

A report in the Toronto Star, ‘Beyond blockbusters’ shines some light on how some theater owners in Canada are going ‘Darwin’ on their industry.

The article points out that “Movie theatre owners are very resourceful folk and they reinvent themselves every 10 to 15 years. This has been going on since the movie palaces of the 1930s,” and goes so far as to suggest “The future of movie theatres, in fact, seems to have less and less to do with movies as new technology allows cinemas to telecast everything from hockey, wrestling, opera and HBO comedy specials to hosting children’s birthday parties, church services and interactive video games.”

On a personal aside, I’ve always loved the idea of being able to watch my favorite tv show on the big screen. Let’s face it; if shows like ‘The Sopranos’ really are as good as the stuff that Hollywood markets, why wouldn’t you want to see them on the ‘big screen’? And imagine how much more ‘movie-ish’ the Academy Awards would be if you could watch them in a cinema amongst other film fans?

Comments (10)

KenLayton on September 26, 2006 at 5:02 am

In other words making it just like in your own home. The addition of tv commercials (that you can’t mute!) has ruined the “theater” industry. No resaon to even go there anymore.

schmadrian on September 26, 2006 at 5:10 am

Well and good…

So you’re saying that you’d prefer that cinemas either revert to previous habits…or, instead of adapting to changing times and audience preferences in order to survive, simply close their doors and go away?

NarrowGauge on September 26, 2006 at 5:29 am

I repectfully disagree Ken. I had the chance to visit Malco’s Paradiso theater in TN and was blown away. What a classy venue. Yes it is a large complex but very well done. Regardless of advertising the experience watching a movie at this theater was first rate. I can think of many reasons to continue to go-large beautifully focused picture, superb sound complements of Klipsch and Dolby, comfortable seating, high end decor, hassle free ticketing-in short a memorable experience.
Cinema advertising is not new, I found some rolling stock ads at a theater I purchased going back at least 20 years. I’m sure some of the readers of this site can trace advertisng back many more years than this.
As I have said in a prior post advertising has its place and when done right can both be beneficial to the cosumer as well as the owner.

schmadrian on September 26, 2006 at 5:36 am

OK, maybe I’m being stubborn…but I cannot understand the enmity towards what’s put up on the screen before the trailers and the movie. Who cares?!? Are you protesting against advertising? Sorry, but as a die-hard tv-disdainer, I find this attitude (quite common amongst cinema-goers who, by-and-large, are also those who make tv a part of their day-to-day lives) to be hypocritical. After all, when you break it down, tv is nothing more than an advertising medium that just happens to have entertainment between the commercial breaks. Having spent years away from tv, it amazes me that our society seems to accept the fact that a piece of drama or a comedic effort is hacked-up by commercial breaks. At least at the cinema, once the ads are done, they’re done. (Granted, product placement notwithstanding.)

JimRankin on September 26, 2006 at 6:23 am

I respectfully agree with Ken: ads in theatres are steadily killing The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg, as the saying goes. Contrary to the claims of some, TV ads do nothing to help TV, but at home one can mute them and ignore the little screen. In a cinema one must face the screen, has no way to mute the blaring sound, and no light by which to read to avoid the screen; the cinemas may not have designed it this way just for ads, but the heartless conglomerates which now own them are laughing all the way to the bank, after sneering at the “fools” and “suckers” who sit there by the hour as they are steeped in the ads.

TV is well aware that they are losing audience, and with DVDs and such, few watch ads voluntarilly. Why should people go to movie houses to be be treated like Pavlov’s dogs —only in gilded ‘cages’? No, the endless greed of advertisers is only killing both mediums. Why else are video games, picture phones and even earphone audio being brought in? To have something other than the boring screen to look at. The movie house has become more than the “Passion Pit” it came to be, and is now just a convenient rendezvous for teens with too much money and time to spend. No wonder there are ongoing conversations and text messaging parties; even the jaded teens are glutted with ads and view a cinema/theatre as just somewhere else to play —outside of their parent’s none-too-watchful eyes.

The chain cinemas are doomed by their greed, but I wish I could tell the independants what to do to increase revenue outside of commercials, before they die as the mega-bucks chains slowly starve them to death. For a while the theatres were a refuge from our ad-crazy society, but no more. No, Ken, we will not be seeing each other at the movies for this and other reasons.

schmadrian on September 26, 2006 at 6:29 am

Gosh, how old are you two?!? (Jim and Ken)

: )

OK, I’ll bite. ‘The chain cinemas are doomed by their greed’, and the indies will ‘die as the mega-buck chains slowly starve them to death’. What’s gonna be left? Granted nobody’s actually yet commented on what the article shows to be efforts on the parts of cinemas to survive, but I’ll ask this question anyway: how do you see things unfolding over the next two decades?

Note to longislandmovies: Do I get any points at all for showing my -clearly ardent- faithfulness to cinema-going?

JimRankin on September 26, 2006 at 8:19 am

I would like to be an eternal optomist too, but reality comes along whether we like it or not. While I do not have a crystal ball anymore than anyone else, I believe there are 2 trends that will shape the cinemas of the future: (1) Ever improving home video to also watch movies, often day-and-date with release in cinemas; and (2) Teens (the only demographic that the studios (AND the advertisers who increasingly support them) want) looking for somewhere to meet up, be it just for gab, or any casual sex play available; the nature of the meeting place being unimportant aside from details such as proximity, lack of oversight, and out of the weather.

Given this, within a few decades the cinemas will be almost exclusively Teen-somethings' hangouts, rather like the squalid dens in “Blade Runner.” Older folks don’t matter to advertisers so the cinemas will degenerate to Grunge-filled temples to noise and illicit drugs that any sane adult will avoid as the plague. Because BIG business is involved with BIG MONEY, the governments will turn a blind eye except to denounce the occasional drug murders in them, but shortly it will be back to business as usual —what’s on the screen and how many dozens of commercials won’t matter to the kids who will be armed to the teeth and with absolutely no regard whatsoever for any form of law. The staffs will be behind bullet proof windows and will hand out foods through steel chutes; no cop or anyone else will dare to patrol the dank and very dark auditoriums.

What of the rest of society? They will more and more “coccoon” at home behind locked security doors watching their 6x10-foot flat screens with 10-channel super sound, AND clandestine commercial-killers that they have bought from the black market, since at that time the totally bought and corrupt governments will have passed laws that one MUST watch all “messages” sent out through any media. It will then be much as forseen in “1984” with Big Brother so much more trying to control our lives than now, that we will barely remember what relative freedom outside of the ever-corrupt State was.

The oldsters and children will be happy to lock themselves indoors since outside will be the rapid decay of a freightened ‘society’ that makes the vision of the BOOK “Bonfire Of The Vanities” look like a tea party in 1900. If the restrictions of such as the “Patriot Act” worry you today, look out for far worse to come as terrorists routinely set off bombs all over America and Europe —and some Teen-filled cinemas will likely be among the blasts which by then won’t merit news coverage.

Would God actually allow all this to take place? Well, no, probably not to this extent, but by then the nature of cinema and films will be the least of our worries! For those who want to know how God will interviene, contact me by E-mail and I will tell you, possibly much to your relief.

NarrowGauge on September 26, 2006 at 3:31 pm

What will hurt the movie industry more than anything is the collapse of the dvd window. As long as we have the window small town cinemas will continue to be viable. Without the window, the only theatres left will be in larger urban areas.
The greatest problem cinema operators have is not controlling the product. Control the product and you can control your destiny. Anything theater owners can do to be less dependent on the studios is a good thing in my opinion.
As I have stated before-rolling stock ads(which I personally don’t use) have been around for at least 20 years if not more-why in these
economic challenging times are people making such a fuss?

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on September 26, 2006 at 5:26 pm

As September comes around every year we do see the theater closings posts…..I have thought long and hard why? I do not agree with many on this site on reasons why ….This is how i see it….Whats hurting the theater bsns is cost of operation is outpacing the increase in revenue….. Electric bills are so out of wack as is theater ins , health ins,cost of goods and wages…Theater revenue while good have been flat for the last few years ..(this year bsns is UP)
I own retail stores when i started in 1989 my electric bill was about 7% of my monthly rate…2006 my electric bill is now 43% to my rent.As my rent has gone up the % should have stayed around the same it has not..

I do not feel theater attendance will decline as long as product is good….NOW IF PRODUCT IS GREAT AND THE PEOPLE STOP GOING TO THEATERS THEN WERE IN TROUBLE.Over and over again theaters rebound with good product..

How to keep costs down and or revenue up;
theater rentals-day time -dance studio is the best if you have a stage..

Digital projection will be a big…this will save big $$$$$$$$
sunday church rental
birthday partys
school field this there is nice money in it…

Sorry this is all over the place tonight ……been a long day…

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on September 26, 2006 at 5:28 pm

Schmadrian——-very good….

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