On this week's IU Cinema podcast (episode 53), the hosts, Andy and Jason, talked about the separate horrible experiences they had watching a movie at two different theaters.
Hollywood studios are lamenting the lackluster attendance at movies. They wonder why no one goes to the cinema anymore.
Here's a thought: Jason and Andy hit the nail on the head.
Why would I pay exorbitant prices to see a movie when the experience is bad? Yes, a good cinema can produce a fantastic experience, enhancing my enjoyment of a show. But a lousy experience is just painful and will make me hate a movie. As a studio, would I really want people to see my product (movie) in such a bad light, with poor sound or jumping picture?
Instead of worrying so much about dvd sales and Netflix, maybe the studios should worry more about the EXPERIENCE of the cinema. That's really what the moviegoer is paying for when they buy their ticket. They aren't paying to see the movie (there are a lot cheaper ways to do that now). The shared experience, the larger than life picture, those are why we pay to see a show.
If you really want to encourage people to get off their couches, give them a reason. If you want to steer them away from other options, make the cinema experience worth their effort. Make it truly an experience.
That's where the IU Cinema excels. AMC and other bog box theaters could learn something there. Yes, most shows at the Cinema are free or low cost. But that's not why we go. We go because the experience is fantastic. We go because the seats are comfortable, the sound is always good, the picture is better than anything you will see elsewhere. We go because the people there truly love movies and make the experience worth it. We go because the other patrons love movies and make for a great shared experience. Filmmakers have commented that they have never seen their movies look and sound better - who am I to argue?
We don't go to the movies very often. Babysitters are too expensive to make it easy on our budget. But we've gone much more often since January. What changed in January? Yep, that's when the IU Cinema opened. We used to see one or two movies a year. In the last 9 months, we've seen many films- Metropolis with live salon orchestra, Hoosiers, Certified Copy, Summertime, and The Last Picture Show to name a few.
Give me truly state of the art and I will pay to go. Give me a crappy experience and I won't. It's as simple as that. (Ok, so a good movie helps. But that's a different lesson altogether.)