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Will Theaters Be Extinct In 10-15 Years?


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#1 of 37 OFFLINE   Pete-D

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Posted December 27 2007 - 09:49 AM

A friend of mine insists that this will happen and in movie industry could be headed down the same path as the music industry due to internet piracy and various other threats. Of course this is not the first time the movie industry has heard this song and dance. TV was supposed to kill the movie theater, then the VCR.

We've heard movie execs moan about declining box office though. We've heard also that digital downloads are coming and that the theater window will close or narrow and things like day-and-date releases will become common?

But the thing is on closer inspection, box office ticket sales (not just inflated box office grosses) have actually risen dramatically since the DVD format was introduced in 1997.

Movie Box Office Results by Year, 1980-Present

Shows that ticket sales through 1998-2007 are higher than the early 90s or all of the 80s prior to DVD, the internet. Industry execs need to understand that 2004 and 2002 might just have been peak years, it's unrealistic in any industry to have every year or every other year topple your all-time best year.

I think by and large going to the movies for a lot of people is only half about the movie itself. The theater has been a gathering point for the masses since the days of Shakespeare and before. People need to get out of the house. Teenagers need to have something to do on a Friday night. A movie is an easy option for friends or a date.

I think the movie industry does need to do a better job of curbing piracy though. It's one thing for someone to bootleg a movie off a camcorder, but to have high-quality screeners leak onto the internet -- is unnacceptable.

Also the general quality of the theater experience needs to improve. Better supervision and I think larger screens (more IMAX sized screens) would be a start.

#2 of 37 OFFLINE   Lou Sytsma

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Posted December 27 2007 - 09:53 AM

No - people are social animals. You can't divorce man from men.
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#3 of 37 OFFLINE   Blu

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Posted December 27 2007 - 10:28 AM

I'd be one that would be happy to see first run movies go straight to DVD.
No more sticky floors, noisy kids (even in R rated movies) over priced food, and a pause button so I can go fix a drink or expel said drink without missing anything.

#4 of 37 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted December 27 2007 - 11:05 AM

Absolutely, theaters will disappear and all movies will look like Beowulf.

I know, because I saw it on Extra.

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#5 of 37 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted December 27 2007 - 11:37 AM

I'm just curious as to how people can afford to go. I've actually went seven times the last three weeks, which is the most I've gone since probably 1998. Six of those were at "second run" shows so tickets were only $4 but I went to see SWEENEY TODD today and the matinee price was $6.75, which I think is just crazy. However, it's $9.25 at night, which just blows my mind. I don't see how people, or just a couple, can buy two tickets, two drinks, popcorn, candy or whatever week after week. That $9.25 isn't a lot of money for a lot of people reading this but to some that is a lot of money.

#6 of 37 ONLINE   David Norman

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Posted December 27 2007 - 12:27 PM

My response is that only the Theaters who continue to act like they are doing you a favor by letting you watch their movie will go away (deservedly so).

As to the cost -- my family quit buying the soda, popcorn, and candy for the most part a couple years ago or do so only occasionally. Put a candy bar or M&M in the purse -- the soda is pretty easy to do without since virtually no theater can make even edible popcorn around here anymore.

What I find personally is that going to Theater or watching movies at home tends to lead to going to more. My family has been to see at least 6 or 7 this month without me. I think they've gone 3 or 4 times in the last 10 days (Charlie Wilson, Walk Hard, Golden Compass, I Am Legend) and I know that Sweeney Todd and National Treasure are on the agenda before they go back to school. That plus 3 or 4 DVD's in the last few days.

#7 of 37 OFFLINE   Kyle McKnight

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Posted December 27 2007 - 12:44 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Elliott
I'm just curious as to how people can afford to go...Six of those were at "second run" shows so tickets were only $4 but I went to see SWEENEY TODD today and the matinee price was $6.75, which I think is just crazy...it's $9.25 at night, which just blows my mind. I don't see how people, or just a couple, can buy two tickets, two drinks, popcorn, candy or whatever week after week...

I've got a lot of theaters around me being in DFW. One, Cinemark Tinseltown 17, before 6pm is $4 and afterwards is $6. Other than this theater (which has the most comfortable seats) you're looking at a minimum of $7 daytime, $9 nighttime. Instead of going to dinner and a movie, I like to go to movie and then a dinner. We often think the theater experience sucks because it seems everyone must constantly cough, eat nachos, munch on popcorn, unwrap multiple sets of candy, shake their drinks to try and get every last drop of soda out of their ice, check messages on their phones causing little squares of light to pop up in my field of view, make comments throughout the movie (I'm okay with a whisper every now and then seeing as if you're not in the row behind/in front of me I likely wont hear it), heavy breathing, leaving the theater constantly (it's not like you have to go to the bathroom every two hours...if so, don't drink anything), tapping your foot on the ground/chair etc...etc...etc... The worst that I do during a movie at a theater is shift my legs a few times.

I'd be glad to watch a movie in my home the night it releases in theaters as long as it was $10. If there is a license applied, $10 should cover two people and go up from there. As much as I love going to movies, out of seeing probably around fifty movies this last year, I doubt there were more than five or six that didn't have patrons in the theater who were overly noisy. Those that weren't were probably seen a week or two after release, during the day.
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#8 of 37 OFFLINE   Pete-D

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Posted December 27 2007 - 01:02 PM

Shrugs. I'm still in my 20s but going out to a bar is far more expensive. After cover, parking, a few drinks, maybe a shot here and there.

Going out to grab a bite and get a few drinks really is not much cheaper than seeing a movie.

Going to a concert or a sporting event is far more expensive.

So going to a movie is comparatively cheap. I rarely get a drink or popcorn or candy though. I just never have even when I was a kid and got used to it.

Now if movie theaters want to generate extra revune ... start selling exclusive high-end merchandise. If I could get say one of those high gloss collector's books for an event movie, I'd buy one every time. Similar to what you can buy when you go to a concert. I got one for The Phantom Menace in 1999 and I know the ArcLight in Los Angeles sometimes carries extra stuff like this. For Batman Begins and War of the Worlds I remember we got these cool glossy collectible movie tickets specific to that movie as well, which I kept.

#9 of 37 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted December 27 2007 - 01:41 PM

When I saw TODD today there was a family of three sitting in front of me so that was $18 there. Each had a large popcorn and a large drink, which was another $30 at least. That just seems like a lot of money when you could rent a movie for $1 from RedBox, do Netflix or any other type of rental thing. Perhaps I'm just getting cheap but my girlfriend and I are going to watch NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN this weekend and $18.50 to get in the door is just a tad bit too much. I sneak my drinks in so that cuts down on the cost.

I think prices in Louisville are around $7.50 except for Friday and Saturday showings when they are $8.25. Each Tuesday is $5 all day, which are the ones I'd try to hit if I went to the mainstream, first run shows. I was just a little taken back by the prices in Cincinnati, although they do have a couple second run theaters up here that are only $3 and $1.50 on Tuesdays.


Quote:
Going to a concert or a sporting event is far more expensive.

It's interesting that you say this because I try to do 5-8 concerts a year. With someone like Dylan I'll usually go to two or three shows in a row but I've had to cut this back some due to the ticket prices going so high. Most of my friends refuse to go anymore but I don't mind the high prices since I enjoy the shows so much, which might be my main issue with the ticket prices. I guess there's just not enough out there that I want to see except for Oscar season titles. Most of the summer blockbusters and so on have very little appeal for me so I can catch them at home. Perhaps if I wanted to see more out there I wouldn't let the prices bother me.

#10 of 37 ONLINE   TravisR

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Posted December 27 2007 - 02:54 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lou Sytsma
No - people are social animals. You can't divorce man from men.
Yep. Most people are just at a theater for something to do and not to see a 'film'.

Overall, I enjoy the theater experience- you get to see a movie on a bigger screen looking better than any consumer TV or projector does and it's fun to see certain movies with a crowd. Things that may drive people at HTF away from theaters (like sticky floors, lousy sound systems or people talking) aren't bad enough to drive most people away from the theaters.

Personally, I try to avoid weekends at night and I'm fine with going to a theater. Also, it helps that I'm not afraid to tell something to shut up if they're on their phone or talking. Posted Image

#11 of 37 OFFLINE   Chris

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Posted December 27 2007 - 03:02 PM

The theaters that are dying are theaters in small towns. My parents live in a rural area, and there used to a be a theater 20 miles from them, and another one 35 miles from them (in different towns). One burned down a few years ago, and there hasn't been a drive to rebuild. So, if you lived there, you'd be driving 40+ miles to go to a theater. Just won't happen.

The problem is, the cost to run and manage a theater has also increased nad the returns aren't as guaranteed.. theaters typically give up a large % of the gross the first weekend, and each following weekend, they get more money back; so a big opening weekend-quick fall off sucks bad for them. Problem is, tons of films are now completely built around that concept.

Will theaters go away? No. But I think the nature of the market is changing in such a way that it has absolutely begun to suck theaters out of the markets small enough where the revenue stream cannot compensate in the # of people willing to go.
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#12 of 37 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted December 27 2007 - 03:29 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Elliott
I sneak my drinks in so that cuts down on the cost.


This is one reason I'm intensely brand loyal to the AMC chain: their policy allows essentially all outside food/drink. I say "essentially all" because I doubt they'd let you wheel in a side of beef and a keg of beer. But if you have a bag from McDonald's and/or a Big Gulp, they let you bring it into the theater. No sneaking required - flaunt it! Posted Image
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#13 of 37 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted December 27 2007 - 03:32 PM

Theaters aren't going anywhere in the next 10-15 years. I won't say they'll survive as is forever, but the comparisons to the death throes of the music industry aren't valid. Piracy kills the music industry because people can get almost exactly what they used to have to buy for free. Sure, I'd prefer to own a "real CD", but the music is the same with similar enough quality for most.

Downloading a pirated movie off the Internet isn't an approximation for the theater-going experience. Even if the movie looks/sounds great, it's not the same thing, whereas the downloaded music IS...
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#14 of 37 OFFLINE   MatthewA

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Posted December 27 2007 - 04:25 PM

Movie theaters aren't going anywhere, but to make the second half of their lives more bearable they need to stand up to the distributors and insist on better booking terms. The only way they make money is through overpriced junk food.

And if distributors would stop only distributing high-speed junk prints to the theaters it may help. I have the Blu-Ray of Hairspray (the new version), and the short samples I have seen knock the socks off the 35mm high-speed junk print I saw.

As for bigger screens, I'm all for bringing back 70mm (I wonder if IMAX theaters and projectors could be modified to accept it in addition to the IMAX prints which are the same width as the 5-perf widescreen 70mm format; the screens could just attach mechanical masks on the top and bottom). However, the only reason it lasted into the 1990s while 65mm origination died out in the 1970s is because the 6-channel magnetic sound was better than 35mm optical tracks or Dolby A tracks. Digital narrowed that gap considerably, and it is claimed that magnetic tracks are harmful to the environment (I'd like to see where they got that; they're probably no more harmful than the manufacture of other magnetic media like tape). They could always use 70mm DTS. I wonder why they never shot a whole feature in IMAX. As long as it was a good movie in and of itself, I think it would be a great idea.

Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I am going to boycott The Walt Disney Company until then.


#15 of 37 OFFLINE   Adam_S

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Posted December 27 2007 - 05:33 PM

Quote:
I wonder why they never shot a whole feature in IMAX. As long as it was a good movie in and of itself, I think it would be a great idea.

Because the filmmakers that would have done a feature in imax in the era of Avid are more likely to play with digital filmmaking than with imax.


Imax as a format eats up a lot of expensive 70mm film stock, the cameras are big too. You've got to double or quadruple (or more) so many routine expenses (processing, shipping stock, rushes etc) that the cost and hassle are simply too big of a hassle to deal with. plus before the era of video dailies some filmmakers would want film dailies so that either means additional rentals of 70mm projection equipment for the dailies or an expensive downconvert of the dailies to a 35mm format.

Trumping all of this is of course that the extra expense can't be justified because the density of theatres capable of playing the film is not sufficient to ensure profitability, and much of the film's value at being shot in Imax is lost if it's distributed primarily in a downconverted 35mm prints.

theatres aren't going away in the next ten or fifteen years. but there will be changes, I believe they have already achieved more equitable revenue sharing in the past five years than the 90/10 opening weekend split they had in the 90s (when long theatrical runs were still common and multiplexes were being built).

there will be more concerts and sporting events as digital penetrates more and more multiplexes. the whole hannah montana nonsense would be an excellent exploitation of this possibility, moreso than older people who are well heeled enough to afford concert premiums. On the other hand I'd have killed to be in a theatre streaming Zepplin's reunion concert live from a couple weeks back, I wish they had done that and damn the time zone shift, I'd have been there.

The other thing is that there's been a rennaissance of neo-classic filmmaking since Titanic got asses in seats again. That film addicted people all over again to the theatrical experience, and since then we've had big blockbusters providing an astonishing degree of superb entertainment, Saving Private Ryan, Star Wars/Sixth Sense, Gladiator, LOTR (all three), Shrek&Spidey2, but since then blockbusters have been in a decline in terms of mass popularity and their overall level of excellence. we've just come through a period akin to 70-80 when the Godfathers, Jaws, Exorcists, Star Wars and Indiana Jones films reinvigorated filmgoing. Hopefully the years ahead of us won't be as doldrumy as the eighties were.
 

#16 of 37 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted December 27 2007 - 05:55 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin Jacobson
This is one reason I'm intensely brand loyal to the AMC chain: their policy allows essentially all outside food/drink. I say "essentially all" because I doubt they'd let you wheel in a side of beef and a keg of beer. But if you have a bag from McDonald's and/or a Big Gulp, they let you bring it into the theater. No sneaking required - flaunt it! Posted Image

My girlfriend's mother bought me a GC to the AMC chains, which I'm going to be using Saturday night so I'll see what they let me bring in. Posted Image The theaters in Louisville are very bitchy at bringing things in but most of the workers are young and don't care.

#17 of 37 OFFLINE   Stevan Lay

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Posted December 28 2007 - 12:48 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Elliott
$18.50 to get in the door is just a tad bit too much.
My last cinema visit cost me $15.50AUD ($13.60USD in current conversion) for one admission. Kids prices were $9.00 ($7.90).

$7.50 is a bargain IMO.

#18 of 37 OFFLINE   William Creamer

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Posted December 28 2007 - 02:50 AM

The multiplex theater near me in Northern New Jersey is very poorly run, even tho films like Cold Mountain were previewed here with the director showing up and a lot of fan fare. I've personally run a theater and the management here is a joke. They have a really big concession stand area, but you have to get to the theater at least 20 min before your film if you want to get anything, because the staff is very slow and doesn't care since they will still make their minimum wage if they serve a lot of people or very few. It is also frequently understaffed even on the weekends or when a new film opens. The concession area has those bins of bulk candy against a wall, but you have to go to a separate cash register to pay, which is rarely staffed. The only way to pay, if no one is there, is to have a staff person summon a manager - which takes forever. Many times we have just filled a bag with whatever we want and walked around the corner into the theater area. A friend, who goes to the same theater, told me one day that she and her partner always get the senior tickets even tho they are only 50. She pointed out that to a teenager (the person taking tickets) anyone that much older than them looks ancient, so why not get the discount? Also, all the tickets, whether from the ticket desk or a kiosk, look the same, the staff never looks at them (the print is small) except to see what show you are going to (that's in bigger print), so we've been saving $3.50 off the $10.00 regular evening price ever since. My one weakness is the Nathan's hotdog stand in the concession area. They have the best hot dogs and fries I've ever tasted, so I do indulge when I can get there a half hour early. The only reason this place survives is because there is no competition for miles.

#19 of 37 OFFLINE   Adam_S

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Posted December 28 2007 - 04:39 AM

last date I went on when I paid for both movies was I think about 22.50 for two tickets. actually the last two or three dates she's bought the tickets because either she got there before me or was paranoid about the show being sold out and bought them online, but that's okay I buy her expensive dinners from time to time so it all evens out. Posted Image
 

#20 of 37 OFFLINE   Don Solosan

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Posted December 28 2007 - 07:31 AM

"it's not like you have to go to the bathroom every two hours...if so, don't drink anything"

Caffeine is a diuretic. But most people can't imagine seeing a movie without popcorn and soda... Bad luck for you!


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