Part three of the three-part series, “Revival of the Fittest: Evolution of the Movie House Experience.” (See Part two)
The success of a movie theater depends upon customer satisfaction, but customers aren’t simply satisfied by the movie itself. It is a uniquely enveloped experience that entices people to buy a ticket. Else why would movie watchers leave the comforts of their own home cinema? There is not enough incentive nowadays to draw any substantial crowd to the theater.
Surrounding the film must be features the audience does not have at home. For instance: pseudo drive-in viewing rooms give a uniquely vintage seating arrangement, or places like the Cinema Grill in Colorado offer event hosting and full dining experiences.
Theaters who are short on ideas for in-house rebranding can turn to companies like The Screening Room, who take charge of revamping and renewing the appeal of existing theaters. The Screening Room’s sole mission is to re-invigorate the movie-going experience through conceptually developing boutique cinemas. “Boutique cinemas combine the magic of the movies with the natural appeal of a coffeehouse, café or wine bar to create a true destination spot.” Alternatively, if ambitions are greater than simply boutique, visionary cinema owners can take inspiration from San Francisco’s Sundance Kabuki, where local curated art, rotated quarterly, hangs on the walls. A truly posh experience.
Most notably, theater owners like AMC take a socially conscious approach. Teaming up with the Autism Society, select AMC theaters are set up as optimal viewing experiences for families of autism. Called The Sensory Films Program, screening room lights are lit and sounds are kept slightly down. “Guests are allowed to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing, creating a safe and accepting movie going environment for individuals who might otherwise never be able to attend a movie due to the challenges of autism.” According to the Autism Society, families are allowed to bring dietary-specific foods, and AMC’s strict “Silence is Golden” rule will not be enforced. Through the support of AMC, Sensory Films show in 33 states across the country, where many grateful families can take their autistic child to the cinema – without fear of reprisal.
Whatever the persuasion, there is no reason to let drowsing dogs lie when it comes to the economic downturn of the movie theater business. In other words, there are no excuses. Business is about ownership and innovation, and there are plenty of examples to glean from. We’ve spent time examining the root causes of this ‘crisis,’ dispelling any grounds for entitlement the general public (and theater management) may think they have. Now is the time for action – especially with the increasing threat of movie house closures. At this point, accountability lies with the responsible and informed. I propose megaplex cinemas outfit their screening rooms with multi-functional resources to support options like a Cinema Daycare or Cardio Cinema. To promote particular films or campaigns, open a thematically geared gift shop to encourage point-of-sale purchasing. Whatever the solution, the point is that they exist. With a little creativity, there is great potential to turn this movie theater mess into a silver screen miracle.