One part of the Oscar telecast that made me angry was Jerry Seinfeld's routine about the deal between the moviegoer and the movie theater. He claimed that people have the right to drop their trash on the floor after being ripped off at the concession stand. A lot of other people thought the bit was funny, enough to hope the comedian would one day host the awards, but to people like me, whose career is or was in the theater industry, pushing the idea that cinemas are completely to blame for their own attendance problems just makes matters worse.

Of course, the theater industry is at fault a good percentage of the time, at least as far as recognizing their place and duty in the distribution/exhibition process, and according to Techdirt, the industry may finally be waking up to the issues of demand and of the importance of the moviegoing experience. The blog features a great quote for theater owners to remember, originally stated by Marcus Loew: "We sell tickets to theaters, not movies." Some chains and indies have been conscious of the experience issue for awhile now, particularly fun theaters like the Alamo Drafthouse and theaters with special deals like AMC, but the issue of enhancing the movie-going experience has been difficult to address on a wide scale. There is some progress, though -- with the planned broadband and/or satellite distribution of digital movies to theaters, the ability to run more showings of a popular title will be easier and quicker. Theaters will just cancel a less popular movie and run the higher-demand title on its screen instead. Theaters already do this with a pain-in-the-ass process called 'interlocking', which runs one film print simultaneously through two projectors, but downloading movies will be so much less of a hassle that it could be utilized more often. What this could mean is more flexibility for theaters and more options to the moviegoer. Theaters may even be able to offer older movies on special occasions (Regal Entertainment already does this on a small level.) Theaters will still need to continue waking up, though, to other problems with moviegoing. The concession prices will probably never go down unless the National Association of Theatre Owners stops letting itself get bullied by Hollywood with its increasing box office percentage demands, but there are always other amenities that theater owners can come up with. And for those of you who enjoyed Seinfeld's commentary, but would actually like to see things improved, remember that the increased amount of ushers needed to clean up your trash are paid for by the increased prices at the concession stand.
categories Movies, Cinematical