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Thread: Coming to a Theater Near You: Subscriptions, Toys and Downloads

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    Coming to a Theater Near You: Subscriptions, Toys and Downloads

    Coming to a Theater Near You: Subscriptions, Toys and Downloads
    By Anousha Sakoui
    November 13, 2017, 3:00 AM MST

    Cinema chains seek new revenue sources as box office slumps
    AMC considers offering cheaper prices for front-row seats

    With the movie business in the doldrums, theater operators are looking for new ways to make money.

    Cinemas have been stuck at about 1.3 billion tickets a year since 2010, leading them to increase prices to get sales growth. That tried-and-true method has faltered in 2017, a dismal year for the North American box office with bombs ranging from “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” to “Baywatch.” Revenue in the U.S. and Canada is down 4.9 percent so far this year, with the worst summer in decades and the bleakest October since 1996.

    So movie-theater chains are getting creative.

    AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., the biggest cinema chain in the U.S., plans to test sales of movie-related merchandise in 35 theaters next year. If it works, expect to see more toys and tchotchkes at stores nationwide later in 2018.

    “In a venue where you would think the enthusiasm would be highest in a movie theater on your way out the door, we do nothing,” Chief Executive Officer Adam Aron said on a conference call. “We’re going to try it.”

    AMC also plans to start selling online rentals of older movies through its website, working with partners who already provide films on the internet. Such an idea would’ve once been considered anathema -- a movie-theater chain giving film buffs a reason not to leave home.

    Cinemark Holdings Inc. is testing Cinemark Movie Club, a subscription service that would compete with MoviePass, which lets customers go to one movie a day for $10 a month. Cinemark hasn’t provided a lot of details on the new service, but said it’s designed to boost attendance and revenue.

    Regal Entertainment Group is testing out demand-based pricing, which might let moviegoers pay lower prices for box-office flops and higher prices for top hits. AMC is also experimenting with demand-based pricing.

    The new initiatives represent “an evolution of theaters trying to cater to what consumers are moving towards,” Eric Wold, analyst at B Riley FBR said in an interview. Wold, who advises buying AMC and Cinemark shares, noted that the theater chains have already boosted revenue from moviegoers by improving its food selection and serving beer and wine in some locations.

    If Cinemark can get movie fans to turn out “more often and spend more dollars on this enhanced food and beverage program they’ve rolled out, the cost to get them in there on a subscription plan is relatively low,” he said.

    Still, investors remain skeptical that the theater chains have a solution to their woes. AMC shares have fallen 67 percent this year, and the others have also slumped. Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc are investing heavily in their own features, giving film fans more reasons to stay at home. And studios, historically allies of theaters, are pushing to be able to sell downloads just a few weeks after their films appear on the big screen, which cinema chains worry may give viewers less incentive to go to the movies. MoviePass, which got a surge in interest after cutting its prices this year, has also added pressure.

    That’s why moviegoers should pay attention to ticket prices in the coming months. AMC has “very quietly” introduced a $1 surcharge for Friday and Saturday night shows at about 150 U.S. theaters, Aron said.

    Aron, the former CEO of Vail Resorts Inc., also plans as soon as next year to start charging different prices for different seats in the theater - addressing viewers’ habit of avoiding the rows closest the screen, which Aron said are almost always empty.

    “I would love to drop the price by a material amount in the first row,” he said. “It doesn’t cost you any money to cut the price of something that you never sell any of, and it might give us an opportunity to make moviegoing affordable for consumers who are willing to make the tradeoff to sit in those seats.”
    Interesting. I'm a frequently flyer at movie theaters, including the third-run types.

    My experience and interests are not going be true for people who see one or two movies a year.

    My interests:

    Movie has to be about something I'm actually interested in on some level. I've seen mainstream, non-mainstream, and art movies for decades. If it's boring, derivative (except teen horror), or a remake - no.

    Trailer can't be a bait and switch. This used to be a problem before extensive Internet sites reviewed movies instantly. It still can catch you. We saw 'Wind River' believing it was a murder mystery - it was a bunch of things, none of which panned out. We wanted to see 'Snowman' until the reviews disclosed that it was not what the trailers depicted.

    Lecturing, SJW stuff, PC messaging. We get that every single day in multiple formats. I'm not paying for it.

    Excessive and useless sex and cursing. If your world is burning down (figuratively or literally), the real-world response is not to disrobe some surgically-enhanced female and screw her. While some few impulsive and stupid people would take that option, the odds of them being with an equally impulsive and stupid person are small. Most people who have just barely escaped death would be shaking or throwing up - not deciding that the shoot-out scene is awesome for some foreplay.

    Constant cursing is just distracting. A well-timed, "Fuck this!" can move the story along. A constant litany of vulgarity is only useful when the character is uneducated and aggressive.

    There is no good or bad in the movie - it's all situational. Movie characters are not real people, of course, but 40 years of anti-heroes is probably enough. In real life, most of us have been badly hurt by unreliable, morally ambiguous people who are charming and attractive. In the movies, I'd prefer to see those people get what's coming to them since that never seems to happen in real life.

    A lot of movies that do very well in terms of box office are movies that have a moral theme and a clear distinction between good and bad. In a twisted way, this is why teen horror does well. They are moral stories one way or another.

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    From those requirements, I'm not sure how you see any movies at all in theaters. They all seem to be heavy on amorality, cursing, stupid action movie tropes and all the other nonsense that sells big in China.

    I haven't been to a movie in at least eight years, maybe longer, in a theater. Between the noisy teens, the disrespectful black patrons who like to talk on they cell phones, the inane movies and the insane ticket prices, why bother? I used to be a regular arthouse patron; in fact I routinely drove the 100-130 miles to either Nashville, Atlanta or Montgomery to see films of that nature when I lived in Birmingham. But here on the coast there are no places showing those alternative films. Montgomery would still be my closest bet, and it's over two hours away now. That's just too far for my old car and too long for my thimble-sized bladder.

    With big screen high def TVs and afford sound systems, there's no reason not to bring the best parts of the theater experience into your home. With affordable streaming, there's a wide selection of choices if you have the broadband to support it. Even 4k is getting to be widely available now.

    No amount of toys or downloads is going to get me out of my comfort zone and into a theater with idiots again, I don't think. It's going to have to be a really special movie.
    “Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism: The right to criticize; The right to hold unpopular beliefs; The right to protest; The right of independent thought.” ~ Margaret Chase Smith

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Servo View Post
    From those requirements, I'm not sure how you see any movies at all in theaters. They all seem to be heavy on amorality, cursing, stupid action movie tropes and all the other nonsense that sells big in China.

    I haven't been to a movie in at least eight years, maybe longer, in a theater. Between the noisy teens, the disrespectful black patrons who like to talk on they cell phones, the inane movies and the insane ticket prices, why bother? I used to be a regular arthouse patron; in fact I routinely drove the 100-130 miles to either Nashville, Atlanta or Montgomery to see films of that nature when I lived in Birmingham. But here on the coast there are no places showing those alternative films. Montgomery would still be my closest bet, and it's over two hours away now. That's just too far for my old car and too long for my thimble-sized bladder.

    With big screen high def TVs and afford sound systems, there's no reason not to bring the best parts of the theater experience into your home. With affordable streaming, there's a wide selection of choices if you have the broadband to support it. Even 4k is getting to be widely available now.

    No amount of toys or downloads is going to get me out of my comfort zone and into a theater with idiots again, I don't think. It's going to have to be a really special movie.
    I see a lot of movies and there are a lot of movies to see - more than I care to see and I go roughly once a week. Not all movies that make money make the news or are familiar to streaming people. Now, don't think that I'm referencing obscure hipster 'films' that get limited screens and are only known to the cognoscenti - far from it. There are just a lot of movies opening every week.

    I care less about extreme visual quality from home systems (which I don't have anyway) and more about the experience of seeing movies on the big screen. I never go when disruptive things are likely. Popcorn is a food group for me. I like the trailers. It's the entire experience that is enjoyable for me.

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    We were lucky enough to catch this in the theater and the big screen captured the amazing cinematography. I doubt you will find it again so iTunes is probably your only hope.

    Great flick!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gingersnap View Post
    If your world is burning down (figuratively or literally), the real-world response is not to disrobe some surgically-enhanced female and screw her.
    I have not been to a theatre in years, but big screen sex scenes are often uncomfortable to watch with a group of strangers.

    There is a time and place for screwing a surgically-enhanced female and it's usually not while you are trying to save the world from destruction.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Servo View Post
    From those requirements, I'm not sure how you see any movies at all in theaters. They all seem to be heavy on amorality, cursing, stupid action movie tropes and all the other nonsense that sells big in China.

    I haven't been to a movie in at least eight years, maybe longer, in a theater. Between the noisy teens, the disrespectful black patrons who like to talk on they cell phones, the inane movies and the insane ticket prices, why bother? I used to be a regular arthouse patron; in fact I routinely drove the 100-130 miles to either Nashville, Atlanta or Montgomery to see films of that nature when I lived in Birmingham. But here on the coast there are no places showing those alternative films. Montgomery would still be my closest bet, and it's over two hours away now. That's just too far for my old car and too long for my thimble-sized bladder.

    With big screen high def TVs and afford sound systems, there's no reason not to bring the best parts of the theater experience into your home. With affordable streaming, there's a wide selection of choices if you have the broadband to support it. Even 4k is getting to be widely available now.

    No amount of toys or downloads is going to get me out of my comfort zone and into a theater with idiots again, I don't think. It's going to have to be a really special movie.
    I'm told the Las Vegas theatres are pretty strict when it comes to cell phones. One friend of mine was ejected from a theatre just for looking at his phone to see what time it was by an over zealous usher/security guard. (He later got his admission price back by management as he was not using his phone)

    I agree with the home theatre options and that is a popular choice in my town as the closest theatre is over 40 miles away. The local social media "pages" always has someone starting a thread about how our town needs a movie theatre, which has been tried in the past and there just is not enough revenue. One local casino even had a temporary set up in a large bingo room with pretty decent chairs and a huge screen which only lasted less then 18 months or so.

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    Just read books.

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    I adore going to the movies!

    They just need to make some better ones. Much as I like the teen-slasher genre, I also enjoy a solid drama or a sly (not toilet) comedy. Also costume dramas that aren't tuned up for the PC crowd.

    They are thin on the ground right now.

    I saw a comparison the other day between movies that won Academy awards and the most popular movies of that particular year. The years were something like 1955 - 1980.

    Most movies that won 'Best Picture' were also in the top ten of audience popularity for any given year.

    No movies nominated today were also most popular. The last time it happened was back when the "Lord of the Rings' debuted. When was that? 2003 or something?

    This is something to think about very closely. What is the point of entertainment critics when their taste deviates so sharply from ticket buyers?

    Who are they making movies for exactly? Not the critics since all those movies are duds in terms of ticket sales, not the fans since the fans are largely abandoning first run stuff, maybe the overseas sales?

    If exporting is the new model, why have critics at all? They surely can't say anything relevant to an ethnic Han family enjoying a wholly culturally-masked action flick.

    Since the Academy Awards no longer track much with American movie-going audiences, what is the point? It would make more sense to simply have a private auteur-type dinner and award thing. They privately slap each other's hands and go to an after party.

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