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TOPIC: Is There Such A Thing As A Movie-Going Habit Anymore?

Is There Such A Thing As A Movie-Going Habit Anymore? 01 Jan 2005 23:59 #24746

  • muviebuf
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I have often remarked about the increasing rollercoaster nature of our business. One of the reasons for this I believe is the that movie-going has ceased to be a regular habit for many people.

I can remember 15 to 20 years ago when you would have a loyal crowd that came every week and even sat in the same seats. I still have a few patrons like this but there number has dwindled.

I believe part of the problem is the ever increasing cost of movie tickets. Yeh I have heard all the arguments of movie ticket costs vs other entainment such as concerts and sporting events. But concert and sporting events are "event" items that people generally do not go to every week.

In these days of $8.00 movie tickets what has happened (particlularly for the families) is that movie-going has moved from habit to an "event".

Consequently you have the event films that everyone must see and other (often good solid pictures) fail to attract the audience they deserve.
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Re: Is There Such A Thing As A Movie-Going Habit Anymore? 02 Jan 2005 02:00 #24747

  • outaframe
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How right you are, BUF... There was a time when movies were so inexpensive that many people just went to movie theaters, and really didn't pay much attention to what picture they would be seeing (based on the assumption that they would be entertained, and they usually were)... Even the smaller "programmers" were often well done and had an interesting storyline (sometimes even unique) and few moviegoers then were as selective as today's audiences have become, no doubt because of the fact that the cost of a night at the movies has become a major expense, especially for a family... So, the once a week moviegoer is almost extinct, and whatever family audience still exists just waits a few months and rents the video... The population continues to grow, but the number of tickets sold continues to dwindle... Grosses have risen based entirely on increasing ticket prices, but there is point where this becomes counter productive... We are essentially
pricing ourselves out of business...

[This message has been edited by outaframe (edited January 02, 2005).]
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Re: Is There Such A Thing As A Movie-Going Habit Anymore? 02 Jan 2005 10:07 #24748

  • leeler
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Let me aska stupid question then....

Why, then do the admission prices for the majority of chains keep rising? Is it corporate greed?

The only scenario that makes sense to me is this: chain A charges $7 per ticket and chain B (right down the street) charges $8 per ticket. The studios notice that chain B has been getting higher grosses than chain A and begins denying prints on the break to chain A in lieu of the higher grosses received at chain B. If this is the case, don't they see where this is heading?

When I designed my business model I decided that the only way I was able to survive was to become a discount theater and to undercut the competition on price. In that way I'd make up grosses on volume rather than ticket prices. What works for me, however, would not work in the scenario above unless the moviegoing public played along and actually went to the cheaper theater in sufficient volume to make up for the admission price difference.

What am I missing here?

"What a crazy business"
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Re: Is There Such A Thing As A Movie-Going Habit Anymore? 02 Jan 2005 14:40 #24749

  • rodeojack
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These kinds of conversations tend to bring out the cynic in me... mainly because the businesses I've succeed at only did so by adjusting and adapting to current market conditions... not by promoting the past (though some people have admittedly done very well by doing just that).

Before I opened my indoor, I had decided that today's audience goes to the theatre that has the movie people want to see, and that amenities... even presentation quality comes in second. When I opened the indoor, I tried to generate some attention by charging lower admission than the chain houses around me. When that didn't seem to make any noticeable difference, I matched my area compadres. There was no difference in attendance... people didn't seem to notice. They mainly cared whether we had the show. The addition of digital sound, better projectors and lamphouses and constant attention to presentation quality, while noticed by some, turned out to be less important than the location and former reputation of the place.

Maybe I'm cynical, but amenities, showmanship, presentation quality & location all seem to be factors that contribute to developing a gradual preference for one theatre over another, when a choice is available. I know that my wife and I almost exclusively attend one of the newest theatres in our county, when we go out for a show (that would be Bob Allen's place). We know the Manager there, though we usually pay for our tickets. The place is also relatively new, with good projection & sound equipment, so my sensitivities to such things don't distract my enjoyment of the show. Personally, I haven't been to the other 3 first-run houses in some time, mainly because I don't care to risk being put through the poor performances I've experienced there in the past. That's too bad, because you never know when/if improvements might have been made.

If I'm anything remotely similar to the average theatre-goer (ha!), then I would say that once a patron becomes accustomed to one venue, his preference would be difficult to change, so long as nothing happens to upset the level of quality that particular patron accepts as "normal".

"Movie-going habit"? I don't see much of that here, but I'm not sure that price is as big a factor as one might think. When I was a kid, TV here was black & white. We had 3 or 4 available channels and a very limited selection of shows (by today's standards). There was no FM to speak of, and there were maybe 10 AM stations... only one of which would be dominant in any format. No video, no cable, no satellite, no internet, no game cube, gameboy, x-box or playstation and no computers. We did have multi-party telephone lines, though!
Heck... about the only thing I missed out on was horse-drawn carts, model T's & newsreels at the local indoor(darn). We had one single-screen indoor and a 154-car drive-in (both are still open, by the way).

So... with a much smaller list of options, the movies were much more impressive. Frequent visits weren't likely to oversaturate the senses... and theatres were places to meet and socialize.

The big 3 TV networks have a common complaint. They aren't viewed as being as important and influential as they once were. You don't suppose that 6 billion available cable channels could have anything to do with that????

Nowadays, we ARE events. Personally, I accept that my drive-in is not somewhere that the public just "trips" into because they have nothing else to do. I like it that way. They're here to absorb and participate in an atmosphere they can't get anywhere else. By fostering the "event mentality", I attract people who appreciate the property, the product, my staff and family. I have no problem, charging appropriately. I don't want people coming out here because they're bored and can't think of anything better to do. Those are the people who trash the property and disrupt the enjoyment of other customers... and they seem to be attracted by the steep discount (in my case, the 'carload' price).


$7 won't buy you a decent meal, anywhere but McDonalds (you'll be hungry in 3 or 4 hours). $7 will get you maybe a quarter tank of gas. You can't get out of the house to see a professional baseball, football or basketball game, concert, symphony, ice skating show or a decent play. But, in many places, $7 will you get into a first-run theatre for a couple hours of (hopefully) decent entertainment... double that at most drive-ins. I still think that's a very fair price for the product delivered.

I have plenty of gripes about the greed of Hollywood, and the seeming lack of showmanship anywhere in the process... but that's because I grew up in an era when those things actually existed.

Most kids have never seen anything with tubes in it... and barely recall casettes and vinyl. Unfortunately, as I am with horse-drawn carts, model T's and newsreels, most of them don't care.

[This message has been edited by rodeojack (edited January 02, 2005).]
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Re: Is There Such A Thing As A Movie-Going Habit Anymore? 02 Jan 2005 21:29 #24750

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duplication...

[This message has been edited by outaframe (edited January 03, 2005).]

[This message has been edited by outaframe (edited January 03, 2005).]
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Re: Is There Such A Thing As A Movie-Going Habit Anymore? 02 Jan 2005 22:29 #24751

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JACK, you bring up some good points: doing business in a changing enviornment is exactly what we are experiencing and the biggest change is that we no longer have the exclusive product we once had... At least, it's exclusive for a considerably shorter time than it once was, and like the 3 major TV networks you mention which now have 6 billion competitors, we are also facing an ever increasing group of competitors who are supplying exactly the SAME product (sometimes even an expanded or enhanced version) ... Those TV networks are offering their product at no charge to the consumers, while their competitors charge for what they supply... However, the programming is not identical, and at least part of it is exclusive to those who are selling it to the consumers... We have nothing exclusive other than WHEN we offer it, and this is quickly disappearing...

It isn't a question of whether movies are more widely seen than ever before; they are, but just NOT in theaters... We are fast becoming the unnessary element in the grand scheme of movie delivery to the consumers... Supply and demand deteremine prices, and while the demand diminishes we are raising prices... This will further decrease the demand: we are sliding downhill on the sharp edge of a mile long razor blade... Is there a point where we will self destruct?... Sure looks like it from here!...
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Re: Is There Such A Thing As A Movie-Going Habit Anymore? 03 Jan 2005 12:12 #24752

  • rodeojack
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Well, Outaframe, you could be right. I hope not. You are certainly right about the non-exclusivity of our product. There are LOTS of titles I'd like to see on my screens again. Unfortunately, I have no doubt there would be no attraction for them, being that they're on some cable channel every other day. The owner I grew up working for could book an entire season in one or two sittings, since the only other places you could see films were the networks' weekly shows (how old were they?).

I just hope that the experience surrounding the film itself will motivate people to patronize our theatres. One would hope that enough people need to get out of the house at least once in a while!
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Re: Is There Such A Thing As A Movie-Going Habit Anymore? 03 Jan 2005 14:24 #24753

  • revrobor
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You are totally right Jack. I have had people who come from your end of the county and from up along the Straight tell me that they come to our house for the reasons you mention. I know I put every effort I can into good presentation and trying to keep the place clean.

Bob Allen
The Old Showman
"Back In The Saddle Again"

[This message has been edited by revrobor (edited January 03, 2005).]
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re: Is There Such A Thing As A Movie-Going Habit Anymore? 04 Jan 2005 03:46 #24754

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JACK, I too HOPE I'm wrong, and that by some fluke the movie theater business will somehow survive and prosper despite all we are collectively and individually doing to shoot ourselves in the foot... The studios once depended on us for their survival, but the truth is thanks to the VCR, DVD, cable, the dish, PCs and all the other ongoing developments and refinements in electronics, IF for some reason tonight every theater in the US should close, the studios would survive... In short order they would just adapt to using those other venues without having theaters to create the initial buzz for what they're selling... They are in the catbird seat, and we are at their mercy... They are constantly pressuring us to increase grosses, and we are raising admission prices to accomplish this, but it is short lived and results in fewer patrons, which ultimately drops the gross back to where it was before the price increase... This leads to another price increase, and the cycle repeats... We are trading the long term health of the exhibition business for a quick fix... Instead of price increases, we should be ACTIVELY be looking for a way to sell more tickets... There is actually a population segment who have NEVER seen a movie in a movie theater... This is almost like the situation during the Great Depression when the very poor couldn't afford going to the movies, in spite of the nearly give away ticket prices then, but this case is due more to lack of interest and justified by costs... They have ALSO never seen live theater, and consider BOTH as some quaint old fashioned thing that senior citizens like... Clean theaters, good presentation, and the latest technical bells and whistles are well, good, and necessary but are quickly taken for granted and do NOT insure a theater's long term success... I do not have THE answer, if someone does, PLEASE SPEAK UP... One thing is for sure, ticket prices are just about as high as the buyers will accept...
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