Let’s talk about the state of movie going.
I have made a conscious effort to not talk about Covid-19 on the blog, but with movie theaters closed it is getting harder to ignore the elephant in the room. With cinemas shuttered across the nation we are experiencing a drought of new content.
Many companies are allowing folks to stream movies for $19.99, which is a debatably good deal. My wife and I spend about that to go to the theater, but I can’t commit to the cost, yet. I think the theater experience is worth the movie.
However, is it?
With even Alamo Drafthouse failing at their own policy of making the theater a “quiet zone” I hear more and more that people do not see the trip to the movies as worth it. The cost is too prohibitive, and the nuisance of other people is simply too much to bear. I can’t say I fully disagree with them, either. We’ve had numerous movies basically ruined (even at Alamo) due to idiots talking or playing on their phones.
The Covid-19 lockdown is likely going to speed up the decline of American cinema. I think all that has happened is the withdrawal from theaters has accelerated. Sure, it has been forced right now, but how many people do you know who go to the movies often? How many see it as a good time, price, and experience?
Here are my thoughts on the major issues.
Movies are expensive to produce. With inflation, tickets should be a little of $9, and at least where we are that is the case (excluding 3D). However, for a family of four to see a film we’re talking around $40 to get into the door, figure another $40 for food and we’re getting fairly spendy.
Theaters make most of their money off concessions, so the odds of the price dropping seem slim.
One thing I liked about Alamo was the quality seemed higher. The popcorn is always good (you don’t get those burnt baby teeth kernels) and they put butter on it. The drinks are refilled for you, and this made the price tag a little easier to swallow. Instead of reducing prices, I think theaters should make the quality better.
Honestly, if you knew the food was going to be good would you be willing to pay? I think most people would say yes. I also think this is a secondary issue to the overall experience.
With the scattershot quality of movies lately, it has become a bit of a risk to go to the theater. Even if the film isn’t a refried dog turd, you still run the risk of sitting near morons. Other patrons is going to be the largest hurdle for theaters to overcome.
When dealing with morons, the $20 fee to rent suddenly becomes a bit easier to swallow (especially for groups of more than 2).
Theaters have largely ignored this issue for years. We get a little more room and a little more comfort, but jackasses still prevail. Largely, I blame theater management (not the service level employees) as they have continuously understaffed theaters to cut costs. Also, most managers seem entirely absent from the complex. My only interaction with a manager at the local Cinemark was watching him creepily talk to his female employees while blocking them from doing their jobs.
Needless to say, we don’t go there anymore.
Asking the sixteen-year-old to confront the obnoxious drunk or whoever is being an ass isn’t fair, and the employees should not be in that situation. I’ve watched three theaters be built, well-staffed, and full. Over the months, staffing drops, and then viewers drop, which causes less staff.
I’d like to say we could make an organized effort to not be jackasses and show theaters that we will show up if the quality is good, but given the fact that morons are protesting healthcare providers right now, I don’t think we deserve anything nice.
Corporate greed with the inherent crappiness of individuals is likely going to slaughter an entire industry. Even if the owners of theaters cleaned things up, will we change our behavior?