How Theaters Can Save Themselves
Last week we looked into movie theaters and came out concluding that the industry is a dying breed.
And the responses you sent in were wide and varied.
Many noted that concessions were too expensive while others came out in support of their local businesses.
One particular reader wrote in and said:
As a future theater owner, my heart sank reading your article. But only because I’ve done my own research and have verified most of your details long before reading the article on theaters dying out. So I’ve seen the writing on the wall.
So when the opportunity came to reopen our local movie theater, I knew I couldn’t do what everyone else is doing. I had to reimagine the movie theater experience and enhance it. I’m doing so by combining a restaurant and arcade to the theater. I’ve got other enhancements too in order to give customers a better all-around experience. I felt if I just built an experience just around the movie itself, I’d be doomed. I need to make other things shine and have the movie only be part of the total experience.
That got me thinking…
Obviously, attendance nationwide is down.
But there are thousands of theater companies out there. All of them can’t be suffering.
Today, we’re going to dive in to see how theaters have reinvented themselves. And will shed some light on what’s working and what’s not.
Creating the Perfect Experience
No better place to start would be by looking at the theater group that’s killing the competition: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.
A smaller theater chain based in Austin, Texas, Alamo has been dedicated to providing the perfect theater experience for moviegoers.
And the results couldn’t be better.
Despite a global downturn in movie theater sales of 5%, Alamo Drafthouse sales were up 5.8% from 2018–19.
And in 2018, Market Force found that overall, consumers ranked Alamo Drafthouse as their favorite theater chain, as shown in the graph below:
What’s their secret?
They’re dedicated to providing the ultimate theater experience. Well beyond what you may find from the big hot-shot names like Regal or AMC.
Even if that means alienating certain individuals.
For one, they’ve adopted a strict no-texting, no-talking policy for their moviegoers. No screaming children, noisy talking teenage gaggles or rude bright phone screens.
You get one warning and then you’re removed.
But the biggest draw for people is the in-seat bar and food service.
And not just popcorn, either. Full meals and cocktails like you would find at any restaurant.
So instead of having to shell out $8 for some popcorn, you pay restaurant prices for restaurant-quality food.
All delivered to you by quiet black-clad hosts who do their very best to not block your view of the movie.
Know Your Audience
What works for the Alamo Drafthouse especially is that they show films their audience would enjoy.
And provide an experience that makes people actually want to leave their homes.
If you want to create that culture, give consumers something that they want.
On off hours or days, show international films, host video game tournaments, test out new foods and drinks.
Tech can help you out too, with the possibility of VR movies coming out and bigger and better technology for the theater experiences themselves.
Better pictures and screens, sound and overall experience.
Your blockbuster hits will always still pull in people for the “theater experience.”
But when that does happen, wow them with something they can’t get anywhere else.
Our reader from earlier has the right idea.
And if other theater companies want to survive, they should get moving on implementing new, innovative strategies.
To a bright future,