Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Cinema-On-Demand: Theater as Social Software
go to original article ... or email me for article text
"I love going to the movies with people, even people I don’t know. I love to hear others’ reactions, and discuss the movie with people afterwards...

...What this means is that films can potentially be shown to smaller audiences. And this, in turn, means that those audiences could select the film that they want to view and schedule the theater in advance. Moreover, there’s no reason to think that audiences merely want to watch only new films. Imagine a small (but big enough) cadre of film buffs pitching in to watch Citizen Kane on the big screen for a Saturday night. Or how about an all-day Star Wars or Star Trek marathon?

...So, in effect, the local movie theater evolves into a kind of watering hole where audiences can reserve a time-slot and a film for their own purposes. This could prompt a change in theater architecture, from large pack-the-house-to-get-back-your-costs sardine boxes to smaller lounge-style spaces with movie controls, tables, sofas, and such organized around comfort, convenience, and the whole experience. As we move towards the “experience economy” theaters will have to consider these issues carefully."

Here are some excerpts from an group blog entry that I find really exciting. Not only necessarily because they’re ideas that are new to me, but because other people are feeling the way I do about the social element of going to the movies. Here’s what I wanted to post on their site (by the time I got to it, they were no longer accepting comments -- at least not from me).
"I discovered this post because I write a blog about movie theaters and regularly monitor relevant news sources (via google news). You’ll be happy to know what you write here is news 

In any event, the reason I have this blog is because I desperately want to own a movie theater some day. And I believe, precisely, in what you wrote about. These days, all industry coverage is about how much people hate going to the movies because of all of the various irritants present. But this celebrates all of the things that makes going to the movies… going to the movies.

So I fully support you in developing this idea, and am committed to make this happen when I have my movie theater. I’d also like to add a couple of related ideas that haven’t been mentioned yet.

Audiovisually (and not to mention socially) I think movies are actually optimally viewed in small group sizes. The high end (and even not so high end) home theaters people typically build in their homes are really the best places to watch movies. You have a better chance at getting balanced sound and optimal viewing distance and angles in more intimate rooms.

Also, when building a theater, having a lot of small screens is cheaper than building one big one (like how two 17 inch monitors is cheaper than one 25 inch monitor) and you get the best of all worlds. A theater with multiple screens can use their capacity to show 5 different movies or one movie, all at the highest possible quality. And you can capitalize on “consumer” products and the low price points they offer and make it easier to scale your business up or down depending on the particular market.

If a reasonable deal for digital distribution could be met, these low barriers to entry for theater owners could mean that small theaters could pop up everywhere and anywhere, and the capital advantage held by the big chains wouldn’t be as crucial to surviving in the industry. Anyone who could afford a home theaters had the ability to intelligently pick movies and serve their communities could start one.

And if I save up enough money, I should be able to afford a home theater."


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