Let's get some things straight
Cinema owners worry about ticket prices, too
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Now that I'm totally (and quite loudly) behind the idea that my future and fortune will all be had in the multiplex arena, things have become much simpler in my understanding of life. It now makes sense why I love articles like the one above (which I recommend). It basically says all the things we already know about the movie business, it's hard, concessions are everything, the distributors take all the money, and they're impossible to work with, yada yada. The thing I like about stories like these is that it separates the decision makers from the decisions that they inevitably have to make. The theater owners are people that are sympathetic with their patrons and do what they can.
"I call it the lousy-in-the-lobby experience," says Joseph Chabot, of Moore Theatres, a small chain of 19 screens in four locales outside of Kalamazoo, Mich. "People who've just come from the local fast-food restaurant know what soda costs," he says, "and they don't like paying two or three times as much just to carry it into the theater with them." Mr. Chabot and his partner, owner and president Carol Moore, say they have taken these concerns seriously and come up with a solution - self-service concession stands.Which is a.) awesome, b.) genius, c.) humanitarian, d.) awesome.
"We let people get their own drinks and popcorn and they love it," he says. "It saves them money and still allows us to make a profit." Chabot says they've seen audience numbers increase since they instituted the new service."
And while we're on the topic of awesome, I occasionally try to strategically plant my principle ideas about running a movie theater in my posts here. But since we're at a crossroads here, taking what may be a highly criticized path to multiplexes over the little guys, I think it might help my position to lay out the things I stand for, and what I mean when I say I want to swim in screens. And let's start right out with the big 2:
1.) Cheap (if not free concessions)
2.) Deals with Distributors that make sense
There's nothing that bothers me more about this industry than the fact that it's widely acknowledged that one does not profit from actually _showing movies_. It's all so backwards. At one point when it was hard to get films places and distributors had real problems getting films on screens, the 90% of profits thing made a lot of sense. And since people were spilling out the doors, it just happened that you could survive with selling food on the side. But concessions are a _workaround_. As in absolutely not the primary business of a movie theater. How can one ever provide a satisfactory service to people when the primary business they are running is catering to a totally different service? How can a workaround be adopted as an industry wide standard and have everyone be ok with it?
I mean I understand why, but seriously, it can only lead to bad things. On so many levels. I have a number of philosophical problems with this whole approach, and the main one is that it doesn't address the problem at it's source. People can't afford to run movie theaters because the distribution deals are prohibitive. On top of that the studios use their infinite negotiation power to keep it that way in spite of its senselessness. Which just plain sucks.
But isn't that the point of having an association of theater owners? Why hasn't NATO used the unionized force to fight for this? And with studios so stupidly obsessing about piracy that doesn't even affect their sales, why don't the theater owners use this as leverage. Right now, the distributors want to roll out lame cash rewards for staff that identify camcorders in the audience. Why doesn't NATO negotiate a more reasonable distribution profit sharing deal for people who can ensure piracy won't occur. Ironically, this is probably because the studios would take a bigger hit from this than they ever would from Piracy, but at least they'd take care of their biggest public facing issue.
I could go on and on. I'm already pretty raving mad just thinking about it. :) But for the record, my idea of multiplex first and foremost includes both of these ideas for the public that utilizes them (which should pan out in either lower ticket prices or a more worthwhile experience). But the fat needs to get cut out. Across the entire industry.