Video media is undergoing a similar revolution. The movie theatre arose out of a time when televisions were small, sound was tinny, and clarity was horrible. Even if hardware had been better, media content was sparse and unavailable to the home viewer. But things have changed so much with hardware and content availability in only the last ten years. Watching a movie in your own home on a huge 4K HDR television and nice surround-sound system is a world away from the small and fuzzy black and white televisions of the 1950s.
I’m to the point now where I prefer watching movies at home. The thought of going to the movie theatre fills me with so much dread that I won’t do it unless it’s a movie that I absolutely can’t wait to see. That happens about two or three times per year, and it’s typically related to either Star Wars or a Marvel super hero movie.
If movie theatres didn’t have exclusive distribution of films, I can comfortably say that I’d never go to the theatre. Even if I had to pay twice as much to watch from my home. I wonder how many other people out there are like me?
If movie theaters don’t evolve, I don’t believe they will be around much longer. Video gaming and shopping illustrate two potential directions that the movie theatres can go. Arcades are dead, but retail shopping is evolving to stay relevant.
Video gaming has already migrated to be an in-house experience. The only arcade I’ve seen recently was in the hit TV show Stranger Things. And gamers don’t even go to each other’s homes anymore. For the most part, they just communicate online via headsets now. Moving data vs people won.
The retail industry is fighting back against online shopping by giving you what you can’t get via the internet. You can touch the merchandise, speak to knowledgeable sale people, or participate in customer workshops. The Apple Store will let you try out cases for your iPhone. Best Buy will let you listen to headphones before you buy. But how do movie theatres fight back? What can they give you that isn’t better in your own home?
In my house, no one behind me is talking or hitting my seat. There are no crying babies or cell phones ringing. Plus, if I do feel like looking at my iPhone or iPad, I can do it without feeling like everyone is staring daggers at me. And here’s the biggie: you can pause the movie and go to the bathroom.
I’ve been to movie theatres with reclining seats, and I’ve heard that some now offer gourmet foods. That’s a good start, but I’m not sure it’s enough. I’m not arguing that movie theatres should go away. I would like the option of going to a movie theatre on that special occasion. Plus, especially with comedies or horror, the communal experience is something you can’t get at home. But I resent the iron grip with which the movie theatres hold all new releases. It makes me wish that movie theatres would just go away so that all new movies would go directly to iTunes or Netflix.
Movie releases need to go to the small screen at the same time as the big screen. Let the movie theatres that refuse to change with the times die. Those that offer the customer an experience that they can’t get at home will be rewarded with continued business.
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