Rekindling The Theatre Experience
by Alex Billington
July 27, 2006
I recently came across a series of blog posts from Techdirt.com on the problem with movie theatres and attendance. And this has really got me thinking and devising in accordance to just how FirstShowing.net can really help build that experience.
FirstShowing.net, in its origin, has been out to really build up the movie-going experience. Simply in my own experiences at the theatre here, I've come to really resent how much of a drop the attendance has been and how movies like Superman Returns didn't sell out it's opening night at all. It's an intriguing dilemma and obviously (per the articles on Techdirt) the blame lies on the movie theatres themselves. They're "not advancing themselves" in the way they should be by redeveloping their business models and reworking their business strategies. Although I can't exactly step into a meeting with the executives of the movie chains myself and slap them around and convince them to implement a new strategy, we can do our best to help.
For those that don't know (and are just reading our news), FirstShowing.net runs opening night events in the theatre and gives away any number of items including full-size posters, free movie passes, and more. At the very base, this event is building hype and excitement for the movie, passing time while waiting for it begin, and getting people some free items that they want, including movie posters and movie passes. That right there is an increase in experience. But is it enough? What we're trying to do is really find the areas where the experience of going to the movies is lacking and fill those in. We want to make you really feel like you need to be at the FirstShowing.net showing of a movie because you're experience at the theatre will be that much better, that much more exciting, and maybe even make the movie more enjoyable.
I read another fantastic article from The New York Times on the theatre business and its attempts at improving itself and gaining more attendance. Although the article doesn't solve the problem and more so points out the issues in greater detail and various movie companies that are creating new ideas, the article is a fascinating read. It discusses various theatre chains that have developed ideas that are proving more successful and exactly what they're doing. It brings out the idea, again, that with the social aspect of "going to the movies," the theatre environment is key to an attendee's experience and therefore manipulating this to be more what the masses want is where they'll strive. This is one direction that will help the experience, but it's not where FirstShowing.net is focused.
What's unique about the FirstShowing.net movie experience is that we're connecting the actual movie, Hollywood and the entertainment together (hence our slogan) with the experience at the theatre. What has often been attempted so far is providing amenities, such as liquor and restaurants, intertwined together with watching the movie, that are entirely disconnected with the actual films themselves. Our increase in experience dwells rather largely on the fact that you may want to actually get a free copy of the movie poster for the movie you just saw, or answer some trivia for the movie you are about to see. Yes, it is necessary for those additional movie theatre amenities to be present for an enjoyable time, but actually building the connection between Hollywood and the movie goer in the theatre is what will make the experience that much greater.
One of the most interesting quotes from that NYTimes article was from Hamid Hashemi, president of a radical new movie theatre company called Muvico. "We're a product-driven business, and we don't have any control over the product, unfortunately." That's where we come into play. No, we don't have control of the product, but instead of averting the product entirely, we're connecting everyone directly to the product - right for all of them to enjoy. And right to where it needs to be for the theatre experience to be taken to the next level.
I invite you to leave a comment with your own impressions and opinions on this issue and just what and how we can try and "rekindle" that theatre experience.