Critiquing The Community Feeling At The Theater

August 9, 2006

After seeing the incredible success of the Snakes on a Plane party kit, not only on our site but a few others as well that are hosting nation-wide parties, I've sat back in my comfy seat in order to just consider how important group attendance and passion towards a movie really is come release day. To start, I've received many e-mails from many individuals (and their compatriots) begging/wishing for a chance to be accepted for a Snakes on a Plane party pack. One of the questions that is necessary to be answered during this "application" process is "why do you deserve to throw a Snakes on a Plane party?" The responses I've heard back from this are often quite comical (because it IS Snakes on a Plane) and at the same time exciting. A lot of them have involved people stating that they've put together enormous groups of friends and keep telling everyone they know and/or work with to come with them. If only I were New Line, I'd be throwing confetti over my head right now in excitement over just how great this will be (even though I think they already know).

Shifting stories back to last Friday where we ran an opening event for two major movies: Talladega Nights and The Descent. Talladega Nights had too much excitement in the wrong direction. There were some drunken college kids and rowdy teens, but that's not the topic of discussion. The Descent, on the contrary, was dead. It had people attending, the theatre was nearly sold out (at least at the 8PM showing), but they almost didn't care. We tried some trivia, but no one knew who had even directed the film (nor who stars in it). We tried some contests, but no one cared. Even when we just decided to give out everything freely, the mood was still dull and quiet. Now I know the horror genre is a "special" category of its own, but what I observed that night was something that a lot of films in general (not even just horror) lack in terms of solidifying attendance, hype, and excitement.

Take Pirates of the Caribbean 2 for example. Everyone who was at the midnight showings for that movie (I could even go as far to say probably everyone on release day) knew exactly what the movie was about and most of all they were all there together experiencing it as a group. Every single person in the audience had that excitement - and they shared it together. There are groups and communities that discuss how good looking Johnny Depp is and how great the Pirates movies are day in and day out. And everyone at the midnight showings has built this group mentality between each other without many of them having ever met before. Individually, none of them would care about trivia. But together, competing against fellow Pirates fans, they work as a real audience and have a real passion for the movie (and then answer the trivia).

I've seen this at Pirates; I've seen this (already) for Snakes on a Plane. It's what really drives the better experience. Touching back on The Descent, it was an interesting experience in the theatre. Everyone was quiet, blotched in groups, occasionally glancing at their few friends with a look of horror on their face. But it just lacked as a fulfilling time. Even if you enjoyed the movie, you didn't enjoy the experience. What was lacking above all was the synchronized passion and excitement for the movie. I mean, why even come on opening day if you hardly know the name of the movie you are about to see. Walk in, watch movie, and walk out. Maybe the blame is left with the movie industry itself. Trailers are standard, but a following, a community, a group, is how it changes for the better. And if they can't help build that up then it won't be there at all.

What I am trying to emphasize is just how important the group mentality really is when it comes to the movie theatre experience. If you are going out to see a movie for the first time that you are excited for, then you better express your excitement. There's no way you can just simply go to the movies (well, that is an entirely different story). Too many people just go and don't go with the passion for the movie they are about to see. And when you can take that passion and join it together with the 460 other people sitting in that movie theatre with you and share the screams, the laughs, and the cheers, then it turns out much more fulfilling in the end. And the movie industry and their marketing teams need to do better on their end, as well. They need to help you build the communities and the groups. They've done it a few times for a few movies, but indefinitely not enough of them.

[tags]theater, attendance, community, groups, midnight, opening day, The Descent, New Line[/tags]

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