I was recently invited to attend the National Association of Theatre Owners conference in Beverly Hills. They were interested in hearing from other stakeholders in the theatrical ecosystem. I appreciated their willingness to hear some straightforward commentary.
There was no press invited, and I don't want to violate the sanctity of the conversation. However, there were some topline thoughts that I think are worthy of continued discussion with all of us who care about the magic that happens in a communal, theatrical experience.
The arrow of time moves in one direction, so we won't get back to the halcyon days that some pine for. The audience has voted. The consumer has spoken. So now what?
Theatres need to support movies differently, enhance the experience and market the experience specifically to their local audience.
"One of the primary obstacles to a theatrical release of a mid- to low-budget movie is the cost of marketing. The theatres currently play no role and have no skin in that game. They have no relationship with their own customer—and that’s a missed opportunity."
I live less than 10 minutes from my local multiplex. For some movies, I buy four or five tickets when I take my kids. For others, I buy two tickets and go with my wife. Based on that behavior alone the theatre owner should know that I live nearby, I have a partner, and I have at least three kids that I regularly take to the movies.
This is basic information.
Then, based on my actual ticket purchases, they could develop a sense of what we like, how old my kids are, my favorite actors and film genres. That data would allow them to start marketing movies directly to me. Remind me of a movie that’s opening, offer to reserve seats, give me a deal on popcorn—good popcorn—or other favorite snacks. Have the manager there to say hello!! Seriously work at making the experience great. Theatre owners couldn't wait to kill MoviePass. Yet MoviePass drove attendance. How can we invest and learn, as opposed to allowing a great business to die?
Nothing is certain in this world. Most of us, myself included, understand that if we don’t figure out ways to be integral to a fast-changing world, then we will be innovated out of a job. It’s a daunting reality—and a powerful source of inspiration and progress.