(This post, in large part, is inspired by Reinventing the Moviegoing Experience at Techdirt, but is an amalgam of things that have bothered me for some time.)
My wife and I love movies. We love losing ourselves in the story and being entertained. We especially love the movie-going experience. The darkened theater, a nice bucket of popcorn, and a big screen combine into one of our favorite things to do.
Like many Americans, we don’t go to the movies as much any more. It’s not because we get DVDs instead. Virtually every DVD we own is a movie we saw in the cinema. While we love Netflix, watching a movie on a television, no matter how big (and ours isn’t at all) pales in comparison to the cinema. The movies we rent, though, are either for the kids, or are movies that were released long, long ago.
We also don’t get pirated movies off of the net or buy counterfeit DVDs. Again, the screen and sound just aren’t the same and we know it’s wrong to steal someone else’s work.
The reason, very simply, why we don’t go to the movies much any more is that it’s too damn expensive for what you get.
We recently took our kids to see Cars. We love the Pixar films as much as they do, and we’d been looking forward to it. We went to a matinee showing. Tickets for two adults and two children came to $27.
Thirty bucks?! Before we’ve even walked in the door?! By the time you add in the overpriced popcorn, soda, and candy (because you’re not allowed to bring your own, of course) we’re looking at $50 for two hours of entertainment. That’s half of our weekly grocery budget.
Even if it’s just the two of us, by the time we pay for a babysitter, full price tickets, and a snack, we could have instead spent the money for a full day at the spa. So the movie we’re going to see had better be worth it. So we have to be more selective. So we see fewer movies.
Toss in that most movie theaters just suck. Have you ever had popcorn made with rancid oil? How about a multiplex where there’s nota teeny-bopper playing, with the attendant squeals, screams, and carrying-on in the lobby? Uncomfortable seats, out-of-sync sound tracks, and a million other annoyances seem to be par for the course.
The ideas mentioned in the Techdirt article sound pretty good. Ticket stubs as a discount sounds like a great idea. I know I’d be more inclined to see a movie that a friend recommended and gave me a coupon for. Getting movie swag for coming out on opening night sounds great, too.
I love movies. I just can’t justify the expense most of the time. Make movies that are more compelling and show them in an inviting environment and I’m there.