Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The past is dying

The LA Times notes the possibility of dynamic pricing coming to movie theaters: popular movies cost more; less popular movies cost less. Not too complicated, and basic economic theory.

That said, it feels like an effort to defend a swiftly-receding past: movie theaters these days sell stale, butter-drowned popcorn and plop you down in a theater in which half of the audience is talking and the other half is texting. And on a certain level it’s hard to begrudge them that: in a fun movie, it’s fun to yap about it with your friends. The problem is that I’m not friends with movie theater audiences, and I have little desire to be. There’s a wonderfully convenient alternative to these movie theaters—it’s streaming through Netflix and homemade food.

Plus that it’s hard to compete with nostalgia: going to the theater back in the day used to be a really fun event, partially because you couldn’t tell how bad the popcorn was back in the day and partially because cell phones weren’t around and partially because it was just plain fun.

I’d suggest that if movie theaters want to do good business, they should go upscale: serve better food, perhaps alcohol, and really turn seeing the movie on the big screen into a big event. Otherwise the movie industry is just fighting for the past, and they should consult the music, newspaper, and publishing industries how this tends to turn out.

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