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Subscription services to watch movies from the comfort of your own home have definitely taken off. You’ve got Amazon, Hulu, and of course, King Netflix – not to mention that platform that Disney will apparently be rolling out soon enough. But what about seeing movies in the good old cinema? I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve been going less and less often in recent years. It’s not that I don’t have a good time when I do drag myself out to the local theater; I just seldom seem to be motivated to do it.

That got me thinking. What would make me want to put in the effort to actually go to the theater more often? After talking with several others in the same boat, here’s what a few areas where things might be changed:

  1. The food options.

It’s a well-known fact that food sales provide a huge chunk of the profit that theaters make. I’ve accepted that the options sold at concessions stands are probably always going to be exorbitant, and I’m OK with that. But here’s my thought: if we’re going to be paying top dollar, why not offer a wider variety? People are increasingly interested in eating healthier, after all. I’m not necessarily advocating for the replacement of popcorn with flaxseed clusters, but there’s definitely a market for more nutritious snacks, and people might be more understanding of paying a higher price for them.

Additionally, offering something unique could be a very smart move. Sneaking in snacks purchased cheaply outside the theater is common practice, but if the concessions stand sold something delectable that could only be obtained there, it might curb the smuggling.

  1. The variety of movies.

I suppose some people go to the theater because they like the overall experience, but when I cart myself out there, it’s because I’m interested in seeing a specific movie. The trouble is that I’m picky and annoying, and quite often, I’m not particularly interested in much of what’s showing. I think it’d be cool to see some lesser-known movies in the mix: smaller indie productions or maybe work by local filmmakers. Another option would be to show some classics from a decade or two ago.

While some of these are already available, in most cases, you have to go to a specific cinema to see them, or else they may only be showing for a preset (often quite short) length of time. Personally, I’d relish the opportunity to see some of my favorite movies from the past on a big theater screen with contemporary technology.

Of course it’s not possible for physical theaters to simultaneously offer the hundreds of choices available through online streaming, but changing up their variety would help make them more competitive. They could even screen older movies that aren’t generally available online – again, providing something people can’t easily get elsewhere.

  1. The seating arrangements.

How annoying is it when you’re going to see a movie, and the theater ends up being totally packed, so you have no choice but to sit near the front and watch with your head tilted back? The inevitable outcome is a serious bout of neck pain and regret that you didn’t come to a different showing.

I’m not sure about the specifics of this one, but I’d be excited to see some redesigning in the layout of auditoriums. I might be more inclined to go see a movie if I had a little insurance that I wouldn’t be stuck in an undesirable seat. The ability to buy your tickets in advance meets this need to some degree, but you’re charged a convenience fee for that, and it’s not an option for younger people who don’t have credit cards, nor older people who don’t use the internet extensively.

The bottom line is that streaming has benefits that are impossible for a movie theater to match – namely, the variety and convenience. Accordingly, cinemas need to take a look at what they provide that can’t be replicated through digital services. The ability to maximize their in-person offerings and evolve alongside streaming platforms will be necessary for movie theaters to remain competitive in the future.


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