Okay, so I was over at Lee Goldberg’s blog reading his article about how much most Hollywood films suck and why people aren’t paying to see them and it got me thinking.
How *could* you get people to go to the movies again?
I have a few ideas…
1. DVD window expands to 12-18 months (or more) after release. The studios have it all backwards — they need to wait to release a film on DVD rather than rush it out to stores. If people know it will be awhile, it creates demand. Also, have you seen how well Disney’s “moratorium” process works? The release a “Platinum” (read: more coveted) animated film on video or DVD (they’ve been doing this awhile), make it available for about 18 months and then — *poof*! It’s GONE. NO MORE BUYING “The Lion King”…until the *next* time they release it. It builds demand for the film. People are more apt to see in a theater if they know they won’t get to see buy it/rent it/see it on TV for many many many months.
2. Create a new film pricing structure. I think the theater pricing model is outdated. Arclight, arguably the best movie theater in L.A. charges up to $14 a ticket during “prime time” film viewing hours. Why? a) no commercials (only movie trailers) before the movie. b) you can pick your seat c) a really generous membership program for frequent movie goers which includes using points on concessions or free tickets d) some movies they offer 21+ screenings — NO KIDS. Theses are all innovative strategies. Why stop at creative pricing for matinees? Why not charge a premium for certain films? Maybe some “lesser” films should be offered as ‘2 for 1’ bargains. There was a time when double bills were common. Short films should make a comeback and be shown before features. Which leads to my 3rd point…
3. Offer things the average movie goer cannot get by renting or owning the DVD. Sure, some are shown in IMAX, and that’s about the best and most unique reason to go out of your way to see a film. But why not offer other perks like: a) offer movie going packages. Some theaters are starting to catch on to “combos” and gift cards like AMC’s “night at the movies”, which includes 2 tickets, a tub of popcorn and 2 drinks, but theaters need to embrace these kinds of deals. Make it actually a SAVINGS to buy a package (not just that 50 cents it costs to upgrade to a supersize) b) Start upgrading your damn theaters to digital projection already. Yes, it is costly, but hello, people are watching films in digital AT HOME. You want to catch up already?? Digital big screen will attract an audience. c) Multiplexes should offer a “babysitting” theater. Don’t want to sit with the kids while watching the latest Pokemon movie? Want to go see something else? Send the to Pokemon, where the lights don’t go down entirely and kids are kept in check (sign a waiver of course) and go see a movie in peace. Also, spare the people around you by not having your annoying crying kid piping up every 2 minutes.
Theaters can do a lot to bring people in, but studios have more to do too…
4. Stop making excuses. No one likes to be blamed for your shortcomings. I saw Cinderella Man — it’s a good movie. Face it, your marketing department sucked eggs on promoting the film properly. Stop trying to make it sound “good for us” — tell me why I’ll enjoy seeing it, for crissakes! Studios whine that audiences say they want more family friendly films, but then they don’t perform well. Newsflash, just because you slap a ‘G’ or a ‘PG’ on it doesn’t mean parents will react like automatons and take their children to see it, especially if it looks like torture for the adult. Make GOOD family friendly movies and watch the profits roll in (example: “The Incredibles”). Same rule goes for films for any audience outside men 18-34. Just because a movie has 5 women in it, is labeled “chick flick”, does not mean women will flock. Make it a GOOD chick flick and we’ll talk.
5. Stop insulting your audience. This is a message to some of my fellow screenwriters: The audience is NOT stupid. If you portray characters which closely represent your audience as being stupid, backward, redneck idiots, it will not do well. People will allow themselves to be poked fun at, if it is genuinely good natured. If you are trying to sell a political agenda, red and blue staters can smell it. Tell a good story and everybody wins.
These are just some of my new ideas for getting people back to the theaters. Your thoughts??
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This post was written by Shawna on June 28, 2005