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Are home theaters cannibalizing cinema attendance?

Posted at 14 August 2010 06:00 CEST by wconeybeer

A year ago, film studios and theaters were enjoying an uptick in movie attendance supposedly spurred by a need for people to escape the woes and harsh realities of the recession. This year, attendance is down by an average of 1-2% at major theaters.

What are the factors behind this decrease?

The trend towards accessible high-end home theaters, combined with increasing movie ticket prices and bad manners from theater crowds, could be the culprit behind lagging cinema attendance.

Home theater technology has definitely come a long way just in the past decade. Whereas many affordable surround sound components and projection televisions weren’t of particularly good quality back in the 80’s and 90’s, we have reached a point where THX-certified audio systems and large-screen high definition video is within the financial reach of many middle-class consumers. Just last month, Samsung released a new 50” 3D plasma HDTV for less than $1000.

Also, studies are showing that people may be shying away from films because of ticket prices. Theaters are charging an average of $3 more, driving prices up to as much as $20 per ticket, for movies that are shown in 3D.

Yes, that’s $20 for one movie for one person. Take a date and buy some popcorn and drinks, and you’re easily looking at a $60 night out without considering the cost of dinner and transportation.

That’s a lot of money to go see a movie that you may or may not like. Plus, you get the added bonus of being surrounded by people with ringing cell phones, screaming children, and no regard for anyone else’s desire to actually watch the movie they just paid a good sum of money to see (You know it’s getting bad when the movie critics themselves begin to complain).

In fact, a report from Reuters indicates that major studios are in talks with providers like Time Warner Cable and Direct TV to bring big-name movies to home viewers for a premium price as soon as 30 days after the film hits theaters. In comparison to a night out at the movies, the proposed pricing scheme of $24.99 for a movie 60 days after its theatrical release, and up to $50 for 30 days, doesn’t seem all that outrageous.

Personally, I hit my threshold with ticket prices, bad films, and rude people years ago. My 50” HDTV, a good surround sound system, and the choice of who I invite to see a movie with me are all way more appealing than the movie theater experience has ever been. It seems that many consumers may be starting to think the same way.

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There are 23 comments

Zod
MyCE Resident
Posted on: 14 Aug 10 07:44
    Yah, the last idea to make all movies 3d (whether or not they should be) to add 3 bux to movie tickets, was bad. Now for 2 people to go, you're looking at nearly 30 bux.

    We still go to movies, but hey get fewer between. Wait 5 months and you can buy to keep on bluray for less money.
    paulw2
    MyCE Senior Member
    Posted on: 14 Aug 10 09:11
      Wait until the studios trot out "Piracy" again for falling attendance. Pricing is now one reason we don't go so often. Wait until the DVD comes out on rental and watch it in the HT though not as nice as the one in the pix above..
      Zod
      MyCE Resident
      Posted on: 16 Aug 10 17:43
        The only reason "sales" are so high and last summer was a record, was that they've jacked up ticket prices. I'd be more interest in how many seats they're selling then overall incoming cash.
        UTR
        MyCE Resident
        Posted on: 16 Aug 10 18:34
          I am sure home theater is making a dent in ticket sales. The movie industry is pricing themselves out of business. They have been paying mediocre actors huge sums of money (especially the percentage of box office deals big name stars can command) and expecting the movie goers to foot the bill. Then add the further wallet raping the theater owners put on patrons and many people have had it with the theater experience. I go to the theater to see a movie just a fraction as often as I did 10-15 years ago. I have gone for a 2-3 year period without watching a movie in a theater. Nothing comes out of Hollywood that I really need to see in a theater or that is so good I can't want for the DVD.
          dentman42
          MyCE Resident
          Posted on: 16 Aug 10 21:43
            Plus, at home you can pause the movie to go to the loo, grab another drink, some more popcorn, etc., not to mention watching the movie on your schedule (not a lot of cinemas around here have a 3am showing...)

            And of course, you have more than 30 or so choices for what to watch at home.

            As it is, my home theatre sounds far better than any cinema I've ever been to.

            Seriously, when cinema tickets cost as much or more than the DVD, what's the point?

            I feel sorry for the small cinema owners - they don't make any profits on ticket sales, they have to rely on concession profits to stay in business.
            UTR
            MyCE Resident
            Posted on: 16 Aug 10 22:46
              If Hollywood was smart they would start a service for streaming newly released movies directly to homes via the Internet. If movie makers aren't careful, they will start to go the way the music industry has gone. This isn't a very bright future for them. If theaters are going to survive they need to develop new technology to enhance the viewer's movie watching experience. I don't think this current crop of 3D movies are going anywhere. They need something like a quarter sphere screen to give the viewer a feeling like there are sitting in the middle of the action. Now that is something I would pay to see it it is done well.
              Blu-rayFreak
              MyCE Resident
              Posted on: 16 Aug 10 23:06
                Quote:
                Originally Posted by UTR
                If Hollywood was smart they would start a service for streaming newly released movies directly to homes via the Internet.
                I actually read an article that claims that studios are actually working on just that, but at a large price premium, like $20 or maybe even more to rent a movie at home via VOD that is still in the theaters. Of course the theater's are battling against it and shaking in their boots.

                Theater ticket prices are definitely way too high, but we still enjoy going. Due to the skyrocketing prices, we normally go when there is a discount or a matinee. A local theater near us charges $5/ticket for all shows before noon on Sundays. That's when we usually go nowadays.

                I've wanted to see a few movies in 3D recently, but I just can't justify the near $20/ticket price. Only one I've actually splurged on was Avatar.
                rla
                Banned
                Posted on: 16 Aug 10 23:51
                  Oh I can see it coming. Let us tax speakers, Receivers, Players and of course we must have a device implanted in your home equipment that only allows a single play of a movie without additional compensation. In case the RIAA has not noticed the On Demand" action is becoming significant in the home video experience.

                  The answer to the problem is to create product that draws folks off their behinds and into the theater There is nothing in a home that beats the big screen experience with the exception that I don't have to watch 20 minutes of commercials at home before watching a movie. I don't have to sit at home and watch a bunch of juveniles in front of me have a food fight, talk on their cell phones or spill drinks all over the floor. At home I don't have to deal with people walking into the middle of the movie yapping their tails off. At home U can skip over the propaganda and anti piracy bullshit and actually watch a movie. If I want a bowl of popcorn and drinks for the group at home it doesn't cost me $5.50 for a large drink and $9.75 for a bucket of popcorn with butter flavoring. At home I don't have to walk the length of a football field to find which of the 24 theaters had my movie. At home i don't have to walk forever to get to a bathroom or stand in line while some six year old plays musical urinals. At home I don't have to worry about my stereo system being stolen out of my car. At home I can even make a copy of my movie without worrying that some wannabe snitch is going to go for some damn reward from the RIAA. At home I also don't wonder if the money I spent at the theater could be better used in the middle of a double dip recession where there is 9.5 percent unemployment.

                  Now how the hell is it the RIAA can't understand why people might not be going to the movies quite as much as they did a couple of years ago? Why is it they are going to swear up and down that it is those damn pirates who are responsible. I'm going to find my RIAA switch and turn them off before another round of whining starts. Life is just too short for me to get excited about a bunch of Hollywood tippy toed, butt shakers and their drama.
                  Blu-rayFreak
                  MyCE Resident
                  Posted on: 17 Aug 10 23:01
                    Another thing that I haven't thought about until now is the camcorder problem. With the big push to crack down on illegal bootlegging of movies being video recorded in theaters, how will they stop people from camming their own TV if they can purchase a VOD title that is still in theaters? I'm sure the MPAA won't like the "watch a film that's in theaters at your home" proposals due to this...
                    justcallmebob
                    MyCE Resident
                    Posted on: 18 Aug 10 20:33
                      The price of tickets is definitely a concern of mine when we decide to go out as a family and watch a movie. Since we rarely do it these days I don't mind splurging just a little, but it definitely needs to be a very good/great movie before I will.
                      Dartman
                      MyCE Resident
                      Posted on: 19 Aug 10 01:59
                        Last movie the family actually went out and watched was avatar in non 3d. I can't see it anyways so it saved us all some money.
                        Really liked the movie even though it's a type of story told a thousand times.
                        Being late in it's run and non 3d the theater wasn't totally packed and we had a good time watching it.
                        I don't go to movies much anymore, especially with the prices going up and them wanting to charge extra for 3d that I can't see.
                        Usually I just wait for it to come out on Blu Ray as long as it isn't stupid priced and watch it at home on my HDTV with 5.1 sound and we can make our own popcorn and re watch anything we missed, plus I own it.
                        Dr. Who
                        MyCE Resident
                        Posted on: 19 Aug 10 06:10
                          No good quality movies as of late. Mostly they are all remakes.
                          weedougie
                          MyCE Resident
                          Posted on: 19 Aug 10 10:54
                            Quote:
                            Originally Posted by Dr. Who
                            No good quality movies as of late. Mostly they are all remakes.
                            Most of the remakes are utter tripe and not worth wasting the time to watch them.
                            derfsurf
                            MyCE Rookie
                            Posted on: 21 Aug 10 09:28
                              There's gonna be a day when anything and everything will be available at your fingertips. Yes, we're almost there right now. Eventually the major studios will accept the fact that people will be more than happy to watch the latest movies at home.

                              The major record labels were extremely reluctant to offer up their music catalog for download in the late 90's. Sites like Emusic.com, mp3.com and a good handful of "custom CD" websites tried like hell to win the majors' support, but it just wasn't happening. It took programs like Napster and Kazaa to force them to cooperate.

                              We're seeing the landscape for movie viewing changing rapidly already. We got on-demand video, Netflix, sites like Hulu.com, etc. It's getting to a point now that it would make more sense for the majors to just give up the ghost and let people watch that brand new flick right from home.

                              Either they lower the ticket price or just cave in. They can't keep going on this way without expecting some form of rebellion. Believe me, I'm sure folks would get fed up enough to actually acquire an illegal copy of the latest theater flick online. When that happens, the industry is gonna change it's tune. Let's hope it doesn't come to that point, but it took a program like Napster to make the major labels stand to attention. It'll only be a matter of time before the MPAA feels that same heat.

                              Now, I'm not saying that this would cause all the theaters to close up shop. But there would finally be an option for everyone. You can either see the film the way it was meant to be seen in front of a big screen or just kick back and enjoy it at home. I'd say that's rather fair truthfully. In order for it to work out right though, the major studios would have to make a compromise. I'd say they should charge less for ticket sales and raise the price a bit for home viewing. Why, you ask? Well, viewing at home would be considered a special privilege. I mean, think about it. You'll have the freedom to watch it at your convenience. You're also not siting with a bunch of people who are talking loud, chatting on the cell phone, etc.

                              In the end, between the producer and the consumer, a well planned compromise would work out best for all. Good show, good show.
                              aargos
                              New Member
                              Posted on: 24 Aug 10 21:25
                                Ticket prices are out of control. I don't really care as I rarely go to the theaters anymore for many of the reasons already stated.

                                Now, when a new movie comes out I'm interested in I put it in my Netflix Q and I watch it whenever it arrives months later. They can take their $10 popcorns and $15 ticket prices and stick it up their asses.
                                lessjames
                                New Member
                                Posted on: 30 Aug 10 10:11
                                  Quote:
                                  Originally Posted by dentman42
                                  Plus, at home you can pause the movie to go to the loo, grab another drink, some more popcorn, etc., not to mention watching the movie on your schedule (not a lot of cinemas around here have a 3am showing...)

                                  And of course, you have more than 30 or so choices for what to watch at home.

                                  As it is, my home theatre sounds far better than any cinema I've ever been to.

                                  Seriously, when cinema tickets cost as much or more than the DVD, what's the point?

                                  I feel sorry for the small cinema owners - they don't make any profits on ticket sales, they have to rely on concession profits to stay in business.
                                  My thoughts exactly .
                                  Also thinking of all the money I'd spend if I wanna take my girlfriend out to catch a movie at the cinema as often as she'd like to...
                                  Mr. Belvedere
                                  MyCE Resident
                                  Posted on: 30 Aug 10 10:14
                                    Quote:
                                    A year ago, film studios and theaters were enjoying an uptick in movie attendance supposedly spurred by a need for people to escape the woes and harsh realities of the recession. This year, attendance is down by an average of 1-2% at major theaters.

                                    What are the factors behind this decrease?
                                    Well, my best guess is that the 2% decrease is spurred by the less need for people to escape the woes and harsh realities of the recession!
                                    t0nee1
                                    MyCE Resident
                                    Posted on: 30 Aug 10 16:07
                                      They're still making millions at the Box-office...Decreasing the big stars salaries by 2% would make sense, AFAIC..As far as the drop in attendance, I'd have to agree that more and more folks stay at home and either rent or stream from say Netflix and such..Plus, you don't have to put up with the brat(s) kicking the back of your seat at the theater..
                                      mciahel
                                      Senior Moderator
                                      Posted on: 30 Aug 10 21:26
                                        In Germany, some cinema owners claim the right to search the pockets of their visitors (I guess, for cams etc.). I don't need to spend money only to be treated like a criminal.

                                        And a company that treats their customers as criminaly deserves nothing else than a painful death.

                                        Michael
                                        getit29
                                        MyCE Resident
                                        Posted on: 31 Aug 10 00:57
                                          I don't have a home theater or anything like that and I still haven't been
                                          to a cinema theater in something like over 15 years. The way I look at it
                                          is why go and pay something like $30 or more dollars to see a movie along
                                          with a bucket of popcorn and a couple of drinks.

                                          I can wait a few months for it to come out on DVD and go rent it and watch
                                          it in the comfort of my home and if I like it then I will go out and buy it to
                                          add to my collection for a lot less then a trip to the theater.

                                          The other way I also look at it is if I rent it and it isn't worth watching then
                                          all I'm out is the cost of the rental and not $30 or more dollars.
                                          Seán
                                          Senior Administrator & Reviewer
                                          Posted on: 31 Aug 10 01:36
                                            To summarise, the following are the advantages of watching the film at home:
                                            • It's cheaper, especially for a large family. Friends get free admission.
                                            • You have the "cinema" to yourself.
                                            • You can get as much popcorn as you like without breaking the bank.
                                            • You can bring your own drinks.
                                            • The showing starts at any time you choose.
                                            • No annoying flash lights, laser beams, etc. being shined by kids.
                                            • No one else's phone going off.
                                            • No kids kicking the back of your seat or making noise.
                                            • You don't get treated like at airport security (screening for camcorders, etc.)
                                            • No worry of getting arrested should someone take a picture/video clip.
                                            • You can control the volume and pause it for a toilet break.
                                            • You can get comfortable (reclining) seats with plenty of leg room.
                                            • If it gets stuffy, you can open a window.
                                            • You get front row viewing without the feeling of looking up at the stars.
                                            • No black flickering speckles in the picture.
                                            • You can watch the movie again for free.

                                            Now, here are the advantages of watching the film at the cinema:
                                            • You can legally watch films that are only at the cinema.
                                            • You get the experience of going out.
                                            • The screen is bigger than your TV.
                                            • Hmm, anything else?

                                            During my recent trip in Colorado, we had better things to do in the evening. For a quiet Sunday evening after a long day travelling, we went to a Rodeo. Now that's what I call some real entertainment, no 3D glasses required.
                                            dkreichen1968
                                            New Member
                                            Posted on: 01 Oct 10 18:33
                                              You have to realize that 2009 was the best year for movie industry ever, so a 1 to 2% decrease isn't all that much. I personnally haven't paid more than $1.50 for a theater ticket in a couple years. There are way too many less expensive options. Don't expect me to pay $25 to see it on demand either, especially if it will be at redbox or blockbuster express in a few months.
                                              alex thyl
                                              MyCE Resident
                                              Posted on: 01 Oct 10 20:18
                                                Quote:
                                                Originally Posted by Seán
                                                ...
                                                • Hmm, anything else?...
                                                LOL Seán...no, nothing at all. And btw the 3D glasses are uncomfortable.

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