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The generation (dare I call us the Star Wars generation) that spent the most disposable income on movies a few years ago is getting older and having kids.
With surging ticket & concession prices, it's becoming less economically feasible to hire a sitter and go to the movies. Especially when the time away from home is being unnecessarily extended by 20 minutes of commercials (!!!) and previews before the movie begins. For those with kids old enough to go to the movies, the ticket & concession prices alone make it a bad deal economically when you can wait four months for the DVD.
Then we have to deal with the idiots in the row behind who are dragging kids too young to a movie (my greatest horror story was sitting next to the couple who brought a toddler to see Jackie Brown) or chatting on their cell phones, disrupting the film for everybody around.
DVD sales are going gangbusters because it lets the entire family watch repeatedly in the comfort of their own home, on their own schedule, in theater-quality sound without those annoying "other people" ruining the experience.
If the theaters wish to get serious about courting people, it all boils down to sacrificing the profit margin in favor of increasing the bottom line. The following suggestions will improve profits if theater owners would have the brains and balls to implement them:
1) Cut matinee prices in half and expect greater than a 100% increase in ticket buyers.
2) Enforce age minimums for non-children's films.
3) Kick out families with disruptive children and kick out anybody who takes a phone call during the film.
4) Make 2-for-1 "Date Deals" for non-peak evenings like Monday and Tuesday.
5) Offer free tickets for parents who bring 1 or more children to a children's movie.
6) Cut the price of concessions. $6.75 for a regular hot dog and a soda is ridiculous. $4.50 for popcorn is insane. Offer a better selection at a reasonable price.
If theater owners did this, would you be more likely to attend? Feel free to copy these suggestions verbatim and send them to your local theater. I'm gonna do that myself.
Dude, you could copy this and send it to every major studio/distribution head. EXACTLY what needs to happen.