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Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Walk-in going the way of the Drive-in?

What's wrong with the Walk-in movie theater? Besides the obvious-- sticky floors, cell phones, crying babies, running kids, talking idiots... LOTS.

Number one on my list, is they have not kept up with the increase in the DIVERSITY of TASTE of the viewing public. They target a couple of relatively narrow categories, those which they appear to believe cover significant market segments (and probably do, but there's a lot more of them now than there used to be), to the exclusion of all others.

I look up what's playing in my neighborhood, and find at lest 150 screens to go sit in front of within a reasonable distance, but find that all 150 screens are showing the same 12 movies, virtually none of which I'm interested in seeing. So while in fact I do have 150 screens to choose from, I only have 12 movies to choose from. It wouldn't matter to me if I see "Skeleton Key" in theater A or theater B or theater C or theater D, all within close distance, if I wanted to see "Skeleton Key" at all! But they're trying to amortize their ad budgets, preferring "blockbusters" to diversity. Get a clue guys, the "blockbuster" concept is a complete anachronism in an extremely diverse marketplace. The music industry could stand to figure that out as well and get over the "good old days" of the supergroup.

Frankly, I prefer OLD movies, and actually WOULD like to see them on a big screen. There's one theater near me that will do that, a neat REALLY OLD classic theater but that has one of the worst sound systems I've ever heard-- the reverberations in the theater make the experience awful. Plus, whoever picks their selection of old movies needs their head examined-- they really suck. It needs someone who knows the old films well enough to actually seek out those known to be particularly enhanced by the large screen projection and be able to get them! Unfortunately, it's probably getting harder and harder if not impossible to get good prints of old films on demand, they have to find some restoration society or something because they aren't likely to get much help with that from the studios...

Last time I saw an ad on TV for a movie I actually wanted to see, I looked for it in my neighborhood. Come to find out it was only playing one place anywhere in a radius of about 150 miles, and that was 50 miles away-- yet they spent big bucks advertising the movie to get me there. I'm sorry, those big ad bucks weren't enough to get me to drive 50 miles to see it, despite the fact that I was willing to go somewhat out of my way for that particular movie-- they just made it TOO HARD (the movie was Howl's Moving Castle, BTW), and I live in a major Los Angeles suburb, about 10 miles from downtown (don't ask, I'm trying to GET OUT). Consequently, it's obvious that the movie index sites are only useful for people who want to go to the theater to see ANY movie, not to see a particular movie. They have to face it, there's just fewer and fewer people willing to do that. And if they can't find a way to fix it, film theaters may just go the way of the drive-ins. At least in drive-ins you had SOME privacy, and wouldn't have to listen to cell phones and the like if drive-ins still exited. The big problem with drive-ins was they couldn't keep you from bringing in your own snacks (oh, that's not a problem for ME, it's only a problem for THEM. That's customer-centric for you).