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Theaters scrambling to attract audiences

Posted on Monday, May 15th, 2006 and updated on Monday, May 15th, 2006 11:52 AM

The MPAA has reported that 2005 box office revenues in the U.S. dropped 6% from 2004, reflecting an 8.7% drop in attendance. The greater drop in admissions vs. revenues resulted from the 3.2% increase in average ticket prices. The theater industry is keeping its game face on, saying that the market is cyclical and that there are peaks as well as valleys, and it's just a matter of riding the valleys out. Smart theaters aren't just holding onto the hope that the storm won't be long, they are trying to attract audiences by offering new services and appealing to various segments of the population (such as mothers with baby-friendly shows). The Chicago Tribune featured an article by Natalie Y. Moore that talks about what some theaters in the Chicago area are doing to draw people into their theaters:
"We need to make it a special event," said Bruce Olson, president of Marcus Theatres, which has several city and suburban theater locations. "Our goal as exhibitors is to make the out-of-home experience better than at home." For some, it's not. Viewers complain that ticket prices are too high and concessions cost too much. And, sometimes, the experience doesn't stack up well with their recliners and high-tech televisions and sound systems in their enhanced living rooms. That has left not only moviemakers but also theater owners scrambling in a time when DVD sales have surpassed box-office revenue.
Click the read link for the full article. While some of the new features are more gimmick than anything else, we applaud theaters for trying to see what people respond to. However, more important than adding liquor sales or putting baby changing tables in theaters for afternoon shows, we encourage theaters to concentrate on improving the overall movie-going experience for all their customers. Taking steps to ensure a problem-free presentation in both picture and sound, hiring and training good staff to be courteous, helpful and professional, keeping the bathrooms clean, and to make sure that the entire experience from stepping in the door to leaving is the best possible will go a long way towards attracting customers and making them loyal enough to come back every time they want to see a movie.

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