Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Movie Attendance in US Dropping

Despite the insatiable interest in movies, attendance at movie houses are dropping.  Revenues grew slightly but only because of increases in ticket prices.  And technology may be partially to blame for this drop in demand but it isn't the only reason.

Consumers today have far more choice to watch movies, from premium cable channels and same day as theater movies on demand through your cable box to subscription streaming services that can provide an all you can eat buffet for a month at less than the cost to individually go to the movies.  And for many on a budget, their entertainment appetite can be satisfied.

But for those that seek a night away from home and desire a "just released" movie, going to the theater becomes a date night or time to hang with your friends.  But for that important college age group, they are choosing to not go that route.  "Frequent filmgoers from 12-24 are likely spending much of their previous moviegoing time watching a variety of other screens."  And that also includes the rise of gaming devices like XBox and Playstation.  They are also on a budget and may be more particular but which movie they will watch in a theater and which ones they will wait for its later release on another platform.

So what are the solutions? There is some speculation that movie prices may drop although only on a pre-determined night and certainly not a weekend.  But I think that will not win back the millennial audience.  That demographic needs for the movie house to once again become a destination point, not just for watching movies, but as a gathering to relax, play, and share.  My ideas range from a one fee to stay all day to a refreshing of the lobby with seating and arcade games and wireless.  From there, sell a richer assortment of refreshments and merchandise.  I might borrow the marketing efforts of gamers and offer to certain films added extras not available elsewhere, ranging from merchandise to mobile links to additional content to connected game play. 

As to the older demographic, the key is convenience, comfort, and cost.  Off peak discounts continue to work as well to stay within their budget.  There is nothing like a night out, away from the home or apartment and with the company of friends and family.  The movies may be watched quietly, but it is and always will be a social experience that allows us to communicate our likes and dislikes about the film and to transport us to other times, worlds, and ideas.  Attendance may be down but there is opportunities to get it growing again.

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