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Movies The Almighty Buck

Ebert: I'll Tell You Why Movie Revenue Is Dropping 865

schwit1 writes in with a link to Roger Ebert's webpage where he gives his opinion on the decline of movie industry revenues."According to Ebert movie piracy isn't the problem. He contends that the industry needs to lower prices on tickets and popcorn, keep people off their cell phones, show a wider variety of films, and understand that movie streaming is here to stay. From the article: 'The message I get is that Americans love the movies as much as ever. It's the theaters that are losing their charm. Proof: theaters thrive that police their audiences, show a variety of titles and emphasize value-added features. The rest of the industry can't depend forever on blockbusters to bail it out.'"
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Ebert: I'll Tell You Why Movie Revenue Is Dropping

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  • by JavaJones ( 512344 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:21PM (#38532734)

    The Alamo Drafthouse theaters [drafthouse.com], mostly in Texas but slowly spreading out (1 in Colorado and one in Virginia now) are superb models of successful customer-friendly theater experiences. Good equipment and seating, first-run movies, a clear and well-enforced no talking/texting policy, and oh yeah, good (yes, actually pretty good) food and *beer*. Not to mention great local events, a variety of special showings and unusual feature runs, and no crappy ads for cars and stuff before the show (instead a series of usually topical shorts or Youtube vids, usually hilarious). They are awesome and I hope they continue to spread.

    - Oshyan

  • Lose the Popcorn (Score:5, Informative)

    by LBArrettAnderson ( 655246 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:29PM (#38532818)

    The *only* reason that I hate movie theatres is that there are always dozens of people around me who do not know how to eat quietly. Close your mouth before you start chewing (that includes the first chomp). Learn how to grab popcorn without ruffling your hand around for 2 minutes (better yet, lose the popcorn all together! Let's find a quieter food to associate with movies!)

  • by deniea ( 257313 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:34PM (#38532892)

    On: http://www.powned.tv/nieuws/binnenland/2011/12/bioscopen_draaiden_goed_jaar.html (dutch!!)

    The main message translates to something like this:
    "in 2011 the ten most visited movies have net resulted in EUR 73 milion. This is higher than the previous year when the top ten only grossed EUR 64,47 milion"

    So what is the problem? About 10% increase doesn't look too bad to me?

  • Re:Cooking books (Score:5, Informative)

    by pseudofrog ( 570061 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @07:46PM (#38533046)
    Wikipedia has a pretty good primer [wikipedia.org] on "Hollywood accounting."
  • Ecclesiastes 1:9 (Score:5, Informative)

    by KingAlanI ( 1270538 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @08:00PM (#38533226) Homepage Journal

    that sounds like a translation of Ecclesiastes 1:9 - I suppose it's fitting that the source for that phrase is a book written over 2000 years ago.

  • Re:Also (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2011 @08:01PM (#38533230)

    No, that's not the problem. Ideas aren't worth much. Jack London sold plots for $5. It's not the ideas, it's the implementations.

    He bought plots for $5, from Sinclair Lewis. He didn't sell them...

  • by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:01PM (#38533922)

    Entertainment options have greatly expanded, salaries not so much. So with disposable income being shared with the likes of Angry Birds, movie theaters and other forms of entertainment will suffer (you don't hear the local orchestra whining about piracy despite their stagnant growth, now do you?).

    However, the points made are all valid. It is hard to get a movies experience these days without feeling like your walled has been raped. We smuggle in all our snacks, even though I miss the slushy and popcorn part of the experience. I just don't miss it $5 worth (each). More and more the $8 matinee price irks me too much.

    Long term I am guessing the industry is slitting its own throat. If you price it out of the reach of the younger set, they will grow up without movie going being a habit and part of their cultural view. Long term that will make it very hard to keep a loyal audience as time goes on.

    I'd suggest:

    1) Fairer concession pricing, about 1/3-1/2 off the current prices (still ridiculous, just not full on wallet rape). At least change out the jerky you call a "hot dog" now and then.

    2) Variable movie pricing. Charge more for the blockbusters, but cut me some slack on the crap we all fully know is schlock that my wife or kids just have to see. Maybe we'd get less Micheal Bay crap if we got cut a discount on the flicks that spent less time CGI'ing things blowing up.

    3) Beer and burgers. Seriously. I really like going to the local pub owned theaters that serve real food and real beer (no, your fermented rice water euro owned Bud Light is not beer). They charge just $3 a show for out of date movies in crap venues, but the experience is so much better (sadly the closest one is frustrating far away that I only partake occasionally).

    4) 3D, and its surcharges. Yeah, just stop. Offer no-3D glasses for those of us who don't want to pay the price or get the headaches, but want to spend time with family members who not only tolerate it well, but actually still put value in the novelty. 3D creates more family rifts than you realize.

    5) Cut down on the previews. If I want to spend 20% of my movie time watching ads, I could stay home. Heck, at home I can use my DVR and bloop through them all. So either I watch all your crap ads, or I show up late and get bad seats. What part of that makes me want to be a repeat customer again?

  • Theatres in Korea (Score:4, Informative)

    by crossmr ( 957846 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:07PM (#38534504) Journal

    The theatres in Korea are always packed. Some of the great things they do:
    1 - Reserved seating, all seats. You can buy your tickets two or three days ahead if you want and make sure you've got your seat for Friday night.
    2 - All major chains have Apps. You can buy your tickets on the app, just show the barcode on your way in (I think you can do this in North America now too)
    3 - Ticket Price - Friday night movie is about $7.78 USD, yes there is a surcharge for 3D or "vibration" seating
    4 - Concession price - A 2 drink and popcorn combo is around $6 USD
    5 - Lobbies full of seating. Waiting for your movie to start? Friends to show up? whatever, there are tables and chairs everywhere. Both inside the main area and down the hallways leading to the theatres themselves if you get in too early and the doors haven't opened up yet.
    6 - They don't confiscate snacks. I've never seen them search bags or anything here. You want to bring something in with you, go right ahead
    7 - Shows nearly around the clock. The first show of the day is at 8-10am, and they will often have showings until 3 or 4 am. At my local theatre, if I wanted to watch Mission Impossible Tomorrow (Saturday) I could choose: 8:30, 8:50, 9:00, 9:00 (special 32 seat theatre), 10:55, 11:40, 11:45, 13:15, 14:20, 14:30, 16:00, 17:00, 17:15, 18:45, 19:20, 19:45, 20:00 (special 32 seat theatre), 21:30, 22:00, 22:20, 22:45 (special 32 seat theatre), 23:00, 00:15, 00:45, 1:00, 1:30 (special 32 seat theatre), 1:45, 3:00. That's a staggering amount of shows available for one day. None of this, afternoon matinee, early evening, late evening, done garbage. The week days are not much different with shows still starting around 10.
    8 - Special theatres. They have a few special theatres around town. Several theatres have some special couple booths for dating. You can buy a ticket for a booth which is a special 2 seat booth with a high back on it. They also have a very nice movie theatre in town which includes a full sit down dinner.
    9 - The theatres don't have much to do with it, but in all the movies I've watched here in the last few years, I've never really heard people talking. You get the odd cell phone screen, but it's mostly just someone checking the time, not someone sitting there texting for a long time causing a distraction.

    Now, not everything is perfect they do make a few mistakes:
    1 - Excessive ads. Really excessive. They even repeat the same ad two times in a row.
    2 - A low amount of actual movie previews. For the 10-20 minutes of pre-movie stuff we sit through we only end up seeing 3-4 actual movie previews. I like trailers.
    3 - Not enough English subtitles. Not their main concern, but about 2 years ago the government made it one of their tourism aims to see Korean movies subtitled in English in theatres. That year one chain ran a pilot project which saw tons of movies made available to the relatively large foreign population living in the country. Near the end of the year they dropped the ball and since then, it's been rather hit or miss trying to see a movie with subtitles. They often go unadvertised, and run for a very short period of time. You basically have to check weekly and if you see English subtitles, drop everything and go see the movie if it is one you wanted to see because you don't even know if they'd be there next week. Sure they all get released on DVD with English subtitles later, but at the least I like to see the big action movies in theatre.

    In the end, I've never been disappointed with a movie going experience in Korea. However, back home in Canada the success rate was not so high. Perhaps around 50/50.

  • Re:Also (Score:5, Informative)

    by ChatHuant ( 801522 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:35PM (#38534750)

    I don't understand the 3D hate. Well, I understand it, but can't for the life of me imagine why people whine and complain about it when virtually every 3D movie is also shown in 2D anyway... some people like 3D, what's wrong with having a choice?

    Well, 3D tickets are more expensive, so theaters favor the 3D showings over 2D. At my favorite movie theater, the recent Tintin movie was showing in 3D in two of the best projection rooms, at all hours, while the 2D version was only showing at midday, on a smaller screen, with less performant audio. I went to the 3D showing, and had it definitely confirmed I'm one of the people that get sick at 3D - had to leave about midway through the movie, and I probably won't try another 3D show soon.

    And the sad part is, I really don't think it 3D adds much to most movies. It does give Lucas a chance to reissue "Phantom menace" in 3D, but I wouldn't count that in its favor :)

  • Re:Also (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rakarra ( 112805 ) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:40PM (#38534798)

    And ditch 3D. Yes, 50% of the audience likes it. But they're going to come anyway, 3D or 2D. Nobody ever refused to go to the cinema because a movie was 2D. The people you need to be concerned about are the 50% who no longer go to the cinema because they hate it.

    Also ditch the audio. Talkies are a fad.

    See The Artist if you can. A beautiful silent film recently released. Sound effects and voices are used sparingly in service of the plot. It seems like it would be a boring film given the summary, but it's one of the best movies I've seen this year.

    Unfortunately, it's playing in only 17 theaters nationwide. :(

  • Re:Also (Score:5, Informative)

    by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:54AM (#38535536)

    It's not my opinion, it's self evidently true. Take any 3D film and lose the 3D effect - you've lost none of the story. Indeed that's exactly what they do at cinemas - show the 3D films also in 2D.

    Now take any film with a complex story and watch it for the first time with the sound off. You're going to lose lots of the story.

  • Re:Also (Score:5, Informative)

    by howlingfrog ( 211151 ) <ajmkenyon2002NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday December 30, 2011 @07:50AM (#38537046) Homepage Journal

    I'm a projectionist at a 24-screen theater that's about half 35mm, half digital. What I'm about to say, I know first-hand to be factual:

    The industry's push for 3D is the ONLY reason you have the choice of 2D digital projection at all. Digital projectors are orders of magnitude more expensive, less reliable, and more labor-intensive to operate and maintain than 35mm projectors--even in areas where a single theater chain's monopoly means they don't have to be replaced with newer models every few years. But the studios love them because it is cheaper to ship 5-pound USB hard drives than 50-pound 35mm prints to theaters.

    So, the MPAA announced about seven or eight years ago that they were going to start making a lot of 3D films, meaning theaters had to install digital projectors capable of playing them. For the first few years, until approximately 2007, most theaters only had one or two digital projectors, so 3D films were only released at a rate of one every four to six months. The rest of the time, those few digital projectors showed 2D movies. Once it was clear that audiences would actually pay for 3D, the MPAA started ramping up production and speeding up the release cycle to force theaters to convert more and more auditoriums to digital. Today, there are always at least two or three different 3D movies in wide release at a time. So if the theaters near you don't have very many digital screens, most of them will be taken up by 3D films most of the time. I'm sure this is the source of your misconception--a higher percentage of digital showtimes were 2D in the early days of digital, so it's perfectly reasonable to guess that 2D digital is being displaced by the 3D fad. But the phenomenon is really nothing more than an accidental side-effect of theaters trying to stay a step ahead of audience and studio demand for 3D.

    In ten years or so, digital will be dominant enough that studios will be able to stop 35mm distribution entirely. No longer needing 3D to be a Trojan horse for cheap digital distribution, the fad will simply die down with no fanfare or public explanation, and you'll have your ubiquitous digital 2D. But make no mistake--if not for the 3D push, digital projectors would be a novelty item, only in huge, popular multiplexes in NYC and LA, and even there only on one or two screens.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton