ShoWest, the annual movie theater trade conference, will open this week to far more interest than in previous years. And a key reason for that is Napster.
DVDs and home theaters have been keeping potential viewers at home in rising numbers for years. Now, the rise of such video-sharing sites as YouTube proves that the movie and television industries are facing the kind of Napsterization phenomenon that besieged the music business. But one way that Hollywood can fight back, movie executives say, is to improve the theater experience.
At a Los Angeles conference last month, DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg said theaters must somehow recapture the magic that made it special to go to the movies when we were kids. Although such improvements as 3-D projectors or other digital enhancements would help, Katzenberg said theaters could do other things that are far less complicated: lowering the price of popcorn and upgrading facilities, for example.
No matter what, something needs to be done. As Katzenberg said, it's often much nicer to wait in the adjacent Starbucks area than it is to hang out in the theater lobby.
Blog community response:
"I'd say there's lots of things wrong with the theater-going experience. It's not that there aren't good, or even, great films. It's that most of us don't want to be bothered with what is basically a hassle."
--MOM & Pop Culture
"One of the major points mentioned by Jason Thompson, Director of Captive Motion Picture Audience of America is that 'commercial presentations continue to detract from the escapism and unique experience that movie theaters provide.' Destroy the integrity of the experience, and it's hard not to destroy the experience."
"Historically, theaters earn about three-quarters of their profits from the one-quarter of their revenue that comes primarily from the high-priced junk food and carbonated beverages they sell--and to a lesser extent the on-screen advertising. Therefore, the theater business model has apparently moved away from being entertainment-centric, and become more like a typical convenience store."