Cineplex fires a great salvo; finally some innovation

posted by schmadrian on June 9, 2006 at 2:27 pm

This is exactly the kind of shift in mindset the theatrical distribution industry needs to adopt. It’s not the final answer, but at least someone is making an effort to stem the tide, independent of the studios… who I really don’t think care how they get their money, as long as it keeps rolling in.

Cineplex Entertainment Goes Big

TORONTO, ONTARIO — (MARKET WIRE) — 05/29/2006 — See movies the way they are meant to be seen

Cineplex Entertainment (TSX: CGX.UN), Canada’s leading motion picture exhibition company, today launched an innovative advertising campaign. This is the first ad campaign of its kind to be launched by a major motion picture exhibitor in North America. The ad campaign’s tagline, “Go Big” provides a point of comparison for seeing movies on the big screen versus other substantially smaller home entertainment options. By focusing the message on the cinema experience, Cineplex intends to make movie-going Canadian’s first choice for out-of-home entertainment.

“This is an exciting first for our company and the North American exhibition industry overall; we are delighted to take a leading role in raising awareness for the exceptional movie experience possible only by experiencing movies on the big screen,” said Ellis Jacob, President and CEO, Cineplex Entertainment. “Cineplex prides itself on being a leader in the North American exhibition industry and the entertainment industry as a whole.”

The theme of the campaign, which was created in partnership with advertising agency Endeavor, takes a humourous and informative approach at comparing the in-theatre movie experience with at-home television viewing. The average movie screen is 50 feet wide and by contrast the average television is 50 inches wide. When the two are directly compared, there simply is no comparison for watching a movie on a small screen.

“You simply can’t beat the experience of watching a movie on a giant screen surrounded by state of the art digital sound,” said Greg Mason, Vice President Marketing and Sales, Cineplex Entertainment. “We believe these ads effectively demonstrate, in an entertaining and humorous way, the obvious differences between staying home to watch a movie and the exceptional experience provided in the theatre.”

“Cineplex is demonstrating true industry leadership by creating and marketing a movie-going campaign that benefits not only their theatre circuits but the entire Canadian motion picture industry,” said John Fithian, President, National Association of Theatre Owners, based in Washington, DC. “Timing the campaign’s launch just prior to the peak summer season is ideal.”

The comprehensive media campaign includes two 15-second television commercials; a 30-second cinema commercial that will air on the Cineplex digital pre-show network; large scale billboards in Toronto; outdoor theatre banners at a number of Cineplex Entertainment theatre locations across Canada; and a print media campaign in several major daily newspapers as well as magazines. The total ad-buy for the campaign is approximately $800,000. To view the new 15 second commercials, please visit our website at

About Cineplex Entertainment LP:

Cineplex Entertainment LP owns leases or has a joint venture interest in 129 theatres with 1,271 screens and is the largest motion picture exhibitor in Canada. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, the Partnership operates theatres with the following six top-tier brands: Cineplex Odeon, Galaxy and Famous Players including: Coliseum, Colossus and SilverCity. Proudly Canadian, the units of Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund, which owns approximately 50.6% of Cineplex Entertainment LP, are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under Cineplex Galaxy Income Fund (symbol CGX.UN). More information can be found at

To view an image from the Go Big campaign, please click the link below:

Comments (84)

Jim Vecchio
Jim Vecchio on June 9, 2006 at 2:55 pm

Thanks, S., for this posting. One of my pet peeves is, even if there is a decent movie playing, I cannot enjoy it as much in a theater if the screen and image are not much bigger than a big tv. I may as well get a video or DVD and save the aggravation! I have many wonderful memories of my sister (now departed) taking me as a child to see Cinerama movies in New York and and “grandiose” movie-viewing in my own local area in the fifties and early sixties before everything was doubled, tripled, or demolished.

schmadrian on June 9, 2006 at 3:09 pm

Fair enough. I’ve been having an ongoing discussion with a friend who simply does not frequent movie houses. He watches just about everything at home. Only a ways into our conversation did I find out that he has a ten-foot projection system with state-of-the-art sound. (He’s in the film biz in sound editing.) All fine and good, I can’t argue with a person’s preference. However… To me, watching a film on a 32" tv is like listening to a symphony by Mozart on a transistor radio. Add to this my feeling that if you can pause it, it has no value. (Which is why being at a game will always be a more intense experience than watching it at home, in a bar, etc. Now, give me the chance to watch a championship game in a cinema…)

The cinematic experience is singular to me. To a great extent, I don’t really care if it’s an old nabe, a multiplex, a grand single-screener I’m munching on my popcorn at… I love ‘worshipping’ in a cathedral of cinema, plain and simple. So I’m happy to see this ad campaign, which addresses something the film companies really haven’t done diddly about: getting people back into the theatres for the ‘BIG’ experience.

I’m tempted to ask the questions: ‘Why does someone go to see a film in a cinema? What makes avid filmgoers see the releases when they come out? Why do they make this choice and not the one to stay home and catch the film howevermanymonthsitis after theatrical release?’

HowardBHaas on June 9, 2006 at 4:07 pm

Movies are supposed to be enjoyed LARGER THAN LIFE so no home entertainment system is adequate.

Unfortunately, the average movie screen is not 50 feet wide. If you go see the blockbuster on its 1st weekend of release at the local megaplex, then it probably is on a screen that is 50 feet wide, or even bigger. But, too many movie screens in the smaller auditoriums are 20 feet or 25 feet wide (and sometimes smaller). Those screens may be larger than life, but not large enough to get some of us to part with our money and our time.

When they were in the United States, Cineplex Odeon was a great chain for providing decent sized screens in even their small auditoriums, so I am not faulting them. The smaller auditoriums in the Chelsea & Worldwide in New York, in DC’s Wisconsin Avenue, and in Universal City’s theater weren’t bad. But, some of the other chains & local exhibitors built too small auditoriums. Megaplexes are better, try to provide bigger screens, but still leave too many smaller auditoriums with screens that are less than awe inspiring.

Regardless, in general, they are right: see movies in theaters, on larger than life screens, not in your homes!

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 10, 2006 at 9:22 am

This is ironic, since Cineplex got its start by building tiny little shoebox theatres, like Beverly Center in Los Angeles.

schmadrian on June 10, 2006 at 10:03 am

You’re right, it is ironic. But even before anything they opened in LA, Drabinsky (in whose company I used to hold stock) opened the now-gone Eaton Centre Cineplex in downtown Toronto, regarded as the first true multiplex. Over the years I’d seen films in all of the 21 ‘auditoriums’, the smallest hardly bigger than a typical home’s bathroom.

But you know, I’m struck by this fact: the same snobbery that keeps many people from cinemas and at home, watching movies on little(er) boxes, is found in comments about ‘smaller’ cinemas. And I don’t think I’d ever made the connection previously.

Don’t get me wrong: I love a HUGE screen in a HUGE auditorium. But maybe I’m a completely different creature than some/most on this site: I love going to the movies, I love walking through the front doors of any cinema because that’s where the magic is shown. What makes any movie house special is this fact. It’s not necessarily the history of a place, although I am in love with this aspect, hence my membership here. It’s not necessarily the grandeur and size of a place, although I’ve frequented some of the GTA’s largest cinemas and have always wanted to do a road tour of the biggest in the US. And it’s not even the technical aspects of a place, although I do appreciate when I’m being spoiled by the best. My grin begins with finding out about a new movie. It increases when I download (and save) the trailer. And is sustained when I’m finally on my way to the show, then I approach the theatre (regardless what type of place), when I can first smell the popcorn, when I choose my seat, when I settle in, even when I’m watching the ‘pre-show show’, until I’m nodding to myself when the show actually begins.

So maybe, maybe I’m actually not like a lot of people here. Yes, I love ‘cinema treasures’. I adore old movie houses. But perhaps it’s that I have these other parallel loves: film itself (I see roughly 200 films a year) and the ATTENDANCE of films. I suppose with three times as many reasons to want to pay my money to see a film, I’m a little apart from the ‘discriminating’ poster on this site who turns up their nose at the idea of smaller-screend multiplexes. Something for me to keep in mind when jabs are made at ‘shoebox theatres’.

Long live all movie houses! And more power to Cineplex. I hope that all chains take the torch and run with it, both reminding the public that movies were meant to be seen on a large screen…and hopefully doing something about their product, which is not the films they show, but the experience of seeing these films, a fact that many have forgotten.

And as a final note, take a look at this as a suggestion as to how to get more people into cinemas, therefore helping the prospect of stemming the tide of closures:

Wouldn’t you want to be able to see as many films as you want for just over $20 USD a month? I know I did, when I lived in the UK…

psmith102006 on June 10, 2006 at 2:27 pm

I only see new movies in the theaters. I like the whole experience. It is a wonder we even have movie theaters around anymore with DVD’s and bootleg copies of new movies. I have often wondered why there isn’t a movie studio who just makes movies to be shown in theaters only (greed, I guess). I use to like being able to see my favorite movie 2 or 3 years later on the big screen again.

PGlenat on June 11, 2006 at 6:29 am

Long before Cineplex, Drabinsky, et al, there was Odeon Theatres Ltd which entered the Canadian market, often acquiring existing theatres, including some that were of the movie palace category. Gradually they built a chain of theatres all across Canada. Changing times brought about the construction of the first multiplexes and eventually they divested themselves of all their single screen houses. At some point Odeon became Cineplex Odeon and eventually Cineplex Galaxy, etc., with their empire extending into the US as well. Most recently they acquired Famous Players theatres, thereby wiping out their chief Canadian rival of many years past.
Incidentally, the ‘50" vs 50 ft screen’ promos have been running on network tv as well as cable channels since the beginning of the month. It will be interesting to see if this has any impact on attendance.

schmadrian on June 11, 2006 at 8:54 am

Oh, well. If we’re venturing down History Lane…

Famous Players Canadian Corporation was founded in 1920 when Paramount Pictures bought Nathan Nathanson’s Paramount Theatre chain that was established four years earlier. The Canadian Paramount Theatre chain was not affiliated with the American Paramount Theatres. The Famous Players Theatres chain was always strongly linked with Paramount Pictures and was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Paramount Communications by the time that firm was acquired by Viacom in 1994.
Canadian Odeon Theatres was started by former Famous Players executive Nathan Nathanson and his son Paul in 1941. It was not initially affiliated with the British Odeon Cinemas circuit but gained common ownership with that chain following a sale to the Rank Organisation in 1946.
On April 19, 1979, Garth Drabinsky opened the first Cineplex location, an 18-screen multiplex in the basement of the Toronto Eaton Centre. After successfully challenging the Famous Players / Canadian Odeon duopoly and their exclusive contracts with major studios, he proceeded to purchase Canadian Odeon, having brought on the Bronfman family as a major investor, forming Cineplex Odeon Corporation. There was once again a duopoly, albeit a much more competitive one.

In the 1980s, not content with having lept from one location to dozens across the country, Drabinsky began buying up regional circuits throughout the United States, which took the Cineplex Odeon Theatres name as well. Back in Canada, Drabinsky used his new position to aggressively challenge Famous Players Theatres , opening more, ultramodern multiplexes nationwide.

Most famously, Famous Players Theatres allowed the lease on a property containing the entrance of one of its flagship Toronto locations, the Imperial Six, to lapse in 1986. Cineplex immediately took over the lease, denying Famous Players Theatres access to the portion the latter chain already owned outright. Famous eventually sold its property to Cineplex Odeon Cinemas on the condition it never again be used to show filmed entertainment; it became the Pantages, now renamed the live-entertainment Canon Theatre.

Cineplex also established a distribution unit, Cineplex Odeon Films, during this period; its assets were largely sold to Alliance Atlantis in 1998.
Throughout the 1990s, Famous Players took the reins of expansion. Under chairman Tom McGrath, Famous Players re-built its entire infrastructure from 1997 to 2003 with new “megaplex” stadium-seated theaters and extensive innovative food court offerings. It was also believed to be the first exhibitor in the world to have automated box offices.
Also during this time, AMC Theatres entered the Canadian market, and most of the traditional ties between the existing chains and the major studios began to unwind, putting all three chains in full-on competition in several major markets.

By May 1998, Drabinsky had lost control of Cineplex to the Bronfmans' Seagram, which subsequently merged Cineplex Odeon Theatres with Sony’s Loews Cineplex Theatres. The resulting firm, Loews Cineplex Entertainment, subsequently suffered due to the economic recession of the early 2000s, leading to a buyout led by Onex.

Meanwhile, Galaxy Entertainment Inc. was created in 1999 by Ellis Jacob, a former COO of Cineplex, and Steven Brown, a former Cineplex CFO. With investments from Onex and Famous Players, the new company focused on smaller markets which were usually served by smaller theatres and old equipment, opening large, major chain-style locations under the Galaxy Cinemas banner.
In October 2003, Loews Cineplex Theatres merged its Canadian operations with Galaxy Cinemas , forming Cineplex Galaxy Cinemas. Mr. Jacob became the chief executive of Cineplex Galaxy Cinemas. Onex was the controllng shareholder of both Loews Cineplex Theatres and Galaxy Cinemas at the time of the merger, but sold its interest in Loews in June 2004. It maintained control of Cineplex Galaxy Cinemas.

In 2004, Famous Players Theatres locations in the Maritimes, none of which were branded-concept theatres, were sold to the region’s dominant exhibitor, Empire Theatres. Canadian Odeon locations in the region had been sold to Empire in the late 1970s or early 1980s, prior to the former’s acquisition by Cineplex Odeon Cinemas.

On June 13, 2005, Cineplex Galaxy Cinemas announced its acquisition of Famous Players Theatres from Viacom for $500 million or about US$397 million. This deal was completed July 22. To satisfy competition concerns, on August 22 the sale of 27 locations in Ontario and western Canada to Empire Theatres was announced.

On March 31, 2006, Cineplex Entertainment announced it sold 7 more theatres in Quebec to Chelsea based Fortune Cinemas Inc. The assets of Alliance Atlantis Cinemas are still on sale.

(Thanks to the happy drones at Wikipedia for this.)

And no, I don’t think this will have any impact at all on attendance. Sheeple think -Ha!– in terms of the movie, not the venue, so the downward spiral will continue, until, years down the road, there enter the scene renegade projectionists who show movies on the sides of buildings in the middle of the night, providing the sound by way of podcasts, only to be beaten down by the Home Theatre Alliance by way of their armed WIAH (“Watch It At Home') enforcers.

Hey; is there a screenplay in there…?

PGlenat on June 11, 2006 at 11:27 am

Delving further into ancient history, Famous Players-Nathanson greatly expanded their holdings in the early 20’s with the acquisition of the Allen brothers theatre chain. The Allen brothers were grossly overextended and forced into bankruptcy. FP gained ownership of the entire chain of theatres for mere pennies on the dollar.

Odeon expanded into the western Canadian market in 1945 merging with Morton theatres to form Odeon-Morton. The Morton name eventually vanished. I recall that there was a lot of Rank organization product shown so it must have been after the merger with British Odeon.

The fast shuffle that Cineplex pulled with the Toronto Pantages/Imperial/Imperial6/Pantages/Canon theatre (how many names can one theatre have?) is well known.

Interesting that where once upon a time Famous Players and its affiliated companies had a stranglehold on film exhibition across Canada and Odeon was the new kid on the block, the new kid is now the major player.

Hugger1 on June 12, 2006 at 10:13 am

Cineplex is not the first to do this type of advertising. Famous Players (who Cineplex recently bought) did this same ad with the same tag line in the mid 90’s.

schmadrian on June 12, 2006 at 10:24 am

And nobody bought it back then, either…


I’d be curious to see a discussion about a) why people don’t frequent movie houses and b) what can be done to bring them back.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on June 12, 2006 at 4:56 pm

RE: The Ad

Can I get a, “Hell, yeah!!!” I expect one of the US theatre chains to do a similar ad campagign ASAP.

longislandmovies on June 13, 2006 at 12:39 am

Movie bsns ia alive and well EVERY bsns has its ups and downs ..This summer seems to be up…..

dfc on June 13, 2006 at 1:23 am

The theaters are in a financial bind. They are expected to spend small fortunes to go digital. At the same time many ex-movie-patrons simply wait 3 months or less for a film to come out on DVD.

The theater experience has become a task for many. You have to drive into the city or to the local multi-plex. Then you have to park your car and wait on the ticket line. Popcorn and beverages are over-priced. Now you are seated and discover that many people don’t know how to behave in a movie house. Cellphones ring, people talk among themselves, etc. Theater owners can’t do much about that without risking lawsuits from ejected patrons.

So more and more people are buying those ever-cheaper HDTVs and watching movies in their nice quiet home theaters. The $20 DVD is cheaper than taking the family to the movies, especially with gasoline at $3.15/gallon. Maybe digital projection will give movie houses a second life. But what about the theaters that can’t afford to go digital?

longislandmovies on June 13, 2006 at 1:34 am

dfc- i just dont get all the crying,every bsns is up and down walmart has times its down 5-10 % then up.I do not believe the the theatre bsns is in any danger ,changing yes as do all bsns,,,

schmadrian on June 13, 2006 at 10:19 am


I don’t mean to be rude, but you’ve posted two comments in a row that suggest you don’t get it. WalMart is a fixed business where they’re in competition with the same essential model. Movie houses are in competition with something else entirely. It’s like comparing apples with apple juice. ((The exception here is online retailing, but we’re not talking an homogenous market. That is, not everyone has internet access, not everyone feels safe ordering online and many people prefer to see what they buy, have an innate urge to maintain their connection to ‘commerce’. This is why where online grocery shopping is available, people still want to ‘squeeze the vegetables’, ‘smell the fruit’. The other difference is that WalMart sells merchandise that generally fits more under the ‘Need’ category. A movie is a ‘Want’. It’s a luxury.)

WalMart is selling merchandise out of a location. Its variables are merchandise selection and variety, price, saleshelp, hours of operation, location, etc. They’re all -to varying extents- variable controllables, things that all other competitors are dealing with, too.

Movie theatres are ‘selling’ a cinematic experience. The seeing of a movie within a communal auditorium, with comfortable seats and concession stand items. But the prime reason that anyone goes to see a movie…the movie itself…is not a particularly controllable variable. There’s only so many choices from the distributors. And here’s the kicker: the movie theatres don’t even see ticket sales as their real source of profit: concession stand sales account for this. The price of which is right up there at the top of movie-goers' List of Complaints, people who have entered into their own personal deliberations about whether or not they want to keep spending money going to the movies at cinemas.

In ‘competition’ with the movie theatres is home viewing. Where there’s convenience. View when you like, pause the film, watch half tonight, half tomorrow in the afternoon, you can have dinner while you watch, you can chat with someone online while you watch, you can make babies while you watch…

North American society has become a cocooning one. People are making their homes their refuges, their sanctuaries. For many of these people, the experience of watching a movie in a cinema simply does not match the price or commitment of time. (Points well-made by DFC)

Take a look at any city’s cinema figures since WWII. The numbers of cinemas, of screens are dropping. Even with multiplexes being built, the number is dropping. This runs totally contrary to what you’re suggesting, that this is just part of a normal business trend, that things will change back given time, the sky isn’t falling…

Actually, the sky is falling.

Here’s the bottom-line: the studios, Hollywood, The Movie Biz people, they don’t care how they get their money. If the yearly income they bring in were to stay the same from 1990-2020, say at $30 billion, or even increase, but the sources of that income changed from 95% theatrical takings to 5% theatrical takings, do you think they’d care? If over the course of this 30 years the advent of home viewing (by way of the ‘cinematic tv’ and online access) replaced theatrical distribution, do you really think they’d care? Why should they, if they’re recouping their investment as planned, and people are just as eager to ‘go to the movies’…except their destination is not a cinema, with all of its inherent costs and commitments, but the ‘movie room’ in their home…as they ever were?

So this is what’s happening: more and more people are investing in home cinemas. As a result, having made this investment, they’re not frequenting movie houses as much. Therefore, there’s less movie house ticket revenue to go around. Therefore, cinemas are closing. (Witness the Festival chain in Toronto.) So we continually lose more cinemas, especially single-screeners. And because the costs of exhibiting a movie generally go up, people are less and less inclined to pay more to see movies at the remaining movie theatres, so more stay home and more cinemas close…until?


How do you turn the tide? Well, I’m a pronounced cinema fan and I’m not sure you can. I think you can stem it, but to do so, you have to go back to ground zero and take an objective look at the realities of how the average movie-goer feels about what’s being sold. What their complaints are. Whether they can be addressed. The truth is that it’s expensive to go the movies. The cost of getting there. The tickets. The food and drink. The babysitter. If the movie theatres are not providing an experience that makes this expenditure worthwhile, and people are content with an alternative (ie: home viewing), regardless that at the present time, you have to wait a few months before you can see a film, then more people will make the choice to have their movie experience at home. (Of course, if Hollywood continually erodes this ‘delay’, to the point where there’s mere weeks…or days…or there’s a simultaneous release, both theatrical and DVD, then you can bet your bottom dollar that less and less people will be going to the movies…and less and less movie houses will exist.)

This is why I’d like to see some healthy discussion as to what can be done to stem the tide, take a good look at what needs to be done across the board and in specific markets to get people more interested in seeing films the way they were meant to be seen. On the big screen.

longislandmovies on June 13, 2006 at 11:29 am

This is a great discussion. The sky is not falling. The united states is over screened and has been since the 90s.When product is bad bsns is bad good product bsns is good.if you have geat product and people stop coming then the sky is falling,ticket prices are at an all time high and are in no danger in changing.This summer is turning in a hugh boxoffice numbers thus far, if the sky was falling this would not be happening.When i say i dont get it i mean what are you doing wrong at your theater.You will have times sometimes ,years,when the bsns model needs to be changed jc pennys , sears, and theaters . I have a home theater with the seats ,screen and curtain but whtat that takes away is time from watching tv not going to the movies.

longislandmovies on June 13, 2006 at 11:32 am

This is a great discussion. The sky is not falling. The united states is over screened and has been since the 90s.When product is bad bsns is bad good product bsns is good.if you have geat product and people stop coming then the sky is falling,ticket prices are at an all time high and are in no danger in changing.This summer is turning in a hugh boxoffice numbers thus far, if the sky was falling this would not be happening.When i say i dont get it i mean what are you doing wrong at your theater.You will have times sometimes ,years,when the bsns model needs to be changed jc pennys , sears, and theaters . I have a home theater with the seats ,screen and curtain but what that takes away is time from watching tv not going to the movies.I saw this reaction when video started .Theaters will be around long after we are all gone.

schmadrian on June 13, 2006 at 12:25 pm

Yes, theatres will be around long after we’re gone. People do crave the communal experience, no matter how much they love their home schtick. Concerts, the theatre, sporting events, beaches, even malls prove that people at their cores crave something ‘larger’. Very little has changed since the days of the Romans at the Coliseum or Shakespeare’s offerings at The Globe.

So yes, theatres will be around long after we’re gone.
But there’s gonna be far less of them.
And the listings on this site of ‘Closed’ or ‘Demolished’ will only increase.

I appreciate your optimism. I do. And I admire it. I was there when VCRs came on the scene. And I remember how the industry screamed about home-taping, yadda, yadda, yadda.

But seriously; if you really can’t see the landscape having changed markedly with the advent of the internet, with iPods, with DVDs and with home systems…changed sufficiently to be able to recognize that this time, things have been accellerated far more than when VCRs came onto the scene…

Tell you what; let’s make a point of getting together in fifteen years to talk about this. And if things haven’t unfolded pretty much as I’ve set out, then I’ll be more than happy to buy you an evening’s worth of entertainment at whichever movie palace you wish, wherever. Including extra butter on your popcorn.

schmadrian on June 13, 2006 at 12:29 pm

btw, longislandmovies:

“I have a home theater with the seats ,screen and curtain but what that takes away is time from watching tv not going to the movies.”

You are the exception to the rule. You’re not a model for the movie-goer that this campaign -and this discussion- addresses. They’re -and I’m- focusing on those people who by-and-large have decided or are deciding to make home cinema their default. This is not about watching tv.

(If it’s any consolation, I’m not the model, either, because I don’t own a television, wouldn’t watch movies on one if you paid me, and I see about 200 films at the cinemas each year.)

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on June 13, 2006 at 1:48 pm

To paraphrase this ad campaign, it doesn’t matter what Wal-Mart, Best Buy or any electronics store sells. Untill they make a 60 Foot TV that costs $1000, I know where I’ll be spending my Friday and Saturday nights!

schmadrian on June 13, 2006 at 1:55 pm


And that’s wonderful news for all cinema owners out there…

But really, the true test of this campaign -and any other that tries to woo people back into proper moviegoing- is how those other than the choir respond to being preached to.

I’d be curious to post this thread on a general discussion forum to see how broad the responses are.

dfc on June 13, 2006 at 2:09 pm

Movie Theaters could end up the way ‘legitimate’ theaters have. A relatively few large (and pricey) digital movie houses in Midtown Manhattan, LA, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Paris, etc. Some smaller digital theaters in the wealthier suburbs. Even today’s busy multiplexes may not be willing to shoulder the cost of upgrading 15+ screens to digital projection. We are in unchartered territory here.

The digital movie era is only beginning. It is in some ways a replay of the first shake-out of movie theaters in the 1950s when TV and urban flight was the threat. But this shakeout will happen over a shorter period of time.

I don’t think that the VCR hurt movie theaters in the 1980s that much because VHS releases of a film were usually 12-18 months after theatrical release. VHS was nowhere near DVD quality, a large screen back then was 35"and HDTV didn’t exist.

schmadrian on June 13, 2006 at 2:21 pm

“The digital movie era is only beginning. It is in some ways a replay of the first shake-out of movie theaters in the 1950s when TV and urban flight was the threat. But this shakeout will happen over a shorter period of time.”

I agree completely.

I also agree that what we will more than likely end up with is (until nostalgia rears its kind head and there’s some kind of ‘revival’ some tweny years after the full effects of this shakeup and we see ‘restoration’ efforts to bring back the old-style experience) a small assortment of multiplexes and the odd ‘cinema treasure’ palace in most cities throughout North America. I’m sorry if I’m a Negative Nancy here, but I fear that the landscape we’ve come to know (and love, on this site alone) is about to change in the next decade unlike any previously. And not because nobody’s interested in movies anymore, that there’s another alternative. People are just as interested in movies. Except they’re gonna want to see them in their homes. Not everyone, but it doesn’t take ‘everyone’ to change things. It all comes down to the mighty dollar.

So start buying your lottery tickets; there’s gonna be some bargains out there for those richies with the inclination to own a piece of the past.

longislandmovies on June 13, 2006 at 2:50 pm

THE BSNS MODEl IS CHANGING FOR THEATERES AS IT HAS OVER THE LAST 100 YEARS .Silent films to talk , news reels ,black and white to color ,scope,70 mm, stereo to thk ,popcorn and soda to full bars and reasturants..Theaters 2006 and on……….. DIgital pic ,back to showemanship, larger screens ….thats how i see it …..The fact theaters are closeing is a good thing the United States has been over screened since the 90s in almost every part of the country.I would call that a correction.

schmadrian on June 13, 2006 at 8:55 pm


So if you feel this way, if you think that the US is ‘over-screened’, and won’t (apparently) cry when more cinemas close…what are you doing on this site? Or are your that famous superhero ‘Ultrapragmatic Guy’?!?

I think I’m gonna have a t-shirt made up: a picture of an old palace being demolished with the caption ‘The fact that theaters are closing is a good thing…’


And ‘back to showmanship’; care to explain that? I can’t tell you how much my curiosity’s been piqued…

longislandmovies on June 13, 2006 at 11:42 pm

The web site is Cinema Treasures …….Not shitty multiplexs with 20 screens we are forced to go to because we have no other choice.Over screening did not happen by single screen theaters ..Schmadrian are you new to the bsns ???

longislandmovies on June 13, 2006 at 11:46 pm

ps. lots of other points made in the post before but you chose only to pic out the closeings?

schmadrian on June 14, 2006 at 12:02 am

My point is ‘Which cinemas do you think are going to go under as a result of closings due to 'over-screening’? It surely won’t be the multiplexes. It’ll be just like it is in Toronto, with either four or five of the Festival chain going under a quartet of theatres listed right here on this site, great old nabes. That’s simple ‘bsns’ logic. The multiplexes, the creatures that everyone loves to slam, but actually by and large offer up the best experience for the customer (cleanliness, reliability, choice), are the ones that are positioned to survive. It’s going to be a simple question of ‘How do we do it? VOLUME!’

Quite frankly I find the mud you sling at multiplexes to be quite humourous; you seemingly believe in the marketplace sorting itself out , and yet the multiplex is a great example of this: it’s simply bsns evolution. (And no, I’m not ‘new to the bsns’. I’ve been going to movies for over forty years, and I grew up in a neighbourhood that had both a nabe and a drive-in within a five-minute walk. I’ve seen just about everything unfold over that time, having lived on two continents and in three countries, having seen many beloved cinemas close and revel in the Unlimited card in the UK as mentioned in a previous post, above.)

The bottom line is that it’ll primarily be more of the cinema treasures that you revere that go out of business, not your despised multiplexes as ‘over-screening’ is sorted out by the marketplace. Which is why I think we need to have greater discussion as to ‘Why?’, not more derisive comments aimed at an aspect of presentation that simply isn’t going to go away. It’s not like anyone is going to be building single-screen palaces again, are they…?

qwo06 on June 14, 2006 at 12:21 am

Famous Players just like Allen Brothers overexpanded and got sold. Innovative though and as a consumer, I could not care less if a big company goes out of business. I prefer renting dvds or go to the nabes. I rather let the Cineplexes, Empires and AMCs do the worrying.

longislandmovies on June 14, 2006 at 1:52 am

Going to the movies does not make you an expert ,working in bsns for years does.I have been an usher,ast mgr ,mgr,district mgr,projectionist,film booker and it all goes back to one thing PRODUCT.HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THE GREAT SUMMER BSNS THIS YEAR????

schmadrian on June 14, 2006 at 11:03 am

No, actually, in this particular case, it’s not a question of ‘product’.

This is the whole basis of this article, of this thread, of this discussion.

Let’s put it this way: You’re a retailer. You sell XYZ. You have for years. All of a sudden, there’s this newfangled way for people to purchase XYZ, called The Internet. They can buy XYZ cheaper than you can sell it. It’s not that they’re interested in another product. They simply prefer to purchase it online. They don’t have to schedule their time, they don’t have to pay for gas, they don’t have to worry about anything other than placing the order online.

This is an analogy that’s a parallel for the movies. It’s not that people are clamouring for different product, product that can’t be provided by cinemas. It’s the same product…only they’re not enjoying it in the theatres…they’re enjoying it in their homes.

Can you not see this?

This isn’t a question of box office receipts because I think you should be careful when you bring up these numbers in isolation. Firstly, Box Office Dollars do not equate to Tickets Bought. Take a look at the figures over the past ten years taking into consderation an ever-enlarging population as well as ticket price increases and then we can talk. Secondly, you need to look at how much ‘alternate’ revenues are increasing. If your revenue pie is growing (and nobody’s arguing that it isn’t), but a greater percentage of growth is being found in something other than ‘theatrical distribution revenue’, then you need to admit that the market is changing. And not in the same way it did with the advent of tv and people began staying away from nabes, when we saw a very dramatic, very sad closing of cinemas in the 50s. And not in the same way we did when we saw the advent of VCRs and the multiplex. This is a sea change…and we’re only at the very leading edge of it.

People have more choices these days. More choices in how to get their entertainment, how to see the movies they want to see. And the trend for home-viewing is increasing. Which is why a major cinema chain has decided to try to stem the tide and get people to see what they believe is the truth: that movies were never intended to be seen on small boxes.

But here’s the thing: movie theatre owners are at fault to a much greater extent for their woes than they’ve been willing to admit. They don’t control the product. But they do control the experience. And what people are telling them -by way of not going to the movies as much (and keep in mind here that you have to take into account the expanding population base, that ticket sales should actually be higher than they are, if longtime goers were still buying tickets at the same rate) as well as investing in home cinemas- is that it’s too expensive to go see movies at the cinema. And there are too many boors in the audience who talk and have phones that go off who aren’t dealt with. So people -generally a materialistic group in the first place- are choosing to buy something for their home rather than continually shell out $$$ for a potentially disappointing experience at a cinema. One of the few drawbacks for them is having to wait for the release. However…at the risk of flogging a dead horse…as the studios see more and more of the revenue pie coming from DVD sales, the lag-time between theatrical release and DVD release will be reduced. Until there will come a day (how soon this will be determined by the marketplace) when cinemas will no longer be the primary means of release. Opening Day/Weekend BO numbers will include DVD sales. More and more people will be choosing to view a new release in their home rather than go to a cinema. The landscape is changing, regardless of traditionalists such as yourself might want to believe.

What this will mean is a reduction in screen numbers.
Less cinemas.
And certainly less ‘cinema treasures’.
Until there comes a time when people crave that ‘big screen experience’ again.
But once you’ve closed a door, it’s very hard to get people thinking another way. Look at drive-ins.

Hollywood doesn’t care where it gets its revenue from. It’s not married to cinemas. It’s part of the tradition of film, yes. But it’s not dependent on movies being shown in a theatrical venue. It’s only dependent on making money. On bsns.

As for my ‘credentials’… Don’t think for a second that because you’ve spent your time in the biz that automatically gifts you with insight and knowledge. I’m reminded of two expressions: ‘Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees,’ and ‘There are none so blind as those who will not see.’

So; see you in fifteen years to sort out my proposed bet.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 14, 2006 at 11:23 am

I first moved to Boston in 1975. When I got here, the central part of the city had 28 screens in 20 theatre buildings, with 12 different owners. One chain was clearly dominant — Sack Theatres, with 12 screens in 8 theatres — but moviegoers had plenty of other choices. (note: I’m omitting porn theatres and screens from this count.)

Today, Boston has 32 screens in 2 theatre buildings, both built within the last six years. Both are owned by AMC, though they are legally required to divest one of them.

So we now have more screens, but fewer choices. In 1975, a movie would never play on more than one screen of a multiplex, nor would it play in more than one theatre within central Boston. Today, a movie often plays at both of our remaining two theatres; furthermore, some movies play on two or three screens at one or both theatres.

In today’s paper, I see only 11 different movies playing on those 32 screens.

longislandmovies on June 14, 2006 at 11:42 am

There is a great section in “CINEMA TREASURES "hard cover book on overscreening pages 182, 183,184….

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on June 14, 2006 at 7:44 pm

Both LongIsland & Schmadrian are correct.

It’s BOTH the overpriced & uncomfortable theatre experience ALONG WITH subpar product that’s to blame for these “woes”.

I don’t want to see CRAP at the Cinerama Dome or Grauman’s Chinese (one weekend earlier this year, the main attraction at the Dome was Scary Movie 4. WTF?!?!)! Nor do I want to see future classics in cramped shoebox auditoriums on 35-40 foot screens with top/bottom masking and surround sound that sounds like a friggin tin can!

That is exactly why I pick and choose where I see any given movie. Living in Orange County, I’ve got a tremendous amount of options. Certain movies require certain theatres. “The Break-Up” – definitely the multiplex. “Superman Returns” – definitely IMAX or Grauman’s Chinese (worth the 45 minute drive!) or Regal/Edwards Big Newport or the LARGEST AUDTIORIUM with a 60 foot (or higher) screen at a 20 screen multiplex. “Scary Movie 4” (and other CRAP like it!) – either the drive-in or one of these crappy shoeboxes.

A question for those actually in the film exhibition BSNS: Would it be too much of a task for newer theatres if they built WIDER auditoriums with screens so SMALLER than 50 feet? I’ve seen it done (Arclight Cinemas; in addition, there are a few Edwards [pre-Regal takeover] houses where all of the auditoriums are wide. I don’t think I saw a screen smaller than 50 feet). At least, no matter how crappy the movie, at least it’ll be presented in the best presentation and the biggest screens possible.

A bigger question: How hard would it be to get the teenagers who work at theatres after school committed to a theatre’s vision of having the best presentation possible (Arclight’s another example)? Or should I wait for the sky to fall and pigs to fly?

dfc on June 14, 2006 at 8:27 pm

How will Digital Cinema play into all this? Some here are upset at the demise of the film medium. But who said that film was to last forever. Movies shot digitally will be of a much higher resolution than those shot on photographic film.

Which brings up another point. Will these new digital movies look like “movies”? Or will the improved resolution, though a technological breakthrough, make movies look too much like HDTV? And is that good or bad? There is no way to really see at this point what the mass audience reaction to digital will be.

Product is another issue. So many movies are aimed at a teen audience, because they seem to be the only ones going to the movies in large numbers. Which is one reason why many adults do not go to the movies anymore. It’s a vicious cycle I guess.

longislandmovies on June 14, 2006 at 8:53 pm

And the kids buy the candy…………………

dfc on June 14, 2006 at 9:04 pm

I was just browsing through some of the old news items on the site and came across an interesting one regarding digital cinemas. ( Poster ‘TheaterBuff1’ sees ‘gourmet’ movie houses as an option. He may have a point. Maybe movie houses have to go upscale with higher ticket prices.

In return for shelling out more $$$ you get wide comfortable stadium-style seats, a huge digital screen, a superb sound system in a clean well-maintained theater. Maybe the theater experience needs to be made so special that it will bring the adults back to the theaters. I think many movie patrons would be willing to pay $15+ for such an experience. But the key is the experience. A ‘gourmet’ theater would be taking the gamble that a pricier ticket would keep out the cellphone users, talkers and other inconsiderate patrons. (I guess I’m asking for a lot here!)

schmadrian on June 14, 2006 at 9:04 pm

I would love to see a round-table discussion with a) movie-goers, b) cinema owners and c) Hollywood represented. And talk about some of these issues.

Here are a couple of points that occurred to me after reading the previous posts:

-the irony of how avid movie-goers staying home because of a dearth of desired product will actually dilute revenues. (More of the total income from movies, regardless of source, will be from DVD sales.) So here we have people who are the bedrock of the industry (the equivalent of your local bar’s ‘regulars’) who would LOVE to see more movies…but they’re effectively being shunned because those in control don’t understand their audience.

-I don’t dispute ‘overscreening’ at all. It makes sense that it’s happened. My hometown lost two downtown single-screeners; they were replaced with a six-plex. All the other downtown cinemas have closed. They’ve been replaced by Godknowshowmany screens on the periphery of the city. So now, yes, I’d agree it’s overscreened. But this should come as no surprise to anyone; a business, any business, wants to have the lowest costs possible, hopefully resulting in the highest profits. If you’ve got eight kicks at the can instead of one, by hedging your bets, you’ve got a better chance of turning a profit.

-there’s little you can do about the product that’s being shown..other than to make sure you keep buying what you like. And you spread the word so that others go see these flicks. If something sells, studios make more like it. If it’s a niche champ, then maybe more will get made, maybe not. Again, sales rule. As far as what your local cinema shows, the owners don’t know anything other than ticket sales…unless you tell them. Teen flicks have ruled for the last thirty years, at least in the summer. Thank ‘Star Wars’ for that. This is another reason for home cinemas to be booming. You can access so much via DVD, and as DVD release dates become closer to theatrical ones, people won’t be bemoaning the lack of choice at the local cinema. (There actually is a lot of product out there for discriminating tastes, but unless you have a local nabe that is well-supported, generally these films don’t get a chance. I can think of two cinemas that are in touch with their audiences, and each community has various multiplexes as well, so it’s not like they’re anomalies:

-As far as staff goes, I seldom come in contact with anyone in a cinema who has any sort of passion, who is excited about the fact they’re working in a business that provides people pleasure. I’m not old enough to remember the ‘good old days’, but jeez, you’d think that somebody somewhere in management would understand that they’re selling an experience to the customer. If cinema owners want people to be ‘regulars’, then they need to step back and understand their role. Blaming ‘product’ is a cop-out, an abrogation of their responsibilities. Shame on them. (Ironically, some of the best service I’ve received has been at multiplexes…the bane of many on this site…)

schmadrian on June 14, 2006 at 9:10 pm


Point taken.
Check out: /theaters/1600/
And note the prices. Very reasonable. (And a terrific experience!)

But I don’t think that the average movie-goer is interested in shelling out more money. I hate to sound like a nay-sayer, but I think the perceived value of the ‘big screen experience’ has been reduced. And when something has been reduced, it’s very hard to get back the value. Which is why this ad campaign is a shot in the dark. But still admirable, if only to show that someone’s aware of the bigger picture.

longislandmovies on June 14, 2006 at 10:01 pm

Any single ,twins left must be creative which may include but not limited too.
1. midnight shows
2. free kids movies..sats and all summer long
3.after movie discussion groups
4.weekday live bands
5. bar
6.ladies night
7.mgr greeting before each show about a curtain that works

dfc on June 14, 2006 at 11:02 pm

The Commodore Theatre concept seems to have worked for them. In some cases a smaller audience can work. You pay a bit more but are as assured as you can be of being surrounded by others who came to enjoy the movie.

longislandmovies on June 14, 2006 at 11:14 pm

dfc – what is there concept?

JSA on June 14, 2006 at 11:37 pm

Ron Newman brings up some very interesting – and dreadful – statistics. Probably his comment warrants an entire separate discussion thread. I would be kind of curious to see how this pattern manifests itself in other major cities.

From the moviegoer’s point of view, I don’t mind paying the premium and driving to Pacific’s Arclight/Dome or the Chinese, given that the picture gets my serious attention. I will get a far better presentation and service than at any of my local multiplexes. The Arclight has done, in my opinion, a fantastic job of integrating multiple screening rooms with their trademark Cinerama Dome. In addition, my experiences dealing with the Arclight’s employees have been very pleasant and have found them very courteous. There is also a very decent cafe, and their martinis are pretty good!

Good presentation, good screen, sound system, showmanship, service, facilities (i.e. café, bar, etc.) and yes, a curtain that works, need not be exclusive domain of a “luxury” or high-end theater/multiplex. These features come at a cost for sure, but they are necessary to make the theater-going experience worth the admission price for the audience, and eventually bring in business.


dfc on June 15, 2006 at 1:03 am

Commodore Theater – /theaters/1600/ – An upscale movie presentation.

longislandmovies on June 15, 2006 at 1:06 am

wow….thats a theater

schmadrian on June 15, 2006 at 1:53 am


Great list. This is exactly what I think the industry needs to do. It’s one of the reasons the Festival group in Toronto is -seemingly- going under: a lack of focus on the market and not being proactive in making the cinema a cornerstone of the community. Cinemas have to take the lead themselves.

And as for the Commodore… It’s a fantastic place. To watch a film at your table while you eat…or simply munching popcorn in the balcony…is a superb experience. These guys are a model that should be examined by many cinemas in North America. It might not work for all, but it shows creativity, it shows initiative…the very aspects your list promotes. Kudos to them. (And I hope you get a chance to take in a show there, sometime.)

dfc on June 15, 2006 at 2:12 am

So maybe it’s come full circle. People put in home theaters to re-create the feel of a movie theater. Now some movie theaters are going plush to re-create the feel of a living room.

schmadrian on June 15, 2006 at 3:32 pm

So here’s an informal ‘assignment’, seeing as it’s such a pain to wait for someone else to do a poll: ask ten people why they’re regular movie-goers. Or, if they’re not, why not? Think about it: if we had a hundred people on this site take ten minutes to do this, we’d have 1000 respondents. Not scientifically certifiable, but at least an indicator of Why Things Are The Way They Are in the world of movie-going. Especially if we get answers from all over the continent.

BTW: does anyone know how the official society of cinema owners and film exhibitors feels about the state of affairs in moviedom?

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on June 15, 2006 at 4:32 pm

Nobody’s really addressed the issue of “product” as of yet. The lack of product is the fault of Bluetooth wearing, BMW driving MBA’s who have managed to break into the film industry. Films nowadays are created in boardrooms rather than on a written/typed page. Everything’s about speed: how FAST can we write it, how FAST can we shoot it, how FAST can we edit it & how FAST can we get it into theatres so we can get as much money as we can before a FAST getaway. X3: The Last Stand is a prime example. They stripped away the creativity that Bryan Singer created and picked a “yes-man” (Brett Ratner) to shoot the thing on a rapid production schedule to insure it got into theatres within 18 months or so.

Hollywood has lost its ability to create using fresh and new ideas. Why else would remakes & sequels take up the majority of release schedules. You can create a theatre with a 95 foot screen and 50,000 watts of digital sound it it with a dining menu that serves Filet Mignon and Lobster Tails along with its popcorn. But if they’re showing crap like “Scary Movie 4”, “The Omen”, and “Poseidon” on screen, what’s the point of having all those bells & whistles?

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 15, 2006 at 4:48 pm

So if the Hollywood product is crap, why not devote those screens to other stuff — independent films, foreign films, and revivals?

32 screens should show 32 different movies.

schmadrian on June 15, 2006 at 4:50 pm


Let’s take a look at that. What we’re addressing in this thread is a cinema chain trying to get people back into the cinemas as opposed to laying down big dinare for home theatres. But do you think that the people who are cocooning at home are then buying/renting more esoteric faire? Do you think that they’re passing over the kind of films you’re proposing is the problem and going with the sort of thing that should be made? Like ‘Sideways’ or ‘Eternal Sunshine’ or ‘Kinky Boots’?

I agree that there’s a lot to be ashamed of in terms of what Hollywood offers up. But no industry keeps making what it makes unless it’s selling. So somebody’s buying it. (I’m not defending it; I’m a screenwriter and I definitely don’t write the kind of MBA-driven schlock you’re referring to. But then executives in Tinseltown aren’t paid to ‘greenlight’ projects. They’re paid to protect the studio’s money and say ‘No.’)

So I guess the question, if you believe that product is part of the problem, is ‘How do we get better product into the cinemas?’

schmadrian on June 15, 2006 at 4:55 pm


The problem is that the ‘crap’ sells. So they book the screens for what sells.

In a great marketplace, serving a broad range of tastes, those 32 screens would show 32 different movies. But I don’t know of that marketplace.

Although… I’m looking at the movie guide for Toronto for next week…and there’s an absolute abbondanza of titles. Maybe I’m more fortunate than I realized.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on June 15, 2006 at 8:51 pm

“How do we get better product into the cinemas”?

Translation: How do we get Hollywood to make better movies? We talk a lot at this website about classic theatres and the things that make them classic. Exhibit A: Good Movies. For every lover of Grauman’s Chinese, Cinerama Dome, Egyptian, Village, Loews State, Criterion, Esquire, and the countless other single screen palaces praised around here, each of us who love these palaces can recall the first (or 5th – maybe even 20th) film that they saw in those houses. Half of us can ever remember the smell of the popcorn, the decor of the auditorium, even the theatre logos that showed before each film. It’s the greatness of those films that have inspired our love for the theatres that showed them…and its why we miss those theatres so much when they’re gone.

We love the theatres because there was a time when Hollywood cared about the output delivered to those theatres. Now we live in an age of “McMovies” where 14 year old, MTV addicted, PlayStation worshpping, ADD afflicted kids are the guiding force behind the decisions made by the aforementioned MBA’s. The soul of cinema has been lost in a race for the #1 box office spot.

And the people have responded by staying home. Why pay $10.00 for a piece of junk like “Failure To Launch” and “Scary Movie 4” when you can wait 4 months to see it on your 50 inch TV for $3.99 at Blockbuster? If NBC can make “Must-See TV”, why can’t their (new) business partner Universal create a slate of “Must-See Movies” – movies we’re bound to incessantly talk about around the water cooler? That’s the BIG question!

P.S. I know I keep harping on “Scary Movie 4” but the thought that a single frame of that garbage was allowed to show on the Cinerama Dome screen shows that there is Something Wrong. And, in spite of how good BSNS looks, I don’t think that’s entirely Pacific/Arclight’s fault!

longislandmovies on June 15, 2006 at 9:06 pm

Chris just because we might think its a piece of crap does not make it a movie the PUBLIC may not want to see..The scary movie films have made theaters a lot of money……like it or not…..

schmadrian on June 15, 2006 at 9:07 pm

In fairness, the world has changed since the days of yore youlook back on. (And as a sidebar, most people don’t see movies in the same light as ‘us’. Just as many people are not passionate about good novels and many people (myself included, despite having a tremendous history of concert-going) are not live-music fans, many people do not consider going to the movies as ‘special’ as we here do. And that’s a very, very important point to keep in mind.) Even going back as recently as thirty years ago, movies had cachet. There simply wasn’t that much around to compete with them for the top tier of entertainment. (And when I say ‘entertainment’, I’m referring to anything that provides pleasure or distraction. Let’s not get highbrow or subjective here…) No DVDs. No Internet. (Therefore no online gambling, no porn, no blogging, no news services…) No MP3s. No video games. Go back fifty years and the movies had even more status. So we’re talking about being in love with these gorgeous churches, these cathedrals, when people have, to a large extent, moved on to home worship, or take in online broadcasts from their religious leaders, etc. (Sorry if the analogy doesn’t hold as well as I’d like.)

But Chris, you didn’t really answer your own question!
: )
You posed it, but then waxed nostalgic and bemoaned the current state of affairs. Which I believe is a very accurate summation of the status quo, and gets away from all other opinions and side-arguments: why should people continue to frequent cinemas at such high costs when they can invest in a home system that also allows them to see films they’d never see at their local nabe, palace or multiplex, as well as watching pay-per-view sports and concerts, cable, yadda, yadda, yadda, on the same system? This isn’t a battle won or lost in one fell swoop. It’s being won by degree.

Or to put it another way, for the cinema-going tradition, it’s ‘death by a thousand cuts’.

So to return to Chris' question, if you think product is so important a factor: ‘How do we get better product into the cinemas?’

schmadrian on June 15, 2006 at 9:15 pm

I’m going to throw this up for consideration because we seem to be focusing on the product as an answer to cinema-going woes. It’s something I’d posted elsewhere having to do with the question ‘Why are there so many remakes, rehashings and sequels?’

“Hollywood is a business. Show BUSINESS. It’s art, no doubt about it, but first and foremost, what you see on the screen is a commercial product. But more than that, a business like no other. The costs involved in bringing a film to the screen, from conception to development to distribution to marketing are mind-boggling. Astronomical. Depending on what source you cite, this number may be up to $100 million.

Think about it: you can put up several office buildings for this amount.
You could put your money into stocks, bonds, annuities for a more secure investment.
You could build and incorporate your own town!

Hollywood at any given time has the better part of ONE BILLION DOLLARS tied up in ‘development’. This means efforts to bring concepts, pitches and scripts to a point where they’re viable projects. The number of these projects that NEVER COME TO FRUITION would depress you. (I know it depresses me; I’m a screenwriter and so understand more intimately how the system works.)

So. Lots of money tied up, lots of money ‘wasted’, enormous risk, lots of failure…

Is it any wonder that Hollywood has a tendency to go with remakes, rehashes and ripoffs? Television tie-ins. Adaptations from the theatre? Video game, graphic novel connections?

It’s looking for ways to increase the odds of success.

(As a sidebar, the argument involving remakes of foreign films is a simple enough one to make: American audience by and large are not sufficiently interested in things-foreign. Now, before you get all red-faced and start screaming at me, a) I know there are exceptions. ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ is a recent example of how the US audience can embrace something from ‘out there’. And b) I know not everyone is myopic, that there are all kinds of people who support their local art house cinema, and that it is a generalization to say that the American audience is looking for…how shall I put it, less ‘refined faire’. But Hollywood runs its business on these generalizations. It’s how it projects its efforts. And can you blame them? When it costs as much as it does to take a stab at getting a film out there, of course they’re going to take the safe road. MOST of the time.)

Hence all the tv show remakes.
And the sequels.
And the adaptations from foreign originals.
Any chance of increasing the odds, of tapping into a built-in audience, Hollywood will go there. Trying new and dangerous and challenging things is not their forté.

And remember: where Hollywood is concerned, the only vote that matters is that of the dollar. If it sees more tickets being bought for a certain type of film, even a certain genre, then it’ll tend to put more money into making more of these films. So an effective way of ‘protesting the crap’ is going to see those movies you would prefer to be watching."

longislandmovies on June 15, 2006 at 9:19 pm

THE PRODUCT IS THERE……….sometimes good as this summer ,sometimes bad as in last year. ( When i say good i mean people are spending money to see them))

schmadrian on June 15, 2006 at 9:20 pm


Excellent point. Cinema owners are in the business of putting bums in the seats. (And selling tons of popcorn.) The point is not that crap shouldn’t be made or shouldn’t be shown. It’s that crap shouldn’t be the only option. But if people don’t go to see the ‘other’ stuff, then crap’s what’ll be booked each and every time. Nobody has the luxury of being a snob. Not if you’re in the cinema business.

dfc on June 15, 2006 at 9:22 pm

As others have mentioned the studios are now in a bind regarding DVD release dates. Stinker movies (think ‘Gigli’) always went pretty quick to DVD. But now even good films like ‘Capote’ go to DVD in within a relatively short release window, much shorter than in the VHS days. More and more people aren’t going to the movies because they know the DVD will be out in a few months. The studios make money either way but theaters suffer. Can the studios afford to return to a longer release window? Would they want to? These same studios are pressuring the theaters to go digital. I’m glad I’m not in the movie theater business. Maybe these problems began way way back when the US government forced the studios to divest themselves of their theaters.

schmadrian on June 15, 2006 at 9:38 pm

I think it’s actually quite comical: on the one hand you’ve got the studios, who win no matter what (unless they put out stinkers across the board, and invariably, that doesn’t happen), they either get the cinema ticket sales or the DVD sales. On the other hand, you’ve got those people who have simply become disenchanted by movie-going, whether because of the expense, the fact that multiplexes aren’t as regal as they remember from their youths (and don’t forget we’ve got an entire generation for whom DVDs and multiplexes are the norm; they’re not hearkening back to any ‘good old days’!) Throw into the mix the electronic manufacturers, who love the fact that people are migrating to home theatre set-ups… Let’s see, who’s not happy: the cinema owners…and those of us ‘snobs’ who miss the old palaces.

OK. Maybe it’s not so funny afterall.

longislandmovies on June 15, 2006 at 9:41 pm

This is a list of pics playing in the atlanta market this week 1.cel prophecy 2.da vinci code 3.friends w/ money 4.a prairie home 5.proposition 6.x-men 7.thank u 4 smoking 8.break up 9.mi3 11.poseidon 12. art school confidential 13. wah-wah 14.water 15.inconvenient truth 16.omen 17.keeping up wiyh the steins 18.akeelah and the bee 19.see no evil 20.over the hedge 21.united 93 22.district b13. ALL IN A 6 MILE RANGE……There are a lot of art films for the summer this year.

schmadrian on June 15, 2006 at 9:44 pm

So if people aren’t going to see those films (because the weather’s too good, or they’re busy or they’ve already given up on cinema-going), then really, all is lost.

Meanwhile, there’s still a bunch of popcorn-movies in that list; something for just about everyone.

longislandmovies on June 15, 2006 at 9:47 pm

My point is they are going because there is PRODUCT…………….

longislandmovies on June 15, 2006 at 9:51 pm

Click Here: Check out “Daily Box Office for Friday, June 9, 2006”

longislandmovies on June 15, 2006 at 9:56 pm


schmadrian on June 15, 2006 at 9:58 pm

Ah, but this returns us to the original conundrum: the revenue pie is growing. More and more of this total revenue is coming from DVD sales, less (as a percentage of this pie) from cinema ticket sales. This is why Cineplex is advertising as it is.

What else is to be done?

longislandmovies on June 15, 2006 at 10:02 pm


Ron Newman
Ron Newman on June 15, 2006 at 10:04 pm

There aren’t too many screens. There are too many unimaginatively-programmed screens. (See my earlier post about Boston 1975 vs Boston 2006.)

longislandmovies on June 15, 2006 at 10:08 pm

you have to look at amount of screens as the country,not by a select area ..There are exceptions to every rule….OUR own CINEMA TREASURES book has pages on over screening.

schmadrian on June 15, 2006 at 10:11 pm

No offence, lim, but I don’t think you get it.
You’re stuck.
The future is coming, things are about to go through a sea change and you’re standing there giggling about product being the prime factor.
People are changing their viewing habits.
When you take into account the total number of film viewings, less people are going to the cinema to get theirs…and this is only increasing.
Kids are growing up not going to the movies.
What do you think is going to happen whey they have kids?

I’ve enjoyed this thread, but really, dialogues with brick walls can be a bit frustrating.
Or, as an employee of mine once said, ‘You need to find something softer to bang your head against.’

See you at the movies…

longislandmovies on June 15, 2006 at 10:12 pm

32 screens should show 32 movies —Ron that would be great the problem is auditoriums are much smaller than in the old days so when you get a hit you need 2or 3 screens per pic.

longislandmovies on June 15, 2006 at 10:14 pm

i agree….. Dont think you have a clue…..but its been fun….

PGlenat on June 16, 2006 at 4:58 am

….Meanwhile, back at the ranch… On a more modest level who recently increased their visibility across Canada by purchasing some of the Cineplex cast-offs are trying to lure more people into their theatres with a campaign of mail box stuffers. The ‘stuffer’ consists of a bag which can be filled with free popcorn (after purchasing a soft drink, however) along with a voucher entitling the holder to a chance at 28 other prizes, including a grand prize of a year’s free attendance at any of their theatres for two people for any movie, as well as vouchers for free soft drinks and popcorn. According to their website they have other promotions ongoing currently.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on June 16, 2006 at 3:07 pm

To answer THE question of product:

I have no earthly idea how to get Hollywood to make better movies. The fact that folks are (foolishly) propelling crap like “Scary Movie 4” to an $80 million box office gross makes my argument a moot point anyway. On the one hand – it IS crap (and, deep down, all of you know it!). On the other hand – folks still head to the theatres to see it. Who are the studios gonna listen to: my lone voice in the wilderness calling this crap “crap” – or the accountants who count that $80 million?

I guess I should just prepare for the days where I take my grandchildren to the movie theatre and they stare at the place in the same disdain as teenagers who stare at their parent’s 8-track tapes and vinyl 45’s.

longislandmovies on June 16, 2006 at 4:19 pm

Kids are the ones still going to the movies …….the drop off is with over 50 adults….

schmadrian on June 17, 2006 at 3:21 pm

Here’s some comments from a film industry insider:

“There are two ways that I look at cinema in the future.

One is to look at technology’s effect on people and the other is to look at peoples effect
on technology. I can’t say which effects the other more but i can say that they will have a
huge impact on the way cinema evolves. When I scan across a few generations or demographics
the trends that are evolving become really evident to me. My 13 year old niece seems to have
no issues with downloading a show (legally) onto her phone and watching it that way, and she
does the same with her music, whereas my father still can’t even understand his outdated VCR's
settings. I see a day when my niece and hoards of people like her will find it absurd to actually
have to “go” to a theatre and “wait” for someone else to hit play. It’s this highly wired attention
deficit/hyper active disorder plagued demographic that will really accelerate the changes. I fear
that they will see going to traditional movie theatres as some “slow food” kind of movement for those resistant to current social trends. My greater fear is the effect that this will have on actual content, and i’m already seeing evidence of the changes. The other day at the office I watched a DVD with a series of 6 highly polished beautiful looking movies produced by BMW. They were directed by Hollywood heavyweights and were totally padded with prominent actors. They were very well done and very slick, and very entertaining. The longest was about 13 minutes. They are for download only and will also be installed onto BMW’s new in-car navigational and entertainment system. Short slick and download friendly. Is this the future? Content is defined by society’s gadgets? Movies
and shows packaged in neat little down load friendly offerings perfect for a generation with no attention span and content to watch “Matrix prt20” in handy little bit streams they download wirelessly while blogging in the park.

You and I think it absurd, but tell that to my niece and it’s utopia. One possible benefit is that perhaps some producers will take an online direct marketing approach and sell their movies directly to the enduser and avoid the distribution monopolies altogether. Kind of like what some inde bands are doing now with their music. In this case perhaps one could then buy a licensing fee to show the movie in an independently owned and operated theatre for those who prefer the traditional style viewing. See where I’m going with this… Perhaps the traditional movie house may find a new and better life for itself.

So in a nutshell here is my 15 year prognosis. Megaplexes will continue to dwindle, perhaps to the level that IMAX exists currently. We’ll always have large format movie theatres, but it won’t be the norm. If downloading changes the distribution policies we now have, than there exists the opportunity for inde movie houses to re-emerge. Content will change and continue to evolve. Movies will still be shot, but released in multiple ways. A theatrical version will be created,
a chopped up version will be created for download, and a video game version will be created, all released simultaneously. Pick your poison. The DVD will die because eventually you won’t rent, you’ll plug in and download into your personal Crackberry phone/computer/viewer/GPS/music/media gadget. Potentially. some good things can happen, but I really see the large format theatres evaporating. People will still have a need to interact but the younger demographic will just partake in some kind of a well wired, multimedia type of globally connected rave where music and images and people are connected simultaneously. Of course none of this could happen and i could be completely full of crap, i often am, but I can’t ignore todays youth, they are so damn wired it’s tough to ignore the influence and changes they are going to make."

longislandmovies on June 18, 2006 at 6:13 pm

They said the same things when Tv started , when dvd came out ,on an on ………..Theaters have been going out of bsns for 40 year.TECHNOLGY WILL KEEP THEATERS ON THE CUTTING EDGE ALSO NOT JUST KIDS I PODS.

longislandmovies on July 5, 2006 at 1:45 am

BSNS UP AGAIN 4th of July weekend up 7 % over last year!

schmadrian on July 15, 2006 at 9:19 am

I went to see ‘Pirates 2’ the other night. While I was in line for tickets, a family was purchasing theirs. Two adults, three kids = $38 CDN. Later, as I was munching on my popcorn, I saw them heading for their seats. They’d purchased two ‘jumbo combos’. So the grand total for the evening, not including parking (this was at a downtown multiplex) was about $60 CDN. I think when I did the math I actually stopped eating.

This was my third of four movies this week. So I don’t need to be convinced of the ‘cachet’ of cinema-going. But I had to ask myself if I’d do the same thing. Take my family to movies like this. I mean, as much as I’m anti home theatre, I tried to put myself in their place, in any family’s place and imagine a different mindset. Where seeing the film in a cinema wasn’t the benchmark. And it was interesting, looking at things from a different perspective.

Afterwards, as everyone was filing out, I approached the family and asked the parents how often they took their kids to a movie, splashed out the fifty or sixty bucks. The answer was ‘Not often. Just for the really big films. The special ones. Maybe three, four times a year. The rest of the time, we rent."

A few of my friends are in film production. And I certainly spend enough time reading newsletters and blogs concerning various elements of the biz. One consistent theme is the changing landscape of production. The gradual reduction of time given a shoot. It’s not uncommon to hear of mainstream releases shot in under three weeks. There’s an enormous compression going on. Why? Because of the changing landscape of entertainment. For example, last night I downloaded from iTunes the season premiere of ‘Psych’, the USA network show. It was free. Given the ever-expanding menu of shows available for online download, even though I don’t get the USA channel, I could still watch it regularly at $1.99 a pop. There’s a ton of product available online either for free, or for a subscriber’s fee or a once-off purchase. My point here is that there’s a wealth of ‘filmmakers’ out there, who can bring something to the public for very little money. No, these films are not the Hollywood blockbusters. And maybe this leads to a possible further truth: that in the future, what will be distributed theatrically will be the ‘Superman Returns’. The ‘Pirates 2’. The ‘Cars’. The next ‘James Bond’ flick. And the rest of the menu will ‘primarily’ be offered in another way. I can think of dozens of films over the past few years that didn’t receive general release, that deserve to be watched, but in a world where Hollywood (and the cinemas) need films that pack ‘em in, end up being seen as rentals, if at all. To me, the future of film is as healthy as it’s ever been. But I do suspect that the context of viewing and the default choice will be changing as rapidly as our options change.

This may seem heretical talk on a ‘cinema treasures’ site, but it doesn’t take away from the love all of us feel for the myriad filmic cathedrals featured here…and none of us can stop the inevitable changes from occuring, anyway: inexorably, the ‘default’ for movie viewing is shifting from going to the cinema (as was really the only choice when I was growing up), to home-viewing, either on your wide-screen tv or on your iMac or on your iPod. After all, if you had a family, which would you generally choose: one movie at a cinema, or 12-20 rentals? Hmm…? At the risk of repeating myself, in the end, Hollywood isn’t going to give a toss how it generates its revenue, either from theatrical distribution or online/in-store purchasing and rentals. Money is money is money. The only ones left sniffing will be the cinema owners, the die-hard movie-goers…and members of sites such as this.

longislandmovies on July 17, 2006 at 11:21 pm

still the cheapest form of ent. BOWLING NOW $8.00 A GAME /Prices are in line with inflation/Product is the key not price….

longislandmovies on October 8, 2007 at 4:56 am

Love to go back to these old posts ….now 2007… the biggest summer ever….

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