Awright, guys, it’s time to talk. This has been building up for a while now, and this is a discussion that needs to happen.
First of all, I understand that theatre owners don’t make the movies. That’s fine. I understand this. If the movie is crap, oh well. I mean, I don’t begrudge you the advertising, the promotion; Hollywood sends you all this stuff with the reels. They expect you to advertise, and I expect you to advertise. If the movie sucks, that’s okay. I forgive you. I’m not one of those guys who will demand his money back if the movie stinks.
…but there ARE some things you could do if you expect to keep my business.
1. Commercials. Guys, this is just not going to do. I mean, movie trailers are one thing. Those slides you show that have ads for local businesses, before the movie ever starts, that’s one thing. Gives us something to look at while we wait, no?
And five or ten movie trailers, well, that’s fine. We expect this. It’s traditional.
…but now, we begin every showing with a Coca-Cola commercial. Sometimes two. And in other theatres, I’m beginning to see commercials for Milky Way candy bars and dishwashing liquid. Guys, this is very bad, and if you can’t see it, you’re headed for trouble. Why the hell would I want to come to YOU and pay $7 for a ticket and $10 for refreshments to see commercials that I could stay at home and see for free? This is a diminishing returns kind of thing, guys. The more commercials, the less likely I am to wanna come and buy your overpriced popcorn. In fact, the words “DVD” are starting to sound better and better.
2. The Staff. Yeah, I know, running a movie theatre isn’t cheap. First-run movies cost more than ever to rent. However, I really don’t think that staffing your entire theatre with sixteen-year-olds is the answer. I mean, I have nothing against teenagers, but wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a few adults in place? A manager, perhaps? An usher? Particularly when that dickhead with the &%$#@ cell phone decides he’s going to conduct business in the middle of the movie, and my wife goes to complain, and your pimple-faced personnel manager, rather than doing anything, shrugs and says, “Nothing we can do, ma’am.”
Gee, I wonder if you’d take that attitude if I brought in my own drinks and popcorn?
3. The Bulb. This one is what drove me to begin seeing the movies I REALLY wanted to see at theatres other than yours. I know, I know, your projectors are really big and complicated, and a bulb burning out is a major, expensive thing, a drain on your resources, and certainly not something you can duck down to Safeway to replace.
…but you know what? When you cheap out and use a bulb that’s not the recommended wattage, it makes the movie look murky. When the movie’s ALREADY fairly dark – The Blair Witch Project, for example – your financial decision has made at least part of the movie unwatchable. Why, then, am I giving you money to look at blurry muddy images on a fuzzy screen? The TwentyPlex down the road in the next town doesn’t do this, although they’re getting pretty obnoxious about the Coke commercials before the feature.
4. The End Of The Movie. Now, guys, I paid to see this movie. That’s why I’m being a dick about this. I PAID to see your movie. That means I paid to see ALL of it. If I want to watch the credits and listen to the score, well, I paid for it, didn’t I? Maybe I wanna see who the Gaffer was, and the Best Boy. Maybe I really, really like the soundtrack. Maybe I wanna see if any animals were harmed in the making of this film. Maybe I wanna see if there’s a sting at the end of the credits, like in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Harry Potter and the Chamber Of Secrets. Hell, maybe the story is still being TOLD in the credits, like in the remake of Dawn Of The Dead.
I have that right, to see the credits. Bought it along with my ticket.
…and this means that sending your teenage cleanup crew in to clean the theatre while I am still trying to watch the credits and hear the music is NOT WHAT YOU SOLD ME, you asshole! I don’t want to see these geeks blocking my view while they pick up other people’s popcorn tubs, and I don’t want to hear their conversations about who’s hot and what Jojo did at the party last weekend! Tell your cleanup crew to stay the hell out while the goddamn movie is playing, and I don’t CARE if there’s only one or three people left in there! THEY PAID TO SEE THIS MOVIE!
Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m not in the 18-to-35 bracket any more. Maybe you don’t CARE about my business any more, because I’m old enough to remember when theatres were better than they are now… but I’m also old enough to know something about people, and about business.
…and I am here to tell you that I will cheerfully drive twenty miles to any theatre showing a movie I want to see that provides ALL of these services. And I suspect I’m not alone.
Watch and learn, boys. Or at least, I hope.