Friday, July 25, 2008

Coming Soon To A Theater Near You: $35 Tickets - Part IV

By Lon S. Cohen

I don’t expect to dole out $35 to see the next Wil Ferrel comedy vehicle, I might do it for one of the other upcoming releases this summer, ones that have enough umph to require a massive screen and gigantic sound. I also may want the energy of a hundred other human beings in the same room, watching the film along with me.

If this model of bigger is better pans out, we may see a fractioning of Hollywood marketing, even more so than today. Despite the fact that the word on the street is that the end to the movie theater is nigh, the rumors of its death may, in fact, be highly exaggerated.

IMAX has already proven to be wildly popular. Look only as far back as the recent Miley Sirus, 3-D movie for evidence of that. The movie did so well that Disney stripped its limited engagement status in favor of an indefinite release.

Variety reported on its website that three major investors have come together to build up to 50 upscale theaters nationwide. The all-inclusive experience will offer 3-D movies, a lounge and valet parking. “Upscale” and “affluent” is how investors described their target market.

This brings back the idea of the event movie experience, when a night to the movies was a night out on the town. What has to happen is that movies will have to match the plush trappings they are projected within. For thirty-five bucks, I’m not taking any chances, and neither will anyone else. They want to know that the movie they will be seeing is inline with the price paid for the ticket.

And this is where the marketing fissure will occur. Sure, the movie theater will not completely go away. Home theaters still pale in comparison to your neighborhood Cineplex, but as the price point for a movie ticket pushes perilously close to the consumer’s upper limit, some may decide just to stay home. The middle will fall out.

What you have left are the great big event movies that draw crowds into the theater no matter what the price, and then there will be the rest. Hollywood doesn’t like to lose money, at least not for very long and when it sees a trend, it tends to move in that direction. (Is it no wonder that we get seasons filled with movies that are clones of the last success?)

Next Part V

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