Alamo Drafthouse aside, not many movie theater chains have reported increased attendance in the past few years. Large chains have propped up revenues with ticket price hikes, premium concessions and drinks, but the specter of Netflix and other home viewing platforms looms ominously over the industry. Annual ticket sales in the U.S. have declined to 1995 levels from their high in 2002 (although revenues have grown 3.6% annually over the same period, well outpacing inflation). This January, AMC Theaters will begin testing a new business model in partnership with MoviePass, beginning in Denver and Boston. Subscribers can pay $30-45 a month for a membership good for one film per day at any AMC location. The move echoes a 2013 effort to reopen an independent theater in Oakhurst, CA using a member subscription model. Will it be enough to get more film aficionados off their couches and into a theater seat? The jury's still out.
The Alamo Drafthouse cinema chain has a tradition of airing humorous celebrity "PSA" bumpers urging theatergoers not to talk during the movie. Will Ferrell. George A. Romero. Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. Danny DeVito. R. Lee Ermey. Governor Ann Richards. Recently, Drafthouse owner Tim League sat down for an interview with The Social Network's Jesse Eisenberg and attempted to get him to record a "Don't Talk" PSA. It did not go as planned. (Previously.)
A movie theater in Kansas City, MO now prohibits children under 6, and requires children between 6 and 16 to be accompanied by an adult. They no longer show movies rated G or PG, instead deciding to go with "adult films, independent films and films geared toward adult audiences." There's even a VIP lounge where adults can sit in recliners and drink alcohol while watching the film. Speaking as someone who actually goes to movies to see the movie, not use it as a place to park brats for two hours, this is a revolution, but I can understand why parents would feel discriminated against.
Maybe people will finally see "Glitter" after all. More than 200 movie theatre companies will donate all ticket sales and concession revenues to the United Way and the Red Cross for all films shown Tuesday. After two weeks of dreadful box-office grosses and sour moods, maybe this will prime the pump.