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A Subscription-Based Movie Theater

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the works-for-tv dept.

Movies 308

When the local movie theater in Oakhurst, California went out of business, residents were stuck without a way to watch films on the big screen without driving for at least an hour beforehand. Now, three men are trying to resurrect the theater with one major change: instead of relying solely on ticket sales, their business model revolves around subscriptions. From the article: 'They ran models of Nelson's subscription-based theater idea, showing that to break even they would need 3,000 people, or 15% of the mountain communities, to sign up. For $19.95 per month, a member would be able to see each movie one time and buy individual tickets for friends. Non-members could buy a $16 day pass. While researching the theater business, Nelson learned that studios are transitioning to digital distribution. Thousands of independent theaters that couldn't afford equipment upgrades have closed over the last 10 years, according to industry experts. Hundreds of others — which, like the Met, still show print films — remain on the brink. The subscription business model could pay for the new equipment.'

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Great Deal (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446525)

$20 monthly pass pays for itself after 2 movies.

Re:Great Deal (5, Interesting)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about 2 years ago | (#42446827)

I don't know about you, perhaps I am an old fuddy duddy, but I can't imagine that 15% of residents would go for that. I personally go to cinemas barely once per year and a lot of the folks I know are similar. Okay, there is the day pass options, which would work, but if their business model relies on 15% as being the critical mass needed, it seems a bet with some rather long odds.

And while $20 a month does pass for itself after two movies, are you really going to go to see that many movies? Are there even that many new movies coming out these days - let alone that many worth watching?

Now, if the cinema was playing older movies or classics along with the new releases, that might start to get interesting.

Re:Great Deal (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#42447021)

Membership has its priviledges.

I am sure there are a lot of ways they could add incentives in with the price of admission. There is still something nice about the act of going to the cinema. Watching shows at home tends to be a less formal thing and so you usually don't turn your phone off and other distractions tend to take precedence. At the movies, you are locking yourself away and dedicating yourself to the big screen experience.

I might return to the theaters if I had a subscription of some sort. I think perhaps $20/monthly would not be a plan suitable for me, but perhaps a "discount membership" which would enable me to watch movies at a discount and perhaps excluding "opening night" movies would be a better plan for me.

Re:Great Deal (4, Interesting)

lawpoop (604919) | about 2 years ago | (#42447069)

Maybe you are the new-fangled type that prefers to watch media on their home entertainment system?

I've found that certain movies are enjoyable on the big screen, and less so on the small. Does that mean they lack something? Probably -- but for me, it's about the experience of the film. If it needs to be seen on the big screen for me to properly get the full effect, so be it. If it makes a less stellar movie feel like it was worth it, then it was worth it.

I don't go to the movies twice a month-- probably more 6-8 times a year-- but if I could go whenever for $19.95 a month, I might see almost every movie. If have have to shell out $10 for a movie, I have to think really hard if it will be worth it. If I've already shelled out the cash, it's a no-brainer.

Re:Great Deal (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42447165)

I'll take my 65" HD screen with my $25k audio system in my dedicated home theater over going to the movie, ever. Sure -- the screen isn't 20 feet wide, but when you're sitting ten feet away from it, who cares? And it comes with the added benefit of watching shit when I want to, how I want to, and without hearing people eating popcorn, texting, chatting, or babies crying and children fidgeting in the theater.

Re:Great Deal (4, Insightful)

Zeussy (868062) | about 2 years ago | (#42447225)

That is a 104 years of theatre subscription, in your sound system alone!

Re:Great Deal (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42447433)

my $25k audio system

Wow, a fool and his money easily parted, indeed!

Re:Great Deal (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 2 years ago | (#42447201)

Holy shit Six to eight times a year? I haven't watched a movie in the theater since X-Files in 1998. I haven't even averaged six to age movies at *home* per year (new movies released around that year, that is). Every movie I've enjoyed, I feel I'd enjoy far less in a movie theater than at home. Granted, I have a pretty sweet dedicated home theater that I put a lot of work into and had specially constructed, but still . . .

The value of a theater is especially diminished by the ever-lowering behavior of people who attend films, who have to be constantly texting or talking or browsing on their iphones and the ever-shrinking size of movie screens. I remember being a kid and it seemed like movie screens were the biggest thing on the planet. Either they changed or my perspective did, because as an adult, they seemed tiny as fuck. Sure, you could fit fifteen of them in a multiplex, but sitting 50 feet away from a 25 foot wide screen didn't really seem to do much more than sitting 8 feet from a 60" screen at home.

I think theaters are going to quickly become a thing of the past. They're about on par with landlines, pay-phones, and news papers. If they rolled out a way for people to watch films the day they're released on their home theater for $10, it'd be huge.

Re:Great Deal (3, Insightful)

lawpoop (604919) | about 2 years ago | (#42447367)

Where are people going to see movies these days? Pleasure Island from Pinocchio? I've never seen or heard anyone texting, talking, or whatever on their phones. Granted, it's not a monastery, but it doesn't disturb me or ruin the movie for me. If you haven't been to the theater in 15 years, how do you know the behavior has gotten worse?

Re:Great Deal (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42447127)

The subscribers might have a vote in what movies come to the theater... who knows? I go to the movies all the time and would surely take the deal. And looking at our local prices of $12.75 for a primetime movie on a weekend, the daypass does not seem that bad. Hey, they could always become members, right?

Re:Great Deal (5, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#42447213)

I think you underestimate how much the local community might be willing to back up local business, if it's clear that the choice is otherwise having none at all. Once you start losing social facilities like the cinema then young people start moving away and you turn into a dying community of old farts. I live in a considerably bigger city and never feel my presence is "make-or-break" for services, sure individual shops come and go but there'll always be another. Out near our cabin I notice an entirely different attitude in the permanent residents, they'd better use the local services because otherwise they'll go tits up and then they won't have any. With apologies to Niemöller:

First the market forces came for the cinema, and I didn't care out since I didn't use the cinema.
Then they came for the restaurant, and I didn't care since I didn't go to the restaurant.
Then they came for the hospital, and I didn't care since I was healthy and didn't need it.
Then they came for the grocery store, and I found everyone else had already left.

It is perfectly feasible... (5, Insightful)

godrik (1287354) | about 2 years ago | (#42446527)

UGC (the AMC theatres in France) used to (maybe still have) memberships that allowed you to see evey movie they show as many times as you want for 15euros. Lots of people were subscribing to it. I am sure they can manage it. Thought the $16 day pass for non subscriber seems over the top. I hope they also have regular $8/10 ticket for one movie. (most people wont see two movies in one day)

Re:It is perfectly feasible... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446655)

It's worth mentioning that the summary proposes the subscription model to justify theater upgrades:

" Thousands of independent theaters that couldn't afford equipment upgrades have closed over the last 10 years, according to industry experts. Hundreds of others — which, like the Met, still show print films — remain on the brink. The subscription business model could pay for the new equipment. "

Keep in mind that there are plenty of independent movie theaters which play older/obscure/foreign movies, and having character and not being newfangled everything is part of the experience. San Diego's Ken Cinema, [] being a good example. Before the movie starts they throw out huge balloons everybody swats around, there are no annoying ushers to see if you're sneaking in the drink, and they play movies you wouldn't find at an AMC, like Pink Flamingos*. The only downside of that theater being that it's in a neighborhood infested with grown up hipster-sissies. Still, those are the theaters which deserve my money. If I wanted to see predictable, stale crap like Transformers 5 or X-men 10 I'd reach for the torrent.

* Whoa, man. What a fucked up movie. A lot of it's chatty gay humor, but where else are you gonna see the main character (a man in drag) suck her son's cock, a man fucking two (real) dead chickens, and a finale of eating dog shit. []

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:It is perfectly feasible... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446839)

I'm surprised that theaters don't coordinate more meetup groups or something, and sponsor showings of rare and obscure films. Make it a severely reduced ticket price, make the showing a limited (or one time) thing and make up everything in concessions or the like.

I remember in middle school that the school actually took a trip to a local theater to see some disney movie. But I've never seen such groups in my theaters in all these years.

Or maybe it's the theaters in my area that just have very little outreach.

Re:It is perfectly feasible... (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 2 years ago | (#42447023)

I don't know about other theater chains but Cinemark actually rents out there theaters for all kind of events []

"Host your corporate meeting or private event at Cinemark Theatres nationwide. Deliver your presentation on the big screen in a comfortable Cinemark auditorium.

Lights. Camera. Business. Cinemark Theatres offers an exciting alternative for:

company meetings
private movie screenings
employee reward & recognition
lead generation events
brand and product launches
client appreciation
education and training
award ceremonies
holiday outing"

Re:It is perfectly feasible... (2)

cmseagle (1195671) | about 2 years ago | (#42447109)

I hope they also have regular $8/10 ticket for one movie. (most people wont see two movies in one day)

Seeing as how the previous iteration of the business went under following that model, I don't think it's likely that they'll be attempting it. I think that if the customers know that they can go to the movies for $8/10 like they're used to, the theater will be hard pressed to hit that 3,000 member mark.

Re:It is perfectly feasible... (3, Informative)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#42447203)

This is club model. For a fixed fee you get to use the services of the club. Some will use the services a lot, some not so much. But because dues are collected monthly, fixed costs are piad.

In the US, it is my understanding that most of the box office goes to the movie distributor. So if someone sees a opening weekend movie every weekend, I assume that would be the whole $20 to the studio, or even more. The article did say they would be paying studio based on viewership, and I have been told that studios do take most of the ticket sales for the the first weekend, So this model clearly depends on people not going to see very many movies. Yet is subscribers are nor going to movies, then one wonders if they will be subscribers

Movie theaters are just restaurants that show movies. Sundance and Alamo has made that a formal setup. Theaters near formal restaurants have to fight to stay alive. If you want your theater to stay open, buy concessions. Yes it does suck to think the true cost of a movie is $25 per person, but that is what it costs. If it is too expensive, go to the Opera, where a ticket can often be $15, and there is no expectation to buy or consume refreshments.

too expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446535)

the problem is that 20$ a month is way more than the usual person pays for movies. there might be one good movie every 3 months, and that costs 8-12 dollars depending on where you are. if there were more good movies coming out each month then it might be worth it, until then, theres netflix

Re:too expensive (5, Interesting)

godrik (1287354) | about 2 years ago | (#42446553)

When you have a free "movie ticket for everything" you start going to see stuff you would not have seen otherwise. $20 a month is not a bad deal. I'd totaly take that.

Re:too expensive (1)

Jartan (219704) | about 2 years ago | (#42446589)

They'd have to give a discount on food as well. At least in the US popcorn and a drink run you as much as the ticket.

Re:too expensive (4, Interesting)

adolf (21054) | about 2 years ago | (#42446665)

They'd have to give a discount on food as well. At least in the US popcorn and a drink run you as much as the ticket.

"Have to"? Why? Because you'd shrivel up and die if you don't have a dose of artificially-flavored popcorn with artificially-sweetened fizzy water within a 2-hour window?

Re:too expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42447039)

Exactly. We'd realize that our source of contentment was the artificial flavors and not the godawful movie we're watching.

Re:too expensive (3, Informative)

Sylak (1611137) | about 2 years ago | (#42446677)

That's where most of the theatres actually make their money on first-week releases, though, because of how much goes to the studio in ticket revenue.

Re:too expensive (1)

chronokitsune3233 (2170390) | about 2 years ago | (#42446697)

Discount on the food? You're kidding me, right? There's absolutely no reason why that should be a part of the deal. You subscribe, paying each month to renew your subscription, to see any movie at any time you want (when the theater is open). Anything else like food, candy, etc. is gonna cost you more. Of course, certain things are free, such as 3D glasses to watch 3D films and refills on certain sizes of popcorn and specific sizes and kinds of beverage-type items (not fountain sodas).

Re:too expensive (3, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | about 2 years ago | (#42446961)

They'd have to give a discount on food as well. At least in the US popcorn and a drink run you as much as the ticket.

We hardly ever buy movie food, we just bring our own. The local (Australia) cinema won't let you bring a backpack or other large bag in (tripping hazard) but they haven't batted an eyelid when we've put the backpack in their lockers and taken in our own popcorn etc. Three of my kids and my wife can't have gluten so buying the food there isn't really an option - too much risk of contamination (who knows what they put in that 'butter'!).

I prefer not to have food at all in the cinema, but when you have young kids it's a great way to keep them still while they get interested in the movie.

Re:too expensive (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 2 years ago | (#42447119)

I for one regularly visit my local Hoyts to go to the movies and bring in a normal shopping bag filled with junk food bought from the nearby Coles or Woolies and they haven't stopped me.

I even went to see the third Lord of the Rings film when I was in Brisbane and had a large suitcase with me and they didn't care when I brought said suitcase into the theater.

Re:too expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446559)

There is always a movie that's worth it to kill a few hours with friends or a fuck buddy with

Re:too expensive (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 2 years ago | (#42446575)

Sounds like it would work for younger people then. The success of this model would depend on the age distribution in the target population.

Re:too expensive (5, Funny)

simplexion (1142447) | about 2 years ago | (#42446609)

Don't kill your fuck buddy, they are very useful.

Re:too expensive (4, Insightful)

steveha (103154) | about 2 years ago | (#42446615)

This is a way to have a movie theater in their town without driving an hour. You need to factor that into your estimations.

If I lived an hour away from any other movie theater, I would pay $20/month to keep my local theater alive. Sometimes it's fun to see a movie on the big screen, with your friends.

If that experience isn't something you care about, there's Netflix.

Re:too expensive (3, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#42447391)

That experience has become less and less.
As the size of the silver screen has gone down, the size and resolution of TV sets have gone up.

When I was young, I loved to go to the movie theatre. The screen was a hefty 10x22 meters, or a little over 79' diagonal.
At home we had a 20" TV - we couldn't afford the new huge 26" ones that had just came out.

Nowadays, a typical movie theatre has a screen only a fraction of that size, while the standard TV size this holiday was 55".
Your field of view is going to be filled about as much by your TV at home as the movie screen. And you probably have a better sound system than the utter miscalibrated crap they foist on people these days.
Never mind that you and your friends can imbibe whatever you like. No crying children or idiots who left their cell phone on.

Back in the old days, you also bought numbered seats, and knew that you and your friends would be able to sit together. Now, you have to gamble on that. Whoever runs fastest gets the best seats.

The death of movie theatre going started for me back when LaserDiscs came out, and has continued as movies have become crappier and TVs better. I probably wouldn't go often even if it was free.
Heck, a BD movie on my laptop gives me a more immersive experience.

Let the movie theatres die. They had their time, which was great, but that time is over. Keep a few as living museums in the big cities, and let the rest go.
I'll fondly remember them, but don't need them back any more than I need photo booths and telegrams.

Re:too expensive (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446685)

Speak for yourself. While a quarter of the movies are so-so $20 isn't so much. I spend $20 minimum each time I got to the movies. I probably see a movie a week. This includes movie & pop corn. Now I don't waste my money on Netflix, DRM'd Cable TV, or other similar services. If you see four shows a month that is just $5 a ticket. Maybe half the price of a typical theater. Even if you see only two shows that is still about the price of a typical ticket. They should charge $12 to non-members to encourage people to get memberships. Even those who aren't members are going to use this theater because it is closer. A lot of older people hate driving to far away theaters. Even if they will do it they'd pay extra to see a movie locally. Plus the gas saved totally makes up for the slight premium anyway (at $12 a ticket).

I had another good idea (stolen) from a theater around here. They turned it into a dinner & show theater. So you can order dinner too. Instead of spending $10 on popcorn and soda people spend $20 on dinner plus $10 for a show. You don't have to do the dinner. You can still get the popcorn + soda or just a ticket if your not hungry. The point of this though is to give people something to spend more money on. And people do!

Re:too expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42447233)

I spend $8/mo on Netflix and get way more out of that than the few decent movies I could watch in the theater with far less fucking hassle. And no added expenses, either (parking, gas, food, hours of my time basically wasting a whole evening on the event).

Re:too expensive (1)

Aeros (668253) | about 2 years ago | (#42446833)

Well that depends. Are they playing never movies? Also some people, like teenagers especially, will go to the movies more often. I myself havent been to a movie theatre in over a year. There will be some people that like to go on regular occasion and others that don't go that often. It'll be interesting to see what the stats turn out to be on this idea. I do wish them luck though.

Not entirely a new idea (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 2 years ago | (#42446549)

I've been to theaters that sell monthly/yearly passes to frequent movie-goers. From what I've seen though the model is typically to offer a steep discount for tickets if you hold a pass.

Re:Not entirely a new idea (5, Funny)

alostpacket (1972110) | about 2 years ago | (#42446771)

Indeed, season passes are as old as the discovery of fire. The Amalgamated Neanderthal Conglomerate "Ungfrthfrulptlf" (GmbH) used to paint on the cave walls about amazing savings:

Club just one woman and kill two mammoths a year and enjoy a VIP spot of dirt by the campfire!*

MUCH cheaper than a saber-tooth per fire.

*Cannot be combined with any other cave painting. Limited time offer. Dirt spots dependent upon availability and size of mammoth, woman.

Better idea (5, Insightful)

simplexion (1142447) | about 2 years ago | (#42446573)

Where I live in Australia it costs around $17 per adult to see a movie at the cinema. The last movie I went to had around 8 people watching it. If they charged $5 per adult I bet there would have been a lot more people watching that movie (that may have also purchased overpriced crappy food from the candy bar).
It is ridiculous to expect $17 from someone to watch a shitty movie, considering the majority of movies pumped out these days are pretty terrible.

Re:Better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446637)

Yep. The last movie I saw was $22 per ticket (which chain does $17 tickets ?!). There were five people in the room...

Re:Better idea (2)

afidel (530433) | about 2 years ago | (#42446641)

I just saw Skyfall at a matinee and it was $5.50 per adult, surprise surprise the theater was full which is pretty good for a movie that's been out for 7 weeks.

Re:Better idea (2, Interesting)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#42446773)

That is a decent price, but even $5 is really on the high end when you are talking about sitting in a $5 chair in a big concrete box for 2 hours watching a screen only like 10 times bigger than what many people have a home nowadays. Even without factoring in the profits from snacks and candy a business model should be maintainable on like $1 a viewing.

Re:Better idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446797)

[...] watching a screen only like 10 times bigger than what many people have a home nowadays.

Emphasis mine. Many people have a quite small home, then.

Re:Better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446879)

That is a decent price, but even $5 is really on the high end when you are talking about sitting in a $5 chair in a big concrete box for 2 hours watching a screen only like 10 times bigger than what many people have a home nowadays. Even without factoring in the profits from snacks and candy a business model should be maintainable on like $1 a viewing.

$1? Are you troll? Or just a moron?
No doubt $20 a person is to much but if you are going to engage in hyperbole please use the proper markup tags.

Re:Better idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446973)

You have absolutely no idea how expensive it is to run a physical business.

Re:Better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42447009)

Your wrong. This all depends on how the theater owners get the films. If they pay per viewer and are charged $5-$10 a head then charging $1 probably won't work. Even if you figure a profit of $10 per person (unlikely) most of that is going to someone else.

Re:Better idea (5, Interesting)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#42447015)

Similarly, I just went to go see The Hobbit earlier today with a coworker (my supervisor, in fact...we skipped out of work early since he wanted to see it), and it was $4 for each of us. To say the least, the theater was packed, despite the fact that our college town is virtually empty while everyone is gone for the holidays. Mind you, this isn't some trashy theater in a seedy part of town either. It's a standard Cinemark in a good location with all of the usual amenities you'd see in an urban center (digital projectors, 3D, XD, and whatever other marketing terms they've invented since I last looked). I think the reason our prices are so low is because our area has around 200,000 people, 50,000 of whom are fickle college students that will go to whichever theater is cheapest, and there's a Premiere theater just down the street that has shown a willingness to closely match the prices Cinemark posts up.

I've always heard that the concession stand is where the money is at in a theater, and if that's true, I don't know why they're not dropping prices on tickets to get more butts in seats. As it is, higher ticket prices just encourage people to spend more time and money at home with their own entertainment setup.

Re:Better idea (1)

muphin (842524) | about 2 years ago | (#42446747)

I agree, i refuse to go to the movies cause its so expensive, i would consider going if it was $10 a ticket...
the subscription model seems very good , even have family packages...
if it was $20/mo i would go more often (or say $49.90 for 2 adults and 2 kids), considering when you have kids they also want food, the sales would boost (although $50/mo does start to feel steep per month... even if you miss a few months).

Re:Better idea (1)

Mitsoid (837831) | about 2 years ago | (#42446979)

However, a subscription model is also a good counter to this quantity-over-quality price strategy they have...

They can pump out as much crappy movies as they want and the viewers can choose to watch it or not... but compared to a traditional model you only need to see 2 or 3 movies to 'break even'

Re:Better idea (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#42447033)

Where I live in Australia it costs around $17 per adult to see a movie at the cinema. The last movie I went to had around 8 people watching it. If they charged $5 per adult I bet there would have been a lot more people watching that movie

But if they'd make any money on it would very much depend on whether the cinema is charged per viewer or per showing of the movie and I suspect it's the former. It'd be very hard to make individual deals depending on the "willingness to pay" in that particular town, most likely they're charged as much as other cinemas who may have an audience more willing to pay. In my experience the smaller, regional cinemas are at least as expensive as the big city cinemas, even though rural salaries are typically lower.

Re:Better idea (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#42447181)

Where I live in Australia it costs around $17 per adult to see a movie at the cinema. The last movie I went to had around 8 people watching it. If they charged $5 per adult I bet there would have been a lot more people watching that movie (that may have also purchased overpriced crappy food from the candy bar).

It is ridiculous to expect $17 from someone to watch a shitty movie, considering the majority of movies pumped out these days are pretty terrible.

On the other hand, for shitty movies, its ridiculous to even contemplate watching them in a theater, no matter the price.
After all, that's what the "shitty rental movies Friday nights" are for (take 7 weeklies for $7, make fun of them from the leisure on your couch). I found the time for the today's movies to get into the weekly category is about 3-4 months from their launch in cinemas - good enough for me.

Another idea (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446607)

would be the Green Bay Packers model [] of community ownership. Keep the theater private but sell shares in the company; for $300 you would be part owner, and would be able to buy a subscription for either $15/month or get a $3 discount on individual tickets.

Re:Another idea (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446725)

would be the Green Bay Packers model [] of community ownership. Keep the theater private but sell shares in the company; for $300 you would be part owner, and would be able to buy a subscription for either $15/month or get a $3 discount on individual tickets.

How much would I have to pay to skip the ads?

They obviously aren't "modelling" too hard (2, Interesting)

rastoboy29 (807168) | about 2 years ago | (#42446651)

Wouldn't it be an even better idea to allow subscribers to see all the movies they want?  a) it sounds like a better deal for potential customers and b) they are still likely to purchase overpriced refreshments, which is the real cash cow of a movie theater.

Not to mention not having to track who has seen what.


Re:They obviously aren't "modelling" too hard (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 2 years ago | (#42446731)

What?!? Popcorn and soda isn't included? I already pay $20 with popcorn and soda.

Re:They obviously aren't "modelling" too hard (1)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | about 2 years ago | (#42446921)

This is my thing. If I was going to subscribe to a movie theater, I'd get to go as many times as I wanted. I wouldn't be locked into seeing the good shows only once. It would probably end up with more 'day pass' customers since you'd likely bring new friends with you on the subsequent visits.

Regardless on whether it's a good ideas for the theater though, it's the only way I'd ever even consider 'subscribing' to a theater. Make it like a bus-pass (unlimited rides) or forget about it.

Life as a service. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446675)

Life as a service. You don't own anything, you owe everyone.

Movie Theaters are dying for the same reason (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | about 2 years ago | (#42446723)

Payphone booths and arcades are. Plain and simple. Too many other options.

I only go to the movies for the latest releases (so few that are worth it). The big players will hang on. I almost think the small theaters are being run out by design - because the longer a movie is out, the bigger cut the theater gets from ticket sales which start out at 100% for the studios.

Today, people can buy 70" flat led screen for around $1900, an 83" Mitsubishi dlp for $1800 (92" for $2800). Rent 3-6 month old movies at Redbox for a little over a buck, stream it from Netflix, etc.

It's a shame, because of the whole going out of the house thing (although, since I only view Matinees where it's empty - any potential social value dwindles to nothing). Speaking of social value, the only theater that's been built in my growing area the last 10 years has been one that is a restaurant and where you can order real food. So, added value options may grow from being a novelty to the norm.

Who knows, with TVs getting cheaper and cheaper all the time, in 30 years, huge A/Ced and heated theaters that sit empty most of the time may have largely become a thing of the past except in places like Las Vegas or the planetariums.

I view the 3D thing as largely a play to stay relevant, and it's probably not working all that well. I'm sure some theater owners are praying for Avatar 2 and 3 to come out soon.

Re:Movie Theaters are dying for the same reason (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 2 years ago | (#42446755)

BTW, for those that say around $2k for a big TV is too much of an investment -- maybe if you're single. But once you have 2-3 kids, a theater experience is going to run $40+ in tickets alone, probably another $20 in food, and after a few trips, a home cinema is going to look damn cheap.

Re:Movie Theaters are dying for the same reason (1)

Delarth799 (1839672) | about 2 years ago | (#42447059)

With the price of tickets and concessions a family of 4 will probably spend roughly $100 going to the movie theater, maybe more depending on their location and if they go during matinee hours or not. Going just once a month for a year and that's most of the cost of the TV right there.

Re:Movie Theaters are dying for the same reason (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42447115)

I bet you whipped pussies used the same man maths on your wives too.

Re:Movie Theaters are dying for the same reason (4, Interesting)

bagboy (630125) | about 2 years ago | (#42446933)

This... > "So, added value options may grow from being a novelty to the norm................" We have a local theater that has for 10 years - offerred around 3-6 month out of date releases (and lots of indie films) for 3 bucks a ticket, You can order your meal (specialty pizzas, burritos, hot sandwiches) which is delivered to your table (every other row are tables instead of seats, you place your black-light sensitive cone at your spot), has it's own brewery and beer/wine bar in the back of the downstairs (in the theater) (balcony seating for those under 21 or unaccompanied by adults). 10 years later and it still has lines out the doors Friday - Sunday before showings. It's an awesome date/family event. They even have special events for bands and indie film events. This - is how a movie theater can stay relevant.

Re:Movie Theaters are dying for the same reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42447275)

Lets assume that the big 70" LCD TV is $2000.
Lets round up the $19.95 to $20.

That's 100 months (> 8 years) of going to the movies.

Now if you replace the 70" with a 83" in 5 years, then you never break even.

Then add in service costs for out of warranty repairs and outage time.

The $20/month subscription to a movie cinema for "see any number of movies once for $19.95" is a much better deal than buying your own big LCD TV.

Sounds Like A Good Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446737)

I wish there was something like this near me, I don't see a lot of movie but I would then. Put it near a friggin highschool you'd get a shitton of subscribers.

Why are their costs $60,000 a month? (1)

gozar (39392) | about 2 years ago | (#42446743)

I have a local 3 screen theater that shows first run movies for $5 (matinee is $4) and another small theater 15 miles away with one screen that is pretty cheap (can't remember ticket price off the top of my head though).

I couldn't imagine these theaters combined have gross receipts for a year coming close to $60,000, let alone having those costs per month.

The other theater is transitioning to digital soon, too.

Re:Why are their costs $60,000 a month? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 years ago | (#42446849)

I don't have the actual costing of a movie theatre but $60k/mo sounds reasonable:

Purchase of equipment (spread out over a few years - those digital projectors are expensive)

Staff costs. Peope don't come cheap. That includes staff actually running the theatre (operating the projector, manning the bar, checking tickets, etc), and administration staff.

Venue rental. Even in a mountain community that will be significant as a movie theatre needs a decent sized unit.

Movie rental. Those movies do not come for free, the movie makers want to be paid - either in part of revenue, or a flat fee, I don't know how that works but it'll amount to a significant cost.

And for your local theatre: say every screen attracts on average 100 people a day for all screenings combined, say that's 300 tickets a day, ticket price you say cheap so let's put it at $8 average, for a gross receipt of $2400 a day, or $72,000 a month, and $864,000 a year. That's before sales of food and drinks, and revenue from commercials played before the main movie.

New digital projectors may easily cost them a couple hundred thousand dollars, that's a big investment on such a turnover.

Why does it cost $60K to convert to digital? (1)

fsterman (519061) | about 2 years ago | (#42446749)

How the hell can this cost $60K? Even the highest resolution used on 70' screens is only 4096x2160. The only non off-the-shelf component would be the optical equipment, and couldn't they retrofit the optics of existing 35mm projectors?

Re:Why does it cost $60K to convert to digital? (1)

Alamais (4180) | about 2 years ago | (#42446767)

Yeah, I've never understood why there isn't a cheaper way to do digital projection. Why can't you make a 'digital film' that you can mount in front of an old projector's bulb? Might be pricey, but I'd think still way less than for a new digital theater projector. The local drive-in was begging for donations this past summer, so they could buy a new projector. All I can think is price gouging and/or collusion.

Re:Why does it cost $60K to convert to digital? (1)

fsterman (519061) | about 2 years ago | (#42446857)

And if you aren't paying for the cost to print the film, shouldn't it be cheaper for the theater owners in the long run? Wikipedia estimates the cost of a single 35mm print at ~$2,000. Even if they only showed 1 new movie/month, they would break even in 2.5 years. Anyone should be able to get a bank-loan based on that calculation. Hell, I am surprised the manufacturers don't offer financing.

Re:Why does it cost $60K to convert to digital? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42447027)

Theatre owners don't buy the prints. They rent them from distributors. The same print may play in several theatres, spreading out the lab costs among them. Any lab cost savings are kept by the "film" distributors. This does not benefit exhibitors in any way.

Re:Why does it cost $60K to convert to digital? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446829)

Don't you know that just any digital projector won't do, it has to be blessed with the movie studios' DRM schemes to play the new releases.

Re:Why does it cost $60K to convert to digital? (1)

CaptainLard (1902452) | about 2 years ago | (#42447311)

Couple of guesses off the top of my head...1) The market for movie theater projectors is much smaller than home projectors so you lose economies of scale. 2) to retrofit optics, there would have to be some standard to conform with so I see it as unlikely that the manufacturer will maintain backwards compatibility with a design that's probably 30 years old, also the light sources may be incompatible between film and digital 3) the warranties probably go above the 30 day manufacture defect one you get at best buy 4) You likely have to have a professional set it up and calibrated with specialized equipment. I can see that easily doubling the price of the hardware alone 5) training time for employees might be built in to the cost.

Re:Why does it cost $60K to convert to digital? (2)

rev0lt (1950662) | about 2 years ago | (#42447461)

The only non off-the-shelf component would be the optical equipment, and couldn't they retrofit the optics of existing 35mm projectors?

Actually, no. To get an actual watchable cinema screen, you need "professional" projector lamps, and those aren't "off the shelf", and they're more akin to vacuum tubes than to actual lamps (Xenon lamps). Keep in mind, color depth and fidelity is dictated by the quality of the lamp, even on a digital projector, and with a lifespan less than 1000 hours, they aren't cheap. Nor is the electricity. And if you use 35mm projectors, you'd need a 4k projector screen of the size of the 35mm frame - or complex optics to perform the upscaling/downscaling adjustment. A 4k cinema DLP []

Real Butter (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | about 2 years ago | (#42446763)

How about having actual butter for the popcorn? I can no longer get the overpriced popcorn at theatres, not just due to the shitty taste of the stuff but because the "popcorn topping" is full of MSG and consistently gives me a migraine headache right around the time we're heading home. It used to be "butter" then "butter flavor" and now they don't even pretend it's that. And guess what? It's not just me that doesn't buy it any more.

Popcorn popped in real vegetable oil, with real butter and salt will give off a smell that will draw tons of people out to get some even at movie theatre prices.

Re:Real Butter (2)

greatgreygreengreasy (706454) | about 2 years ago | (#42447079)

Our local theater just upgraded to digital, new sound system too. They pump up the volume so loud now that I can't bear to watch anything there anymore. But, they DO have real butter and salt, so we just grab the popcorn and take it home. Cheaper that way too. :)

Re:Real Butter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42447139)

MSG, poor baby.

Great job modeling the business plan (2)

joeflies (529536) | about 2 years ago | (#42446779)

Oakhurst, CA: Population 2829. Good luck getting 3000 paying customers.,_California []

Re:Great job modeling the business plan (1)

JDevers (83155) | about 2 years ago | (#42446837)

County population is 150,865 though.

Re:Great job modeling the business plan (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42447067)

I didn't check all of them, but at least the two largest communities in the country have multiple theaters and probably don't have much interest in paying to drive an hour to go to this one.

Grandpa Grumpy... (0)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | about 2 years ago | (#42446813)

I have good memories of movies 10-20 years ago.. the last movie I went to a theater to see was probably 3-4 years ago.. it was packed with insensitive chattering cell phone texting people who made the experience miserable. Sure you can call the usher or whoever and ask them to shut someone up but it seemed like there were more people texting and talking than were watching the movie.. so I decided to say screw the whole overpriced self-induced abuse mess. Screw movie theaters, Ill watch something on Netflix or Prime and save myself the harassment.

Probably not plausible (1)

sunking2 (521698) | about 2 years ago | (#42446815)

15% sounds great, but it's probably not attainable. $240/year per person is not very family friendly. And it's not very senior citizen friendly. I just don't see them hitting the number goals.

It's not "digital distribution" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446863)

It's not Film
It's Television

Re:It's not "digital distribution" (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446925)

I would tend to agree, but there are technical differences. A DCP (digital cinema package) is a frame sequence with a soundtrack. By contrast, a "video" signal contains blanking and sync information, which does not exist in D-cinema. So it isn't quite the same thing, but it still sucks compared to a good photochemical print.

this won't fly with the film distributors (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446911)

I book films for a local theatre. Unless there are major changes with film distribution terms, this won't fly. Films are rented to theatres with terms that require a minimum guarantee from the theatre versus a percentage of the boxoffice gross. For a first run title, the percentage will start high (think 90% or so) and drop each week until it gets to 35% or so. For a 90% title, the theatre gets $1 of your $10 ticket, and the distributor gets $9. Boxoffice reports are submitted daily and list the number of tickets sold for each price category and the total number of tickets sold and boxoffice take for the day for the film in question.

There is no way that a subscription pricing model would work under standard film rental terms, since there is no standard ticket price on which to base the percentages. Any theatre that tried this without first convincing the film distributors to all change their business models (ha!) would never be able to get films to show. This is an industry that does not really like innovation and which is reluctant to change a business model that has worked well (more or less) for the last hundred years (or so).

The D-cinema thing is an entirely different issue. Cost is about $60k per screen for the projector and server, assuming that a sound system already exists for 35mm and can be (mostly) re-used for D-cinema. Only DCI-compliant equipment can be used--this is not the same thing as a regular off-the-shelf video projector, as it contains specific crypto hardware to make movie piracy difficult (no doubt it will be cracked eventually, however). No one is actually forcing this conversion at the moment, so 35mm film is still viable for the time being. This conversion process has been discussed for the last ten years or so, but has only really started to speed up over the last two.

It won't work. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446935)

I have managed theaters for two large chains. Frankly the concept of a movie theater is dead meat. The hang on, improve and survive executives simply have lost the battle.
                    Early on the theaters were huge. The cost of admission was trivial. Theaters relied on candy, popcorn and sodas as well as more complete menus the further back one goes. That was the profit gimmick. One need not make a penny on film if one sells enough food. Sadly theaters lost the ability to serve decent snack food as management types cut back on food expenses and quality. That alone was enough to kill the industry but inflation and the invention of TV and then cable were the death songs of the theater industry. One can easily have a first rate movie experience at home and the cost is trivial as it is wrapped in bundled services. For about $5. per day i can have thousands of movies and shows, my phone service and a high speed net connection that dwarfs a wired connection and use these features all day, every day. For another buck or so my home alarm service can also come by cable. Compared to that why would i go to a theater?

Haven't gone in years (1)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | about 2 years ago | (#42446957)

I haven't gone to the movies in years.

I remember prices for tickets were like $12-$16 or so in Australia and New Zealand per adult. And that's before you even add in the stupid overpriced cost of popcorn and coke, etc.

Combined with the fact there's very good movies coming out anymore, whats the honest point? I can see why movie theatres/cinema's are going broke.

Re:Haven't gone in years (1)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | about 2 years ago | (#42446963)

very few* good movies coming out anymore.

Re:Haven't gone in years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42447289)

Regular adult ticket prices in NZ are pretty high. I retired to NZ 6 years ago, and my wife and I like to go to see movies on the big screen. (We don't have ths same streaming options that Americans have.) There is one cinema in town which has 9 theatres. We have seen prices go up from $12 to $15 in that time, which pinches. Fortunately old folks get a break of $9.50 senior prices. I really don't like the $3 premium they put on 3D movie tickets, which makes it $18 for a regular ticket. (3D glasses are additional).
I also don't like that there are no free refills on popcorn.

We go typically once a week, and sometimes more. In recent years, we have seen some really excellent films that we will remember forever. I disagree that no good films are being made today. Of course, our cinema does not just show the US blockbusters. We see films from Sweden, France, Finland, UK, all over. It's great. If you think none of the films being made are good, then your local provider is letting you down by not showing them.

Bill Gates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42446975)

I know that Gates is devoting his MS wealth to his various philanthropic causes, but what about all the other tech billionaires out there looking for something to spend their wealth on besides NFL teams, private space missions, yachts and private jets. Have any of them considered being the cultural angels of (selected) towns? It could be a lot of fun for them, they'd be the program directors in return for (presumably) operating at a loss.

Re:Bill Gates (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 2 years ago | (#42447141)

I don't get it. You want billionaires to rescue theaters under the guise of some "cultural" value to everyone packing theaters to watch Meet the Spartans and the Fockers?

Guess this depends on the number of screens (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#42447001)

If we are talking a movie theater with 6 screens, then sure, sounds like a great deal if you like going to movies. At least that way you are going to get a variety of different movies in, if we are talking 1 or 2 screens, then no, sounds like a rip off, seeing as you probably won't get more then 3 or 4 movies a month.

Now the problem with movie theaters is the Movie Industry takes too big of a cut of the ticket sales, without giving back. Considering they are taking in most the profit, they should be doing the refitting to digital, if that is how they are going to be distributing them.

I find movies going to be a horrible experience unless you are talking a very old theater with 1 screen. I'd much rather watch stuff at home, sure on a smaller screen, but cheaper food, I'm free to drink/smoke and be in my underwear. If i have to go to the bathroom, I can pause it.

I try not to contribute to the Movie Industries profits anyways, since not only do they not put stuff into public domain, but since they treat customers like criminals, on the hunt for "supposed" profit, while doing tricky accounting to make sure the actors, producers, etc on a film doesn't make any profit either.

Supply and demand? (5, Insightful)

_Shorty-dammit (555739) | about 2 years ago | (#42447025)

Why is that movie theaters seem to be about the only business that not only doesn't understand or even attempt to follow supply and demand with their pricing of both the attractions and the food, but seem to publicly admit that they don't think supply/demand makes sense? If nobody wants to buy something I'm selling, the price is too high. Any sane person in the world would lower their price. That's the whole idea behind supply and demand. But what do movie theaters do? Jack up the price even more, and claim that they need to do so to survive. On what crazy planet does that even begin to make sense?

Popcorn is CHEAP. Why would you charge $7 for it and then complain that nobody buys it?

Sodas are CHEAP. Why would you charge $5 for it and then complain that nobody buys it?

I don't know about theaters around the country, but where I live we have "cheap nights" on Tuesdays, where movie tickets are a good deal cheaper than usual. And typically the theaters are packed full on that night. Every other night? You could count patrons in a given theater without running out of digits on your hands/feet. And even *THAT* doesn't tell theater owners that their regular prices are too high?! Your theaters are packed full on cheap nights because the price is easier to swallow. It shouldn't cost a family of four over $80 to go have a movie night, yet that's exactly what it cost a friend of mine to take his family to a movie on the weekend. Hell, it cost me and a friend, just two of us, almost $50 to go see 48 fps Hobbits a couple weeks ago. Almost $50 for two tickets and one popcorn/drink/chocolate combo. That's way too much money, and that is exactly the reason movie theaters are struggling, yet they just don't get it.

Supply and demand. This is an insanely old concept that pretty much everyone seems to understand. Except movie theater owners. WHY?!

Look at video games, and Valve's Steam store in particular. They've publicly discussed a few times over the past few years how they have seen insane increases in revenue whenever they have big sales on games, on the order or 40x increase in revenue in one case! Here's what I think was the first article discussing it back in 2009: []

Movie theaters' own cheap nights prove that supply and demand is warranted in their market, just like any other. If they would lower prices of everything, tickets and refreshments/food, they'd see way more people, and way more money, come their way. If only they'd take their heads out of their asses.

Re:Supply and demand? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42447297)

Popcorn is CHEAP. Why would you charge $7 for it and then complain that nobody buys it?

Sodas are CHEAP. Why would you charge $5 for it and then complain that nobody buys it?

It's always been a truism among fast food joints that they make their profits from selling soda. Movies and ballparks make their money in concessions. Of course these items are overpriced - they are losing money or breaking even on the main event, which they have to hold the line on to avoid sticker shocking their potential customers. They are banking on the fact that customers are not perfectly rational and do not budget their outings to the last dollar and avoid impulse purchases like popcorn and drinks, especially when Dad is paying for a party of six.

We saw the same type of commentary with record stores. It's easy to sit back and say that everyone is incompetent. Of course some are going to be incompetent, but if many are all going out of business then there must be some external factor(s) in play.

You answered your own question (2, Insightful)

raymorris (2726007) | about 2 years ago | (#42447443)

Why don't they lower the prices, you asked. You then mentioned they do lower the prices, especially on Tuesday. Weekdays cost less than weekend nights. A movie without popcorn costs a lot less than one with popcorn. Their web site has coupons. You can spend $5 going to the movie, or $25.
Theatres are very good at letting you spend as much or as little as you want. Some people will spend $25 or more for Saturday night ticket, candy, and large soda. The theatres have pricing where they'll accept that $25 from those people. They ALSO sell to the $5 crowd, on weekdays.

Interesting idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42447095)

It is an interesting idea and I will be interested to see if it works. Personally, I probably wouldn't go for it. Few movies grab my attention enough for me to head out to a theatre. But I do know people who go a couple of times a month. For those folks this would probably be a good deal. instead of, say, two $15 tickets each month they could get away with a $20/month pass. It would save them over a hundred dollars a year.

Why? (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 2 years ago | (#42447125)

Movie theaters serve absolutely no purpose, except as a gate through which films must pass as a delay to everyone else watching them. Unless you absolutely have to watch a movie the month it comes out, there's no reason to deal with the costs, the sticky floors, the shitty seats, the noisy assholes, the crying children, the lines, the driving there and back, the parking, the treats. Save all the money and save making it an all-night event and just watch shit at home. Maybe that wasn't feasible in the 90s, but 50" and 65" HD televisions are common place, movies are cheap to buy or rent, and the sound system that you'd want to experience could be covered after the years of money you'd save from seeing films in theaters and all the associated costs (even if you only payed $20/mo for some subscription).

Frankly, let 'em die out and lets get on with same-day-everywhere-releases.

Besides, at $20 and you can only see each film one time? You'd need three movies to make up for just the savings on tickets and there aren't three movies worth seeing in the theater every month.

Re:Why? (1)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | about 2 years ago | (#42447291)

Without movie theatres, the movie studios would merely be television stations without a channel.

tiered pricing (1)

technosaurus (1704630) | about 2 years ago | (#42447143)

It would make sense to use a supply and demand model and start movies off at a set starting price and raise/lower the price based on attendance. More than half the seats filled (or some other threshold), raise it $1 or vice versa. Once the movie gets down to $1 (or free) it gets replaced with a different one. This model would allow for more people to afford them and even if there was a free showing, at least the studios don't get a cut of the vending revenue, so it may even be more profitable.

If the pricing depended on how many tickets were already purchased for a given showing, it would reduce overcrowding on opening weekends while maximizing profit.

"Lets go see if there is a free movie worth watching... Crap! Those all suck. Oh well, we are already here, wanna watch something anyways?"

Cineplex (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42447239)

I recall Cineplex also has something similar because some of the movies listed says "No Passes." I assume this is the subscription-based movies. I also noticed that these movies will eventually loose that particular status. However, as you might have guessed from the wording, subscribers cannot watch these movies for the first X weeks from first public showing.

Subscription based X = bug not feature (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 2 years ago | (#42447263)

A certain (IMHO evil) business philosophy will always, with **certainty**, try to take something that people purchase and own indefinitely and make it a 'subscription-based service''s 100% predictable and not in any way 'innovative' or 'new'

It's just feature's how drug dealers (and drug companies) make their money and it's ruining tech.

If TFA is correct and the theater is in demand in the community and fails anyway, it is **bad business practices** that caused the theater to 'innovation' needed, just a person with the business sense of any stall shopkeeper in an Asian market.

American business has gotten so twisted, many businesspeople and investors really can't conceive of making a profit by any other means than the 'software as service' model. I have seen real, capital building business concepts laughed at in tech settings.

Subscription goal has been met (5, Interesting)

nrozema (317031) | about 2 years ago | (#42447267)

This is my local theater.

Last night they announced that they hit the 3,000 subscriber mark they were shooting for and will make a go at opening.

I wish them the best, though I think there are still some very big questions to be answered about the viability of the business model. Will the studios go along with it? Will subscriptions _remain_ high enough after the buzz fades away to be a viable business? I hope so, but only time will tell. The local economy is almost entirely tourism based, and their model effectively shuts out tourists who I think will be reluctant to shell out $16 for a day pass - so long-term local support is essential.

Re:Subscription goal has been met (2)

Shoten (260439) | about 2 years ago | (#42447447)

From the article:

James Nelson, 30, a life coach who defines his specialty as "figuring out how to make the impossible possible," was driving back from a wealth-training seminar when his wife told him about the theater going under.

This sounds to me like they're doomed. A 30-year-old life coach, freshly back from a "wealth-training" (aka "get rich quick") seminar when his wife tells him about this. I'm sorry, but this guy at first blush sounds like he's got no real business acumen. So I think nrozema is spot-on...sure, they have the subscribers now while the buzz is up and everyone's afraid to lose their theater. But what happens after they realize that they're all paying $20/ticket to see movies, when tourists don't go to see movies there, or if they'll be unable to get movies far enough ahead of Netflix/Redbox/cable/piracy to keep their customers?

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