I’m sure I’m not the first person to predict the demise of the traditional movie theatre, and I’m sure they won’t completely go away in the near future. However, I am seeing a big trend of consumers who are going to the movie theatre less and less, and I’m joining them.
This Christmas, my dad purchased a new, massive, flat-panel TV. I’ve no idea what size, exactly, but it’s a good sized one. He’s already got a surround sound system, and now has his laptop hooked up via HDMI cable, and is setting up a Netflix account. The only parts that I suggested was the HDMI cable and the Netflix. The rest he did on his own. He’s built his own home theatre. My parents also don’t have cable TV, and probably never will.
Flat-panel TV prices are dropping, and they stand to drop a bit more. At the same time, home broadband connections are getting faster, and consumers are getting smart. If the movie theatre companies were smart, they would be looking to help consumers make this transition even easier.
I went to the movies last night, and saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Terrible movie, it’s basically 3 hours of nothing happening. It cost me and Mrs. Guru $17.50 to see the movie. It was advertised to start at 6:50pm, but the actual movie did not begin until 7:11pm (I kept track). That’s 21 minutes of not just trailers for other movies, but 2 features on the same TNT show, a few other cable network plugs, 2 reminders to turn my phone on silent, and 3-4 other miscellaneous commercials.
I also recently had the opportunity to watch my first movie in Blu-Ray, on a new TV designed to take advantage of the visual superiority. The quality was miles beyond what you see in the theatre, and I could pause/rewind the movie. Home theatres also eliminate ads and the opportunity for someone else’s phone or baby to ruin my movie. Today’s movie theatre projectors simply aren’t designed to take advantage of newer high-definition technology, and I really can’t see the benefit to going to the movie theatre anymore.
It’s interesting that such a perceived social activity as going to the movie theatre is being isolated back to the home, and in a more enjoyable way. I say perceived because you’re not supposed to talk, so you might as well be sitting there alone.
What can the movie theatres do? They need to figure out a way to partner with Netflix and other home theatre-related companies to somehow generate revenue from home viewers. I know I won’t be going back to a regular movie theatre – voluntarily – for a long, long while.