Cuban: Movie Theater Woes

Mark Cuban (yes, that Mark Cuban) offers up a good blog post/manifesto on the decline of movie theater ticket sales and how to address.
His short answer: Let everyone watch what they want, when and where they want- but at a premium. I’m not sure this helps the movie theater owner but agree they need to step up the experience.

Here are some additional ideas:

SkyBox Seating – people will pay a premium, just like they do for business or first-class tickets. I can see this being used for kids parties and more- maybe even corporate entertaining if the event is right just like a stadium event.

Cry Rooms – We amped up our home theater to HD and an improved surround-sound system for one main reason: Baby. We cannot get out to the theaters. Who wants to spend a stress-laden night with their child jabbering the whole way through the movie? One of our local theaters has outfitted a soundproof cry-room next to the projector room. Unfortunately they only have one screen.

Day Care – Let’s face it- baby sitters are hard to find and matinees are rarely sold out. It works at the Gym, Ikea, and our local grocery store. The lumbering Ferries in Greece even had a kid’s play room. Why not offer an accredited day-care service?

Schwag – People love free stuff. A movie poster, t-shirt, book, bobble-head etc.- they’ll clamor over stuff for their favorite movies. Some Sci-Fi franchises used to do this with local radio personalities. Teens in particular collect movie posters and marketing material like life-sized cutouts. Why not do a better job of recognizing your customers have a choice in whether they wait a few short months to watch at home, or come in to sit in your plushy seats. Work with the studios to offer up free cheap stuff to make them feel wanted. Sorry, a mint and a thank you from some pimply-faced kid with an “iPod stare” on his/her face isn’t going to do it. Sporting events figured this out a long time ago.

Retail tie-ins – Someone will figure out a way to get customers an instant discount on DVD/HD-DVD movie purchases as they’re coming out of a good movie for pre-orders. Partner with Best Buy, Amazon or another retailer to offer a simple way to preorder the DVD movie for their collection. Oh and get rid of your own membership programs- tie them into Best Buy or another retailer and a solid recommendation engine with value.

Soundtrack downloads – Get a discount or digital download of the movie soundtrack through a music service tie-in.

I’m sure there are other ideas out there as well.

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