Going to see a movie at the theater has always been an experience. However, over the past several years that experience has been taken to an entirely different level. These days you can get food and beverage service at your seat or sit in an oversized recliner. You can sip a cocktail at the theater’s bar or sprinkle several different seasonings on your popcorn. You can reserve your exact seat ahead of time or rack up points on your theater rewards card. Yes, people who work in the cinema industry have seemed to have done everything possible to make watching a movie in the theater a desirable entertainment option.
Well, not everything.
As someone who goes to the movie theater more than your average American, I have a few suggestions on how a night at the cinema could be enhanced even more. In tonight’s blog post, I give you my five ways to improve the movie theater experience.
List Actual Start Times – It goes without saying that the previews before the feature presentation have spiraled out of control. Depending on the theater, the “upcoming attractions” could last anywhere from 15-30 minutes. Because of this ambiguity, the start time on the ticket is worthless. If the movie is supposed to start at 6 p.m., does that mean it will really start at 6:15 p.m. or 6:30 p.m.? For those of us trying to plan and who are completely okay with missing the previews, an honest answer of when the movie will actually start would be very much appreciated. I propose that in parenthesis after the “official” start time, there is also a time listed of when the feature film will actually begin. If the movie started at 8:30 p.m. and previews lasted for 25 minutes, it would be noted like this: 8:30 p.m. (8:55).
Cell Phone Areas – Sometimes when watching a movie, there is an absolute necessity to respond to a text message or check your email. For those of us who are considerate enough to not take out our phone for everyone to see the annoying glow, there should be another option. I propose that theaters install modest areas at each corner in the auditorium for theater patrons to go to. If you know what an Old Navy dressing room kiosk looks like (small space with a curtain), this is what I am envisioning for the auditoriums. People could politely walk inside the “in-theater device area” and check their phone while not annoying other guests and, most importantly, not missing any of the movie.
Opt Out Option – We have all experienced that feeling. You sit down to watch a movie and within 10 minutes you know it is not for you. Deciding on whether to sit through a movie you aren’t going to like or to walk out and basically throw away $11 is a common dilemma. I would encourage theaters to give us another option. How cool would it be for cinema management to give us 30 minutes to decide? After the half hour is up, patrons can make the final choice to either watch the rest of the film or opt out. If the choice to opt out is made, the customer can choose to pay half price for a different movie along as it starts within the next hour. It makes going to a movie you aren’t so sure about much less of a gamble.
Community Chat – Have you ever had that experience before? I am talking about when you sit through an incredible movie and you seem to bond with the packed house of strangers watching it with you. The bond that establishes is real! I think it would be a great idea for one of the major movie chains to start putting a unique code on the back of each ticket. That code would be inserted by the movie patron into an app designed by the chain. Once the code is punched in, the customer would be connected to a message board forum. Within that forum would be everyone else from that specific showing of the film that also inserted the code. From there, the dialogue would take off. Attendees could discuss the film, give feedback on maintenance that needs to be done in the auditorium, and call out rude people. The forum would not go live until the final credits started to roll. Who knows, this could possibly turn into the first ever movie theater social media dating app!!
Ticket Stamp Graphic – After I watch a movie in the theater, I usually take a photo of my ticket and post it to Instagram along with a short review. I think it would be an awesome idea for movie theaters to send a personalized graphic to the mobile device of each attendee at the end of the film celebrating the fact that they watched the movie. It could be a fun and engaging design that would contain elements on both the movie watched and the theater visited. How could this not be a genius marketing move for the theaters? The ticket stamp graphic would give complete control to the cinema to put its creative twist on it. It would be a perfect mix of an “I Voted” sticker and a Snapchat geofilter. I would absolutely share to social media (and this blog) the graphic that would be sent my way.
Let me say this: I love going to the movies! But because I enjoy them so much, it makes me think that much more about what can be done to improve the experience. These five ideas I mentioned could be very easily implemented. What do you think? Don’t Blink.