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They are right on the money IMO.

It's bad enough you have to pay the high prices, and then the movie may suck. But I'll be damned if I have to put up with other inconsiderate jerks who talk loud, leave their idiot phones on with their stupid musical ringtones, bring their horrid little noisemaker babies along(seriously, the baby isn't having a good time with you) and their little brat kids too who make you move 10 times so they can go back and forth between the arcade games and the concession stand.

Control the troublemakers
Keep the cell phone jerks out
Keep the babies out
Keep the little brats in their damn seats
Cut out at least some of the damn advertisements

and I may consider going back. I don't expect the concession stand prices to be changed, but the rest of the stuff(OK maybe not the advertisements) can be controlled and monitored to make it enjoyable for everyone. Do that, and I may just go a lot more. Otherwise, I'm going to wait a bit, and enjoy a better and cheaper experience at home with DVDs.

Adam Fields

I somewhat agree with the above. I like previews, actually, and in NYC, at least, it seems they've done away with the actual advertisements this summer.

My list:

Give up the hard sell on unhealthy food. I recently ordered a small popcorn at the movies, and it was literally 2 cups of popcorn. How much was it? Only a quarter less than the medium, which was roughly 3-4 times as much. If you rip me off and limit my choices to things that are going to kill me, I'm less likely to come back.

Clean the theaters. Self-explanatory.

Repair the seats. Also self-explanatory.

Bring back matinees and second-run theaters/nights.

Oh, and yeah - make better movies. The last movie I saw in the theaters that I was really happy with was Sin City. Before that, it may have been Return of the King.

Nashville TN

Carmike cinemas needs to regularly and thoroughly clean their seats. The seats here even in good relatively new theaters stink of a combination of lingering farts & sweat.

It also wouldn't hurt if they would move into the 1990s and have computer kiosk ticket pickup/purchase.

I really wish IMAX would release more movies in their format. I saw Batman Begins in the local one and it was a satisfying experience, but slightly too expensive since they raised their rates 15% recently.


1. Prices
Though I don't expect it to change, there's no point in paying for two people to watch a movie at the same price the dvd will cost in 4 months. I use to work at a theatre and they absolutely wallet rape you on concessions as well. Popcorn is bought in 50 lb. bags where I worked and profit is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000% if not more. And please don't try to justify this on butter and salt. Lower the prices and I might not sneak in my own candy and 20 oz. drink.

2. Control Comment Shouters
Don't be afraid to ban these people that shout every comment they have. Either their business will be lost, or the business of 5 quiet customers will be lost by not wanting to return.

Cleanliness really isn't a problem nor is children in my local theater. But I usually go to matinees where the theatre was cleaned the night before and the kids are at the school or pool.

Some ideas:

- A day-care type area where parents can drop off their young kids (they'd be supervised, and maybe they can even be shown kids' films); this way, the parents wouldn't have to find a babysitter, and they wouldn't need to bring in young kids to R-rated movies.

- Do double-features of slightly older films, charging the same price as you would for one brand-new film (this way, you discourage theater-jumping while increasing concession sales). Some potential double-bills from recent films include Hitchhiker's Guide and Robots, Unleashed and Kung-Fu Hustle, Sin City and Layer Cake, Amityville Horror and House of Wax, Monster-in-Law and Miss Congeniality 2, Kingdom of Heaven and Sahara, and The Pacifier and Kicking and Screaming. I know that discount theaters do this sort of thing, but I never seem to find discount theaters around where I live anymore...

- Put trailers for currently-playing smaller films in front of blockbusters - that way, people who don't search for independent/foreign films will actually get to hear about some of them before they come out on DVD.

- Have more varieties of food at concession stands - a lot of adults might want something healthier then popcorn, giant sodas, hot dogs, and candy.

- Make deals with local restaurants, so that people can get deals on going out to eat and seeing a movie.

- Have areas which sell things such as DVDs, movie soundtracks, posters, etc (this could bring in additional revenue, so the theaters wouldn't need to run commercials beforehand).

- Give discounts to frequent movie-goers (maybe sell monthly passes, or do something where you get your tenth film free after paying for nine).

Lisa Williams

I had no idea their foreign policy columnist also doubled as a movie reviewer!

Rob Owen

Movie companies are blaming internet pirates on sagging movie sales but they should remember that most resposible ppl would like to see movies in the theater with surround sound and the large screen than trying find the movie online to download, spending days downloading it only to have the quality to be deminish so greatly that it is unwatchable. But you have have to remember when studio's release pics such as 'Saraha' which cost over $130 million to make and it stinks, they blame pirates. Star Wars didn't have a problem making money, nor did Mr. & Mrs. Smith or Madagascar. Make better movies keep prices reasonable and people will go back to the theaters. Most new releases go in my NetFlix Que because it is not worth the money to spend at the theaters to see when I can buy it in 4 months if I like it for the same price as a double admission at the the theater.


Wow, a lot of good comments on this one.
I absolutely agree that step one is bringing back ushers. Mean ones. Retired security guard veteran with a wooden leg and a scary twitch. The main reason I go to movies anymore is because I just HAVE to see a movie on the big screen. Then, of course I go just to be disappointed because of all the rude people there. I have been asking for ushers for years

-I love the daycare idea. It'll never happen because of liability reasons, but I can dream. You could give parents a vibrating pager in case of problems.

-I like the second run/double feature ideas.

-Start sticking to an actual start time for movies. Start scheduling an approx. beginning and ending time. That would make it a lot easier for people to plan their evening. If tv networks can plan their lineup down to the half second, I think they could handle one feature film and a few trailers worth of math.

-I like the idea of selling merchandise in the theater, but let's take it a step further. How about marketing deals? There will soon be only a few big theater chains in the country, so one makes a deal with WB, one with Sony, one with Disney. Each of those companies have their own corporate stores, so just start building them into theaters. Theater gets rent and maybe a cut of profits and the companies get a lot of foot traffic.

-I know that ticket prices won't drop. They just won't. So, again, since there are a few big chains out there, they need to start a reward program of some sort. Stamp cards and the like are a pain and impossible to manage, but how about an online club where people can buy tickets and get credit towards free tickets or some merchandise from those corporate stores I mentioned. This means real rewards NOT FREE POPCORN WITH PURCHASE OF GALLON OF POP!



READ THESE POSTS! That is what the movie theatre owners should do. Are they so stupid that they don't realize there are a ton of people "out there" that love movies? Its not the evil pirates that are hurting ticket sales. Its bad movies, high prices, lack of variety, junk food, rude people and lousy seating. I simply wait to watch indy films now with netflix. Hey, instead of putting Star Wars (great film btw) on 6 screens every 10 minutes, why not put a good indy film on just one of those screens, or a matinee. Idiots.


In Austin, we've got a great option to solve this problem, Alamo Drafthouse [http://www.drafthouse.com], which had a strict 18 and over policy (except on Tuesday - "baby days"), in part because they serve a full menu with beer and wine.


I agree with the idea of baby days------either that, or ban kids under 6 years of age, so that moms who have them can rent a video or a DVD and see the thing at home. Some people send kids to the flix alone, so if an usher wanted them to leave because of their noise, where would these very young kids go in the absence of a parent? In any event,I'm totally opposed to the current sentimental BS that says babies ought to be welcome anywhere at any time. Babies are a noisy pain and their noise cannot be controlled by ushers--another amenity BTW that theaters need to bring back if I'm going to visit them more often.

I work at a theatre and most of these things are done. One off year happens every decade or so big deal. Three years running with over a billion in grosses hasnt happened in ages. More advertisements are coming. All digital projection is coming (next year). Cell phone jamming isnt legal. Keeping kids out isnt legal in all states but most chains have some sort of policy to help with this.Most of the ushers at my theatre are lazy kids but arent they all nowadays?

The quality of the films is the only important thing. Digital will help with this greatly.


stop torturing us with 15 minutes of coming attractions and ads. pay US to watch them, then i'll come back. or show them at the end.

As much as I would enjoy joining the griping, one of this will bring back the audiences. Movie theaters are simply dying for many reasons that have nothing to do with these gripes.

Younger kids have been the meat and potatoes of theaters for decades. yeah 30 to 50 year olds go, but not in enough number or often enough to be but a fraction of the theater business. now days the younger core audience is much more used to controlling their expereince. thee 30 to 50 year olds are renting dvd's, and the youndger kids are savvy to p2p in ways that would shock everyone here.

Cheap and direct distribution from the content producers/studios to a device for home is the wave of the future.

I don't think that as many kids are aware and know how to properly use p2p as you estimate.

I'm sure there are plenty that do it. But if you really think about it, would the kids who are stealing these movies online really have gone to the theatre to watch the movie anyway? I know when I actually wanted to go out all the time, there is no way I would have stayed home to watch a crappy resolution movie on my PC by myself as opposed to going out with friends or my girlfriend. The nerds who stay home and use those kinds of sharing programs are either poor, cheap, or do not usually make the effort to go out anyway, so I doubt they are as big a part of the equation as you think.


The thing I hate the most about the movies, are the 20 minutes of commercials/previews I have to sit through before I can finally watch the movie. So, If I get to the theater for a 10pm showing (so I can get a good seat etc), the actual movie doesn't start until 10:20pm. This is just bizarre. Why in the world would I make it a habit of paying to watch commercials along with the movie... the answer is I will not.



The reason people are not going to films are the lack of quality movies. PERIOD. All the other reasons are secondary.


Movie theaters are a part of the evolution of movies. They have outlasted their usefulness and will fade away.


coincidentally, i went to a talk by brad bird (director of the incredibles et al) on just this topic a few months ago. he said that everyone's to blame for the decline in theater attendance: the studios, the exhibitors, the media, and theatergoers. you can read my write-up of it here: http://www.sfist.com/archives/2005/04/27/sfiff_brad_birds_state_of_cinema_address.php ... here's a summary of what he said needed to happen to fix things:
- no more ads before movies
- make moviegoing an Experience, like it used to be, with gimmicks and special stuff that you can't get at home
- stop publishing box office returns (so that people stop going to see crappy movies just because they're #1, which really has no relation to quality)
- maintain good auditoriums with clean, bright screens
- no more pan & scan in theaters (amazingly, some theaters actually crop widescreen films)
- let studios own theaters (they'll be better at it than exhibitors are now)
- preserve old movie houses


Abrasive, noisy attendees and their out of control or underaged kids are definately an issue. The overpriced food is not, that's something I can ignore. The thing that's becoming my number one complaint is all of the friggin advertisements. This happened gradually over time and was insideous. Now we are saddled with 20 (yes, twenty) full minutes of television type ads before the previews even begin. I have cut back drastically on my theatre-going. I would much prefer to watch a dvd at home on my large screen surround sound system. And now, with the technology of such systems appearing in more and more homes, it's just a matter of time before theatres start going out of business. Trust me, just a matter of time.
You want me back in the theatre? Do away with the ads and gain some control over the audiences, when needed.


Hollywood wrecked the movies to some degree. I mean how many remakes are they going to bombard us with? I don't have a desire to rush to see Bewitched, the Honeymooners, Dukes of Hazard, and Herbie the Luv Bug on the big screen.

I get tired of having to step on sticky floors when walking to my seat. I should not have to over pay for snacks. I mean I can buy Twizzlers from WalMart for 1.00 bigger size even!!! They charge $3.00 to $4.00 for the same size I buy at WalMart. What a rip.

It's bad enough I have to see commercials at home, I should not have to see them in the movie cinema!!!!


Ask Hollywood to maybe lower the prices of the film rentals. This would allow the theaters to lower their ticket prices, as well as concession prices, etc. Also they could spend more money on frills like ushers and digital projectors and better cleaning.

The reason the theaters have to run advertising and charge $40 for a bucket of popcorn is because the rental of the films themselves are just astromical. They pay out the ass whether the film is a hit or not (though they pay less for films that don't look quite as likely to be profitable) and so when the film flops, they take in less money, but they've paid a ton up front.

If Hollywood could be just a tad less greedy, it would free the theaters to be a bit more generous. But at the moment, they've got to find ways to generate revenue any way they can, because it's costing them a fortune just to maintain their current (shoddy) level of performance.

Having said all that, I wouldn't count on Hollywood to lend a hand anytime soon. At least with theaters they're guaranteed a certain amount of money back on their movies from the rentals, even if the films themselves fail miserably (as more and more seem to, these days).

Bottom line is that the theaters are doing what they have to to survive and that the cost of that survival is inevitably passed along to us, the moviegoers. It's one of the reasons that people are beginning to turn away from Hollywood and seek entertainment elsewhere; we're paying out the ass for bad product. With a business model like that, it's no wonder people would rather stay home.


Just saw Mr & Mrs Smith over the weekend at Cinemark Plano, TX and there were 10 commercials shown before the 5 trailers (which are commercials too - but at least I like those.) Seeing a movie that has all that junk before it, trapped in a seat, is bad news and makes me gun-shy about seeing my next film - which sux cuz I love movies!


1. Do it up like Chicago's Brew and View (http://www.brewview.com/)
2. No Kids under 8 in an R movie, especially if they're still in a Carrier
3. Bring back older run movies or double features. DirecTV is doing this now.
4. Lower prices of food and size, Who needs a gallon of soda for a 2 hour movie. Free Refills!


Get rid of the ads and turn down the ear-shattering sound and I'll be back.


There's nothing they can do. Once they showed an ad it was over. I haven't been in about a year. I have a huge plasma screen at home. I dim the lights. I pop my own popcorn. Utter silence. No distractions. No ads, No trailers. Pause when I've got to go pee. I download all the movies for free.

Why on earth would I go to the movie theatre???


1. Proper projection - get trained projectionist - not tell some kid to flip a switch.
2. Check on the film to make sure focus, light, sound is still fine.
3. Proper volume - the most common problem I've had next to out-of-focus flicks is rampant distortion. This ain't the back of your boom boxen car, proper volume levels - maintained by sampling mikes - would go a long way.
4. Cleaner venues, better seats, cheaper prices ($7 for a 11am matinee???), c ourteous staff, most of what people have already stated


5. Produce quality flicks that are worth watching. There's been maybe 5 movies in the last 1 1/2 really worth seeing - crap in, crap out.

5a. More G-rated fare that isn't insulting to the kids or the parents - moratoreum on poo-poo jokes, TV cartoon characters, TV tweeners and Disney



I remember the days when there used to be one good movie coming out that I just had to see. Maybe I wouldn't see it the first week. But I would definitely catch it.

Now, I will see a preview that looks decent, and the next thing I know is that it's on DVD because newer movies took its place. "What? That movie was in the theater? It was only out for two weeks."

Also, the over abundance of movies causes theaters to cut show times. Instead of being able to have 3 theaters with the same movie, so they can play it every 45 min. They have to cut it to 2 theaters, making the start times every 1 hr and 15 min. If a movie doesn't start at the right time, I'm not going to see it.

I just went to a theater for the first time in I don't know how long last night. While I was sitting there, I figured out why I stopped going to the theatre - I've gotten used to watching movies in my home theatre.

I wonder if this isn't the real reason people are going less often. Never before have we had an alternative that's better than going to a theater, and in many respects the home experience is just bettter - you're not a captive for two hours - you're in control.


Where I am living, we had the crappiest theatres for the longest time. Overly priced, 30 minutes of commercials, dirty, with pretty bad picture and sound quality. I barely ever went to the movies, it was such an unpleasent experience.

Then, just over a year ago, a new theatre was built. This one seems to have conquered most of what is driving everyone crazy:
-Ticket prices are pretty low, and a real steal for matinees(something like five bucks for an adult ticket).
-Consession stand prices are pretty good, too
-The theatres are almost spotless, I don't know how they keep them so clean.
-The commercials run before the movie's start time. So if the film is supposed to start at 7:00, the commercials will run in a cycle from 6:30 to 7:00, before the lights go down, so most people just chat and ignore them. Then there will be about 10 minutes of just coming attractions at 7:00, then the film.
-The picture and sound quality are amazing (maybe it's digital)
-The teens that work there are, for the most part, well trained and polite.
I think that with these good practices, this theatre has most of the town's moviegoers coming to it, so it is able to keep them up. I know I go to the movies multiple times per month now.

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