Sink or Swim: An Industry in Need of a PR Change

Written by: Nikki Stetzler, AAE of Cornerstone Pie

Pricey tickets. Long lines. Rude people. And cellphones. This is what the movie theater’s reputation has been reduced to in the digital era.

Thanks to online streaming services, improvements in home theater technology and an increase in piracy the movie theater industry is now facing a potential extinction level threat.

The movie theater no longer has the appeal it once did. Gathering in a crowded room with a large screen just doesn’t cut it anymore. Why spend the money when you’ve got a large flat screen at home?

Why go see the latest blockbuster the day it comes out when in three months you could see it in the comfort of your own home?

If the stories of Blockbuster and Borders have taught us anything, it’s that if you wait too long to take action, you’re going to sink.

So what can the movie theater industry do to save itself?

Well, for starters they can work on changing the negative reputation often associated with their industry.

You always hear people complaining about long lines, rude people, and high prices. It wouldn’t be that difficult for a major theater chain to launch a campaign against these things. You already see advertisements prior to most shows encouraging people to silence their cellphones.

It’s no secret that in the digital era customer service is king. The theater chain that survives is going to be the one who listens to their customers.

Currently the three largest movie theater chains in North America are Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Entertainment Inc. and Cinemark Theatres.

All three of them are present on social media and all of them are doing the exact same thing. Look at the Facebook or Twitter page of one of these companies and you’ll see messages about upcoming films.

But there’s virtually nothing that makes any of them stand out from the others.

When it comes to selecting a movie theater most people only consider proximity and what’s showing.

But if you knew the experience was going to be better at the theater a little further away, would you be willing to drive the extra 10 or 15 minutes?

I certainly would be.

If you ask me, the theater industry needs to turn their focus towards the experience. It should be about more than just seeing a movie.

It’s about pushing the theater doors open to the smell of hot, buttery popcorn. About waiting in line for hours to get the perfect seats to the movie you’ve been dying to see for the past six months. About being surrounded by a community who shares your enthusiasm for a certain franchise, film maker, or actor.

The movie theater industry is afloat for now. But with attendance at an all-time low (2014 saw the lowest amount of tickets sold since 1995), something has got to change if theaters want to stay.

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