Theaters Turn Up the Luxury

Here’s a fun fact: in 2009, movie ticket sales were $10.6 billion, which is the highest figure in history.  This is despite—or more likely because of—a down economy; after all, movies offer an enjoyable, if not fleeting, escape from the stresses of real life.

Now, major movie theater companies are developing ways to make the escape of a night at the movies a little less fleeting.  How?  By building luxury versions of the familiar product: oases where moviegoers can enjoy a nice glass of wine before, after, or even during the movie, along with upscale food running the gamut from tacos to sushi.

As I was reading this USA Today article, a few thoughts popped into my head…

#1: Where is the nearest luxury theater, and how soon can I get there?  The appeal is obvious.

#2: Why did it take so long for the big players to buy into this concept?  The article cites a statistic that upwards of 80% of moviegoers have dinner before or after the movie.  It also does not take a rocket scientist to realize that selling alcohol at a movie theater will be profitable.

#3: How soon can we expect major movie theater companies, such as AMC, to start partnering with well known restaurant brands?  Instead of just hoping that the movie theater’s shrimp dish is delicious, moviegoers can rest assured that when they visit AMC’s restaurant outlet by Bobby Flay, the Southwestern cooking will be superb.

#4: And finally, movie theaters have never exactly been the epitome of customer service.  It’s a pretty low-touch entertainment venue, with some customers only coming into contact with the ticket dispenser machine and the unhappy looking 16-year-old ticket taker.  Incorporating upscale food and beverage transforms the movie theater experience into a true guest experience. For $10 a pop, most consumers are okay with considering themselves mere moviegoers.  When they’re paying up to $35, the term “guest” ups the ante and becomes a vital element in keeping this clever business concept afloat.

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