Movie theaters lack compared to their competition


Photo by Maya Bell.

Jared Geyer

Movie theaters define themselves by the amount of complications people experience while there. There is always something to criticize, whether it be the prices of tickets and the atmosphere or the movies themselves. The movie going experience leaves a more sour taste in my mouth as time passes. It is no longer the long-awaited once-a-year event that it was in my childhood. I can now see the flaws of the stain-covered seats and sticky floors.
The competition against movie theaters really highlight the inconveniences of them. Websites such as Netflix and YouTube have plenty of movies and TV shows that I can get for a much lower price than going to a movie theater. YouTube allows me to purchase a wide variety of popular films and shows for a low price, while Netflix has its own popular “Netflix produced” shows such as “Black Mirror” and “Stranger Things”.
I can use these websites at home, so there are no people to bother me. Nobody is kicking on the back of my seat or showing a bright light from their phone. Netflix for one month is just a little more than the price of one movie at a local movie theater and snacks cost much less at home. Movie theaters really only thrive on exclusivity at this point. Attendance has been going down steadily in movie theaters for years; 2017 had the worst ticket sales since 1992. Ticket prices continue to inflate in order to keep profits. Not only does this make people less likely want to go to theaters to watch movies, it makes only large blockbusters or “event” films successful. Mid-budget comedies or movies without the spectacle of a superhero will have to reach outside the box to find an audience actually willing to pay to see that film in a theater.

Ticket prices are not just bad for pockets, they could have damaging effects on smaller movie industries.

The audience and surroundings are another large problem at movie theaters. People in this age of technology are more suited to having a good viewing experience at home, where there are no distractions and I can watch things at my own pace. Putting myself into a movie theater with 100 other strangers means there is a great range of people that will have different reactions to the film.
Many variables that go completely wrong and ruin the experience, such as the people around me being rowdy and un-courteous. Trash is also a difficulty, as it is everywhere. If there are rowdy children in the row behind me, or I don’t like the movie, the stains become more noticeable, along with the buttered popcorn seeping through the cracks in the floor. I understand that the custodial duties are very hard for the people at theaters, with all of the popcorn and soda, so I do not blame them. This is a complication larger than movie theaters. Dumping trash and not picking it up is just a commodity in American culture; not something movie theaters should take the bullet for. Theaters have reminders to turn phones off, so why not remind people to pick up their trash, as well?
Smaller flaws in the movie going experience add to the conglomerate of complications. These problems, such as the obscene amount of previews before the movie starts, only add to the worsening experience of a movie theater. Many of the difficulties with theaters could be fixed with better income, but right now theaters have to stick with what they’re doing in order to keep making profit. If movie theaters were no longer profitable and went obsolete, streaming platforms could release movies with a lower price tag than DVD or theater tickets.
In a perfect world, I could see movies dropping somewhat like albums do, they just come out at midnight one night, and then you can pay to own it. If I want to see the movie on a big screen, I can watch it on my television or at a local drive in. Drive-ins such as the one in Independence, Missouri always seemed more enticing than theaters, since they take away the awkward setting and let me sit in me car and do whatever I want. In a perfect world, maybe drive-ins would replace movie theaters. Since theaters are bleeding money, I doubt fixes will come soon. If you do have problems with local theaters, make sure to call them or notify them. Your complaints might not affect their business model in the long term, but it might help them reconsider how to give their customers a more satisfying experience.
How would you change movie theaters? Tell us in the comments down below.