The digital revolution is transforming the entertainment industry in fantastic and agonizing ways. For consumers, there's probably never been a better time to explore all sorts of music and shows. For the businesses that rely on consistent patronage to stay afloat — such as movie theaters — the flooded marketplace is a finicky and frightening place.
It's not that movie tickets sales are plummeting in a panicky way. Ticket statistics actually show that movies still draw crowds, as box office numbers increased by about 4 percent in 2013 [Source: MPAA]. Part of the increase is due to rising ticket prices (as any movie fanatic will groan about), but the fact remains that fewer people are buying fewer tickets, particularly in America [Source: LA Times].
Theater owners feel the pressure of competing with a fractured audience. Streaming media is an enormous challenge to theaters. In years gone by, the movie theater was the place to be on weekends. Nowadays, consumers have personal control of on-demand movies and TV shows right in their own homes.
And other industry observers are sounding a death knell of sorts for traditional in-theater movie experiences. They say rude, cell-phone obsessed people, the dubious appeal of 3-D movies, wallet-scorching concession prices and a flaccid economy are likely to keep people at home for the foreseeable future.
The smartest theater owners aren't waiting to see if their audiences will stick around. Instead, they're thinking ahead for the newest ways to draw in viewers and keep them coming back. Some of their ideas might be frivolous; others are fantastic and weird and wonderful. Keep reading and you'll see why movie going might never again be the same.