A Fine Example of Business That Evolves

Posted: September 3, 2011 in Powerful Ideas
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I went to the local Cineplex movie complex yesterday evening to see Apollo 18. The movie itself was only so-so. In fact, judging by the reactions of others leaving the theatre I would guess it won’t last too long at the movie house. But the movie complex itself is an object lesson in how an old business that is under considerable competitive pressure can evolve to stay relevant, and perhaps even thrive.

With the Internet, pay TV, movies on demand, HBO, etc. etc. you would think that movie houses would have disappeared a long time ago. Why do they still exist? To me, the answer is clear: people still want to go out for entertainment. They want to laugh with others, cry with others, gasp in surprise with others. The movie complex provides the environment, even though it really no longer has any exclusivity on the content.

So what does Cineplex (and numerous other moviehouse chains) do? They repurpose the infrastructure. When you go into a Cineplex, they have up to 10 or 12 massive auditoriums with wall-to-wall giant screens and surround sound. They have an arcade. They allow self-serve ticket buying. They have online ticket buying so you can go right to your seat when you enter the theatre. In addition to all that, they now offer operas from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Obviously, the Met is being innovative and exploiting all those have empty movie theatres. But the theatre chains are doing the same thing.

Further to that, there is obviously some creative experimentation going on to see what will work and get people into the building. For instance, my local Cineplex has scheduled a showing of Citizen Kane. It makes eminent sense that we would go to the movies to see a classic movie. There are plenty of those, so you can easily imagine them doing this on a regular basis. In the process, they are applying the repertoire approach to their large format. I don’t know if it will work, but it’s certainly worth a try.

In my mind, there are many other things they could be showing:

  • Classic TV shows such as Twilight Zone
  • Classic plays by playwrights such as Shakespeare
  • Car racing
  • Boxing matches
  • Big sporting matches such as World Cup soccer, major soccer games from overseas, NFL, NHL, etc.
  • Live coverage of major events such as the Olympics opening ceremonies

There is really no end to what could be shown. You could even imagine creating content for the movie house, such as unique series and movies. This is basically taking the HBO model and applying it to the large-scale public venue. I don’t know if any of these things would work, but they are worth investigating to see if the movie house can continue to be made vital and to thrive as a place of outsized entertainment experiences.

© 2011 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes permitted for non-commercial purposes with full and proper attribution.

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