Tuesday, February 8, 2011


The conventional theaters have been losing ground ever since the advent of VCD and DVD formats of movie which can be watched at home without going through the hassles involved in going to theaters. Over the last fast few years theaters have been losing their customers and due to difficult cash flow situation maintenance became the main casualty. Innovations like high quality sound systems, 3D viewing etc did not help the matter much. Cable TV, DTH telecasting and similar developments further affected the viability of movie theaters very significantly. Pirated video discs, rampant in countries like China, India and other developing countries did not help the cause of movie theaters. Increasing the audience size is the constant endeavor of theater owners and no effort is spared to achieve this objective. It is against this background that new formats are being triedout to lure audience by way of providing the excitement of a high class dining experience

"Under pressure from viewers as well as movie-industry executives, the country's theater chains are trying to win back moviegoers—with food. Audiences at a growing number of theaters can order such dishes as chinois chicken salad rolls or limoncello-tossed shrimp. More middle-of-the-road fare is also available, like cheeseburgers and chicken caesar salads. Seats in these so-called "in-theater dining" cinemas are big and plush. Lobbies are luxurious, with art on the walls and mood lighting. Popcorn is often complimentary and a full bar is de rigueur.

Theater chains hope the new style of film-watching—which has previously been the realm chiefly of small independent theaters—will help boost the number of moviegoers after years of flat attendance. Other recent efforts to get more people in the doors include offering reserve seating online and more movies in 3D. But in-theater dining represents one of the movie-theater industry's biggest bets to expand its static audience size. "I am one hundred percent sure that these theaters are the future of movie-going," says Jeffrey Katzenberg, an industry veteran who once served as studio chairman at Walt Disney Co. and is now chief executive of DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. "These new theaters really up the quality of experience because they require a high degree of service that movie theaters have lost." A few years ago, a handful of such theaters existed in the country. Now, the National Association of Theatre Owners estimates that the U.S. plays home to roughly 300 to 400 cinemas with restaurant service out of roughly 5,750 total theaters. Industry analysts predict that number could double over the next few year"

It may be recalled that movie theaters used to have several categories of seating with the "Box" seating being the most coveted. Then came the "Balcony", followed by others, ending up in the bare floor almost in front of the screen! Probably if dining facilities are to be incorporated, there has to be a total reconfiguration of the seating arrangement involving lot of ergonometric innovations. With multiplexes being set up in many metropolitan areas, such changes may be easily achieved. Future movie theaters may make more money out of food catering inside the cinema hall than that from tickets sale!


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