8 Ideas for Movie Theaters of the Future

In the spirit of the Academy Awards, as well as an article in EW Magazine (not to be confused with Nickelodeon’s Eww Magazine), I have some ideas I’d like to suggest for movie theaters of the future. Some of these can be combined, while others won’t work with one another.

  1. I don't know who this is, but I want to go to this movie theater.

    Assigned seats. When you go to the symphony, you pay for a specific seat–why can’t we do that for movies too? It would let you optimize the seating arrangements and people wouldn’t have to stake out seats any more. In fact, take it a step further and charge different amounts for different seats. If you’re on a budget, pay $4 for a front-row seat. If not, pay $12 for a premium seat. Or pay $14 for a massage chair. Or $60 to rent a soundproof suite in the back with food service and a private bathroom (and permission to yell at the screen as much as you’d like).

  2. If you have assigned seats, why not sell season passes? You could buy a seat for a month or a year at a discounted price.
  3. I’m huge on movie theater popcorn. It’s something you cannot get at home if you rent a movie (microwave popcorn has come along way, but it’s still not the same). I can’t fathom why some movie theaters (I’m talking about you, AMC Esquire) are so lazy about their popcorn. In addition to good popcorn, I wish that my popcorn could be sprayed from all sides with a little bit of butter and popcorn salt. That way ever kernel is perfect instead of just the top layer of the bag.
  4. Every movie theater should designate some screens for kids under 5. Kids under 5 would not be allowed in any other screens.
  5. Have an exercise theater–a screen with treadmills and elliptical machines instead of chairs. Maybe a smaller screen that only shows movies with really hot people in it (to motivate you to work out). If you burn the most calories during the movie, your movie is free.
  6. Let people vote on the movies they want to see at your theater. This can happen from home by logging onto your theater’s website (if you vote, you get a dollar off the movie if it’s the “winning” movie) or from the theater itself–you vote for movies you do or do not like during the previews. By allowing people to demand movies in that way, you end up with fewer duds.
  7. Have bathrooms and mini-concessions in the theater itself so you don’t have to miss anything. A more expensive variation of this are pub theaters in which they bring food to you. I love the concept, but you can’t fit as many seats into a pub theater.
  8. I’m not quite sure what a solution is for people who text or look at their phones in the movie theater, but there must be a way to remove that huge annoyance. Maybe seats that give you a little electric shock if you play with your phone after the movie starts.

I can remember walking into movie theaters as a kid and being overcome with awe and wonder. I think it’s possible to recapture that feeling as an adult, and I look forward to theaters that are up to the challenge. The rest of them…well, they’re just being lazy, and eventually they’re going to die out.


10 Responses to “8 Ideas for Movie Theaters of the Future”

  1. Ariel says:

    1. Assigned seats in movie theatres is standard practice in London and I believe elsewhere in the UK and Europe. However, why would I want to pay more for a screen I could yell at when I can do that currently for the mere price of dirty looks?
    2. I recently participated in a consumer survey for this exact product idea – I didn’t rate it very highly though because it was very expensive. It was only worth it if you were to see more than 1 movie/week.
    4. Children should be required to sit quietly for 2 hours in an empty room before they receive their movie attendance license. Although the Moolah and some AMC’s do advertise ‘kid friendly’ screenings designed for younger children.
    6. I love the voting during preview idea.
    7. I was in a theatre in Florida that served food at the seats. It was very expensive, and poor quality and the lady coming around all the time was a distraction. Worse, the seats had those little half desks that don’t seem to fulfill their function and yet are still terribly uncomfortable.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      1. Is that a rhetorical question?
      2. Really? I think the deal needs to be sweeter than that. And I’m not saying that it should be a free pass to any movie at any time. I’m saying that you get a membership to a theater for, say, $99, and for that you get one movie a month every month. If you don’t use the movie for January, you lose it. It seems like a lot of money, but if you see a lot of movies and normally spend $10/movie, it’s worth it. You could also buy a seasonal pass–$50 for the summer blockbuster pass, or $50 for the December/January/February Oscar season pass.
      7. Yeah, I think you have to do it right for this to work. I’ve been to a theater in Kansas City that does it right. Others–like the one you experience–may not get it.

  2. Georgia says:

    Obviously I agree with you on all of these, in particular #3. They need to have a better system to deliver equal amounts of butter and popcorn salt to kernel ratio. Why hasn’t anyone done anything about it yet? If they’re going to sell it for the price they demand, then why not make it right?

    The only one that might be questionable is #5, as hotness is subjective? However the idea of working out for a free movie as a form of friendly competition is appealing. Maybe you should start this at AMC?

  3. as says:

    8. Electric shocks would be so cruel just for me peeking at my phone during the movie. I do it quick, just to check the time to see how much longer I’m stuck with the person. Maybe an electric shock after someone checks their phone 5 times or something, I could keep it down to 5. Usually I’m in the back corner anyway because you can get away with more stuff there. Does it really matter if I check my phone when I’m in the darkest corner of the movie theater?
    I guess movie theaters could have seats that demand your cell phone the second your butt hits the seat and then somehow lock them away until the movie is done, like maybe a compartment in the armrest. I could handle that.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Well, that’s the thing about checking your phone–it seems harmless, but the light from it is distracting to everyone behind or beside you. So I guess if you’re in the back row with no one else, it’s fine then.

  4. Red says:

    #2 I read to be like a PSL, and I can see where this would get expensive. Theatres show the same movie in the same room for sverela weeks. So, unless you want to see the same movie multiple times, there is no benefit there. Also, this means that theatres will peobably need to show more movies, over a shorter period of time (like old drive throughs, that showed one movie every weekend).
    #5 Some gyms have cardio theatre, which is a bunch of cardio machines that show a new release to DVD, or netflix, or whatever they use. They release a schedule, and I think the machines are first-come first-serve.

  5. Bergs says:

    Love the ideas, especially in light of the 500 million decrease in revenue in the past year. One additional idea I have, although less significant than some that were mentioned would be customized candy containers that would fit into the cup holders at movie theaters. This would give people more incentive to buy at the theater as opposed to opting for cheaper options at the convenient store. Also, I always seem to have an issue sifting through my candy with a bag or box because of the darkness in a theater. A cup holder container would eliminate this problem and would allow for easy sharing with your neighbor. Additionally if assigned seats were instituted and thus the prices would vary, the prices of candy would also decrease. I hope this idea will make its way to theaters one day soon as well as the some of the other ideas that you mentioned!

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Bergs–interesting concept. Have you been to any theaters where they serve you food at your seat before the movie? Those seats have swivel-desks for you to put your food on (but they’re still not optimal for sharing candy). One I went to recently, called CineBistro in Richmond, served popcorn in wide bowls instead of bags, which made it much easier for sharing.

  6. I always use elliptical machines and treadmills during my exercise routine.”

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