Could the Karaoke Room Format Work for Movie Theaters?

I had a great chat with a friend last night about the future of movie theaters. We both love watching movies in the theaters, but we’re worried that the pandemic has forever changed the theater industry, especially in a world of streaming options and giant TV screens.

As much as I enjoyed going to the movies before the pandemic, I must admit that it wasn’t always a perfect experience. The primary X factor are the other people in the theater. Sometimes they can enhance the experience, but sometimes they can damage it by talking, texting, kid management, etc.

Yet I still want the theater experience. I want the warm popcorn, the lack of distractions, the communal experience, and the feeling of going out to do something special.

After our conversation, I realized that there’s a potential pivot for movie theaters that has already been tested for a different form of entertainment. In Japan–at least, when I studied abroad there in 2001–there were buildings filled with karaoke rooms. You rent a room with your friends for a set amount of time, splitting the cost between you. The rooms are quite nice–it’s like having a private room at a restaurant, complete with food and drink service.

Could this potentially work for movie theaters? Instead of having a giant theater filled with 400 seats, you’d have a series of tiny theaters (but with bigger screens and better sound systems than what most people have at home). You’d rent the room as a group for a specific amount of time, and you can choose any available movie that fits the timeframe (instead of being limited to specific showtimes for each movie). You’d share a table or two for your food and drinks, which are delivered to you upon request.

Also, while a private room would be the default, you could also pay by the person to share rooms with strangers. So if it’s just you or a few other people, you wouldn’t need to rent out an entire room.

I’m sure I’m not the first person who has thought of this, so feel free to share examples in the comments. I’m curious if you would go to this type of movie theater over the traditional format.

4 thoughts on “Could the Karaoke Room Format Work for Movie Theaters?”

  1. I actually had this same thought earlier in the pandemic when our theaters started shutting down. I would absolutely choose this over the traditional theater, depending on cost, of course.

  2. I’ve thought that movie theaters were an anachronism since Blu Ray happened. They stopped offering a better experience than a good home setup.

    But like you’ve said, it’s nice to have a place to get together like this: essentially, somebody’s decent rentable living room. (We’ve done loud karaoke in my living room, in fact, which is possible because we live in a house in the middle of nowhere.)

    What you’re showing here will become a normal worldwide thing, for sure. Movie theaters are such a terrible idea; no idea how they ever caught on, really. But this is great.

  3. I love this idea, it would make it into a party experience, and connect the strangers sharing a room way more than a theater! I approve!!


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