Originally Posted by Lee Stewart
Sure it does. Which is killing Movie Theaters more?
Perhaps you're interested... I'm interested in that people with big screen TV's surely don't assume it is a complete replacement for theaters in the size and scope of the experience. They might think it's "good enough", but they're capable of perceiving the difference. There are people that think Golf on the Wii is good enough, but they'd know better than to mistake that for the real thing. The "good enough" folks are not true home theater enthusiasts. They might be movie enthusiasts, but they are not as concerned with the more visceral aspects.
There are 3 products that a theater sells, the first 2 of which the home theater hopes to duplicate:
- Social convention
What I mean by social convention is that the theater exists as a place traditionally for more proper social gatherings like dates, or perhaps by convenience of being in proximity with other events or happenings make it more suitable for some people as a place to socialize instead of in the privacy of a living room. This will be discussed no further because it is incidental (if a restaurant depends on social convention to survive more than food or experience, then it is doomed).
Moving up, we have experience and movies; both are primary products. And this distinction must be made because there are different people that are distinctly after one or the other. Many people go to the movies only to catch the latest movie they'd want to watch, in which case it would not be the home theater that would be killing movie theaters (because they are not so interested in replicated the experience), but maybe other forms of content delivery, or price and whatnot. The "good enough" people with flat screen TVs might care to some extent about experience, but probably not to affect any trend for theater-going, since the quality of home systems have been in an incremental increase for decades. There is no reason that the same type of people who have a mid/high-end large tube TV and a top-notch DVD player in the 90s would suddenly change their habits with a 50-inch LCD and a Blu-ray player -- a new generation with a new generation of standards.
Ticket prices, aside from concession, have not actually significantly increased beyond inflation, although low-level wage have not kept up with inflation. That could limit some people from going to the theaters, but I doubt that if someone could afford going 10 years ago, that they could be priced out. It's not any more expensive than a night out anywhere. So I disagree that high cost is a direct motivation for not going. If anything, it may be a combination of high cost and "good enough", but I would also like to add lack of interest. Does the theater have any extraordinary function for the laymen, non-movie theater enthusiasts?
I would posit that these people go to theaters for the same reason they go to the local park -- it's an activity. They are not the establishment's regular customers. While at one point they might have went to the theaters every couple of weeks, the economy may keep them home more often.
If the theater does have regular customers, we could probably categorize them thusly:
- People who want to be the first on the block to see the latest movie.
- People who are in love with the theater experience.
If we identify the motivations of theater-goers, and if we identify possible concerns they may have, then we might be able to identify the cause of a trend. First, there is the economy (and I don't think price can be fairly attributed in this case). Second, I can say that maybe 1% of the population have a fully dedicated home theater setup that could be conceived as rivaling a commercial movie theater, although its affordability is coming down; I can't see this as a major concern for movie theaters in the near term. Third, it is possible that the lag time between when a new movie hits Pay-Per-View, online streaming, or comes out on disc have gone down. Fourth, I think it's possible that the internet and changing social norms have shifted focus away from the movie theater as a gathering spot; even for a dating setting, a lot of people will prefer coffee to a movie date (I don't have the authority to speak for the past).
This is, of course, all speculation. No one has a survey of 100,000 people, not even you (and if it existed, it would have been posted in the original post), so asking for such is a farce. What we do know is that there are different motivations and it does not help to conflate them all into 1; there are different levels of home theater systems, and neither does it help to pretend all home theaters exist for the same purpose. Not knowing the effects of each distinction does not excuse not making that distinction which could very well factor into the reality of the situation.