Not sure if anyone from my demographic or age group has replied, but I'm a 19 year old college student. I have an incredible theater in my house which my roommates and I enjoy daily. After having seen what my home cinema is capable of, I will only go to see a movie in a theater if it is an epic IMAX release at the Seattle Pacific Science Center, which actually has the 70mm projection setup and over 10kW of sound power. Every other theater is a waste of money, in my opinion.
- As a college student, I don't have $20 laying around to go watch a 2 hour movie that inevitably will leave me wishing I;d spent that money getting drunk or stoned, or even to save up to pay off student loans. The only movies in the last few years that I've actually left with a giant-ass grin on my face are TDK, TDKR, and the Avengers. I saw all of these at the Seattle Center IMAX.
- My theater at home is better. It's brighter, the seats are comfier, blacks are deeper, and, compared to my seating distance, the screen is proportionally much larger (save for IMAX). It's hard to justify going to a theater to see a 30ft screen from 30ft away and have it not be bright enough. Theaters should be immersive; most of them aren't.
- I can go to the store and get a jumbo size pack of junior mints for 80c. I need not explain more.
- I typically watch movies with my girlfriend. It's damn near impossible to cuddle up in any remotely comfortable position at a movie theater. Give me love seats or give me death! I must be fair, though. The Cinerama in Seattle is awesome and has love seats spaced out pretty well throughout the theater.
- Subwoofers were made for a reason. If I can afford the same one that a commercial theater has (JBL 4645C), they can sure as heck afford a few more to compensate for the size of the room. Rotor wash should be felt, not just heard.
Bottom line, I don't go to theaters because the don't offer anything I can't get at home. IMAX is the one experience I can't get, which is why I still see movies there. Oddly, the PacSci IMAX is cheaper than most chain theaters around it. For me to go to a theater, the picture must be better than at home. It doesn't need to be by a large amount, but it certainly shouldn't be worse.
Here are some things that would make me go to a theater:
- 3D that isn't dim. I know for a fact that both Christie and Barco make projectors capable of outputting enough light to still have between 12 and 16fL of light in 3D mode. Avatar at IMAX was an unforgettable experience that every theater needs to emulate. Why would I spend an extra $4 on top of an already outrageous ticket price to see 3D that I can't see?
- Sound that makes me part of the movie. Fortunately, most theaters actually have great sound above 80Hz. It's the LFE track that needs improvement. For a small investment, the theater could invest in a rotary subwoofer or, for an even lower cost, transducers in the risers or seats. I don't have the money or space to install a rotary sub in my home, so you can bet your ass I'd go to a theater if it means I could see a movie where I'd feel sound all the way down to 3 or 4Hz. Considering the price of most projectors ($80k+), I'd think a rotary sub would be a no-brainer investment.
- Healthy food options. Now, I know I sound like a hippie here, but I don't really like drinking a king size orange soda and a box of Red Ropes separate, much less at the same time. If theaters offered fruit and veggie trays and drink options other than soda, I'd be a customer again. How hard would it be to put a Jamba Juice franchise in a theater? The drinks cost nearly the same and I know for a fact people would buy those delicious smoothies far more than they buy a small barrel of Coke. Just some food for thought... Damn, I'm punny.
- An atmosphere and decor that justifies the price. I'm fine with paying $14 for a movie, provided the experience justifies that price. I'm not referring to people talking or texting as I can deal with that and it's not something the theater can really control. Though, now that I think about it, couldn't they just put a lead lining or some EMI shielding around the theater to make texting impossible? I am talking about the little things like having the theater be clean, upholstery that's not ripped or too worn, and seats that recline comfortably without squeaking. If tickets were only $6 or $7, I'd live with those. I suppose a different ambience would be nice as well. Why must the carpet and wallpaper look like something out of Ted Nugent's closet?
- I'm going to be called an ******* for this one, but I think it's a pretty big issue in today's America, especially for sold out shows where people are crammed in. We need specially designed obesity seats. There is nothing worse than going to a movie and losing 30% of my already tiny seat to the Slurpee-glurping, Doritos-murdering beluga next to me who thought that wearing jeggings the optimal wardrobe choice to show off her curves.
Maybe I shouldn't get a degree after all. Who wants to loan me some cash to make a quality theater. I guarantee a 110% return on your investment, contingent on Hollywood making movies people want to see.
But that's a COMPLETELY different issue.