Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, March 23, 2021

With the appeal of first-release theatrical movies waning — as audiences know the cable and DVD release for the same flick will follow in mere weeks — more cineplexes are using their screens and seats for simulcasting live sports matches, concerts and other big-ticket events as a way to expand both revenue streams and audience access.

Why has this idea, which clearly fills a need and seems like a natural fit for moviehouses’ small-crowd configurations, not caught on? Probably because the words “movie” and “theater” are too-closely wed:

Marketing is the biggest puzzle that operators need to figure out, said Jeffrey B. Logsdon, an entertainment analyst at BMO Capital Markets. Trying to contain costs, most have relied on advertising on their Web sites and in movie listings. Still, most people do not think to seek this kind of content at the movies, he said.

Consumer psychology, Mr. Logsdon says, plays as big a role in the shift as economics. Operators want people to think of theaters as vibrant, busy places. But when weekends account for 70 percent of movie ticket sales, multiplex parking lots spend a lot of time sitting empty.

“At the movies” is the heart of the problem. Nobody considers their town or neighborhood theaters as anything other than a place to catch a movie. Decades of reinforcing this linkage served the movie business well, before box-office declines became the norm in recent years. Now, that extreme tailoring by exhibitors to just one content stream — movies — is the classic situation of putting all the eggs in one basket, and sinking or swimming correspondingly.

It’s not out of the question for theaters to remake themselves into multiple-offering venues. After all, motion picture showings started in old vaudeville theaters that were dominated by live entertainment. Even well after films established themselves in “movie palaces”, they often shared space with other modes of entertainment. A congregation of seating is inherently flexible, and that silver screen can be rigged to show just about anything.

The trick is convincing people that there’s enough of a tradeoff between watching at home, on a smaller but cozier home theater, and sharing a gigantic screen and surround-sound experience with dozens of strangers. The event will go a long way toward selling the experience.

The key is in playing with the definition of “live”. Live simulcasts certainly don’t have the same vibe, but the exclusivity of the situation would still count for something. It certainly needs some marketing finesse — consumers resent an obvious attempt to be suckered into a “live” event when it’s really video. But presented for what it is, with the benefits emphasized, it can be sold.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/23/2008 10:15:24 PM
Category: Movies, Business
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Developed as an accidental side-effect to a cardiovascular/blood pressure treatment, Viagra debuted 10 years ago this week, forever changing the prospects of limp-dickedness:

Since Viagra went on the market it has been used by 35 million men around the globe, and it took impotence off the taboo list, making it infinitely easier to treat.

Urologists’ waiting rooms became busier as news got round that the condition, which was rechristened with a new, scientific name — erectile dysfunction, or ED — could be treated with a triangular blue pill.

Personally, this decade-long journey has meant that I now can’t remember what National Football League game broadcasts were like before the torrent of penis-pill TV ads started dominating commercial breaks.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/23/2008 09:26:12 PM
Category: Football, Society, Science
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Today was the Easter holiday for most of Christendom — but not all of it.

And since I’m aligned with that other Church, this Sunday was just another free day for me. No familial obligations to fulfill (they were pointedly avoided, in fact, in what amounts to a silent signification of the Eastern Orthodox divergence on this holiday), so I took advantage by getting out of the house and wandering the streets, with nothing particularly pressing to drive me.

Frankly, o counter-Christians, I’m not impressed with this late March observation of Jesus’ comeback. Resurrection is supposed to coincide with Spring, renewal and all that; and while the calendar might align that way, the day’s weather sure didn’t. Temperatures in the mid-40s in midtown Manhattan don’t jibe with rejuvenation, either spiritual or physical.

I’m thinking that Orthodox Easter, scheduled for April 27th, is going to be a lot more Springlike around here, provided we don’t get a freak extension of Winter weather (you never know, in this age of global weirding). So for once, the “other” Easter will seem more appropriate, at least climate-wise. I’ll take it, on style points.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/23/2008 08:49:55 PM
Category: Weather, Society, New Yorkin'
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