People have been going out to the theater to see movies for decades. It is a novel idea that has appeared to stand the tests of time even as our methodology of conducting our everyday lives has changed drastically, the urge to go to the movie theater is still very present. As an employee for a corporate movie theater I have witnessed numerous instances; instances that many do not even truly begin to acknowledge consciously when they make a decision to enjoy a film at the theater. There are indeed some marketing schemes at play when you attend a show at the movie theater, I will discuss some of these. I will also cover some usual quirks that occur when you are an employee at a highly trafficked movie theater.
Many people are under the impression that the movie theater industry is just some big bad monster in coercion with Hollywood to suck your wallet dry or to fill you with some poisonous notions of what life should be like. This impression is not entirely false, perhaps it is lacking some of the malicious intent that people may associate with this industry but in reality – business is business. If you have ever worked at a movie theater you will know that there are time frames during the day that are very busy and moments where there are no customers walking through the doors. Most movie start times are during what we at the theater call a “set,” this is the time frame, usually about an hour or so, where almost all the movies that the theater offers begins. A marketing technique we employ at the theater is to appeal to the customer’s sense of smell. Whenever a set is starting and we know customers will be walking through the door we have a fresh batch of popcorn being popped, this is a tactic that works very well. Another marketing technique that we have used at the theater is to play an ad right before the show begins. This ad typically features a refreshing and bubbly soda being poured and enjoyed along with clips of kernels being popped into fresh popcorn, this appetizing display of the timeless treats that are offered at the theater can almost infallibly bring some extra sales of concession items.
As a general consumer you may not be able to understand why a theater conducts business a certain way, why a theater is showing these specific movies and not others, or even why your movie is located in a specific auditorium. There are various aspects that may appear to be idiosyncratic but actually have viable reasons behind them. Business at a corporate movie theater is just that, business; so business is conducted in a manner cohesive with the goals of making the most money possible while keeping a majority of the customers satisfied. The theater does not get to pick and choose which movies we will receive, since this is not a ‘mom-n-pop’ business we only receive the movies that the corporate man has said we will show; even if we know there is a population that would likely enjoy having access to certain independent films. We even have agreements where certain films are required to be showing in X amount of theaters at a time, along with specified platforms. Something that we do have control over is the size of the auditorium we choose to show the film in. There are varying sizes of auditoriums at the movie theater anywhere from about 100 seats to about 400 seats in my particular theater. We attempt to appropriately allocate the amount of customers we anticipate to attend the film along with the theaters capabilities to house all these people.
Although mediums have changed immensely for viewing films within the past decade, the movie theater industry is still thriving fairly well. The experience is still one that many people value, deeming that this form cinematic submersion is well worth the price. Even though I was only able to shed some light briefly on the inner workings of how a corporate movie theater conducts business and the manner at which decisions are made, I hope this has brought some insight to the movie theater industry.
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