AMC is making a big bet on some big chairs. The country's second largest movie chain is rolling out a plan to replace normal seats in theaters with La-Z-Boy-like recliners. There are even footrests.
Hygiene issues aside — think of all the new crevices for food! — the experiment has already paid off at the 37 theaters AMC fit with the seats. Tickets sale are up 60 percent in those theaters, despite each screen fitting between 50 percent and 70 percent fewer people.
This is just the latest attempt by theaters to lure audiences back to the big screens. With 3-D, IMAX, restaurant service and recliners already rolling out across America, theater owners are always looking for the next gimmick to combat the ease of home video, piracy and OnDemand.
As someone who thinks a dark theater is still the best way to see a movie, I can think of a few innovations that would help, and they don't involve special glasses or really comfy chairs.
You can't blame kids for being kids. They're excitable. They're loud, easily distracted. They're essentially everything that can ruin a theater experience in one tiny package. Theaters should provide adults — both parents and non-parents — an opportunity to see any movie, even kid-friendly fare, without kids. Because sometimes I want to see "The LEGO Movie" without someone screaming about not getting enough popcorn.
And while theaters are adding adult-only shows, why not add some of the other adult perks by servicing beer and wine? This is something that high-end theaters are already experimenting with, but it doesn't have to be any more complicated than an ID checker and a cooler of cold ones.
Harsher Treatment of Cell Phone Users
Look to the Alamo Drafthouse and its zero tolerance cell phone policy as a shining beacon of hope for the entire movie-going world.
If you're a film fan who has lived away from a major city, you understand the frustrations of trying to track down indie releases. When most blockbusters are targeted at teenage boys, independent film can be one of the few venues for adult films — by which I mean films with mature themes, ideas and characters. These are movies that, because they're so hard to find, can be unfairly relegated to the "I'll wait until video" category.
Everyone has an older movie that he or she loves but has never had a chance to see on the big screen. A huge source of revenue for art house theaters are the revivals that they host, often scheduled by in-house programmers. There's no reason why your weekend movie options shouldn't include "Taxi Driver" or "Jaws" or "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly."
Wes Anderson understands the frustrations of improper projection set-up, as you can see above with his specific instructions for "The Grand Budapest Hotel." A Blu-ray on your flat screen at home is perfect every single time. Theaters need to be able to compete with that.
Revamped Ratings System
It stands to reason that if fewer movies were rated R, a greater number of people would be allowed into the theater, and owners would make more money. There are major flaws in the MPAA's current rating system, including its disproportionate harshness when it comes to sexuality and adult language. Until breasts and the F word are treated with less severity than decapitations and bullets to the head, the MPAA is unfairly keeping films from people who deserve the right to see them.
What are some changes you'd like to see? Share them in the comments below.