The movie theater industry has been on life support for years, fending off attacks from both streaming services and pandemic-era pressures. However, last weekend, it had a one-word response to these headwinds: “Barbenheimer.”
Two blockbusters, Barbie and Oppenheimer, opened to wild success, generating a combined $235.5 million during their opening weekend. And this dual opening had a dual meaning. “Barbenheimer” proved that moviegoers are still interested in, well, moviegoing.
While megahits don’t come around every weekend, theaters are looking for ways to lure customers by offering a unique type of moviegoing experience — one that makes venturing to the theater all the more enticing.
Today’s consumers can stream movies in 4K from their home, meaning theaters must go above and beyond to ensure customers are getting their money’s worth.
By this point, many chains offer reclining chairs, adult beverages, and a full restaurant menu. But theaters like LA’s Fork N’ Film have taken the idea of “dinner and a movie” a step further, offering themed dishes to accompany the movie that’s playing.
Meanwhile, the Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse has become even more experimental with its programming. The once-bankrupt chain recently rebounded in a big way, in part powered by its slate of unique moviegoing experiences. Alamo hosts dress-up screenings, live orchestras alongside silent films, and even a series in which comedians mock cult classic movies as they play.
Future of Movies
Ironically, the practice of making moviegoing a full-on experience is an older strategy, which faded over time as the industry consolidated. Now, it could take on new relevance as moviegoers once again look to leave the house and venture out to the theater — so long as the theaters give them something to get excited about.
As with many other industries, cinema owners have survived by adapting their business models to the new market and by looking for ways to offer maximum value to customers. With more theaters out to provide the type of movie experiences Netflix (NFLX) can’t replicate, it could be just the beginning of a renewed moviegoing era.
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