Wow – The Challenge was accepted….but

Shocked and impressed at the response to my Movie Challenge would certainly be understatements.

875 responses, plus hundreds of emails from people who were unable to post to the blog (sorry !)

Im am still going through them but wanted to offer some feedback to those who did, and those who may still want to

First, there has not been a “why the heck didnt i think of that” response. I havent found one that makes me say “Hell
Yes, thats the answer”. There were many good ideas, but most of those were beneficial on the margin. Meaning if
implemented, they might generate a few more ticket sales, but they would not change the economics of the

Now some of you may not agree, but to help understand my perspective better, I thought I would offer the following

1. Discounting in any of multiple incarnations wont do the trick.

True, price is always an issue, but the true aggregate costs of getting the sitter, gas, ticket, popcorn, parking, etc
arent impacted enough with ticket and/or concession discounts to make people say they want to go see a movie they
otherwise didnt want to see.

This has been shown time and time again as matinees , coupon books, frequent buyer programs, and multiple ticket
package coupon books are important, but not primary drivers of getting people out of the house. These are what I call
blocking and tackling promotions. EVERY theater has to do them and do them well, and most do.

2. Its expensive to get people to go to websites and not easy to get video distributed virally.

An obvious response that I expected was to promote films in any number of ways on websites, and to upload trailers and
even enable users to upload user created trailers to video hosting sites as a way to drive excitement about a

Again, basic blocking and tackling. But the missing link is that in order to get MILLIONS of people converted from
going to a site to going to see the movie, which of course was the initial goal, it would take TENS of MILLIONS of
people going to the site and watching and spreading the video and then hoping for a conversion rate that pays for the
cost of all of this. I

None of this is cheap. In fact, its every expensive and more than money, its very difficult. There are few if any
movies that dont put up websites, load some video on sites, do myspace pages, etc, etc.

3. #2 above, is closely related to a response I got quite a bit of which is “influence the influencers”. ITI (like that
abbrev..) can be approached in two ways.

First is the “Get it to the cool kids” and watch everyone else want to do it . Second is to reward those people who can
actually get people to buy tickets.

The first is done all the time with street teams in high schools and colleges and can bring incremental business, but
not 5mm people.

The 2nd actually has been done before, but isnt done often enough, including by our film companies
HDNetFILMS, Magnolia Pictures and
2929ent. The perfect examples are religious, political and social
groups who drove viewers to Passion of the Christ, An Inconvenient Truth and other movies that entertain or try to
educate with a message that supporters of that message go out of their way to support.

Its interesting to me how supporters of the various messages feel they are having their message reinforced with
boxoffice success of the movie they are promoting. That desire to do well at the box office as a message itself,
often leads to a lot of hard work by the groups organizers and followers to get people to the theater. In fact, the
grassroots efforts of these groups can actually bring millions of viewers to a movie. The problem is that this
doesnt apply to every movie. Only a select few. Its an approach we will use with a new Mag Pictures movie we have
coming out called Jesus Camp,
but wouldnt apply to 90pct of what we do.

3. The most overwhelming and telling response has been the distaste for the theatrical experience.

There is a long list of problems that negatively impacts the theatrical experience and keeps people from going to the
movies. From people talking to lines to restrooms and more.

All of which leads me to believe that the theater business has a lot of image building work to do. In a meeting I had
with senior folks at the MPAA, I suggested that the theater industry spend money on improving our image rather than
fighting the “war” on piracy. (A stupid war, thats not really a war and is a waste of money). That ever nickel
spent trying to stop a 13 year old or his grandmother from downloading a movie, or spent trying to lobby our government
into spending millions upon millions trying to stop pirated DVD sales in China could be spent promoting the
positives of the movie theater going experience. (And hopefully our government can spend the millions and
millions over here on our shores doing something that helps our citizens instead of acting as new business development
departments for movie companies who dont need their help. Movie studios have lasted this l ong without any real
business from china and similar countries, they will be just fine without government help for years to come. Sorry for
the political rant )

The complaints about the experience did reinforce what we are doing with our
Landmark Theater chain. Its a place to see a movie that people talk
about rather than people in the audience talk to. That movie chains have to start realizing that one size does not fit
all. That having Saw 2 next to Good Night & Good Luck might piss of both audiences. That having everyone and
everyone going to see Pirates might piss off the older demo that doesnt want kids texting while watching, or yelling at
the screen. Bottom line is that I have always felt that
movie theaters need to be a brand , and they need to focus on serving a more limited demo than 1 size fits

In fact, we are currently working on 2 theater projects. One is a theater just for kids under the age of 10. Just
showing kids movies, with tons of amenities for parents and kids, along with retail geared towards kids. No parent will
be able to get out of the theater alive if they dont buy the Curious George goodies we sell when we show a Curious
George movie. And of course we will be able to make our own movies to show, and with our policy of day n date
releases, we will be selling the DVD of the movie as well.

The 2nd is what I call Rock N Roll Theater (ok Im showing my age), but bottom line it will be a theater geared towards
16 to 25 year old demo where the motto will be

“If you expect silence during this movie. leave now. “

Again, lots of retail. Lots of security. Lots of kids who can see what they want to see , txt who they want to txt,
yell what they want to yell. In fact, part of the thought process has been for the movies we make and show, to
post portions of the script of the movie so kids can learn lines from the movie BEFORE they come, or hopefully make
them read it after they saw it the first time and come back , creating our own rocky horror show like

The responses to the challenge, reinforced that this could be a good idea !

4. The other response was along the ideas of what i call “personal tagging or networking”. In other words, i have
something Im going to give you, and you in turn can use it and pass it on and we shall cherish our communal experience.
We can write about it. Talk about it. Meet about it in any digital or real location. Call it theatrical marketing

I love the idea. The problem is that its a downstream idea. It works in response to something that is working well. You
need to get the right demographic in the sufficient number in order to build a base strong enough for it to
matter. Just as bands and their fans acted as the foundation for myspace, there has to be a means to aggregate a
critical mass of the people who will exchange or pass forward tickets and who feel rewarded in doing so.

I dont think I have all the elements in place to make this work yet, but it will certainly be considered.

So in a nutshell. No eureka moment … yet. But i love the responses. Certainly quite a few ideas that reinforce the
things we are doing at our companies. Certainly some food for thought for things to do in the future.

Im not done going through everything yet, so maybe I missed your brilliance, but I promise, if its there, I will read
it and when I find it, the job is yours !

Keep the ideas and discussion flowing !

297 thoughts on “Wow – The Challenge was accepted….but

  1. If you ever read old entries..

    How about a monthly charge for entry to unlimited movies?

    Comment by Pat Crofoot -

  2. here are 3 easy reasons why you should buy imax:

    1) shaq-sized screens just sitting their all the time. you\’re creative, why don\’t you work out some deals with media companies and put some older movies on the imax. i\’d go pay to see apollo 13 on the imax.

    2) people are crazy. remember that irrational \’must buy it again because it\’s on dvd\’ thing? same thing with imax. people will see that some movie is playing on the imax, suddenly it\’s new again.

    3) it\’s got a great and recognizable brand. people think imax they think the best. you\’d be paying for the best very cheap. do you even still read this thing? haha. of course you do!

    Comment by j mac -

  3. Maybe the product that is produced just isn’t that good. Lord of The Rings was a family friendly movie. It was the classic fight between good and evil and the characters struggled with their own weaknesses. The movie was well made and achieved the goal of connecting with the audience without bringing everyday stressors or politics into the picture.

    Maybe the product being sold isn’t any good, or isn’t good enough to help the audience see past all of the other negatives (cell phones, 30 minutes of commercials before the movie starts, etc.)

    Comment by Matt Sciba -


    Posted this yesterday but it didn’t show up. ???

    Cool place in Paris, France. The “Disneyland” of Entertainment. Boosting attendance, revs and earnings. Top shelf Audio, Visual, and Comfort.

    Americanize the concept and there ya go! I’ll unvelcro my ass for a multi-faceted entertainment experience like that. Might even let the dust fly for the show, or the art gallery, or the dinner at one of the 6 restaurants, maybe even a DVD at Electronics Store, but I wouldn’t dance at the Club, because I’m too old.

    Make this your Hub, and bring in the stars for Q & A in person creating a Festival-like atmosphere and simulcast around the network of theatres.

    Go to Paris and check it our. I love the Love-Seats. Give away the Popcorn!

    Comment by Dave Edgar -

  5. I think there is an inherent problem with the challenge you are presenting to your readers- I do not think there is a problem with marketing, in terms of getting out the word about an upcoming movie. If it is being produced by a “big name company,” I promise you, everyone knows it is coming out. I actually think less money could be spent on the marketing side- for instance, we ALL KNEW Gigli was coming out when it was released- the marketing was not the reason for the movie’s flop (I understand that your concern is not how well the movie does per se but keeping costs down to make more money- at least on opening weekend). The problem is, with the movie theater experience now a days, consumers really have to be interested in the movie to see it.

    Like you stated in your post- theaters should become more specialized. I’m sure you have heard of Studio Movie Grill (I see Mavericks there all the time)- if you go there on an opening night for a big movie, it is more crowded than a theater as large as Tinseltown Plano for the same movie…and Studio Movie grill is now expanding to other areas. Consumers are getting picker about how they spend their Friday and Saturday nights, because they are now beginning to have that luxury. Your ideas sound great for the two theater types that are in the works, but in the one for teenagers and young adults (I am 19), I am not sure you would have a large enough target group to actually make the theater profitable. Yes, students like to text-message, but you might be overestimating how many of them ACTUALLY want people talking through a movie (I know you didn’t post a challenge about your theater ideas, I was just letting you know my opinion- my friends and I would much prefer to go to a theater with silence- I mean, we are paying to see a movie, not to hear teenagers talk). I am certainly not saying that a theater aimed at young adults specifically can’t work; I go to the University of Pennsylvania, and there is a theater called “The Bridge,” almost right on campus that does extremely well. Obviously its location helps, but we could all certainly go to another theater- especially because The Bridge very much overcharges for tickets. The reason we go is similar to the reasons you see a lot of twenty-somethings at Studio Movie Grill- it is upscale, serves food, looks modern, etc. Especially aspects of a theater like the way it looks and the “feel” of it are intangibles that make a huge difference when going to see a movie. If you can make movie-going a night out- a movie theater where you can meet a group of friends and have cocktails before the movie starts, bring a date to, etc- you will have a profitable theater, a profitable movie (you could even lower the price of tickets a bit because of the money the theater would make off of food, drinks, and merchandise- some of which you could kick back to the production company itself), and happy consumers who look forward to going to the theater.

    Comment by Brooke Boyarsky -

  6. I think there is an inherent problem with the challenge you are presenting to your readers- I do not think there is a problem with marketing, in terms of getting out the word about an upcoming movie. If it is being produced by a “big name company,” I promise you, everyone knows it is coming out. I actually think less money could be spent on the marketing side- for instance, we ALL KNEW Gigli was coming out when it was released- the marketing was not the reason for the movie’s flop (I understand that your concern is not how well the movie does per se but keeping costs down to make more money- at least on opening weekend). The problem is, with the movie theater experience now a days, consumers really have to be interested in the movie to see it.

    Like you stated in your post- theaters should become more specialized. I’m sure you have heard of Studio Movie Grill (I see Mavericks there all the time)- if you go there on an opening night for a big movie, it is more crowded than a theater as large as Tinseltown Plano for the same movie…and Studio Movie grill is now expanding to other areas. Consumers are getting picker about how they spend their Friday and Saturday nights, because they are now beginning to have that luxury. Your ideas sound great for the two theater types that are in the works, but in the one for teenagers and young adults (I am 19), I am not sure you would have a large enough target group to actually make the theater profitable. Yes, students like to text-message, but you might be overestimating how many of them ACTUALLY want people talking through a movie (I know you didn’t post a challenge about your theater ideas, I was just letting you know my opinion- my friends and I would much prefer to go to a theater with silence- I mean, we are paying to see a movie, not to hear teenagers talk). I am certainly not saying that a theater aimed at young adults specifically can’t work; I go to the University of Pennsylvania, and there is a theater called “The Bridge,” almost right on campus that does extremely well. Obviously its location helps, but we could all certainly go to another theater- especially because The Bridge very much overcharges for tickets. The reason we go is similar to the reasons you see a lot of twenty-somethings at Studio Movie Grill- it is upscale, serves food, looks modern, etc. Especially aspects of a theater like the way it looks and the “feel” of it are intangibles that make a huge difference when going to see a movie. If you can make movie-going a night out- a movie theater where you can meet a group of friends and have cocktails before the movie starts, bring a date to, etc- you will have a profitable theater, a profitable movie (you could even lower the price of tickets a bit because of the money the theater would make off of food, drinks, and merchandise- some of which you could kick back to the production company itself), and happy consumers who look forward to going to the theater.

    Comment by Brooke Boyarsky -

  7. I remember a terrific little theater experience in 1970’s era Berkeley. I worked in a pizza joint, one of several little places surrounding a cobble stone courtyard. There was a small theater across the way that showed all kinds of interesting films. It wasn’t especially comfortable, I don’t recall a concession stand. Just a tiny, cozy place to watch flickers unavailable elsewhere.

    The thing that set this experience apart was it’s casualness. Going to a movie wasn’t something planned, it wasn’t an event in anyway whatsoever. It was pure spur of the moment, a serendipitous, no biggie discovery of film. The little theater seamlessly integrated into everyday life and made discovery an everyday opportunity. I developed a fondness for films – Japanese samurai, Kurosawa – which took me completely by surprise.

    This is the kind of experience that I think towns (not malls, TOWNS) need. Someplace to walk to, to stop by and see old movies, foreign movies, experimental movies. No frills necessary. Just a ticket price low enough to encourage serendipity.

    Comment by Patty -

  8. I view the theater businesses situation similar to the airlines current situation. Everyone knows there is money to be made, they just can’t do it.

    So what was the one profitable airline? Southwest. Why? They obvously ran a tight ship and kept things to a minimum. However a key differentiator is the service. The flight attendants are joyful and always appreciate the customer. There is always a thank you at the end of the flight. Similarly at the end of small live theatres, the director always thanks the audience.

    Has any one ever tried something as simple as thanking the audience for coming? Think about if a person came in before the show and had a 20 second speech about “Thanks for coming, without you guys we would be bankrupt, etc.” Not some message that is projected on the screen, but a visible human being. These little things can make a person feel more intimately involved with the theater, and not simply a customer handing out dollars.

    Its simple, barely costs anything, and would probably have a more long term effect on the experience than 150 promotional giveaways and discounts.

    Comment by Brian Anderson -

  9. Original problem was – get my first weekend customer acquistion costs down – in fact, take them from red to black….

    Pure and simple, utilize the world of give-a-ways and sweepstakes – potentally with tie ins to the theme of the movie, or the world of entertainment….

    Example: In the movie Arthur – we have a very weathy guy, living in NYC on Central Park. There could be grand prize of “live Like Arthur for a year” – and maybe several other prizes that tie into the them (trips to NYC, bottles of Scotch, get a limo and fancy dinner, etc.)

    Example: In your movie “The Smartest Guy in The Room” – it’s about Enron and how the ran the company. The grand prize could an honorary Degree/MBA from Harvard (sometimes it’s not about big money), with other tie in prizes.

    If it’s a Glam movie – maybe the grand prize is not just getting to go to the Academy Awards and sitting in the nose bleeds, but actually geing a presenter (or one of those nameless pretty people that hand the stars the Oscar) and you get to the the after parties.

    Now, obviously, these things cost money – what we are talking about here is spending less, not spending “nothing at all”. And you make the contest an event unto itself – something that then allows it to a “buzz” factor. Much like the Project Greenlight stuff – the movies were terrible, but the process was fun to watch.

    Another obvious challenge is making sure there is direct tie-in into “ticket sales” and the contest itself. But let’s not get caught up in the dirty details here – just allow yourself to think of the possibilties (and the free publicity) available.

    Simply put, the contest (and tie in) creates the EVENT – all the movie has to do is be good enough to make it to Week two of it’s release on it’s own merits (and that’s up to the movie makers). That’s my idea!!

    Comment by Arnie McKinnis -

  10. I must be bored – and I could only read through about 50 of the comments – Mark, if you are actually reading these (and not using some assistant), then you have a very powerful constitution!!

    Here’s my comment – most of the people commenting (because I’m assuming they really don’t want to get the job) did ready the original post.

    There was a very simple problem stated: Customer acquisition costs are out of control for the movie business – you have to overspend for during the “lead up” to a movie release for the number of customers you actually get. But, the paradox is – if a movie does not hit a certain revenue target, the movie studios (the people incharge of the distribution of the movie – not the theaters or production companies) will begin to loose interest and look to promote another film.

    With the problem (and the paradox) is the challenge…Get me $40M in revenue on an opening weekend, without me spending $60M to promote it. In fact, figure out a way to get me $40M in revenue for $20M in cost — reverse the movie release equation.

    So, to the next 250 people that post ideas, solve that problem – not the theater business – this is about movie marketing and first weekend customer acquistion – pure and simple.

    Comment by Arnie McKinnis -

  11. Use the American Idol model:

    Comment by ashkan karbasfrooshan -

  12. 1. You (and the industry) have to make a choice: either you want to appeal to the mass market or you want to appeal to those who will continue to patronize theaters because they want the best movie-going experience.

    2. Admissions are down because Hollywood does nothing but make derivative films and sequels based upon the results of focus groups and conservative investors who will only bet on a sure thing. (I realize that many Landmark theaters play arthouse films.) This might have worked in an era when there was less competition for leisure time, but now that there are so many alternatives (as well as home video), it simply doesn’t work anymore.

    3. The worst thing that ever happened to the movies was the advent of the “concept film”.

    4. I’ve only been in one Landmark theatre (the Sunshine in NYC) and it was okay, but most theaters are ugly (cinderblock, stained carpeting, bad sight-lines) and uncomfortable with bad sound and inept projection. Especially as HDTV and HD-DVD hits the marketplace, theaters must provide an experience that exceeds the home experience. IMHO, 2K digital projection isn’t going to cut it. The studios won’t go for it, but the best theater experience could be restored if filmmakers once again presented films in 70mm (aside from IMAX). And the theaters have to be beautiful places that feel special to be in, like the “palaces” of the 1920s and 30s. 70mm won’t happen, but sound and projection must be pristine 100% of the time.

    5. You must educate the audience: play the trailers provided by Dolby, DTS, THX, etc. so they understand the technology behind the presentation (and why they really can’t replicate it at home). Put the presentation formats into your advertising. Half the audience thinks you’re playing a VHS tape in the projection booth.

    6. Studios want to maximize opening weekend grosses, but it would probably be better to let films open slowly and expand as they used to. Make opening night a special event for a restricted group of people, as some have suggested. Maybe opening nights should be reserved to those who come ‘dressed’ so you attract a cool looking crowd. Or maybe it doesn’t have to even be opening night. While this all might seem counter-intuitive, the idea is to make movie-going special. It’s no longer special, both because of the theaters and the movies the studios are producing. You have to make going to the movies at a Landmark theatre the equivalent of getting behind the rope at a hot club.

    7. You have to make the food and snacks so good that people come to the theater for the food as much as the movie. That means get rid of the garbage, the trans-fats, the mass-market candy, etc. and find local non-chain vendors to supply fresh food. I know hot dogs are easier to make than burgers, but I’ve always wondered why theaters have never sold decent (not fast food type) burgers. Sell watermelon. Get esoteric sodas like Dr. Brown’s or Stewart’s. Make ice-cream sodas. I don’t know if it’s still there, but there used to be a place in Fanueil Hall in Boston called The Monkey Bar that made these incredible non-alcoholic whipped drinks. They would do things like rim a glass with toasted coconut (instead of salt).

    8. Put ushers and other help back in really cool uniforms. Not Polyester fast-food restaurant type uniforms but the kind of clothes you see on workers at very fancy hotels, like the Metropolitan or the W. Or maybe (I hesitate to use this example) take the Hooters approach and hire sexy people (of both sexes) and put them in sexy clothes.

    9. Throw anyone out whose cell phone rings in the theater or who has a crying kid. You must get rid of the annoyances that are driving people to stay home.

    10. The theater must become more than about movies. It’s been said many times that the railroads went out of business because they thought of themselves as a train company, not a transportation company. Movie theaters must be entertainment centers, not just a place to see movies. Especially with the advent of digital projection and delivery, this could mean sporting events, live concerts, etc.

    How about a theatre where half the seats could be removed and a dance floor put in for use when live concerts are presented. Turn the theater into a club.

    11. More special events: During the Summer, several thousand people line up at 5pm in Bryant Park to watch old movies, long available on TV and on video. They have to wait until almost 9pm for the movie to start. OK, it’s free, but that’s not the reason they’re there. They come because it’s a scene: they lay out blankets, bring food and commune with their friends under the stars. But it’s the scene that counts–it’s the place to be.

    7000 people showed up in Prospect Park to watch the original Dracula with a live soundtrack. event.

    While a theater may not be able to replicate the outdoor atmosphere, there are other things they can do to make movies events again.

    12. No one of the things I have listed will make that much of a difference. But all of them put together might. At this point, it isn’t just about increasing admissions, it’s about keeping the ones you already have.

    P.S. IMHO, day-and-date theater and video release will kill the theater business. It’s not that there won’t be any theaters, but they’ll be far less numerous than they are now. It’s your choice.

    Comment by Marty Brooks -

  13. During filming, shoot an extra few scenes that are edited to create a half-hour show for network broadcast that has a cliff-hanger ending.

    It’s promoting the flick much like a trailer would but in a longer format. It has a story arc that doesn’t give away important plot points but pulls the viewer into the story just enough to pique interest and then it ends.

    You could even maintain the costs with network ad buys from the companies that have product placements in the movie. The whole thing could become a network show in its own right.


    Comment by Jeff -

  14. Mark, I have to disagree with some of Todd Johnston’s comments (#204) about my ideas about how to make the movie going experience more audience interactive & empower movie goers. (My previous response is #202 from Aug. 3rd)

    First, it’s not one factor that will bring in audiences. It’s a combination of factors. But the driving force is to democratize the movie-going experience and to make it more interactive and have audiences feel they’re important. Their opinions matter. The idea is to give them a voice in a variety of ways.

    I disagree that if audiences rate movies, this could be a novelty that will wear off. Look at the popularity of American Idol. Look at the Audience Awards at major film festivals. The latter are coveted and influential awards and have been so for many years. They are also used as a marketing and promotional tool for films. If you give viewers the opportunity to rate a movie and the ratings are displayed in theaters on marquees, (and possibly in other forms of multi-media), viewers will feel important, empowered and that their opinions count. The ratings change frequently, which keeps it interesting. (There is a final rating at the end of a movie’s run.) This totally enhances the movie-going experience.

    (And as I mentioned, “Landmark Theatre Audiences” could become a collective entity that has influence over the popular culture of movies in the same way indivual critics do.)

    Audience review/reaction clips (2 mins.) are not a novelty. If you have new clips with every film and budding/emerging filmmakers film & edit the clips, they will always change & be fresh & interesting, generate excitement and have good entertainment value if done right. You also have involvement on two ends.. those in the short film clip and those making the short film clip. And who knows what can eventually be done with the individual film clips?

    And lastly, showing a 2 minute commentary clip with the director and one or two actors does not have to be drivel or “crap.” I love the written commentary in your issues of Film Magazine. I had in mind a short cinematic version of this, to be screened before each film. It is important that what is said is interesting and informative and enhances the film for audiences, and not be drivel. This is already achieved by the essays in Film Magazine. The addition of one or 2 actors as well as the director would make the 2 minutes more interesting and dynamic, cinematically. (I don’t think 2 minutes of the director speaking will fly with audiences and hold their attention.)

    I don’t believe this is a forum to discuss the merits and demerits of other peoples ideas. It’s a forum to present ideas to you and let you be the judge. So, if there is further comment on my blog entry, I will not respond from now on.

    I’m not going to take up any more room with postings. You’ve got enough to read.

    Great challenge, Mark — to get ideas from the public! You’re always ahead of the curve!

    Comment by Rhonda Moskowitz -

  15. Sorry to spam here, but you asked a question that is ripe for getting the brain juice flowing. Funny thing is I am not even that interested in the job, I am an IT and idea guy, what the hell would you put me to work doing? Somehow I don’t think the career of “sitting around thinking shit up” exists anymore these days… sadly. Not to mention, Texas is just too damned hot!

    Anyways, I know you are asking for ways to revitalize theatre from a movie production house perspective and this isn’t really an answer to that. This is more an idea towards revitalizing the theatre itself. The biggest sale point of a theatre is frankly the immersion. Even with massive projection TVs at home, with 7.1 surround sound, it just is not the same. Problem is, movies just aren’t the draw they used to be; noise distractions, screaming infants, fat guys in the seat next to you, the guy in front that wants to be an expert and wont STFU through the entire film. There are so many aspects that make home theatre such an appealing experience. Not to mention, missing a movie in the theatre isn’t really a big deal anymore, as it will be on the home video market in less then a year anyways( sorry this goes as a negative to your day one release, which btw, I like). So, why not play to your strengths?

    You’ve got a big friggin screen and an awesome sound system, plus a room that can seat 150+. Why not show sporting events in local markets and make it a licensed (alcohol ) event. Your competing with sports bars around the world with a handful of big screen tv’s. It just doesn’t compare to seeing the game in HD on a 60+ foot screen. Or, go picture in picture and show 3 or 4 games at once tuned to one specific game for audio?

    The marketing just writes itself too… “Closest thing to being there without the 10$ beer!” or “Why watch just one game at a time?”. I imagine for big name sporting events, licensing would become an issue, like, say… the Super Bowl. However, fan bases are big enough you will draw a crowd if pitched properly.

    Granted, don’t sell it at movie prices, look at it more like a cover charge. 4 – 5 $ per person to get in, reasonably priced (alcoholic) drinks and concessions at their regular prices. I would only propose doing such a setup in an area where the teams sellout. If tickets to the actual game are freely available, why not see it in person?

    I can’t speak to American markets, as I am Canadian and was never a fan of either the NFL or NBA. However, I know such a setup in key Canadian cities would sell out if you aired NHL games. Markets such as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and even Hamilton or London, you could easily pack the house(s) during any night a local team was playing. Come playoff time, you could probably pack the house at almost any price you wished to charge, if you could negotiate the rights to rebroadcast the games. Ironically enough, I think viewers wouldn’t even mind shows being aired with commercials, especially if you showed multiple streams or tickers at once. This alone may get you around many of the nasty licensing requirements.

    Secondly, sorry, I don’t know the etiquette of this site as I’ve recently just started posting here. Mostly it seems like a dialog from us to you, not us to us as well. So, if I am breaking a taboo by commenting towards other peoples comments I apologize in advance.

    To the people with the try before you buy(see the first quarter free), or episodic content idea’s, frankly I just can’t see that working. Perhaps in the home market, but even then I see some serious flaws. First off, who would go to a theatre to potentially see ¼ of a movie? Generally a trip to the movies is a planned night out and ultimately it isn’t the loss of money to bad films that turn people off, it’s the bad films themselves. If I drove into town ( say, 20 minutes ) and watched a terrible film, even just the first quarter, I am going to be irritated regardless to if or how much I paid for it. A setup like this isn’t going to drive revenue or consumer happiness up, if anything it will hurt sales as the true duds will make zero money.

    Even worse, this setup would cater towards films that are front heavy. Make the first quarter of the film as exciting as possible!!! With certain genre’s, that just wouldn’t work. Hell, had I had the option of choosing to buy after the first quarter of a film I would have missed many great movies, including The Lord of the Rings and 2001. You would set a terrible precedent for film makers that would only result in poorly paced and ultimately bad films.

    As to the episodic content argument, I suppose I can see it working as it worked in the 50’s and 60’s, but frankly, new media has ruined that. Not to mention you would have a negative effect on the theatres manpower. Since episodic content tends to be shorter, there would be more downtime between films as people would have to come in and do maintenance between showings. If you mean episodic content in terms of feature length films, we already have that in the form of trilogies, etc.

    To the people proposing Indy theatre, that really doesn’t work here either. Yes, front end production costs go WAY down, but in the end, you aren’t going to draw huge numbers. Indy theatre will probably always be delegated to small, second tier theatres with much lower overhead. Hitting the 6 million number Mark is talking about, just isn’t going to be had with indy flicks. That said, there is easily a market for upscale dinner + indy films “clubs”, but I think that’s a different demographic. Keep in mind, running those concessions, keeping the hydro on and staffing the place are probably as big or bigger costs then licensing obscure films. No matter how much you reduce costs on the one side, your still going to have to make a certain amount to be profitable on the other. An empty or near empty theatre doesn’t break even, it loses money.

    If anyone feels free to dispute or argue any point I have made, please feel free to email me at mike [at] return42 [dot] com. Sorry for the obfuscation, I am just sick of spam.

    Comment by Mike F -

  16. My idea is a simple one. Let’s say you plan to release five movies this coming year to the box office, and you want to draw as much attendance to these five. At the first movie, offer with the purchase of a ticket some sort of log or some kind of passport for your movies leaving four spots since you plan to release four new movies. Now during the release of your next movie offer with every ticket a stamp or sticker that is unique to the movie and that sticker can go into their log. The object would be to entice people to complete their log, which would require them to attend every movie to get every sticker and by doing so they qualify for some sort of prize. This prize could be whatever you want,possibly a box at a mavericks game, play-off tickets, movie passes, pre-release screenings, that part is up to you.

    Hope this helps

    Comment by Philip Maio -

  17. I know this is a forum for you to ask us a question, but I have one in return. If any readers here know the answer, please let me know, as this has bothered me for years.

    Why dont theatres have tiered pricing? Why is it that the only way to get good seats is to get in line for a movie hours before it starts and why is the shmuck sitting in the front row paying the same ticket price as the people with premium middle seating?

    Normally what I end up seeing is three empty front rows. Atleast most theatres allow you to get a refund instead of forcing you to sit 5 feet from the screen. Why not offer these tickets slightly cheaper ( say 25% ) and premium seats at a premium of 25%.

    In the end I think you will see those “cheap seats” get more popular, plus make more money off the premiums. Granted, this would only apply to fully packed opening movies.

    I honestly never understood why this wasnt applied. Almost any other ticketed event ( movies, concerts, flights, etc… ) have this option, but not theatres??? Please somebody, explain this to me.

    Comment by Mike F -

  18. I bet you were looking forward to my entry for today. So was I. I couldn’t wait to find out what brilliant idea I would come up with. I’m sure it is coming up here real soon. If we read on we’ll probably find it. Oh yeah, Here it is:

    Create a series that runs in five minute segments. End each with a cliffhanger that is resolved in the next and so on. After the “To be continued…” you give the information of when, where and what movie to see the next episode. Place this show somwhere between the commericials and the Previews. Let the people have the interactivity with these episodes that so many have mentioned about the movies. Let them vote on things, make suggestions, name characters, pick villians, become characters, write episodes, blog predictions, etc. You pay for the production of these episodes through product placement and sponsorship. In fact some product or service out there might jump on the whole thing and make it just one long commercial hidden within the storyline. We can discuss more details in later blogs.

    And now for today’s cliffhanger: You’ve come to a fork in the road. Do you take it? Hmm?

    Comment by Special K -

  19. Oh, two more suggestions. These are going to make millions of people come see your movie, but I will tell you, they will make me more likely to come back! Point blank these are two of the biggest reasons I despise going to movies.

    Don’t join the damned seats together! This is just retarded and reminds people of flying cattle class on a 747. Gee, would I rather sprawl out at home on my comfy couch, or go to a theatre and have some sweaty fat guys gut hanging over my seat. I know your just trying to monopolize space, but stop it! In the end, people either just create empty seat spaces themselves or have a shitty movie experience and refuse to return. I know some premium theatres offer this with a huge price tag. In my mind, for ticket prices, all theatres should!

    Put headphone jacks in all seats. The number of movies I’ve had ruined by some assholes cell phone I can’t count. Over time, you’re willing to just wait for it to come out on DVD these days, especially with bigger and bigger home TVs. Heck, take a page from the airlines and make revenue off renting headphones to people who didn’t bring their own. One a movie starts, a movie isn’t really a social experience anymore. While your wiring, you may want to put a jack in people can plug their iPod or such into and download some tracks from the soundtrack.

    Let’s just say, change these two small things and I will watch a ton more movies in the theatre. Until these are fixed, especially the seating, I will be so much more comfortable at home that I will rarely watch a movie in theatres. You would be surprised how many customers that lacking a 2 inch gap between chairs is alienating from going to movies.


    Comment by Mike F -

  20. I never understood why they don’t make things like that a “lottery.”

    Mark, read;_ylt=ArwORM_ATAGSGEGl2WnZogKs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3OTB1amhuBHNlYwNtdHM-, tell me what you think?

    My e-mail address is Good luck.

    Comment by John McCarthy -

  21. I think you are taking the wrong approach. Tapping into communities online and offline is all good and nice, but frankly rather pointless. These entire communities work off buzz and are fickle at best. Spending any more than a minimal amount of money targeting this area is most likely pointless. Your best way of getting into these communities is to wow them and let the viral market do its thing.

    Your best bet would be to form a community system of your own, revolving specifically around movies. Yes, yes… the last thing the world needs is yet another MySpaces, MSN Spaces, Facebook, whatever, but that’s not really what I am suggesting.

    Create an online presence and give them real world tangible reasons to actually go there. Perhaps at first offer tickets at a discount if purchased online just to build a user base. Hell discounts on merchandise, advanced access to tickets, whatever it takes to build a user base at the least cost to yourself. I am sure you can think of ways to do this. The biggest thing is to build your user base quickly.

    Once you have enough people start forming communities and use incentive after incentive to get new people and keep existing ones. At this point though, you should be able to use your existing community as a marketing tool. Offer a free movie to each person that refers another person after the newly created user pays for their first movie. Downside to this would be fraud, you would need to implement a system such as recording each person’s IP address to minimize people creating multiple accounts to get a free movie by creating and referring a fake user. On the bright side, the worse you could be taken for is every other movie. I am sure there are dozens of ways to minimize fraud.

    If the community gets large enough, allow the formation of sub-communities. Allow people to organize themselves by geographical location, genre’s of interest, age range, kids/no kids. Hell, even allow people to group by marital status so people can view movies knowing they aren’t going to be hit on, or quite the opposite and use it to some degree as a pick up spot.

    Now the key to success and future growth is allowing communities to form their own communities. Allow me to create my own private group in which I send invite only membership. I can then create a site as a tool to organize movie going events. Give an incentive again. If one person invites say, 6 or more other people, the starter gets in for free. Or, say groups of 10+, they get a discount across the board. This would allow communities to organize around say, the work place. Get a guaranteed block of tickets at a good price. If you get a large enough community ( say a mid sized corporate function ), allow them to actually choose the movie and have the theatre to themselves. Hell, if a community of likeminded people simply joined by a certain demographic all agree to buy tickets, give them the same opportunity. Thus, if someone in say New Orleans, got a community of sci/fi fans all signed up to go see a scanner darkly, let them have the theatre to themselves.

    Hopefully what ends up happening is people from the virtual world start to interact in the real world. This would in turn allow people to meet likeminded people who they share an interest with. This could allow you to potentially allow you to tap into a market that is hard to get. The guy/girl with few friends that refuses to go to a movie alone. There are tons of people like this. Allowing people to meet in the real world, exchange online information, would allow the person to look at what the other person plans to view in the future and set a date ( in the non-romantic sense ) to join that other person in watching the movie. Hey, if it turns into a dating service, all the better. Also, allow people to keep a friends list and put a kiosk in the theatre so people can quickly browse what friends are watching what movies that day.

    Finally, if the community is big enough to justify it, introduce democracy. Have user driven movie selection at select theatres. Gear communities by genre or age and let them actually vote towards what upcoming releases should be screened in the area. In essence, over time this should lead to the community doing the demographic work for you of choosing what movies should be on which screens, ideally maximizing the number of viewers to a given screen.

    The added side benefit, against whatever costs are involved, is you over time will have a hyper detailed electronic profile of each of your various markets, broken down by demographics within. These stats will be based off actual viewership and not some skewed survey or inaccurate sampling mechanism. I’m sure you could find some value in that. Plus you will have a direct line to market future products or merchandise at your customer base.

    At this point, connect to as many social sites as you can. Allow people to tie their Myspace accounts to their movie account so they can show what movies they watched, are going to watch, whatever. Do whatever you can to join and integrate as many social networks together. Make it easier for people to invite other people to join your service via MSN, Yahoo, whatever. Publish an API allowing other people to mesh in with your community.

    This will generate the buzz within social communities and allow your user base and other online forums to do the marketing for you.


    Comment by Mike F -

  22. mark,
    check out this woman’s web site and then
    check out this article about viral marketing s_entertainment_mandy_stadtmiller.htm
    I really thought some angry housewife was reeking revenge on her cheating husband.
    Great underground marketing. Make you think that you are part of the movie/ tv show/ whatever. Feel free to use that one, without giving me a job (i don’t want to move to dallas!)

    Comment by cindy -

  23. have multiple different story lines and have the theater change which one they show each day so that people will keep coming back to see the same movie but for a twist… i.e what if they wanted the character to take a different route.. well now they could see that

    Comment by adam -

  24. why dont you just have multiple story, just small changes, to each movie you make… and then have the theater vary when they show each different story. that way people will not only come to see it once they will come to see it again to see the new angle or aspect

    Comment by adam -

  25. To accomplish this I think you will have to re-invent the industry, or how it works. Right, you already knew that.

    One idea I had was “Little big Screen”. The majority of moviegoing happens in a 3-4 day window. (Thur-Sun) In order to drive traffic/attendance during the “off” days why not bring shows from T.V. that can be fueled by the communal environment that the theatre offers.

    Band of Brothers – DVD $50, filmed along the same lines as Saving Private Ryan. 10 part series that gives you the longevity that Movies may not offer. One episode every two weeks on the same night (Tue), same time each week 7:30 p.m. You have a built in base already (people who own the DVD or are fans), and you offer it on the big screen, a show that lends itself to a larger then life presentation. A group of war movie loving men who can bond, interact, cheer, etc… then afterwards discuss it.

    Clone Wars – Cartoon series bridging the gap of the last two Star Wars movies. Again, built in fan base, thrives in a communal environment, series for longevity.

    Sex in the City, Sopranos, Samurai Champloo, Fire Fly, you get the idea…

    The theatre has one thing no home system, DVD collection has. The ability to get 100+ strangers in a room feeding off each other, sharing a moment, and wanting to do it again.

    The next step would be to develop Mini-Movies. Get them back down to an hour, multiple episodes, larger then life presentation, monthly releases etc…

    Movies are missing regularity, the development of a fan base, continued interaction. The only time you get it is a year later with a sequel, and normally they do not carry a plot forward. Think “Lord of the Rings”, great story told over a period of time through multiple installments.

    Comment by Nick P. -

  26. Mark –

    A very simple solution – and no, I have not read through every post to see if this has been offered – but make it affordable for all budgets at the concession stand. If that is overcome, then people will pay xxx to get into a movie.

    4.5 for a hot dog is a bit of a markup. Also at the concession stand, offer alcohol. Beer and wine are fine. The profits from beer/wine sales will surpass the profits lost due to lowering soda, hot dog, and popcorn prices. Most adults who stream the video or wait until it comes out on DVD do it because it is comfortable at home and they can enjoy a cocktail or two while watching the movie. I would NOT go the Studio Movie Grill route, they do that, and I am sure their profits are not that high.

    Just my thoughts –


    Comment by Greg Jones -

  27. Hey Mark I propose you re-read my POST on your 1st challenge.

    Please type pallet jack into Yahoo! I am #1 out of 774,000+ Who can sell Pallet Jacks online? I can I have 10k a month in sales.

    If I can develop a simple and cheap (30 labor hours and under $200) plan for selling pallet jacks (Very hard online sale) I CAN PUSH YOUR DVDS! –

    Thanks for reading. – Rbowles

    Comment by Richard Bowles -


    Now I know what you may be thinking, a quarter for a quarter? Who cares? But I’m talking about releasing a theatrical movie on-Demand, except only a quarter of it. And the promotion could be called “a quarter for a quarter.”

    Comment by John McCarthy -

  29. Put films into theaters that serve underserved audiences. We’ve been fighting the battle to find a theatrical distributor for our movie Rock The Bells, that, from our experience in making hip holp themed films, has a huge audience hungry for their culture to be documented.

    Rock The Bells ( is a narrative documentary that tells the story of what it took to put on the first Rock The Bells hip hop festival in 2004. That festival reunited the Wu-Tang Clan for the first time in almost a decade. It was the last time that they performed with ODB before his death. It tells the story from multiple narratives, weaving together the many characters and challenges that made up the day. It has receieved overwhelming support from critics and the sold-out audiences that have seen it at festivals. The series of pull quotes generated at Tribeca alone could fill a movie poster… and we’re talking Variety, Premiere, Jane Magazine, as well as a plethora of online film critics (

    And this is neither a “serious art film” nor a “for fans only hip hop movie.” It is a crowd pleaser. We had 50 year old women come up to us after the screenings to tell us how much they loved the film. How it let them finally understand the music their children listen to.

    It is about the lives of people who make up one of the biggest group of ticket-buyers in the country. But we’re having a hard time getting distributors to consider it as a theatrical film, including your own Magnolia. They seem to overwhelmingly believe that this audience will not go to theaters to see films with stories, even though this has been disproven again and again.

    So I don’t think marketing is the only problem. I think there is a blindness to certain audiences. And I think there is a sense of fear amongst distributors that leads to a risk averse culture. And that’s not exciting to movie goers. Apparently, in the seventies, film was a bit more dangerous. Easy Rider shocked everyone by becoming a hit… because it uncovered an audience that the distributors didn’t know existed. The Hip Hop audience is huge. Even if Rock The Bells didn’t have crossover potential, which it does in spades, the core audience for the film is enormous. Why will no one put it into theaters, when they will put out the Leonard Cohen doc, or the Beastie Boys doc, or the Neil Young doc? None of which have storylines like this film does.

    We’ll send you a copy of the film if you’ll watch it. We’re personally shocked no one has wanted to put this thing into a limited run. It would make tons of money. Since the festival we shot, it has become a yearly event. A tour is beginning that will go through the US and Europe. The amount of free publicity is staggering. Google “Rock The Bells.” If acquisitions execs would look outside their own culture at what is happening in other movie-going cultures, they might find gems like this that already have a built-in audience hungry for a film that speaks to them in an engaging and respectful way. It happened with Y Tu Mama Tambien, and it could happen with Rock The Bells.

    Comment by Denis Hennelly -


    Comment by regina -

  31. Lowering concession prices would be a novelty and eventually wear off. Plus it would only get a fraction of the population out, barely increasing profits. On-Demand type idea is flawed. Imagine 30 people seeing a new release for a very small price. That’s just not thinking at all.

    More variety in films is a good idea. However you would have to increase the expendature on films. However this can be controlled; hire talent that is good, but not expensive. Eliminate Tom Cruise types and high-payed Directors in exchange for new talent that will work for a fraction of the cost. Increase output of films at lower cost to Exec. Producers, and perhaps increase traffic to theatres. Good idea, but very risky.

    Audience review is a nice novelty as well but even that would eventually wear off. Again, barely increase profit margins. Showing the pitch is just like the same old-behind the scenes documentary crap that gets released withe very film these days. Novelty; which will wear out. Indie Films are old news, even to those who aren’t film nerds. Yea its cool that you made a film for under $10,000 but alot of people do that and make that much. Think about how much you’ve spent traveling and on promotion and entry fees to all those festivals. Video Games on the big-screen could be cool. That is a great idea. So is braodcasting sporting events on the big screens. Another good way to increase profit. Maybe charge $5 to get in, plus concessions. Make contracts with NFL, NBA, etc.

    Bars in Theatre is old news. A lot of people do it. But that can also turn people off. Not everyone drinks and not everyone wants to sit in a theatre with a bunch of rowdy drunk people. More of a novelty – and not very creative.

    Myspace promotions are too common place now days. They annoy me now. I can’t stand logging into my space and checking my mesages only to ahve an inbox full of “check out my new band” “check out my new indie film” “check out John tucker Must Die” Soon people will get fed up with myspace completely and just quit using it altogether.

    Comment by Todd Johnston -

  32. Go back to basics and then remodel them completely.

    Content – its always push – what Studios think people want to see – people want to choose content (pull) – have an electronic vote and the majority see the film on the night or a week before, or even version of a film, directors cut. Go back to the drawing board choose your own adventure in movies even, alternative endings. Appeal to the geeks – let them search an online cataolgue and watch it on the cinema. 3D is going to be huge – you can’t get it at home – even for sports, which will be possible next year in cinemas. 4D even. But you can’t completely rejuvnate cinema – its for watching films – and always will be. But getting people to go there, when they have the same option at home is not going to work. You have to do better than VoD, not the same. People like to watch films together – its a community thing – appeal to this nature, not diminish it. Get people to rate a movie at the end of every performance then and there on screen, ask them a few questions, play some related content – behind the scenes – extend the experience, not just show the 91 mins of the film. This is what people do at home, they talk about it, savour it. How about a forum/after movie area where people go to after, for a drink and a general discusion. But cinema should not be restricted to showing films, show short films, show dating ads, show games, more…

    The cinema – enough has already been said about the cinema, but people should have more afffinity with their ‘local’ multiplex – let them feel they have a place there – and people are tired of the bland non descreptive venues. How you do that is up to you.

    Comment by Jayne -

  33. A few thoughts… Let audiences have an interactive experience and a voice. Let them feel they have some control and input. Here are two possible ways:

    1) American Idol invites viewers to vote for their favorite Idol. Why not give each audience member a hand held device where at the end of every screening, they can push a button (the button could be shaped like a star) with a corresponding number to rate the film. The numbers get tallied and posted in the theater on a marquee (or several marquees) (the numbers (or number of stars) obviously continually change). Finer details to be worked out.

    Audience ratings can also be used in film advertising, similar to the way critics ratings and comments are used. Landmark Theatre audience ratings could eventually rank as important as and equal to the critics. Critics comments and ratings are constantly displayed in mainstream and alternative newspapers ads, and web sites. The addition of the legitimization of audience opinion (by Landmark Theatres) could also influence public discourse and dialogue about films in various media outlets.

    2) A 2nd way to empower the viewer… On opening weekend, someone can film audiences reactions and comments about the film and edit this into a couple of minutes. You could show this approx. 2 min.clip before each screening for the duration of the movie’s run. Each film would have its’ own clip. People would LOVE to see themselves, their friends, relatives & co-workers on the big screen. (Sort of similar to the Disney movie viewer comments on TV, but much cooler and hipper. Editing could be creative to make the clip entertaining. There are great editing software programs with terrific special effects. Or, you could set up TV screens on the walls of the theaters in the lobby and display the audience review/rection film clips.

    You could also sponsor contests to budding/emerging filmmakers to film & edit these clips. Details need to be worked out… Each Landmark Theater could film their own audiences, or you could film audiences state by state. One clip for a national audience may not be as effective. As I mentioned, these details need to be ironed out.

    And finally… There are NY and Hollywood premieres of films which are events. Red carpet, etc. Why not have “premieres” of films on opening night? (Not with celebrities, or stars, though.) You could lay down red carpets, have local bands play short sets before the evening screenings on opening night.(If you have a 6 screen theater, you would have 6 indie bands. Kind of music would depend on audience demographics. All age groups love music. Could even be one singer and a keyboard for an older or very young demographic.)This would give indie bands and musicians needed exposure, there would be cross grassroots marketing/promotions on music web sites and bands web sites. The theaters may have to stay open an hour longer to make up for the time, but you only need the bands to play a few songs. And this would only be for the opening night.

    I guess you could say that some of these ideas brings the democratization of opinions and ideas and individual empowerment and control that the web offers to the movie going experience.

    One more thought- On DVDs there are directors comments, actors comments, etc in the “extras.” Possibly make a special 2 minute clip of the director and/or one or two actors saying something interesting about why their film is important and include the film’s greater significance. Sort of like a “pitch” and show this before the film.” The comments should be short & illuminating/interesting. They should be talking to the audience. Maybe directly to the camera. Not an “interview.” Make it a personal statement to the audience of their “passion.”

    Comment by Rhonda Moskowitz -

  34. If you want to create an atmosphere of urgency to get the family out to the movie, give them a good reason to do so. Original, exlusive content; theatre only. Give them a real reason to go to the movies, not a reason to stay home.

    Comment by Baishide -

  35. Mr. Cuban-

    There are many wonderful ideas here, but unfortunately most fail to address the most common reason that someone decides not to go to the movies: “There’s nothing playing that I want to see.”

    As you indicate in your note, most theater chains are completely dependent on Hollywood’s content development, and operate on Hollywood’s calendar. This clearly is not enough. The way to draw more people to a movie, and to movie theaters specifically, is to offer more variety in the theater.

    You will never find a bookstore that sells only the DaVinci Code, will never find a bar stocking only Budweiser. The AA Center offers more than just Mavs games. Though there are many “blockbuster” products that drive customers, but theater chains somehow seem to ignore the opportunities for expanded content.

    For whatever demographic that you choose to target for a particular theater brand, there must ALWAYS be something showing that will be appealing. Here are a few possibilities:

    -Offer children’s programming. Every major movie chain is acting like they are changing the world by having mid-day screening for families, and it is a nice idea, but again it is content dependent. Variety programming would be exceptionally successful – who says the only thing shown must be a single film that runs about 90 minutes? Co-branding would make this even stronger. Imagine showing a fun film with animals in it, and then having someone from the local zoo with a few live animals to pet!

    -Offer classic television programming. People who are attached to TV shows *love* to talk about them, and any film or TV fan is nostalgic for something. Programming could be geared towards special runs of a specific show, or geared TV appearances by the star of an upcoming/newly released film.

    -Offer sports programming. Though contracts likely prohibit exhibiting pro sports live with admission charges, there is certainly an opportunity to develop models where concessions would allow free admission, similar to how sports bars operate. Teens are old enough to leave their house and spend money at a mall – how come there is no place between the arena and a TV set for them to watch sports and be more connected with their local team?

    -Video game tournaments. Gamers tend to be fanatics, too, and many games are now released in conjunction with films. Gamers would relish the chance to play on an enormous screen.

    Again, these ideas together are not right for every single theater chain, but with further development and demographic targeting, they would each expand the theatergoing market. Ultimately this will be a boon to both the theater company and to the developers of the movies being promoted on the marquee.

    Look forward to chatting with you further.


    Comment by Jeremy -

  36. Not sure if this is the best way to comment on the recent challange “…award a job to
    anyone who can come up with fresh ideas”

    I run a small indie website ( We are based in New England. Last year we posted a contest for potential filmmakers to enter a production contest. Small budgets (under $10k each) that Image Icon Entertainment would select and produce the top four. We had 1500 submissions. With barely advertising. NOW, the first is done (Last Call – We have over 20,000 contacts as a
    result. Not millions, but not a bad start for a project that cost us less than $2500 to
    produce. Each project will be well recieved each time and continue to grow AND make a
    nice profit for the investment. We have a tight little group and our associate producers
    finished a short version of a feature we wish to produce, called BROKEN

    NEW IDEA: Not only did it Win or place at 60 film festivals for exposure but we traveled
    to the festivals and networked the film hand to hand, face to face. End result, a project
    that cost less than $8k (with over nearly 100 special effects) has sold 5,000 copies at
    $20 each (we included a documentary how we did the film).

    We also set up systems that work off the principle mentioned. A studio can easily spend
    millions just marketing a film. Exposure, but if your best friend or family member says
    “Don’t see sucked!” Chances are…you’ll pass and see something else on their recommendation. Referral out weighs ad campaign anyday. How do you get 5 million people to see the film without spending a fortune on promotion you ask? If there is a following (like the affiliate programs) imagine all the upsells. If you had the opt in email address, phone numbers, addresses etc that they volunteered to give you. You could shoot out an email to 5 million (not spam) and it would be well received. You’d make millions
    just from the announcement. “Hey check out our new short compilation, our new feature
    film, our new series…” whatever. They’d eat it up.

    Take New England where we are based. There are literally over 350,000 college students in
    New England…EVERY YEAR. That we are establishing a pipeline with. Just that demographic alone is a gold mine of opportunity. Now imagine doing that nationally…globally.

    I’ll stop there for now, but we could go on for hours as I am just scratching the
    surface. Our friends, contact, network which grows everyday setting us up for the big
    play is all established with next to no budget…MAN, imagine what you can do!

    And don’t forget about the 181 Tax law, Mark. Full tax credit (Federal) for your
    investment, as well as certain state tax relief for film projects like in MA and RI where you can save 25% of your budget (over $300k min) and if you don’t use it you can RESELL IT TO THOSE NEED THE WRITE OFF…talk about benefit.

    Call me when your ready to fly me (or our team) up or when you are flying in and we can
    talk face to face over some grub and/or a cold one.


    Jamie Benti

    Comment by Jamie -

  37. What about Pay per view, except on the internet. Just let people go to your site, charge em $6.50 or whatever, and let them watch the movie from their lazy-boy. It doesn’t get people to the theatre, but it could increase viewing just among the people who want to see a movie, but don’t want to go to the theatre, dont want to deal with millions of teenagers talking during the movie, etc.

    Comment by Robert S. -

  38. I didn’t go through the previous posts/ideas.

    I think theaters should be revamped. Possibly have the big-screen 200-300 size theaters, but also offer a 20 seat (smaller screen) in a more “family” atmosphere. People could schedule a time and bring a maximum of 20 people, and pay a flat rate ($150-$200 for the theater of 20) to view a screening. This way people can get in and out – watch the movie when they want to – with the people they want to. Could also put a small bathroom next to each “family theater room” to allow for quick access.

    Comment by Joe Wilck -

  39. Hey Mark

    Ever been to a theater where you can sit down and drink beer. They rock 🙂 I went to one in Portland, Oregan. It showed indie flicks and served food as well. I would go there again and again if I lived there.


    Comment by soumendra -

  40. Mark,

    I read your challenge and have been following the comments. I’m really happy at my job, so I didn’t bother sharing. However, the idea has been sticking in my headso I figured I’d pitch it and see your reaction. If you are interested, I’d love to meet you although you’ll never recruit me to join your company.

    As a little background, I was thinking about an experience I had with Seth Godin a few years ago. He did a free seminar, but everyone had to buy 25 books (Purple Cow at the time) to get the free seminar. His point was that if you had 25 books of his, only the first one was actually valuable to me. The other 24 were only valuable if I gave them away. This was a great way to promote his book, because I ended up giving my copies to people who referred Purple Cow to others who also went out and purchased the book.

    During opening weekend, every group of 2 gets one free ticket to the show they just watched on their way out. (ie a group of 4 would get 2 tickets, etc…) These FREE tickets are only good for the specific film just watched.

    In most cases this isn’t valuable to them – because they just watched the movie. However, they would be motivated (assuming it was a good film they enjoyed) to share the ticket with someone else they think would like it – since that would be the only way to make the FREE ticket valuable to them. (They become your advertising)

    At a minimum, this gets people talking about the film – word of mouth.

    In addition the person who gets the FREE ticket will want to bring someone (since so few people go to the movies along) – so you end up selling more tickets.

    What do you think?

    Comment by Sean Ammirati -

  41. Mr. Cuban, you are a good one (and I am a Syracuse grad, class of 1981, and I love my NCAA b-ball Orangemen). The sort-of, new-ish IFC Theater and the Sunshine Theater(s) here in NYC are trying on the brand-thing. Bravo. But we are a devoted and passionate film-going demo here in the big, pointy-headed city. We at Press-On Pictures will be counting on it.

    Comment by holly hodder -

  42. To get that many people to the film, you have to make one that’s good enough. A modern day classic. Make it known the film will not be out in DVD until unspecified time/goals are met. You want to make a film that speaks to the basic human condition and need. Make a movie from Francine Rivers’ book Redeeming Love. Get Johnny Depp to play Michael Hosea and either Nicole Kidman or Keri Russell to play Sarah. Get the best scriptwriter in the biz and don’t change a thing. You’ll have a classic film with universal appeal that people will pay to see more than once.

    Comment by Nicole Petrino-Salter -

  43. Keep X number of ticket stubs all which have different dates on them and get X number of dollars off the dvd release.

    Comment by Monamike -

  44. I used to live in Oregon and I loved the chain of quirky theatre pubs ran by the McMenamin brothers. (

    For years I almost never went to a big multiplex, until I moved down here to Texas.

    Go Mavs! (I was a Mavs fan even while still living in Blazer country.)

    Comment by Dagurreotype -

  45. Two ideas:

    1. Link movie theaters with restaurants directly, further streamlining the dinner and a movie date. I recently went to a little theater in Nantucket (the starlite theater), where the theater was inside of a restaurant. People go in and make their reservations for dinner and buy the movie ticket with their meal. When you finish eating you move into the theater sit and watch the film. The best part about this (atleast for me, a 24 year old male), was that I was able to walk into the movie with the beer I was drinking during dinner! and was able to go in and out of the theater to access the bar. Enthusiasm for alcohol aside, I thought it amazing that my meal and drink choices were not limited to stale popcorn and fountain soda with too much or too little syrup.

    2. Another way to cater to the growing ADD that is keeping people out of movie theaters could be interactive seats, like those in the Delta Song planes. Throw in trivia games that people can play during the movie against each other. It could be about the movie, it could be about all movies, whatever works. Maybe have an option that will scroll the script so people can read along. Why not let people pre-order the DVDs you plan to sell them after the movie is done cutting down on possible lines that could put people off. Why stop there! have ushers bring them to the people in their seats! or if you’re into the restaurant idea, have waiters and waitress do that, and take drink orders and act as the ushers. Maybe add an option so people can use the internet from their seats, whatever makes people happy. I’m more less shooting from the hip here, but I have to imagine that once whatever hardware or software needed is built into the seats, updating it and adding to it should be fairly easy.

    Most people I know that don’t like going to the movies stay away because they can’t sit still and stare at something for two hours straight. As irony would have it, most of these same people can sit in a pub and play all the different $1 video games for hours on end. I can’t figure it out, but show me a movie theater with the two suggestions I’ve left, and I’ll show you a lot of people with out excuses to go to the movies.

    Comment by Steve -

  46. The trick is to make buying movie tickets as easy as picking up a candy bar in the lineup of a grocery store.

    If you don’t want to pay to get focused exposure, blanket your target audience everywhere they go. Let them buy movie tickets at the convenience store checkout line, at kiosks at the mall, at MacDonald’s…

    Soon you’ll realize that people tend to make spontaneous decisions based on their mood, if they’ve just eaten a good meal, they’re going to buy.

    Comment by Greg -

  47. Mark,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading the responses to your challenge and your follow-up post.

    I’ve always loved films, but at 31, I find myself going out to the theater far less that when I was younger and hardly had the money to do so. I would really love to see the theater experience revitalized.

    Tracing this problem upstream to the source, one change that would powerfully reverse the current theater-going experience is providing content at the theater level that is unavailable elsewhere.

    The kid who’s going to the movie on Friday night to hang out is still going to be there, but the guy who’s got a sweet home theater system, hi def cable or satellite service, and a Netflix account needs a compelling reason to get off the couch, especially with the lackluster state of the current theater experience (Landmark is a step forward – I was psyched to have an alternative to Angelika in NYC after so many years).

    The best way to do this is to offer content they won’t be able to get anywhere else, especially since you’re now also competing with this customer’s awareness that most DVDs have special features – commentary, alt endings, etc – not shown in the theatrical release.

    This seems like the most compelling reason to go out to a movie that could be applied across the board, though I really like the idea of the Rock n Roll theater for a niche audience – look at the Rocky Horror Picture Show and how that’s endured as a participatory experience.

    Some examples that come to mind are as follows:

    You might offer a version of the film that will not be available on DVD. Not an entirely different film, but a theatrical release version with scenes that simply will not be available on syndicated cable, satellite or DVD. You may even couch this with an introduction by members of cast and crew with some sort of extended component once the film ends – something beyond simply a bloopers reel rolling during the credits.

    The danger of this is that it might kill your DVD sales if people are told that 20 minutes in the theatrical version won’t be available to rent or own. Plus, I don’t know how I’d feel as a director if you did this to my work. This needs more fleshing out but I know there’s something there.

    Second – prior to the film you run a short film, or better yet a series of episodes, that do not appear anywhere else. Think of this as akin to the Sopranos or Curb Your Enthusiasm – you can ONLY watch the show if you go to the theater. If the show is good enough, you’ll get people dropping $10 just to see the 30 minute episode, then sneak into another theater to watch it again. Plus, at the end of a “season”, you can release the series on DVD as its own entity.

    You could also do deals with 3rd party providers – for example, NFL Films could show a reel ahead of a football oriented film….

    I’m doubt you’d play the same ½ hour show regardless of whether someone saw Pirates or Miami Vice – obviously the ratings would need to jive at the very least. Though, if you could get this done at the theater level, so that you own the first 30 minutes of screen time programming across the board, it seems like it would be more lucrative. If not, it would be a unique draw for your films nonetheless and might provoke some interesting innovations among your competition.

    You can argue that this has been done – art houses have been showing shorts ahead of films (the IFC theater on W 4th is doing this now), but it hasn’t been done well. There have been a lot of horror, western, kung-fu, and detective films too, but I haven’t seen many like The Shining, Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger, or Chinatown….. If you found and launched shows like Curb, Sopranos, or Ali G. exclusively ahead of your films in this way, I am confident people would turn out to see them.

    You can also argue that people will pirate this content and disseminate it online and elsewhere. First, the quality is going to be marginal compared to the theatrical release. Second, this essentially obviates the need to do such marketing yourself and it authenticates it whereas fake MySpace pages and the like often come across forced when left to marketing teams.

    Definitely needs some fleshing out, but I know that I for one would be compelled to come out to see such content.

    Thanks for the inspiration,

    Comment by Dylan -

  48. Here’s the deal. People like to be comfortable… they like to feel as though they “belong” to a certain group. With movies, I dont feel as though the younger generation can “connect” and feel as though they belong to the movie business. So what do you do? You change it by allowing people to have that connection with the film, even if they have none what-so-ever. Here is how you do it:

    Currently, I am in a music band from CA. I have been working my so called “business” for 4 years. Traveling, giving up everything for a passion, my dreams; what Ive always wanted to do my whole life. Im 24 years old. In this short amount of time, Ive seen, lived, and taken part in so many more things than what people do in a lifetime.

    I finally got my break into the Major label music business 3 weeks ago when my band was flown to New York to meet with “executives”. Its how I got there that should be marketed to the people of today in accordance with the Movie Business.

    Like I stated before, people need to have that connection with a film, a piece of art, a song… the demographic of people who spend the most money now-a-days are the younger generation. But how do you get those kids to the shows/movies without spend entire HUGE amounts of money on them. Easy. Use your FREE resources.

    Take everything you can, and use it. One example would be MySpace. The biggest social network for people who want to “belong” in the ENTIRE world. Millions upon millions of people are on that site… why not use it CORRECTLY.

    1). Set up a MySpace profile for the movie. Put up trailers, swag, songs from the soundtrack, banners, pictures of the film, flyers, everything that you can do on a promotional level that is free.

    2). Have someone in charge of ADDING FRIENDS to this MySpace account. Add THOUSANDS a day… 5 thousand, 6 thousand, 10 thousand. Sit behind that computer and that site and make it work for YOU.

    3). Have those friends that have been added to post bulletins, blogs, comments… post flyers, banners. Make sure people see it all the time. The more people see the name, the more people will come.

    4). Hold special screenings for the people in the cities that do the most work. Give them a reason to work for you… for free, by handing out things that wouldnt cost much at all. I.E: a free showing.

    5). Attach the movies to bands. Music sells. So use it. Make people hear the sound track… make a single, get it out prior to the movie. Have it on everyones page.


    Thats just ONE of MANY resources that are available that I believe the movie industry hasnt even tapped. Yea, you buy an add on MySpace… but honestly how much does that help profit? Can you say you look at those adds? I dont…. why? Cause I dont care. I don’t have a reason to. Give the people that reason. Make them belong. Make them be a part of whats happening… make them feel as though they care. A customer/business relationship that can and will work if marketed right… and can change the face of movies forever.

    Comment by Jared -

  49. Another day, another entry. This is quite fun and addictive.

    Today’s suggestions:

    1. Have you noticed how people follow the trends of celebrities and characters on TV and the movies. hairstyles, clothing, cell phones etc. Many have sold numerous t-shirts just by getting someone to wear it in a TV show or movie.
    Here is what you do: Find the most popular shows on TV and “suggest” to the writers that they have the most popular character explain why they go to the theater at least once a week. (It would be even better if that episode aired during sweeps week.)
    Have the actors who are promoting their movies on the various talk shows talk about how much they enjoy the movie going experience.

    2. Get NBC to do a “THE MORE YOU KNOW” PSA about how taking your kids to the theater will help keep them off drugs or out of trouble or something like that. There would have to be some research that suggests this, but it might be out there.

    3. Get John Stossel to do a special called, “Are Theaters As We Know It On The Way Out?”

    4. You make the talk show circuit promoting the “Movie going experience.” You let everyone know that if the magic number of let’s say 5 million people go to the theater for so many weeks in a row, then you’ll shave your head at the half-time of A Mavericks game. Those that love you will want to see if you will do it, and those that hate you will want you to do it. Of course this is just a short term fix, unless it takes a while to meet the criteria. You would then have to raise the stakes. Next time you might have to eat a bucket of worms.

    Until tomorrow…

    Comment by Special K -

  50. everything today is about pre-awareness. that can mean genre specific, remakes, superhero stories, etc. people will come out to see something if they know what it is and can identify with it. this is a phenomenon that is only going to grow as we have more ways to have entertainment delivered to us. if there is so much that is thrown at us we are going to pick the things that resonate to us individually. there has to be something iconic about it. you are in a very unique position to establish an iconic entertainment entity. you have already established that kind of personality in today’s pop culture which is a very difficult thing to do. why don’t you take advantage of that in a more effective way? you have a totally vertically integrated company yet you have given away some of the gems of your company to others such warner independent or sony classics when you could have used those films to establish a brand for 2929. warner indpepndent has gotten a lot of mileage for their brand from the success of good night and good luck. look at how lionsgate has branded themselves in both genre and quality films. their current campaign for descent has the tag line “from the company that brought you saw and hostel” it seems to me that you have the resources that you don’t need to a warner or lionsgate to distribute your films, you can establish your brand at oscar time like harvey did years ago so that each release your company does is special. then, if each movie has a certain level of quality and you are providing it and winning awards people will start to come to the theater to see the next 2929 release, they will come to expect something from your brand that can go a long way. you have more charisma and public awareness of someone like harvey, people want to see mogul’s succeed and dominate. the public loves those with the midas touch, people like michael jordan, steve jobs, warren buffet, and mark cuban. you can bring that to your enterprise, it is already there. be front and center, be the icon that people can immediately identify with. and it doesn’t have to stop at movies it can extend into tv, which is where things are going anyway. look at how someone like jj abrams has become a franchise, people come to expect something from the projects he is involved in and they will tune in or show up at the theater because his name is on it. you have the ability and resources to create that for your company and it will make the job of getting the audience to show up or tune in so much easier for you. put all of the pieces of your machine togetherwith you clearly at the center and it can be unstoppable.

    Comment by George -

  51. everything today is about pre-awareness. that can mean genre specific, remakes, superhero stories, etc. people will come out to see something if they know what it is and can identify with it. this is a phenomenon that is only going to grow as we have more ways to have entertainment delivered to us. if there is so much that is thrown at us we are going to pick the things that resonate to us individually. there has to be something iconic about it. you are in a very unique position to establish an iconic entertainment entity. you have already established that kind of personality in today’s pop culture which is a very difficult thing to do. why don’t you take advantage of that in a more effective way? you have a totally vertically integrated company yet you have given away some of the gems of your company to others such warner independent or sony classics when you could have used those films to establish a brand for 2929. warner indpepndent has gotten a lot of mileage for their brand from the success of good night and good luck. look at how lionsgate has branded themselves in both genre and quality films. their current campaign for descent has the tag line “from the company that brought you saw and hostel” it seems to me that you have the resources that you don’t need to a warner or lionsgate to distribute your films, you can establish your brand at oscar time like harvey did years ago so that each release your company does is special. then, if each movie has a certain level of quality and you are providing it and winning awards people will start to come to the theater to see the next 2929 release, they will come to expect something from your brand that can go a long way. you have more charisma and public awareness of someone like harvey, people want to see mogul’s succeed and dominate. the public loves those with the midas touch, people like michael jordan, steve jobs, warren buffet, and mark cuban. you can bring that to your enterprise, it is already there. be front and center, be the icon that people can immediately identify with. and it doesn’t have to stop at movies it can extend into tv, which is where things are going anyway. look at how someone like jj abrams has become a franchise, people come to expect something from the projects he is involved in and they will tune in or show up at the theater because his name is on it. you have the ability and resources to create that for your company and it will make the job of getting the audience to show up or tune in so much easier for you. put all of the pieces of your machine togetherwith you clearly at the center and it can be unstoppable.

    Comment by George -

  52. The Movie Challenge – Maverick Marketing

    From one Indiana grad to another….

    I’m sure you’ve already thought of this, but the ideas I’ve listed below are what I call: Maverick Marketing.

    It seems as if the best marketing approach at this time, would be to get Mel Gibson (or some celebrity of his stature) drunk, arrested and to spew hateful things about the movie. This would garner the movie more free publicity than you could shake a stick at…

    …If this fails….

    How about fake e-mail chains. I get e-mails on a weekly basis requesting I “send this e-mail to 10 of my friends and get $30,000 from Bill Gates”…Well you know what, Bill Gates isn’t giving anyone his money, but people are still flood my inbox with these messages. If we could create a word of mouth chain letter about this movie with lines such as “Please help spread the word about this movie by sending it out to 10 of your friends, Marc Cuban will personally send you $30,000.” You know how many people would see that? You could also use text messages, which would be equally if not more effective.

    Another “off the wall” idea I’ve had is to hold picket lines outside of movie theatres….I mean we have the right to assemble right? This would be cheap and actually hilarious. We could send fake press releases to newspapers about fans picketing for movie goers to see YOUR movie. Heck you could even get these “picket liners” to dress up in ridiculous costumes to get it even more press… Anything that would draw free publicity and make the news…a’la when you worked at Dairy Queen.

    But you are the Maverick, so I’m sure you have already thought of this…

    Comment by Andrew Barber -

  53. For changing the economics of the industry, I still the decentralizing the experience is the way to go.

    – I think you should devote a lot of energy to creating a franchise package that allows individuals to tailor their own “local brands” Give them some technology guidelines, booking resources, and most importantly the ability to play movies theatrically (via whatever copyright negotiations are necessary with the studios). You can structure a mutually beneficial revenue share, and then by empowering people to do your marketing for you, I think you can really bring a lot more people to the movies.

    I’ve included some background for how this idea progressed and some related ideas from my blog.
    -using the internet distribution model for financing new projects and finely targeted film marketing
    using high end home theater setups as public venues.

    And just for fun, I went through the archives of my blog and found posts about…
    -The personal trailer idea you mentioned:
    – advocating teen theater:
    – sharing DVD revenues:

    Comment by Ben Trevino -

  54. Some thoughts…
    Entertainment – currently there is a marketing overkill for this segment of the audience. They do not need to see millions of dollars of advertisements to make a decision on what movies to see, because they are aware of every movie that is out and will be coming out. Current marketing efforts are effective, but there is way too much money being spent for the additional advertisement time. That is ultimately unneeded and ineffective. Price in this group is not an issue. They know and chose to spend the money.

    Comment by Robin -

  55. As I understand it, there are three fundamental types of movie goers, those who go for: entertainment, attachment, or experience.
    Entertainment seekers – are those who find their source of entertainment through going to movies. These can be individuals or groups of friends, but they have chosen that there preferred method of use for their discretionary funds is through movies.
    Attachment goers – are those who go to see a movie because there is some emotional attachment to the particular movie that is being aired. This may be a religious affinity, in the case of The Passion, a personal love for a genre, the Lord of the Rings and Gladiator, a childhood memory, such as Superman, etc. The point is that for some reason the movie makes a connection with the viewer at a level that supersedes the movie itself and/or the movie theater experience.
    Experience seekers – are those who do not chose to go to the movies as their form of normal entertainment, but on rare special occasions venture out to the movies for an experience such as a date. This type would cover a large portion of the married with young children. The draw is not the movie—they generally look to see what is playing and pick that day—it is the ‘event’ of going to the movies.

    The PROBLEM is that these fundamental differences are not acknowledged and marketing doesn’t focus on the different aspects of the movie goers.

    Comment by Robin -

  56. Get the cast/crew to the theatres more for brief Q&A’s, and not just at specialty theatres. Everywhere. Meet the Make up artist on Tuesday. Let them tour their movie just like a rock show.

    Comment by Michael Scarna -

  57. I have a concept that would might be worth looking into. Instead of going to the movies to just see a movie and maybe a bite to eat, why not see an opening band-yes, I said band. A live band/music act performing before the flick. It would give new upcoming talent a place to showcase their music to a weekend crowd. After all, struggling musicians are always looking for a place to promote themselves right? And why not at a nice-sized venue such as a movie theatre? Now you would be able to have a great date all in one place–live music, a show and a meal/drinks (for theatres that have sell it). Imagine how much someone could save on gas by going to one place as opposed to a meal here, a band downtown (which with all the gang bangers who wants to anyway), and a movie somewhere else. Think about it. It would get me back in the theatres. A Saturday night at the movies wouldn’t be such a lame idea anymore.

    Comment by MC -

  58. OK, so my earlier posts were meant to get the readers to laugh. I don’t want to belittle this process in any way. I think what you are doing here is great, I’m just trying to follow that brainstorming idea where you throw out the most crazy ideas from left field that will help you think outside the box and then work your way back to a solution.

    Do I have the solution? Nah! I know you were talking about the “industry” and getting people into the theaters more, but I think the idea here is to get people into the Landmark theaters. Let Regal worry about their theater business. If you remember, they wouldn’t play “Bubble” because of your release strategies. So you need to focus on your theaters.

    Each theater has its own personality and should be treated as such. What works for one won’t necessarily work for the other. Maybe instead of giving one person a job for the whole chain, you need to hire a person for each city and/or theater depending on how different the audience is for each theater. Let that person market that theater to it’s surrounding market.

    How do you find that person/ Write a new blog and change the parameters for this “contest.” Have each person tell you why his/her idea will work for his/her local Landmark theater and its market. The downside is that you would be hiring anywhere from 21 to 57 people. Then again, if they do the job the theater makes the money to afford them, if not they won’t be there long anyway.

    I used to work in a different kind of theater, it was a comedy dinner theater. It failed after a season and a half. Why? 1. It wasn’t marketed well. 2. It was the wrong idea for the wrong place. The comedy was mainstream and the music was more jazz and big band. The location was more suited for Hee Haw country. So, in reality, no marketing trick would have worked for this place because of the personality of the environment.

    There is probably not one idea that would work for every movie theater in every location. Go with the individualized theater idea and make this whole process fit that idea.
    The person at each theater will find out what works there. If there are some things that overlap and work at other theaters, these are the things that will most likely work across the board. Implement them that way.

    Some treasures just take longer to find then just stumbling across a big X while vacationing in Aruba. I hope I don’t have to finish the analogy for you to get it, because I can’t think of a clever way to explain the long and step by step process it takes to find what we may be looking for. So if anyone out there can come up with a clever second phrase for my analogy…well…I don’t have a job for you, but I’ll give you an aknowledgement in my book whenever I get one published.

    To all who read this entire comment:
    Thank you and Happy Blogging!

    Comment by Special K -

  59. OK, I’ll have to admit that I never watched “The Benefactor,” so you may have a bad taste in your mouth for reality shows. I don’t remember any Season Two, but I don’t bring that up to insult you as many posters feel is their duty. I say all that to say, why don’t you use that type of format to find your “Apprentice.” Pick the best 25 responses and assign them to one of your theaters. Let them try their ideas and see which ones work. Eliminate the ones that don’t. I really don’t have to explain the whole concept. Now, if you wanted to make this a show on HDNET or any other network you might want to put them in teams and use fewer theaters. You might even play the episodes in the rest of the theaters. People might come to support their local theater as the best theater in the country, because they won a competition on the show. Of course, you might get that one idea that makes you go “Eureka!” with the method you are now using with this blog, but then the fun is over in this process. Why not continue all this excitement and get some “real” tests of the ideas. Oh, by the way, ask Mark Wagner or Eamonn Bowles who Special K is.

    Comment by Special K -

  60. Mark-

    You might want to check out what Alamo Drafthouse is doing down here in Austin… They were voted best theater in America, and almost every showing of every movie sells out. Yes they serve food and beer, but they have a different atmosphere about watching movies. No one under 18 is ever admitted, and loud people are removed.

    They always have creative ways to get people to follow the rules, and they are the best option in Austin. Take a look!

    Comment by Corey -

  61. in high school history we learned that movies and alcohol were two depression proof industries. when everybodys poor, they will still drink and go to the movies. that being said, its pretty obvious movies are an escape. to me it makes little sense to overly promote a movie so that it permeates our culture before its released because then people don’t feel like theyre escaping when they go to the movie. instead, make it so mysterious that they have to go to the movie to find out what its all about. also, its really annoying to see not only 20 minutes of commercials for upcoming movies when im at a theater, but to see commercials for tv shows and products as well.

    successful promotions to me would be instead of selling hulk slurpies at 711, give away free popcorn on opening weekend if you buy a ticket to a certain movie. that way, people will have more to gain from going to the movie (free food), be likely to buy a soda, orville redenbackers wins, movie theater and studio spend 50 cents (or however much it really costs to make a bag of popcorn) instead of throwing millions away on stupid myspace ads, and people will psychologically tie the movie in with being fed thus they will like movie as it ties in nourishment with entertainment and good behavior in a sort of pavlovian response way.

    also, more demographically oriented theaters are the way to go. a lot of times i’ll avoid a theater because its in a bad part of town or its very crowded, etc. and i’m not even old. id rather pay more for the smaller movie theater where i’m less likely to get stabbed (ie highland park village theater versus amc grand for those from dallas). successful demographic theaters include the inwood village, highland park village, and tinseltowns out in suburbia.

    another reason i dont go to a lot of movies is because i feel like going on a weekend night is a waste of a free night because i could be going to a party or socializing with friends instead of not talking for two hours and taking a bet on a movie that i could probably just rent in a few months or catch on hbo.

    Comment by Dixon -


    Three things need to be done. I am just giving a brief. We can discuss in more detail when you contact me.

    1. Movie business lacks HONESTY: Studios spend zillions trying to attract people so that they can quickly cash on the buzz. REFUND. Yes refund the entire ticket price or a part of it, all or a certain number of times in a year or so. So, if someone doesnt like movie he can flash his moviecard at the end of the movie and get a refund (full,partial, credit points, whatever depending on several factors). (Would you go to GAP is you knew any shirt made from any fabric good or bad would cost you the same and once you buy it, you have no forum to complaint if you didnt like it). This is not dumb and I can convince you on this when you contact me. This might initially cost the same as what studios spend right now for promotions. But as the program goes on, costs will come down a lot. And there are excellent ways to stop people from showing thumbs down to even an excellent Spielberg movie. Dont worry about that, people wont cheat. Putting faith in the audience, showing them respect, saying you think they are honest, trusting their opinion will do plenty for movie industry image. When you show faith in someone they like you. And the moviecard we give them can be used for all exciting things too.

    2. After taste, heart strings and better understanding: Can you gaurantee the audience that they will definitely feel better after the movie, even if the movie itself sucks? Yes it can be gauranteed. Is the number of people going to Church on Sunday larger than the number of people going to movies on the day its released? Just ensure that they will be happy even if the movie sucks.

    3. What works where when for whom: Understanding people better. This can be predicted. I have been working on a system.

    It needs lot of courage and commitment to bring the kind of change you are looking forward to bring in the movie business. Sometimes the very foundations have to be worked upon. Look forward to hearing from you.

    Comment by Rohit -

  63. The cheapest way to drive movie goers is thru what one could call “secondary buzz”. The first type of buzz is your standard barrage of TV ads, radio and internet spots, and doing every cross-promo idea under the sun. That kind of in-your-face media blitz gets the message out that yes, your movie is opening.

    The more effective buzz, the kind that gets people interested, is of a secondary nature. Look at recent films for instance. The Passion, Da Vinci (or any religious film) will get interest. Even better than that is the relationship buzz. Films where the co-stars end up dating is HUGE (aka, “Mr & Mrs Smith”, “The Break-up”). People say “I want to see the chemistry between Vaugh and Anniston for myself” and buy the $8.50 ticket to satisfy that curiousity. Films like United 93, World Trade Center, Inconvenient Truth – all surrounded in controversy helps sell tickets, and no amount of Thursday night prime time advertising can compete with that.

    Obviously this can backfire, as in the case with Tom Cruise going crazy and MI3 tanking in the USBox (and probably Mel Gibson down the road), but you take the good with the bad.

    Bottom line: It’s not about promoting a movie effectively, it’s about having that key factor that gets people’s attention. Movies (well, most of them) are still works of art. And controversial art sells. Period. I bought “Smartest Guys in the Room” because I was curious to learn more about the Enron scumbags. That to me is a controversial topic. I am not curious if John Tucker is or isn’t going to Die, so I won’t go see that movie. A lot of successful movie making is luck, but to increase your odds, generate some buzz (secondary, that is).

    Comment by Clark -

  64. The concept of a “rock n’ roll theater” is redundant. The majority of movie theaters currently pander to that demographic. Instead of training an entire generation to disrespect the theater experience why don’t you try to engage them, and teach them to have reverence for films. The effect of training them otherwise will result in the extinction of exhibition. Stop thinking in the short term. If you were truly passionate about the filmgoing experience this would be obvious. But I can only assume that your avarice trumps your reason.

    There is no simple silver bullet for these issues. I recommend hard work, integrity, and actual passion for films. Profits follow passion. A keen sense of observation would be helpful as well. Surround yourself with thoughtful people who are unafraid to disagree with you. Stop trying to weasel out of having to pay for marketing. Films need marketing to start the ball rolling but the product always speaks for itself. People respond to quality.

    Stop hedging your bets. Let go of Landmark–clearly your other business interests are antithetical to its success. Exhibition of that caliber is out of your scope of understanding. And you’ve already managed to dilute decades of quality in 4 short years. If you insist on keeping the chain for your vanity’s sake, stop employing people who know nothing about independent and foreign films. This does not garner respect on the local level. Their apathy trickles down and destroys morale at every level. Send them back to AMC where they belong. Their ideas are antiquated and irrelevant.

    The majority of those who responded to your blog contest aren’t the demographic of people that go to Landmark theaters. Their ideas are not new, yet they aren’t observant enough to realize this fact. You already know this. You are just using this as another opportunity to generate sycophantic responses from your goon squad.

    I would rather reserve my ideas for the Sundance Theater Chain. I think that they would actually be more reponsible and thoughtful with them than you are capable of.

    Having been in your employ, I would not recommend it to others. It is definitely not worh competing for your approval.

    Good Luck with your cleansing toilet concept (despite your protests, it is a bidet.) Although, I am unsure why you require one when you have so many people licking your ass already.

    Comment by former kendall -

  65. .
    An aside, after Mel Gibson’s outrageous tirade I hope that Lions Gate doesn’t distribute “Apocalypto”. It would besmirch Lions Gate’s reputation.


    Comment by tiptoe -

  66. I didn’t get around to reading the blog until today (busy) so I missed the initial challenge. But besides making age-specific theatres (good idea), why not allow the audience to rate the movies when they leave the theatre.

    Incoming viewers could see the ratings, broken down by age group, so they could figure out what movie to see. It’s surprising how often my wife & I want to see a movie, but have no idea what’s playing or what’s good.

    Instead of trying to figure out what movie is what, we could instead see what people “like us” are recommending. Maybe partner with Fanango so you could regionalize the ratings?

    Nobody wants to spend $16 on crap like Inside Job…unless that’s the sort of crap you’re into.

    Comment by Manny Veloso -

  67. As a follow up….

    Get people (students / people on myspace or other social networking website) to promote and sell tickets to your movie. People can earn $1 (or more) for each ticket sold. Everyone can be a salesmen or marketing agent and make money.

    Comment by James -

  68. How about…

    Person (A) person distributes $1 (or more) off movie tickets. For each one redeemed, person A gets $1 for each one redeemed from the movie studio. It’s sort of like a multiple level marketing but a person can only make as much as the distribution is redeemed.

    The studios would spend $2 for each person redeeming a voucher / purchasing a ticket. $1 to the person distributing the ticket and $1 for the discount. The cost of marketing per person would change depending on the amount to pay the person distributing the discount vouchers and the amount of the discount.

    $1 payment / $2 discount = $3 per person in cost
    $2 payment / $3 discount = $5 per person in cost

    This gives people the opportunity to make some money in turn spreading the word and allowing others to get a discount movie ticket.

    Comment by James -

  69. Thanks for responding to the overall interest of the posters about the ideas to change the theater experience. Its good to hear about the plans that you have and the brand theaters that you are working on. I had some time to think about how it would be beneficial to have certain themes going depending on what demographic you were aiming at and how to take full advantage of the target audience. I have felt for a while that this was nothing that needed to be done and look forward to going to any that you open in the Dallas area. Having time to think about these ideas i came up with one that i thought i should run by you and possibly one that you might have thought about doing.

    What would it take to open up a chain of sport related theaters? I haven’t been keeping up with home projection tvs so i’m not sure if it would be possible on a theater screen to watch cable sports coverage. I’m not sure if I’m thinking too far outside the box but if Sports Bars on popular that why not a theater of them. It would be the next best thing to actually going to the arena to watch your local team. Replace the consession stand with a kind bar and the lobby into a resturaunt area. Have sports appareal on hand just like you would at the arena. Parnter up with ESPN or the local channel covering the game to get the signal feed.

    The possibilites could be endless with this if it could be pulled off in the right way. Think of it as a cheaper altenative to going to the arena itself. You could mix the best of both world. The at home feel with the play by play and stats that i love to get with a theater experience. What other theater is there where you wouldn’t mind having people yelling at the screen or have a beer vendor bring you a beverage? I think it would sell itself to the people just by the appeal and just because noone has done something like this before.

    Just some food for thought while you are trying to figure out what next big player to pick up or which gas station to stop at.

    Comment by Kody Stewart -

  70. Why isn’t there a tv channel that is just totally devoted to new movies and promoting them? It seems like there is a tv channel for just about everything else out there, but I can’t just flip to a certain channel and watch previews of up and coming movies or movies just released. Most of the time I don’t even know what movies are out or what any of them are about. Maybe a bunch of studios could come up with enough money to start this new tv channel and instead of paying 500k to mil on a 30 second commercial during one of the most popular tv shows they could just put their advertising on their own network. The channel would have to be part of cable companies or satellite companies basic package so more viewers could see it. Maybe this idea would cost way too much to get going initially, I have no idea. All I know is that I don’t want to have to get on the internet and read reviews or download clips of movies, that’s too much work.

    Comment by Rob -

  71. Mark,

    For the life of me, I cannot figure out why you are trying to find more ways to get people to the movie theater. You are a savvy investor, so you know that the trend is your friend. You also know not to fight a trend. Thus, I wonder why you are trying to go out and bet on the long-term loser that is the movie-going experience. If I am missing the reason, please enlighten me.

    If I understand correctly, the idea should be to get people to view your content. As you well know, the world is a busy place. People are constantly on the go. When I have time to relax, why would I want to go spend that cherished time with random people? Also, we live in a world of personalized and customizable solutions. Just as you said, the theater is none of these, so why would I go when I have a gorgeous TV and soundsytem at home?

    The answer is that I don’t go. It has to be the rare midnight showing that gets me to the theater. (Thus, I haven’t been to the theater in over two years, but I am a movie fan, and do have a Netflix account.) This is not coming from someone who avoids crowds. I go to sporting events, stage theater, the symphony, etc. It’s just that I avoid the movie theater most of the time. Why? Because those things have an experience that cannot be replicated. To me, the theater does not. It is like the library: why would I go there when I want to read a book in peace?

    I guess what I am trying to say is that my idea is not revolutionary, but I wish it were the answer: give people access to the movie the day it comes out sans the theater experience. This could be done multiple ways: good ole fashioned mail, downloadable content, PPV, iTunes (so that I can download it to my beloved iPod, or burn it to a disk, and watch while traveling).

    I have a feeling that one could find the right mix of price for this new product (I mean, if I am willing to spend 4+ bucks to watch PPV 6 months after the movie has come out, and I have already heard every review, as well as the majority of the storyline, from friends just imagine what I would pay to see it from the comfort of my home that night). If distribution prices are controlled, you could find yourself with a much larger profit margin than then money that is being wasted trying to get people into the theater. You could still have the delay between the DVD release so that all those collectors and movie buffs can’t kill two birds with one stone. And for those who say that you’d get teams of people all in one room to save 10 bucks, you are wrong. They may be true of the high school and college crowd, but at least you’d get them to see it. Right now, people like me aren’t giving the theater a dime, so who cares if I go see it at a friend’s?

    Now that you have me seeing it; you can get all other kinds of customized advertising content to me. Instead of making me watch the trailer for a horror film (which I would never go see because the storyline ALWAYS sucks), you could market an upcoming movie that I just might go out and purchase, or maybe you get some other kind of ad to me: fashion, local restaurants, local banks, anything under the sun….

    This now allows you to begin cutting back on movie theaters. You no longer need so many, which means that you can begin to cut the costs. This leaves you with general theaters, as well as the customized theater for certain age groups. It is along the same lines: one theater per so many people so that it is always packed, and is seen as a destination. This would, obviously, increase per theater profits.

    While this wasn’t radical, that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be revolutionary. The idea of building a smaller car that uses less fuel doesn’t seem all that radical, but it seems to have worked out in the long run for Toyota and Honda. Now, it is up to you to revolutionize the way I get my movies so that I can see them on the release date.

    Thank you for your time!


    Comment by JLF -

  72. I’m not entirely sure how feasible this is, but evidently some of the better political minds thought so at some point. What if something was done like what Richard Nixon’s thinktank did during his campaign where local radio stations in hotly contested areas were endowed with say $500…The radio stations would then have contests where they would call random people in the area and if they answered their phone with (at the time “Vote for Nixon”, to this end probably something like “Go see (insert movie here)”) they’d win the money.

    As long as the contest was confined to a certain hour of the day, like 5-6 pm or so, so there’d be a specific time to answer your phone with that statement limiting the embarassment of confusing your grandparents, or coworkers, I think people would be willing to paricipate. Moreover it’d probably be oddball enough to generate some media attention which is, of course, free. I’m not sure how much this would cost, but I can’t imagine it’d be more than $1500 per station, and probably no more than one station per major city…

    Comment by Andrew Tobolowsky -

  73. Mark,

    I’m going to break this Marketing Plan into three parts:

    Pre-Movie Experience(s)


    Post-Movie Experience(s)

    Pre-Movie Experiences – I’ve got one word for you. GAMES. From simple, web-centric quizes to extraordinarily intricate scavenger hunts for prizes, the future of of film promotion is tying your marketing to cross-promotional interactive, experiential games.

    Let’s examine one of this year’s most successful film promotional campaigns, the buried Volvo XC90 SUV used to promote the second “Pirates” film(sequel).

    Approximately 52,000 people visited (as in actually walked into a showroom) to obtain treasure maps for the game/contest. Dealerships reported unprecedented phone and web traffic related to the contest. And as for the film, the box office numbers speak for themselves. As of today (7/30) this film has grossed approximately 360 million dollars and appears to have the “legs” to approach a half billion dollars!!!

    Now you are saying right, but it’s a sequel to a very good film with A-list talent, Disney promo muscle and a built in audience from the Disney theme ride etc.

    To that I say….Jaws 2.

    There is never an absolut guarantee to any films success including (an often times) sequels. This film has been panned from coast to coast and should have in most circumstances been roadkill after the third week. I attribute much of it’s success to the brilliant (interactive/experiential) marketing campaign that made your average joe stand up and take notice. It’s not only about the SUV, it’s the fact that you can actively participate in a “real life” adventure of sorts. The thrill of the hunt. An experience that allows a person to participate in a way never before. (52,000 people getting off their ass to go get a treasure map in a high pressure Ford Car sales environment to win an SUV in today’s gas conscious environment speaks volumes).

    And while there’s real costs associated with a vehicle giveaway and all the TV, Web and related advertising, the highly coveted “buzz factor” paid back a hundred fold. It received top coverage in Adweek/BrandWeek and countless other national publications.

    Think about it. All that hype for a buried Volvo SUV. It sounds crazy, but i believe this will be one of the campaigns listed in textbooks for marketing students in a few years. It’s been phenomenal for both (auto and film)industries as a cross-promotion vehicle.

    I believe that every film can and should be marketed with some type of interactive contest that engages the consumer. This may sound even crazier but I think the game should include almost as much promotion as the film.


    Because it’s truly an engaging experience that gets people thinking of the brand/film in a much more meaningful way than a commercial/trailer ever will. If engaging enough, “The game” related to a film will actually enter the subconscious of the mark as he/she dedicates real mental energy to solving the puzzle, mystery, scavenger hunt, whatever related to the film.

    Obviously, different types of films will require different types of games.

    Let’s say your film is similar to “Steel Magnolias”. Your target demographic is a slightly older female audience, say 35 to 55. In this case your game may be strictly web based where you partner up with a high traffic “casual games” website (popular with this demographic) or you develop your own casual game directly affiliated with the film. Additionally, you throw in some quiz and trivia games (all the while collecting data on the mark for later targeting of similar film or experiences). The prizes associated with the game obviously are geared towards the demographic you’re targeting.

    Conversely, let’s say you’re promoting SAW 4. Let’s create an elaborate scavenger hunt that leads your younger demographic (16 to 25) on an immersive experience that engages them from multiple fronts.

    As opposed to a car, let’s give away some shit like Stanley Tools or Home Depot gift cards. For the ladies we offer a free Home Security package.

    You start out with an announcement following the preview movie trailer (exclusively at Landmark Theaters) that leads the mark to the first clue on a “new” game specific promo website. The next clue in-turn sends you looking for clues in print and Outdoor.

    For example, you may simply have a code number listed at the bottom of a billboard (subtle yet still visible as people drive by) that leads them back to the website and then on to the latest issue of “Premire Magazine”

    The mark is instructed to find a password listed somewhere on the page in the magazine (don’t make it too easy) This clue in turn opens up to a whole new website for “the serious hunters”. The people who make it here get a discount DVD at the theater (make it juicy, half off or even free)

    At this point you reward the mark with something really cool that closely ties to the film specifically. An example for Saw 4 would be where they go through a sequence of downloaded podcasts from noneother than “Jigsaw” himself.

    But, since it is “Jigsaw” enter some real risk and reward into the equation.

    Solve his progressively harder riddles for additional clues by entering in the correct answer within three minutes or your “account” is permanently terminated.

    Getting beat down by Jigsaw via podcast would really suck, eh?

    You can go local too. This is where we get frickin’ nuts. Jump through the same hoops I mentioned previously but then send people to partner businesses to get clue cards, CD’s, etc which lead them to find actual “clues”.

    These actual clues are placed by the marketing team in partner business. For example, they could be hidden underneath the bathroom sink at a tatoo parlor on Melrose Ave. Or it could be a cryptic message on a grungy looking poster in a specific subway station in Manhatten. Or how about an item line on a menu at a dive bar in Minneapolis?

    You get the idea. Blur reality with the promotion. Like the movie, “The Game” starring Michael Douglas. Keep it real. Make it kind of hard, a little weird, off balance.

    Note: The local angle would also offer bonus points/products to those that videotaped their entire adventure for promotional use later on the films website.

    Cool right? That ain’t even shit!

    Here’s you AHA! moment. Part of the experience would require answering a question related specifically to something in the film.

    For example: Let’s say the game was related to the film Terminator 2. You’ve passed some hurdles and your next clue from Arnold in the Podcast you just received asks, “What music band T-Shirt was John Conner wearing in the movie? The answer is/was Public Enemy. But nobody who didn’t see the film would have any idea.

    Wa – fucking -la. Butts in seats.

    If you’ve bought into the game, you definitely are going to make time to check out the flick.
    Once you know the answer, you go to the website and continue on the odyssey. You also are going to want to go to the theater to pick up the schwag you’ve earned for advancing into certain stages of the games. This would be very game specific, coveted and ultimately elitist shit. Stuff you couldn’t buy or duplicate cost effectively. Like special designer hoodies, hats, bags, jackets, etc all proclaiming how much of a badass you are for getting to a particular stage in the game.

    Now, people could (and will) immediately contact their friends, but it’s just creating additional viral buzz. Imagine, as soon as kids see the T-Shirt in the movie you’d see a bunch of phone screens light up of the kids texting their buddies who are online somewhere to continue the next step in the game.

    I think you get what I’m saying. You’re basically tying all of your media impressions together to create a totally immersive, fun experience for your target audience to participate in. And the ways to make the games interesting are endless. I won’t bore you.


    Comment by Erik Blakkestad -

  74. A new way of marketing to theatrical patrons has to be developed by taking into consideration their time, comfort, and interests.

    To get millions of people out to the theater on opening weekend and to reduce the cost per person in advertising dollars a new marketing strategy has to be developed.

    First, the current mix of dollars spent toward current advertising will be redirected toward a new marketing campaign. This will consist of fabricating and installing a theater style kiosk – loaded up on style, touch screen properties, comfort, and privacy located in public places where people have extra time on their hands – i.e., airports, bus stations, licensing, car dealerships, and fast food restaurants.

    The kiosk will show movie trailers, interviews with directors, producers, and actors.
    An exit interview and questioner will be given; for example, 1) which trailer would you likely see on opening weekend 2) which film would you like more information on 3) How many guests would you invite to the theater 4) which method of contact do you prefer – email, text, US mail, etc. Thereby, statistically, this information can be used to direct market to this individual on his/her taste of films, actors, directors, theaters, etc.

    Secondly, use a select number of participants to place magnetic signs on the side of their vehicles, which would read Mark Cuban Films.Com. The participants will be compensated with x amount of dollars of free gas (6 to 8 weeks before film opening.)
    Participants must drive x amount of miles per week. Selected participants will be use their everyday driving route and routine.

    Inform public on new marketing campaign using TV, radio, and print toward websites, and kiosk locations.

    Third, Web sites are designed to 1) handle the extra hits 2) participants viewing trailers must log in 3) is set up to mirror kiosks 4) exit interviews and questioners are obtained.
    Thus, by direct marketing to a few and not the masses theatre seats will fill at a lower cost. By direct marketing to an individual on a personal basis by his/her choice will decrease the cost per person to market to and the individual will feel like a true customer.
    Hence, the greater the probability that individual actually attending opening night/weekend.

    Finally, a marketing plan is put together and implemented to where safeguards, valid statistical values, and potential customers are more than willing to participate. And the cost per person to convert to a paying customer decreases over time.

    Comment by Benjie Silva -

  75. Regarding your request for new ideas to drive people to theatres at less cost:

    1) Create business employee incentive packages with discount movie passes. Give these away to any participating businesses. Team with other advertisers to devise a package of discounts for everyday things like movies, coffee, amusement parks, cable service, etc.) Keep it simple, valuable and limited to only a relatively few goods and services. (Of course the movie advert/discounts should be the most visible). I would suggest making the employee incentive package a download from the internet, with some form of electronic business ID validation. Collecting employee email and personal information will allow for follow ups to customers to keep reminding them to see such and such new movie.

    –Jon Marcquis

    Comment by Jon Marcquis -

  76. Mark,
    All the efforts of making people go to the movies based on movie discounts and promos will not amount to a lot. The most important is that the movie-going experience needs to

    a) fun and memorable for the customers
    b) easy and hassle-free for the customers

    The cinemas should a)cater to diverse demographics b) should “differentiate” themselves from other movie businesses like DVD rentals or video streaming but should create a win-win partnership with these “competitors”.

    That brings us to “how”. There are a number of ways. There is no single answer. The right set of combinations should be chosen based on the local market.

    1. Make cinemas a one-stop-shop. Movies + Food + Bar + Games + Movie memorabilia under one ceiling. Why do you think the malls provide a better movie experience? Package tickets can be sold. Local businesses may join the package deals too that may drive the ticket prices down.

    2. The movie tickets could be used for the “movie-lotteries”. The lotteries could use multiple formats; national, international, state, local. The prizes could be in a multiple formats too; cash, dinner with the movie-stars, etc. based on how much you spent… you get my drift. Hell, the movie-lottery itself could be made a big event and could be used as a promo for the movie itself.

    3. The cinemas should cater to the needs of all the income brackets just like the planes do. There could be an economy class (for a meager $5 per person), first class with comfortable seating and platinum class with drinks served.
    I would love to take my clients to a good movie experience if there is something like that.

    4. Special nights could be introduced on blockbuster weekends with live local bands to create a fun and festive atmosphere.

    5. Create incentive programs to make the customers return again and again. Like Delta Skymiles programs. Call it Regal MovieAdvantage. Club it with credit cards where other businesses can partner in. Offer incentives after certain points are accumulated.

    6. Offer personalized movie-memorabilia in the theaters. Movie tickets that say “I was the 12,345,678th fan to watch the Star Wars Revenge of the Sith.” Offer incentives to first Million moviegoers. Or give away collectible T-shits, pictures, etc.

    7. Partner with On-Demand movie streaming services. You get one On-Demand streaming of the same movie for every ticket. Or a discount for the Movie download on your Video iPod.

    8. Cinemas should partner with the likes of netflix and Blockbusters so that the customer can accumulate points. Points with DVD renting could get you enough discount for going to the cinema.

    If I think of more, I will send it your way. By the way, I am a fan of you business acumen and have been reading your blogs regularly for last year or so.

    Comment by Raj -

  77. Out of the Box Movie Theatre Marketing Basics
    My idea is based on movie marketing practices that have been going on for years BUT with a new twist using new technology.

    To get rid of some of the issues that people are complaining about movie theatres here is my idea.

    Better use of the surrounding businesses to help promote the theatre and their movies.
    The old days and still today they try to sell advertising to local businesses with their low statistics of movie goers etc, and it is not worth the price for advertising for the return.

    Scenario to think about first:
    My dad will buy tons of fried pickles at Corkeys, my wife will buy ice cream every night at Cold Stone, I will buy Chili Cheese fries anywhere anytime; but none of us want to spend $8-$10 on a movie that may suck or the theatre experience might suck).

    How my Idea will better you, me, the local businesses, and the movie theatre:
    A. Better for You and Me:
    Imagine now going into the ice cream store or the Sporting goods store next door to the theatre and they say when you buy stuff from them you get movie bucks (single bucks, double bucks, or even triple bucks)? Using my free movie bucks I possibly would go and see some movies that maybe I may not have normally seen but I said “what the heck I have a bunch of free movie bucks so let’s go to a movie”. I probably will not get so pissed if the movie sucks or any other issue since I feel like the movie was free. I might even buy candy from the concession area because I feel like I got a free movie.

    B. Better for Local Businesses:
    The businesses could drive more customers to eat or shop their by putting in their marketing (print ads, newspapers, web) that you get single, double or even triple movie bucks. You might even have some friendly competition if one ice cream store offers single movie bucks and another offers double or triple movie bucks. I know which store I would be buying from. The business would also get advertising at the theatre depending on what level they want to pay for (see How it works).
    Finally the local businesses would feel like they could really offer their customers something valuable for eating or shopping there. They would not think all they got was some crappy ad at the theatre.

    C. Better for the Movie Theatre:
    #1. They would Save Advertising Money: You would have lots of local business promoting you and encouraging their customers to go see movies. The local businesses (especially those close to the theatre) would promote the free movie bucks in newspapers, promos, and there websites.
    #2. Giving the local businesses access to links, trailers, promo material to put on their website and in the business will drive theatre branding and online theatre sales.
    #3. Hopefully less pissed off customers because they would kind of think they would be going to the movie for free.
    #4. Non-Movie goers like my Dad would go to the theatre to see a movie now because after his recent 3 visits for his fried pickles he earned enough movie bucks for a free ticket.

    Let the local businesses especially those in the same plaza or mall as the theatre join in an advertising/movie bucks program. The business would pay the movie theatre to belong to the program and they could choose to offer single movie bucks, double movie bucks, or even triple movie bucks. They would also get preferred advertising in the theatre depending on what level they paid for.

    The movie bucks could be translated by a percentage like Amex Blue Reward Points where maybe 1000 bucks means ($10) or even dollar for dollar). I could go on and on about that.

    That’s it, Enjoy.

    Comment by Lance Coffman -

  78. I think it’s simple in its formula. We must go backward instead of trying to keep up with the Jones’. Disney has a method to get parents to buy their DVDs by only releasing them for a limited time. Forcing the comsumer to act within a window.

    Using this theory of marketing, we must first make the best character driven story that is made for the big screen. Then, take a risk by only releasing the movie in theaters (no DVD, PPV, etc..) to follow. This is it. You don’t see it in the theater you won’t see it.
    Of course two years later you pull the Disney and put it on DVD for a limited time.

    This forces the consumer to choose, especially if they can only get out to see one movie that month. Knowing that the other films will be on video and cable before they’re even out of the theater and our film will never be on video…the choice is easier to make.

    That is the marketing pitch. See it before it’s gone. Don’t be left out.

    Comment by Randy -

  79. The “not available in stores … ever” idea: simply annouce that the movie would never, ever be available on DVD (either for rental or purchase) or shown on TV or cable/satellite (even as pay-per-view). Granted that movie studios make as much, or even more, $ from the DVD and PPV markets, but the stated goal was to get people into theaters without spending as much, not “… and generate the same amount of revenue.” Initially people probably won’t believe it, so 6 months later (when it should come out on DVD) simply rerelease it in theaters and follow it up with a “still not available in stores” ad campaign. Is this crazy? Well, a good Broadway show run for years — why? Because the only way to see them is to go to the theater.

    Now of course you will still have (1) make movies people want to see, and (2) advertise them. I don’t see any way around that. But perhaps this strategy would motivate studios to make fewer, better films — the result, theoretically, would be higher ratio of revenue per marketing $ spent.

    So would this really work? There are maybe 3-4 films a year that I HAVE to see — and maybe 1-2 a decade that I can’t wait a few extra months for it to come out on DVD. So if I knew one of those 3-4 files per year won’t ever arrive in my mailbox via Netfix, that would increase my trips to the local theater from 1-2 per decade to 3-4 per year.

    So I don’t expect Mark will be offering me a job based on this idea. Honestly, I think if the goal is to get people in theaters WITHOUT spending as much to market films, then the only realistic chance is to make the theater the attraction rather than the films — the experience at the theater would have to be so nice or unique that people will just show up on a Friday night without even knowing what’s playing. (The last time I did that was when I was in high school in the 1980’s I lived in a small town and there simply wasn’t much else to do.)

    Comment by Steve -

  80. I love the Landmark Theatres we have here in Denver. I grew up a few blocks from the Esquire and I think converting the balcony into a second theater was a terrible mistake from a “movie experience” point of view. Must we see all our movies in 10′ x 10′ multiplexes? Why not just watch the big screen at home?

    But the answer to your question is, as others have pointed out: make better movies. Mark, you need people as innovative at making movies as you are innovative in business. 95% of the movies made today are rehashings of rehashings. E.g., nearly every Romantic comedy has the exact same structure. Hollywood makes movies that look the same as past box office winners. Make movies that look different.

    Comment by Will -

  81. Why not create theaters with “honeycomb-style” seating for people–essentially, you purchase a ticket for a one, two or four-person box that is walled on three sides (you enter through the back) and the front is open to the screen. Everyone will not have to hear or even see the people around them, the speakers can be adjusted inside each box for optimal volume, and you wouldn’t have to deal with annoying children, teenagers, old people, etc.
    I agree that branding each theater is an idea that’s a long time coming. A 21 & older theater that only shows low-brow comedy and has a liquor license would make a mint! Also a city with a large African-American population like Detroit (which has 1 theater in it’s city limits) needs an Art-house theater which specializes in African-American movies.

    Comment by Ron Wade -

  82. I feel like Internet trailers are all well and good but it is difficult to have a large portion of the market go and watch one. I feel like television has been the best way to advertise for a movie and it could become even better. In a world of DVD extras I feel like people want to see more and more from a film. I think an excellent way to market a film would be from a weekly television show. Each week would be designed to promote a soon to be released movie. However the television show would not be just a series of trailers. It could be all original material designed to introduce us to the characters and begin to pry into the story. The main goal in all of this would be to leave the audience wanting more. I am always disappointed with the majority of major movie trailers. I feel like I see all of the best parts of the movie in a single clip. By promoting a movie with all new material designed to get us interested in the characters I feel as though people who would have normally brushed off a movie based on what they saw in a trailer or commercial would now be more likely to go see a movie because they have developed a relationship with the characters.

    Comment by Brac Love -

  83. I’d like to see value added to the 12$ ticket I just bought. iTunes download of the movie theme? A dumb ringtone of the awesome quote in the movie? The ability to purchase a movie I liked after the movie (Basic DVD with forced ads at the start. Theater makes money as a DVD retailer. Industry cashes in 3 times on the movie. 1st time movie ticket, 2nd time on Basic DVD, 3rd on the Special Edition DVD from Wal-Mart). What about the ability to type in a code in your TiVo and get the movie to watch a few times at home? All of this stuff would end up being advertising for the movie or future movies.

    I don’t think the problem is that advertising costs too much, it’s just that it costs too much to trick the movie going public in to seeing a shitty movie for 12$ in a uncomfortable place that tries to screw you for 13$ for popcorn and coke that prolly cost less 50 cents to the movie theater. (But we got to charge these prices cause we don’t make enough money on the 12$ tickets. I think that is bullshit.)

    There isn’t an aha moment to be had with this cycle. Make good movies, don’t spend 100+ million$ on every movie, and don’t be greedy, and don’t be stupid and bombard television with shock & awe technique advertising.

    Comment by John S. -

  84. Un saludo a los internautas.

    Comment by Antonio Quintana Guerrero -

  85. Mark—I had post 77 about the baseball or movie cards. You could really do a lot of things with this—This MIGHT be what you’re looking for, of course it could be marginal, but I look at it like the topps/bubble gum glory days, beanie babies, or some new cool little fad that surges the industry. Any slamdunk breakthrough of astronomical proportions is unrealistic.

    Here is an interesting stat I found

    “Early last month, OTX, an online research company based in Los Angeles, published a study revealing that the number of young men going to see movies in theaters has plummeted, with males under 25 saying they saw 24% fewer films this past summer than last, attributing the decline, in part, to their preference for alternative media.”
    IMO, we need to make the movies lifesized again, and movie cards could do it.

    –have special insert cards such as actor or director autographs.

    –fun/interesting facts on the cards–really lot of cool things on EVERY movie and actor. Adults will read this stuff.

    –random ticket cards that mean “You just won a chance to see this movie FREE”

    –my cousin collects ticket stubs from the movies and posts them on a wall in her room. These cards could be stamped after you buy a ticket, making it a souvenir—-after a couple years, look at the cards so you know what you saw, and see what unknown actors became bigtime. If someone gets a certain # of cards stamped, they should receive a prize.

    put Dirk Nowitzki in a movie and have something with David Hasselhoff. Every Mavs telecast and sports show would advertise the movie for ya, and who doesn’t wanna see Dirk in a movie?

    Comment by bucknut5 -

  86. Okay Mark,
    So, this is another version to my previous solution 776, that talked about showing first 10-20 mins of movie on web sites and allow people to share using file sharing sites and P2P software.

    In addition, show begining of the movie on TV. You can get TV ad money on top of the free publicity. If the movie is okay or good and show the movie until first cliff hanger, people will want to see how it will progress and end.

    Comment by Song Kim -

  87. Look at it the other way: instead of trying to bring people to the theater; bring the theater to people.

    Ditch the big cineplexes in favor of small, convenient, close-by neighborhood theaters. Make it so kids can go there on their bike. Make it so a couple out on a stroll can walk by and decide, on the spur of the moment, to buy two tickets for one of those movies.

    In my city a couple years ago we had an old crappy theater stuck between two shopping malls. Except that the shopping malls were always full of people and were not far from all the residential areas. People would stop by for a movie during their shopping spree. Except that the owner sold out to one of those huge thing far away where even city buses can’t go. Shot himself in the foot.

    Location, location, location…

    Comment by Niko -

  88. I know this has never been done before. Since every household has a TV, cable or dish. This idea is like Movies on Demand, EXCEPT for the fact that the movies would be NEW Movies just released instead of being months old and out of the theatres already.

    Have a trailer showing of the movie on the channel and if someone/family is interested in it, they can order it. Whatever the price may be. Figure it would be a little cheaper than going to the movies. I feel it would bring family and freinds together in a household environment and they can watch the movie in the confines of their homes.

    You can also have the movie showing in the theatres as well, for those people that want to hang out with their friends or just to get the surround sound difference (for those homes that don’t have surround).

    Like I said, its like Movies on Demand, except for the fact that it would be a new movie/movies. I feel that it would be a gold mine. Especially if Movies on Demand is doing it with movies that already been through the theatres. I know I would like to watch a new movie on my big screen with surround sound instead of going to the theatres to watch it.

    There may be restrictions to this, but I am sure there are ways around it. Just think how easy life would be if at the click of a button, you can watch that new release in your own home instead of putting up with the hassle of long lines, and especially gas prices. Life would be good!

    Comment by J.Daniels -

  89. Oh, do what AOL does with their crap ISP and mail out cheap DVD’s with upcoming trailers and some behind the scenes footage – mayhaps on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.

    Comment by Todd Johnston -

  90. I think your just asking for new ways to throw good money after bad. With the advent of surround sound and HDTV, movie theatre’s have to offer an experience that consumers can not get in there living rooms.
    You have what I would say is the rollercoaster dilemma. No matter how many films you see of a rollercoaster, no matter how close you get to it, you will never experience the thrill of the first drop unless you actually ride it.
    This is what theatre’s have to do to bring the crowds back, they need to give them the feeling of the first drop, something they can never get at home.
    The way I see it you have to modernize the theatre, think outside of the box, square is dead. first you have design the the building around the sound system, if the sound is awful than the movie will feel that way to. Next you need to get rid of the one dimensional screen, you need a prismatic screen with a phased array projector, basically what your doing is immersing the audience into the movie itself, the guy on the left will see the actors face and the guy on the right will see his back etc. As for the rest it’s all mediocre.

    Comment by somebody -

  91. I don’t think there is going to be an idea that will just “POOF” revolutionize this industry.

    I think there needs to be a change in the way the entire business is run. It hasn’t changed all that much in the hunderd-something years that its been around. Sure, technology has improved and there are more movies being released, but what has really changed?

    Maybe you need to look at opening smaller theatres in more areas. 5 to 6 screeners, rather than large cineplexes. These places can also have like Starbucks and a restraunt and maybe a couple of stores in them. Also think about forms of interactive entertainment; laser tag, other forms of recreation. Make the theatres more of a community center perhaps.

    For example; in areas with a higher latino population you can open a couple of theatres that will show movies geared towards a latino crowd, wtih activities for latinos, etc. etc. Same with african americans, caucasian, asians, etc. This way you can even start producing lower budgeted movies specifically designed for these demographics while also releasing the “big budget, epic” films by well-known directors and starring top-drawing actors.

    Reduce operating costs by doing what local Wal-Marts are doing, solar power, wind power, etc. Incoroporate things like that for the theatre.

    Have nights where sports teams will be in attendance and you can meet your favorite star.

    Club in the theatre for late night attenders.

    Broadcast sports events on certain nights – weeknights are usually low-attendance nights anyways. So maybe dedicate a couple screens to sports casts and allow the crowd to get rowdy and root for their fav. teams while being served concessions – “Cold beer! Hot Popcorn here!”

    Sounds like you are already changing the layout of your theatres and also the demographics that they are catering too. 16 to 25 year old crowd one sounds interesting.

    Door to door “salesmen” – I don’t know why but I really think that could work. It might get people to have faith in the movies again and get excited about it.

    Use recycled products for concession bags, rather than just throwing everything away.

    I like the idea for producing movies; have people be able to buy “Associate Producer” credit through small donations, anywhere from $50 – on. That’s a great idea. Film students around the country would eat that up. Paying for professional credit, genius.

    More later as they come to me.

    Comment by Todd Johnston -

  92. You need to get endorsment type deals with athletes, other celebs, musicians, or notable figures. How many people did “Mean” Joe green inspire to have a coke and a smile. Can you possibly count the number of people that wanna be like mike? Bill the ditch digger/hoops fan would never go see the latest release “Chicks crying over tea while talking about poodles”, But his favorite NBA star in uniform appears after the trailor and tells how he cried until he laughed now this guy and every other fan of this athlete are now on board.
    Don’t underestimate the follower mentality. I know people who only wear certain shoes, clothes, ect. because thier favorite player does. Celebs have a ton of draw, and attatching your wagon to their star may just lead to a gravy train. Just a thought.

    Comment by sonny dack -

  93. Mark,

    Great challenge. It seems to me that trying to get people to the movies is much like fighting TV viewers to leave their cable channels and come back to broadcast TV.

    We live in a different world. No longer can 5 movies cater to every movie go-er. Think about “The Long Tail”, just like the 4 or 5 big TV stations no longer attracts the big percentage of viewers, having theaters with 10 screens showing 8 different movies no longer cuts it.

    The answer I think is to completely re-think the theater experience. People still want to go out, enjoy the evening, enjoy a greater experience, I think the problem is they would rather watch exactly what they want, instead of have a choice of only 8 films. Why go to the theater to watch a bland movie that was created for 50% for of the nation, when I can go on Netflix, Cable, Bit-Torrent, Movie-Link or whatever, and find something specifically for my taste. I say: change the movie theater! Instead of a ten screen multi-plex, each featuring 100 seats, turn it into a 30 screen theater with 30 seats each. With automated projectors the cost per screening should be the same. Even the films themselves should rent for less- considering you wouldn’t be showing just blockbusters, but foreign films, oldies, Indies,

    Also, along the same lines, but more for your production companies. The USA we live with today is not the country of yesterday. 15% of the population is Latino. 15% is African American…we live in a country of diverse tastes and diverse cultures. Produce movies for these different segments. Don’t bring in Spanish movies from Mexico, just because they are in Spanish, but rather produce them here, specifically for Latinos living in the US…watch how people will flock…

    Movie theaters are really just a content distribution platform and the game has changed. TV, Radio, Print are now offering choice. Lots and lots of choice…I think theaters should too.

    Comment by E P -

  94. I am the father of 9 children (yes, people need to have hobbies) and I have felt that the large family for economic reasons has been financially shut out of the big screed cinema. During the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s we had the availability of Drive In Theatres and family nights. Nothing of the sort exists today, in the cities of close in ‘burbs. What the large family now needs is an “all inclusive” price for attending a movie”. This would then be formidable competition to the movie DVD.

    Studio movie grils are somewhere in that mix, but they also need the kind of pricing you have on board of cruise ships….where it’s all inclusive and if we care we can leave an additional “great Job” Tip.

    I know the cost of proiducing movies is high but from the family’s perspective, the cost of viewing is excessive with the added cost of drinks, popcorn (obscene), and other snacks. I
    realize that theater owners must make a profit BUT lets try something different that may work.

    Take a theater, any workable theater, and try a few test nights of “all inclusive pricing”. Tweak it a few times and see what the response
    is in different venues. This should be tried within a family, dating, or adult environment.

    Prici8ng as suggested, may help the owener to get his expenses under control and his ability to forecast profits a lot easier.

    Comment by Walt Sammon -

  95. I don’t think branding theaters, or improving the experience will make a significant change. It will make it better, but certainly not change the business fundamentally.

    Certainly theater experience sucks, but even with a better theater I wouldn’t go to movie theaters more often, because the fundamental issue is that you go to movie theaters for the movie. As long as this fact remains, nothing will change the business. It is very hard to convince people to go to a movie, because you need huge marketing power and a great movie. The real trick is to convince people to go to movies which they wouldn’t normally go. The only way you can make this happen is to close the gap between the product (the movie) and the people. So far the only way of doing was to market the movie, so people would see the movie trailers and hopefully want to see the movie.

    I think a better approach is to attract people with other things and make them closer to the shop (the movie theater). In this case, people would see movies more often, because they are near the shop and would go more often. It is like this. A person sitting at home is less likely to buy anything from a store in a mall than a person who is actually in the mall. Malls are designed to be places where people hang around. It is not a place where you buy stuff and get out. You can spend your whole day in the mall, and many people do. My point is not to turn the movie theater into a mall, but you should make the movie theater a place where people want to stay not leave. So you need to add other things like, coffee shops, bookstores etc…

    Comment by Sezo -

  96. Ok, Mark, I’ll pitch you my idea, which might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever thought of.

    We all know that the opening weekend makes or breaks a movie. Unless you have a brilliantly-crafted advertising campaign (see: Blair Witch), you’ll have to spend millions on advertising to even have a chance of a movie succeeding. After that, you just have to pray people show up on opening night.

    (stick with me, I’m slowly getting somewhere)

    Now, I’m a huge movie aficionado, but I find myself catching more and more movies on DVD instead of in the theater. When an appealing movie first comes out on Friday, I think “Well, the theater will be crowded, I’ll just wait until I can see it for the matinee price.”

    Then I get distracted, I forget about all those cool tv trailers, and then it’s suddenly Friday night two weeks later, something else has come out, and I’ve completely forgotten about that movie I once wanted to see.

    The result is that I hardly go out to see movies anymore. I don’t mind the prices, or the food, or even the people. I am simply not driven to get out of my house.

    (trust me, I’m getting somewhere)

    You need to springboard the launch of your movies with something so awesome, so original, and so big that people everywhere will get off their asses, turn off the tv, and see your movie.

    Of course, the entertainment industry has tried this before, having midnight showings across the nation, or bringing out their PR crews to run a red-carpet opening night with all their stars, but this brings only moderate success.

    Mark, do you remember that MI3 commercial where the whole city gathers to watch a MI3 trailer shown on the sides of skyscrapers of downtown New York? It’s impossible, of course, but I thought it was pretty sweet…

    If only there was a way to get a mass of people together for a gigantic screening of the movie they all wanted to see. A one time deal in every city that would attract all the fans, similar to how the Star Wars nuts congregated every time another sequel was released…

    If only there was a way to do that in every city to jumpstart opening night…

    (here’s where my stupid idea comes in)

    Sports arenas. Yes, sports arenas. I can’t imagine how cool it would have been to see a Lord of the Rings film at American Airlines Center with 8,000 other fans, on a huge projection screen hung up for that night only. Take a horror movie like the Grudge, for example: Seeing that at the same time with thousands of other horror fans on a gigantic screen would have been out of this world. MI3 (which I never saw) would have appealed to me if I could have attended it as a major event.

    Basically, I believe that if you increase the number of people present at a movie, it makes the film that much cooler to watch. It would let you get caught up in the film in such a way that no movie theater (no matter how stylish or fancy) ever could.

    And here’s the cool part – since you would run only a select number of these events, you could spice up the event by adding an off-screen flair. Maybe it’s a mini rock concert before the movie starts, maybe it’s some added pyrotechnics during an explosion scene, or maybe some guys dressed as SWAT Team members slide down ropes before the performance. Anything along those lines would excite the fans and make this both an event and an experience not to pass up.

    Additionally, because these types of gargantuan opening nights should be few and far between in each city (since some venues will no doubt be unavailable to host your film), you will receive extensive media coverage both before and after the event. Furthermore, since this would be a revolutionary (and gutsy) idea, you would receive national media attention for being the first person to try such a thing.

    end of stupid idea

    I know this seems too big, too expensive, too risky, and it poses too many questions I lack the expertise for. All I know is that you asked for a revolutionary idea, and that’s about as revolutionary and out-of-the-box as I can think of.

    Mark, I don’t need a job from you, nor do I expect to be offered one. > if you like this kind of thinking, I need an internship in public relations to graduate from college, and I could give you a resume’ in 10 minutes, just ask anytime. 😉

    Comment by Patrick Feller -

  97. Go check out Warren Theaters in Wichita, Ks that is a way to get people to the theaters. The seats in the theaters are made by Jaguar. You feel classy when you go to the theaters, his theaters offer many different options. He has one in downtown that has a sports bar inside, and then when you get into the theater it is full service. You have waiters and waitresses serving you. You can get regular concessions, or you can get a full meal along with being able to order from a fully stocked bar. They are doing something right, because he has basically ran all other theaters out of the town. You might be thinking it is expensive to go, but no. All the theaters have tickets available for 8.00 or less. I no longer live in Wichita and it is one of the things I miss the most about that town. Check out the website at I know this is not really a new idea, but Bill Warren is a business man and obviously so are you Mark, maybe you could share ideas with what I would consider a movie theater mogul. I live in Denver now and everyone talks about AMC out here and all I can say is a Warren theater puts any AMC theater I have ever been to, to shame. I know this is not exactly what you were looking for as far as a new idea, but its some one that has obviously solved the problem you are trying to because his theaters are always packed.

    Comment by Jerod -

  98. Before I say anything, I must say that I didn’t know of your plans for Landmark. It sounds like a very big step in the right direction, but I wonder if it’s a big enough step. I believe you’re right that there’s a considerable portion of the potential market for theater-going movie-patrons that are scared away by the theater experience. In particular people in the 25 to 40 year old age block who grew up with and love movies, but find the “cater to the kids” atmosphere of the multi-plexes distasteful. And I like your idea of branding theaters for specific audiences, but I don’t think that’s enough.

    I think the image of the theater-going experience has been pushed so far in the wrong direction, that we need a more dramatic change to sell. Furthermore, I think there’s a very significant problem that nobody’s addressed yet, and that’s the cost of all of this crap. Big studios produce movies that cost no less than $60 to $200 million, distribution companies will often spend similar amounts of hundreds of millions just on advertising, and by that time, the total amount of money spent necessitates that it be the biggest possible release, so the simple materials cost of rolling out the film simultaneously onto 8,000 screens worldwide starts to tally up to $60 to 80 million as well. That means that every movie coming out from the studio distribution muscle MUST target the lowest common denominator because otherwise they don’t make money back. And in order to do that, they have to dominate the multiplexes.

    There’s more movie production going on right now all over the country than there ever has been before in history. And yet, people (largely in the 25 to 40 age group) are continually complaining about how nobody’s making good movies anymore, because they aren’t even aware of the kind of work that the smaller, independent distribution companies like Magnolia and 2929 do, because those companies (no disrespect meant), simply can’t compete with the studio distributors in the big multiplex marketplace. The landscape of distributors in Hollywood looks somewhat similar to the economic landscape of China. A couple of really extravagantly rich people, about a million more people starving to death, and nothing in between. The problem is that there’s a bottleneck on the exhibition side of things. Even though there are about a billion different ways for people to watch filmed entertainment at home, in order for any movie to make money in those downstream markets, it’s still necessary for there to be a successful theatrical release.

    So my suggestion is to create a public exhibition format in between the theater and the home. High end home theater equipment has become extraordinarily impressive, and yet, the percentage of the home viewing population that actually has the best home theater equipment or is able to afford it is still extraordinarily small. The last number I heard was that HD had only found its way into less than 20% of American TV watching households. And that’s just HD, not HD DVD, or DTS surround sound, or any of the other major improvements to the home theater experience. It is not uncommon for groups of friends to congregate around the one person in the group that has an HDTV to watch movies at his house. So I feel like if you were to create a complex of small screening rooms like the kinds you find in post houses across LA, and equip those screening rooms with pro-sumer or even straight up consumer gear, there would be an interest in that kind of movie-viewing experience. Smaller theaters seating maybe 50 at a time, for movies and entertainment that have (as of yet) smaller audiences.

    And because it’s consumer level gear, the cost of capital investment would be low, and offers potential for cross-sponsorship from the manufacturers and retailers of that consumer gear. The cost of operation is also lower because the whole point of digital home entertainment is that it’s low maintenance. And because the capital risk is lower, this means you don’t have to bow to studio distributors and it could be a safe haven for smaller distributors to spread grassroots word-of-mouth campaigns. And you could lower ticket prices, and consider radically alternative pricing policies like charging admission to the complex, not the movie itself, or renting out theaters at reasonable rates for private parties. From the consumer perspective, it would also make it possible to see cult classics in a higher quality environment. You could probably make the entire capital investment back just by renting rooms solely to Firefly fans.

    So for the same price or less than one of Pacific’s or Edwards’ or AMC’s behemoth 30-plex theatrical complexes, you could create a place with at least 60 small screens with the potential for continuous alternative programming on each of those screens. I get the feeling that would appeal to a very large segment of the population that’s dissatisfied with the theater experience and the mainstream studio distributors these days.

    Comment by Eric Hwang -

  99. organize the world’s *movie* information — every actor/studio/producer/director, every synopsis, every song title used, every line of every script, (everything about every movie) — and make it universally accessible and useful.

    Comment by onetwu -

  100. Hi Mark,

    There obviously is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to marketing, esp movie marketing. As you mentioned with your ITI comments, that strategy only works where there are pockets of “I’s” ready and willing to…er…”I”.

    HOWEVER, there are two things I see as being routinely overlooked in today’s film mktg efforts. (Disclaimer: neither of these is a paradyme-shift/disruptive technology concept…it’s simply focusing on better EXECUTION. My opinion is that the devil is in the details, not in revolutionizing the industry).

    The first you’ve in part solved with Day-in-Date approach. It’s a marketing-funding strategy that pools all the resources from interested parties at the outset of the campaign to form real marketing pull that competes with studio budgets. By combining resources (exhibitor, theatrical distrib, TV licensor, DVD, online) into one unified campaign, not only does this make the pot of mktg $ larger, and the simultaneous-push/splash bigger…but it also would involve non-monetary support (i.e. TIME commitments, through contractual obligations) from every self-interested participant –namely the stars, & the filmmaker…but also the rest of the crew.

    This may not seem like a radical suggestion, given that junkets are part of everyday celeb-life but I’m very familiar with all of your movies, Mark, and I know you don’t always max-out the leverage of your star-power. You’re not the only one, of course, and I know it’s (right now) often a fight to garner the interest/availability of the individual director or star. But I honestly think more producers should use the same plea that Tom Cruise made to Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry McGuire: Help me help you! Meaning: many of the most rabidly-followed indie directors become well-known not necessarily b/c they were the most talented but b/c they endeared themselves (in their own eccentric way) to the key film festival programmers, to TV reviewers, to audiences directly (via the web) and to the print press alike. Hence, they themselves developed a reputation for having a fanatical, loyal base –which made it much easier for them to secure financing future projects from people like you.

    You, as an influential/forward-thinking exec producer can choose to work with directors/talent that feels the same way you do: that getting behind their movie in a tireless way –by contractually agreeing to participate in viral marketing and promotional activities– is simply required these days as quality content fights to find its audience.

    You can also choose to pass on those who so often:

    * bow out of post-release marketing campaigns prematurely,
    * don’t participate or support the creation of “behind the scenes” programming,
    * fail to make time to attend in-person film festival screenings and big-city “Q/A with the Director”,
    * don’t support the creation of “extra” scene-selection for the DVD or online (which helps with online trailer distribution),
    * neglect red-carpet appearances for charity events, award shows, etc. which may be opportunities for photo-ops in lgr press outlets that reach a wider audience than their modest-budget film allows,
    * don’t “participate” in carefully-crafted leaks to film-rumor sites,
    * reject opportunities for iChat sessions with fans, or
    * fail to make an effort in interviews (not every filmmaker is featured on 60 minutes, in the Arts & Leisure section or even “Extra!” ;-)…but there aer well-trafficed outlets that collectively mean more (in reaching your target “millions”) than an occasional big-media plug: quality podcasts, key radio, select trade journals, internet video sites and bloggers,
    * generally speaking, never really give it their all.

    At the end of the day, all these activities –while they may require a tireless team to coordinate and execute– can really help the film perform. There’s no denying it.

    It’s basic consumer behavior: if you want someone to care about your product, you need to get them to care about YOU (director, star, supporting cast or crew member).

    As a second-tier effort, you can also expand this “behind-the-scenes” junket resource to include oft-forgotten players, whose careers all have a stake in the success of the project: the band on the soundtrack, the DP, the editor. Build a STORY around each of the most compelling characters there, and pump it out with fresh content through all the available vehicles (see list above). Each of these parties has a constituency (even if it’s a college audience, New York Women in Film, or the Editors Guild of America) and while it may not seem at first blush like the grass-roots effort would result in millions of prospective audience members, it’s always amazing to me that the films that both (a) catch “good buzz” within the industry, and (b) have the ability to scale to smaller markets, magically seem to build momentum and rapidly reach larger audiences of consumers. (The Six Degrees theory has been scientifically proven to be true; the industry-audience is a much more targetted group to begin with than your Akeelah and the Bee promotion with Starbucks. it’s not all about reach, it’s also about the “quality” of those targetted.)

    Third, if you haven’t read Laura Kim and John Anderson’s new book, I Wake Up Screaming (reviewed at you absolutely need to. It’s full of practical tactics used throughout recent indie film history that have worked to build audiences against-all-odds. Many industry-insiders who hate all books on film love this one.

    Finally, I firmly believe in working with one of the handful of seasoned experts (producer’s reps, publicists, film marketers) who can craft a specific creative strategy for a particular release that both makes sense economically for the size of that film and that uses viral tactics to drive awareness. So many of the big “viral” success stories –within the film industry and within the business world at large– are really just smart strategic marketing, executed effectively. (sidenote: We just conducted a podcast interview with Ian Shaffer who runs DeepFocus. The work he did for HBO’s Entourage with the “Interview with Ari” online campaign, and the new interactive web projects they have going on with the Weinsteins are quite powerful initiatives.)

    I’d love to talk to you more about this offline, Mark. You, Jason and Joanna have got something really good there with HDNet. There’s a ton of untapped potential.

    Comment by Megan Cunningham -

  101. Quit charging for the movie ticket itself! I have to believe there is a huge market for a free movie. Change the business model to factor in generating revenue from ads, food, intermission, etc. You have to focus on earnings per customer per visit and how to increase that. There are tons of way to drive the EPCPV up to $10-$20….and that would solve the economics.

    Comment by Rob Thomas -

  102. baseball cards?

    Collaberate with other movie benefactors—pop and popcorn. They might do it for free. Like the old topps/crackerjack box days, indlude cards of current movies with plot descriptions, etc. and myspace/websites listed. Upcoming movies could be rookie cards.

    It would at least appeal to kids.

    Comment by bucknut5 -

  103. Haven’t read all of the comments, but one I read struck me as similar to an idea I’ve had for a while: The reader talks about a membership scheme where you get unlimited movies. My idea is a little simpler: Movie day. One of the big things I like to do is spend a day at the movies, watching 3,4 or 5 films. You need a promotion where you pay for an all day movie pass, and you can go to see whatever you want (assuming there are seats left after those who paid for tickets for that specific film have sat – with a cut off of the advertised starting time).

    Where someone like you who wants to own the theater and the content makes out is concessions. If I’m at a theater for 6-8 hours, I’m going to get hungry and get thirsty and overpay for a soda and nachos or popcorn.

    The advantages to the consumer are that there is no worry about paying too much for a bad movie. If you don’t like it, leave and walk into another one. I’ve found many a good movie in years past doing this (and costing money to the theater). Gods and Monsters, Office Space were two of many I never would have paid the full amount to see. The advantages to the movie studio are that I own the DVD of both of them. They might have lost out on the ticket revenue, but they made up for that by the DVD sales.


    Comment by Charlie -

  104. Here is my idea. The only thing that can change the economics of this business is to expand the business to include other businesses. The theater should be more than a theater. Theaters’ image, as many people and you have mentioned is not very good. Theaters are not places where we want to hang out. So I think theaters should include coffee shops and a bookstore at least. You don’t have to own the bookstore, but you do need to turn the theater into a place where people want to hang out. The only time I am comfortable in a theater is when I am watching the movie, in all other times I want to get out of there, because theaters are cold places. They try to sell expensive popcorn and drink. Let me tell you where I want to hang out: bookstores and coffee shops. Think about Star Bucks, that’s the type of place where people want to spend money, continuously. Movie theaters on the other hand completely rely on the success of a movie. If the movie is attractive enough then people come, otherwise people do not want to come. It is that simple. When you base your business on the quality and success of movies, then you become vulnerable, because it is a very unreliable source of business. What you need to do is turn movie theaters into places like Borders, Barnes and Noble where I can sit and enjoy, and in the meantime I can go and see movies.

    Here are a couple of things that can be done. Of course, running a theater is hard enough, so you wouldn’t want to run a coffee shop and a bookstore at the same time. What you can do however is to get other bookstores and coffee shops to run these stores. Provide a membership program, so when I get a membership card, I can go to any of these stores and get a discount, including movie tickets. I guarantee you that I will come more often. I also guarantee you that I will see movies which otherwise I wouldn’t see. Because I have a membership card, I hang out in the theater and hey if there is a movie that I didn’t see, I would definitely go and see it for a DISCOUNT. In the meantime, of course I would buy more movie related stuff, like books, CDs because I HANG OUT in the theater. Today a theater for me is a place to run away after seeing a movie, you got to turn this into a place where I sit down, read a book and drink some coffee and see movies that seem interesting.

    Comment by Sezo -

  105. Total Event Immersion-

    When Pulp Fiction came out years ago, I was attending an advance screening in NYC. Obviously a great film, but the best part of the experience was when Quentin Tarantino came out and did a q and a with the audience. While he wouldn’t answer as to what was in the suitcase, his presence certainly helped create a Pulp Fiction evangelist in myself. I saw the movie 5 times, purchased the video then dvd eventually, but most importantly, I told everyone I knew to go see this movie, and about the screening and meeting the director. So tailing off of Eric P’s idea of having the stars do q and expanding this concept to the secondary performers, the directors, and the screenwriters. All of these individuals can give a behind the scenes perspective and answer those questions that we tend to have after the movie. Present these in a landmark branded coffee house/restaurant atmosphere with a full stage and full audio visual set up adjacent to the movie theatre itself, along with the merch area you speak of, and all of a sudden secondary revenue ops like food and beverage sales as well as DVD sales can become reality. An autograph session with stars or director where I can get my DVD or a poster signed, can get me to buy expanded quantities of said items. This all starts with a compelling movie, but the idea is to create evangelists who market your movie for you. Music artists tour in support of their releases to every market they can. Why shouldn’t film stars do the same. Put them in a tour bus/van with a vinyl wrap of desired film imagery and all of a sudden this becomes the ultimate marketing angle. Korn did a tour of just radio stations to promote their last release before actually even doing a performance tour. Each market they hit became a press and fan event with meet and greets, which in turn created much buzz and continued evangelism. The personal experience of meeting the stars or participants can be priceless with the right situation.

    Comment by Rich Wall -

  106. The steady decline of movie goers is often attributed to the lack of quality in today’s movies. However, I highly doubt any of us remember “Splash”, “Beverly Hills Cop 3”, or “Chucky” as classics. The problem is the theater experience. The crowds are huge, the lines are long, and the theaters are dirty and uninviting.

    We get by this by regularly going to the Drive-In 60 miles outside of our town. These theaters disappeared because the land they occupied was worth more than what the theaters would make in a decade. The Fork Union drive in we go to is always sold out, charges a premium price more than our local Regal Cinema, and has a packed concession stand. These theaters are less expensive to operate than the multiplex full of movies no one wants to see. Everyone would prefer to sit in their luxury SUV listening to the movie on their Dolby Digital sound system. The kids will sleep through the double feature and the parents don’t have to worry about keeping them under control. The idea is to build multi screen drive-in’s close to major cities with all the amenities families are looking for. These would include secure playgrounds to send the uninterested kids, food delivery to cars, easy entrance and exits, and tiered stadium parking. Crowds will flock to these retro destinations. These theaters won’t put the standard “indoors” operation out of business, but will make a great compliment to keep the people going.

    To fix the standard “indoor” operation the theaters must be redesigned. The goal is to become the Wal-Mart or Southwest Airlines of theaters. Theaters must have a reduced number of screens in the range of three or four. The theater will be much larger accommodating approximately 700 moviegoers. Operating a theater like this will reduce operating costs for the theaters. You will have the first run blockbuster running on one of the screens, last weeks blockbuster running on another screen, and some long haul movies or kids movies suited for groups or school attendance. While discount theaters do exist today they are typically run down and not a top quality experience. Your comment about ticket prices only being a piece of the expense of a night at the movie is exactly right but it is a major “reason” people give for not going. They have to go somewhere and you don’t want to eliminate movies from the running because of the expense. A larger theater with a limited selection will allow some reduction in ticket prices. Movies can be rotated out faster because you don’t have 20 theaters to fill at all times.

    These changes will reverse the trend in reduced movie attendance. They certainly will for my family. Good luck in your quest.

    Comment by Andrew Morrison -

  107. The steady decline of movie goers is often attributed to the lack of quality in today’s movies. However, I highly doubt any of us remember “Splash”, “Beverly Hills Cop 3”, or “Chucky” as classics. The problem is the theater experience. The crowds are huge, the lines are long, and the theaters are dirty and uninviting.

    We get by this by regularly going to the Drive-In 60 miles outside of our town. These theaters disappeared because the land they occupied was worth more than what the theaters would make in a decade. The Fork Union drive in we go to is always sold out, charges a premium price more than our local Regal Cinema, and has a packed concession stand. These theaters are less expensive to operate than the multiplex full of movies no one wants to see. Everyone would prefer to sit in their luxury SUV listening to the movie on their Dolby Digital sound system. The kids will sleep through the double feature and the parents don’t have to worry about keeping them under control. The idea is to build multi screen drive-in’s close to major cities with all the amenities families are looking for. These would include secure playgrounds to send the uninterested kids, food delivery to cars, easy entrance and exits, and tiered stadium parking. Crowds will flock to these retro destinations. These theaters won’t put the standard “indoors” operation out of business, but will make a great compliment to keep the people going.

    To fix the standard “indoor” operation the theaters must be redesigned. The goal is to become the Wal-Mart or Southwest Airlines of theaters. Theaters must have a reduced number of screens in the range of three or four. The theater will be much larger accommodating approximately 700 moviegoers. Operating a theater like this will reduce operating costs for the theaters. You will have the first run blockbuster running on one of the screens, last weeks blockbuster running on another screen, and some long haul movies or kids movies suited for groups or school attendance. While discount theaters do exist today they are typically run down and not a top quality experience. Your comment about ticket prices only being a piece of the expense of a night at the movie is exactly right but it is a major “reason” people give for not going. They have to go somewhere and you don’t want to eliminate movies from the running because of the expense. A larger theater with a limited selection will allow some reduction in ticket prices. Movies can be rotated out faster because you don’t have 20 theaters to fill at all times.

    These changes will reverse the trend in reduced movie attendance. They certainly will for my family. Good luck in your quest.

    Comment by Andrew Morrison -

  108. Mark.

    NEW IDEA. Brief.

    Outsource the movie theaters.

    Instead of trying to get 5M people to go see your movie, make sure your movie is already there wherever those 5M people go.

    Create an incredibly simple way for any business to include it’s own movie theater. They provide the environment, you just hand them a DVD.

    Me? I go out to dinner at my favorite upscale restaurant, then move to the movie lounge and watch indie films on a couch over coffee.

    Kids? They go to Chuckie Cheese’s and then pop in on Spongebob the Movie in a room full of toys. Then sell ’em Spongbob toys.

    Older kids? Horror movie after the metal concert.

    Voila. Huge costs outsourced, puts the EXPERIENCE back in movies and gives the customer something that fits their existing lifestyle and offers something above just renting the DVD later.

    I WANT this. I wanna go to the horror joint to see my next scary movie. I want my mocha latte when I watch something political. I want dinner and a movie to no longer go from fancy to family fun when I’m on a date. Give me a posh, intimate showing!

    Comment by Brian Yennie -

  109. Mr Cuban, My thought on your challenge is some what of a old school mixed with New school thinking. First of all why not roll out the red carpet? Is hollywood the only place that these actors and actress can promote thier movies. Give small town USA a chance to see up close some of their stars after all in most cases people goto movies to follow thier favorite actor or actress and I belive that in doing this it will give movie goers a totally different experience than just being hearded into a movie. Mr Cuban make It as exciting as going to the American Airline center. Just imagine going to the the maverick games just to watch them play on the jumbo tron with no interaction as a fan. plain boring. Theathers need to target their audiences and dont rely on the primese that if you build it they’ll come.

    Comment by Edwin Bridges -

  110. You’re exactly on the right path with moving away from the one size fits all model, but you need to take it to even more of an extreme:

    * Instead of trying to think of each individual movie theater format and target demographic you should be thinking of a system that acts like an incubator for theater formats.

    * The incubator concept should be used to foster competition between formats and individual theaters within a single ownership group. Think of it as an evolutionary business practice. The formats are species and the theaters are individuals. The key here is to preserve diversity. Having all theaters be the same would be like low genetic diversity in a population, which leads to weakness and disease.

    * Thus, the formats should be rough templates, not strict blueprints, to be implemented freely by local management and staff in order to build loyalty with local residents. Instead of cookie cutter buildings with the same carpet and neon lights, go for a more customized look that actually fits in with the neighborhood and building. There are many small, independent theaters that do this extremely well: The Nickelodeon and Del Mar in Santa Cruz, CA. The Charles Theater in Baltimore, MD. Even the Uptown in DC, which is owned by a chain, does this well.

    Having everything the same used to be a great way to cut costs, but with the customization that has become popular with everything from cars to shoes to computers it’s become obvious that this isn’t necessary anymore.

    * Offer more than just movies. You talk about retail with the children oriented theater, but more than just offering “stuff” to buy, offer an experience. The Charles has a very nice restaurant. I think more theaters should sell beer and _good_ food. There should be a nice lobby and eating area that doesn’t sell cheap hot dogs and popcorn. If I’m taking a date to a movie I’d much rather go to a nice theater with some extras than the local cheap-ass AMC.

    * Prices have got to change. I cannot stress this enough. I only go see movies in theaters now if I’m just absolutely dying to see it on the big screen and as soon as it comes out. It’s just too expensive otherwise. Why should two people go see a movie when they can buy it for less six months later. Once you get used to waiting a bit, you’ll have enough movies just coming out on DVD that you haven’t seen that it makes up for sitting out the new releases. For the math oriented: it’s an order of magnitude less to rent! Of course I’m not going to theaters much!

    Get digital distribution and projection happening _now_. And use it as a chance to lower prices, not raise margins. I think most people like going to the movies. It’s an “experience”, and you don’t quite get it at home. But paying $10 a ticket, and then to be insulted by being charged $5 for $0.25 worth of soda is not something I look forward to.

    When I saw Pirates a while ago I forgot that I had sworn never to buy concessions again. I was thirsty. So I get in line for a coke. The smallest size they had was like 30oz! Screw that. How dumb does the industry this we are. Pretty dumb apparently, but it’s obvious that the tactic is to have large sizes so that we might somehow think it’s ok to pay $5 for a small soda. This is exactly why the movie business is sucking these days.

    * Back on digital distribution: This is a no brainer. Aside from lowering distribution costs and getting rid of the silly reel system that limits how many theaters can show a smaller run film, use it to make scheduling more flexible. There should no longer be any reason why a 4 screen theater can only show 6 or 7 different movies. Reduce the number of showings for films that aren’t packing it in and alternate them. This is much preferable to just cutting the run.

    So far none of this has been about the movies themselves. Because that’s much harder. How do you reform an industry where 90% of the product from the largest players is complete crap?

    The only real answers are time and pain. With computers and digital production lowering the barrier to entry more independent and lower-budget films are being made with better and better production quality. Digital distribution will only increase this effect. Internet marketing and the concept of the long tail will mean that these “niche” movies will be more successful than ever before. They’re also more satisfying to their viewers, because it’s a more targeted demographic. Independent and low budget will start really eating into the blockbusters, and with the advantage of lower production and marketing costs they might become more profitable, and certainly less risky.

    That’s where the pain comes in. When the major studios feel the pain and see that it’s coming from unique and innovative films then maybe they’ll change their act.

    If a movie needs $10 per person in marketing to fill the seats is it really worth it at all?

    * Here’s my one idea for filling seats for major movies: If it really costs so much to fill the seats, then why not use some of that money to make a short based on the same story that’s given away for free on the net. For some movies this could be a sort of prequel or introduction, or others it could be an episode that happens after the movie, so you get interest in how it all began. This would work extremely well for all the super-hero flicks. Make it at least a half hour long, and show it on the website with ads to recoup some of the costs. Or no ads, and let people download it and burn it to DVDs. Trailers are cool and all, but not to the point where I really want to share them with friends. I might get interested in a movie, but I won’t have that truly strong desire that gets me over being raped at the box office unless I’m invested in the story some how. Get people emotionally attached and they’ll go no matter what.

    Anyway that’s my thoughts. I really don’t care if the major studios get it together, because they mostly produce crap. I kinda like seeing them struggle. But I love my small movies.

    Comment by Justin -

  111. Mark is totally on the mark with all this. He’s going to change entertainment for the good…


    Comment by Suki -

  112. Mark,

    How about getting the the audience involved in the production of the film? For example, a number of movies have been filmed in my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina. That has brought big stars there including Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, Sandra Bullock, etc.. Everyone signed up to be an extra and those that weren’t lucky enough to become an extra knew at least 1 person that was. The result is that everyone has a personal connection with the film. Even if they dont know anyone in the film, they are bound to recognize a location from the film. I think movie production needs to get out of Hollywood and travel more. When the studios can develop a personal connection with the audience, they can bring them into the theater… even if it turns out to be a bad film. I know my sister was in some Jimmy Fallon movie which I would never want to see if she wasnt in it. But now I will be there on opening day and I’ll probably take a group of friends. The movie might be horrible but I have to go see it.

    Comment by Ray Smith -

  113. Sell the seat, not the individual movie. In other words, make the movie business more like the Mavs business–with season tickets, tiered pricing and the rest.

    I used to work in book publishing, which, economically, is like the movie business’ bastard stepchild. And many of the lessons it teaches apply equally well to movies:
    – First, most titles will fail and no matter how much you try to understand and engineer out the causes of failure. Why? Because each one is really a new product, and new products fail regularly, unable to create a sustainable market. The ways in which a new book can fail are essentially infinite, which is why you can’t anticipate why a book will or won’t catch on until after you get it out there. Same thing with movies.
    – Second, marketing dollars spent on single titles tend to be very inefficient because the product itself is finite and unconnected to other products. If you spend to much, you’re not boosting a larger brand (like the publishing company)–you’re just wasting dollars on people who would have bought the title anyway.
    – Third, it’s really hard to match supply and demand (remainders anyone?), leading to lost sales. Movie theaters make huge bets when they allocate screens, not only adding undue risk into the mix, but creating a situation where bad choices can be very costly.

    Selling each movie one by one is repetitive and wasteful. But if selling movies looked more like selling season tickets to the Mavs, a lot of these problems go away and you get some interesting new economic opportunities. Imagine redesigning the typical movie theater so it now has private viewing “boxes”, a section for season/series/semi-season ticket holders, and a section for discounted walk-ins. You buy a seat and a day–like a Monday box seat, and this entitles you to come every Monday and see any/all of the new run movies playing that week.
    Now, there’s no risk for me to try a new movie.
    Now, bad movies (like boring games) are subsided by must-see movies (games).
    Now, the people I watch my movies with every week are the same community–I have an incentive not to let my phone go off–I risk jeopardizing my season priviledgesNow, I have much better cash flow from up-front sales
    Now, I can use tiering to create new service offerings–maybe box seats have a subscription concession service, or valet parking, or special entrances and exits.
    Now, I spend a dollar marketing my theater brand which provides a return for many movies.

    Now I can spend my time focused on a longer-term problem–figuring out how to sell the seat for a season rather than for movie X and then again for movie Y and then again for movie Z….

    Comment by Todd Silverstein -

  114. M.Cuban,
    First of all giving away profitable ideas (intellectual property) for a job may be an incentive to some yet not to a person who owns her own business and trying to make a profit on the web. Perhaps a percentage of the profitable idea is more inline and alluring. Just remember.

    Also in marketing you can consider a small niche to target market or target a quality movie to appeal to most to attract all niches, moviegoers to the theaters. If you take the time to research and attraction is the chemistry to a great movie, then timing can assist in the type of theme and the calendar year of premiere. (i.e…You can also make quality movies, some seasonal like the Santa Claus movies and premiere them during the Thanksgiving and Christmas time to ensure additional attendance.) If it is a great movie, people will come anytime of the year.

    There are many suggestions given and have been good to creating an incentive to purchase tickets (i.e. AMC Movie Card). I have an idea yet not willing to express in such an open environment to your open challenge. You have received as you said so many suggestions, 875!, that is just phenomenal the interest you bring to your Maverick blog with a suggestion intriguing the interest of many yet receiving very few ideas. It really is incredible. A lesson to learn. Some have it, some don’t and some take it for a return.

    It is highly commendable of you, in such stature that you take the time (peruse) and spend hours of reading to read again the same, learning from your basketball fans, Dallas fans, business fans and those critics.

    I’m not sure if you have read this one. I’m just not up-to-date on all the techie, I guess that’s where you come in. I usually like to give a full circle idea from start to finish with profitability insight. I’m the type of person to give a suggestion, then the actual verbal model of the start-up, or written in this situation, to money in the bank type of scenario. Sometimes the in between is updated with technology.

    It starts with good/great writers…. Have you heard of the type of company/internet that secret shops? They have qualified candidates that go in certain locations to evaluate employees, customer service, store fronts, cleanliness…, they have certain criteria to follow and report back via internet in a positive format to be reviewed by the owners of the company. The owners actually learn of their business from a person who is objective anywhere in the USA, even other countries, with the information at their fingertips so to compare numbers from district, regional, on-site managers to what is actually being experienced by a potential customer/secret shopper. This can be done once a month or many times, the frequency is as needed. It is part of the district, regional, on-site manager’s evaluation, they are also informed of this process, just not known when.

    This concept to be utilized slightly different to conform to the needs of creating a new movie script, idea, concept, television series, sci-fi, family series, comedy, talk show, entertainment review, to be evaluated by the executives/writers/producers/owners/investors/ (wanting to include all, to not offend anyone, including the writers guild and any writers association that I’m not aware of) of the movie script, idea, concept, television series, sci-fi, family series, comedy, talk show, entertainment review. I, myself am a writer of many copyrights, yet I’m still a starving artist.

    The new idea/concept…just remember…
    1. Anyway, get a few evaluators to review from a one or two question survey about a plot or theme to a movie,
    2. Asking the persons on the internet from some
    a. direct internet
    b. marketing
    c. mailing
    d. association
    e. specific to writers
    f. (better yet create a new writer’s forum,
    g. if one already exists, use the one you know of, and have them as writers,
    h. or at
    i. for a certain amount of $$
    j. to submit a paragraph or creative works,
    k. to be rewarded if decided to have the paragraph, thought, scene, concept written for a movie,
    l. and have your particular persons (the evaluators) peruse through to report back to you.
    m. This is done via internet.
    n. The evaluators in different locations of the United States.
    o. Not to discuss their opinions
    p. Evaluators are not known to each other
    q. Evaluators are not known by Maverick employees
    r. Strictly upper level management
    s. To ensure confidentiality
    t. To ensure safety and security
    u. You can also compare evaluators, if they are positive and true, with other evaluators by the similarly response of evaluation
    v. If the evaluators are exceptional in their reporting of evaluations, they can increase the level of idea by commenting to improvement from the writers participation
    w. If the evaluator is not honest and is just getting by, well that’s where management improves with another

    3. This concepts results informs upper management of
    a. Type of evaluators
    b. The different districts,
    c. Regions
    d. On-site proximity
    e. Type of writers participating on the internet
    f. Informs of the district or regional locations responses
    g. Learn of the potential new writers
    h. Can be accepted on some writers review, or published a book, or articles,
    i. Evaluators evaluate writers to continue participating
    j. If paragraphs or suggestions are of quality or to be utilized in a future format, always providing some feedback to the potential writers for follow-up
    k. The idea is to get the best creative written material from a writer’s source to produce a phenomenal creative product for profit for all those participating, at your fingertips with exceptional timing and chemistry interest to the moviegoers, to create an award winning masterpiece. (*The singing mona lisa and the little boy who rides the horse.)
    l. This is where the techies start by putting all the thought processes to work in exceptional timing via programming internet and software programs for a creative information highway to ensure encryption, safety, confidentiality for writers/evaluators/business owners.
    m. Utilize a specific treo pda software program to update confidential writer/evaluator information updates regarding their creative works from the synchronization at certain dates provide monthly or quarterly, not actually posted to the internet, but to their specific treo pda of monetary feedback, approval and acceptance, later to be updated by EFT.
    n. Some sort of small accounting for purposes of tracking creative writing material in process for evaluation or approved for a particular movie script, idea, concept, television series, sci-fi, family series, comedy, talk show, entertainment review, received.
    o. I’ve provided many thoughts of interest to spur avenues of profitability in many other industries by providing a concept that can be utilized for business owners to participate to start paying writers/artist more money, for all that they create, in response for a profitable return and equitable living of at least standards way above poverty.

    Yet sometimes the writers unknown are truly and really known. The experience I have is that I’ll go to a place and certain people stand in position with threats and start questioning me of situations, persons, articles, ideas, thoughts, then it ends up in movies, radio, tv. shows, music videos. Then again threatened by don’t ever speak of this until it is out.

    Or I’ll go out at night. People travel from other states, as they tell me the cities where they are from, a connection to a word to an association of past. (Because of this, I have not gone out in the past year and have dated only once in six years.)

    Yet stop my potential, by interfering with certain aspects because of keeping me on the Q.T. to not let others know. It really hurts me.

    My website is, Sunflower Products, Inc.I’ve been on the internet since February of 2006, w

    Comment by S. -

  115. The theatre experience will never beat sitting in your own living room. Why do you think we spend so much on home theatre systems with pimped-out surround sound and big screen HDTV’s? The future of the movie industry is in the home and traditional movie theatres are dinosaurs facing extinction. We need iTunes for movies, and Mark, you have the money to pull it off.

    Give us opening-day, brand new releases in our home, at a reasonable price, and you’ll see boom times again in the movie biz. (Not 8 weeks after it was released in the theatres, opening day.) I’ll spend $19.99 on a new release that I can download to my DVR, watch, and later burn off to DVD for safe keeping. (Twenty bucks may sound steep to some, but actually I’m saving big time compared to the $50 I usually drop in a traditional theatre.) The cost savings for film companies would be huge: no packaging costs on DVDs, no splitting profits with theatres, etc.

    Of course, this would officially mark the death of theatres as the distribution channel for movies, but their demise is already evident and unavoidable. The film companies should embrace and ride the waves of change instead of swimming against them.

    Comment by Richard Parker -

  116. Great response so far, Mark. You’re out there, man! Keep it up!!! You’re an inspiration.

    Comment by Paul Pate -

  117. The idea of the rock n’ roll theater is great, Mark. Teenagers just might like that. I know that when I used to go to movies, my friends and I would get nasty glares for making comments during the film but we were teenagers and we had to say those things. If someone is having a good time at a movie then they should be allow to express it… or if they want to poke fun at an otherwise humorless moment.

    If we all keep thinking about the problem though we may come up with a solution but it might take a little more thinking… or a research study to pinpoint the problems.

    Comment by Rebeccalee Coventry -

  118. …a few points:
    – all this hype about creating events (rock concerts) around the movies is not financially feasible to do for every movie u show.
    – ppl go to see mavs even though games are on TV becasue it’s a LIVE event. it’ll never work for a movie for the same reasons.

    solution: u need to somehow work on my moviegoing costs man; i know u don’t wanna here this, but if u can make it the same cost for me to watch a netflix or go to ur theater, i MIGHT give it a shot for the atmosphere…and support collateral entertaiment costs myself.
    don’t beat it around the bush. all great money makers recently were due to this reason(see google, netflix, skype etc.) we both know it can be done ‘n’ u don’t need anyone’s help to do it.
    …otherwise, clever way to get a free poll 🙂
    now i see why u said u execute on an idea better than others. goodluck

    Comment by gi -

  119. Thanks for the challenge Mark.

    I see a very parallel problem with the movie industry right now as we had in the sporting industry 15 years ago.

    The sports experience in the past was about the game and only the game. If your team stunk, your fans will talk, the media will bash, and people will stay at home. In today’s movie industry, the entire experience is focused only on the movie. Big mistake. Should a movie get hype, then disappoint (just as a preseason NBA Finalist prediction that doesn’t make the playoffs) word will get out and the movie crashes.

    I would propose a very similar environment as today’s sporting venue. Where people come as much for the venue and its attractions as the main event itself.

    I love movies. I love them the way they are. But I have a 2 year old daughter and it is very difficult to get out due to reasons many have mentioned. I have been to one movie since she has been born and I had to cut out of work early to do that!

    The issue is not price. We know that again by the sports model.

    We have to see more value at the theatre. Add a day care (free of course). Add an interactive area. Include giveaways. Make the rows further apart to provide a slightly more intimate experience. I love the demographically targeted theatres idea. If my wife and I can attend a love story movie (I know, but it is her idea) I want the crowd to be similar to me. Perhaps add in desserts, unique to the theatre of course. Recliners, beer, wine,etc. Make grand openings the must-attend event by perhaps staggering Opening nights so movie personalities can attend and sign autographs and have photo ops. More like the traveling Broadway theatre where the show travels around the country. Take idea of the NBA halftime act, and have them perform before the movie … on the stage where the movie will be shown. Attach a restaurant, bar, chucky cheese, etc. Establish a security system that would allow parents to feel comfortable leaving their children at the movies while we have a date or grocery shop … similar to the drop off places. Create movie suites, where a private room within the theatre can experience a movie, maybe an upscale dinner, and not be disturbed. (complimentary necktie to place on the doorknob to ensure total privacy!)The suite would obviously be sold at a premium. Maybe, depending on its success, there might be a market for “mini theatres” where a family, a couple on a date, or a group of kids might be able to watch whatever movie at whatever time they want. Again at a premium.

    I actually like the previous idea the best. Create what I envision as media rooms in houses these days (I am sure your rocks!) within the theatre. Instead of 15 or 20 huge theatres, create 100 or more mini theatres. I have complete control. Maybe I can watch older movies as well. I would certainly be interested in a private viewing of Seabiscuit wit my horse-loving wife while devouring a filet mignon, sipping whatever wine I could afford in complete privacy, and start the movie on my time, tivo-pause the movie on my time, etc. Not to mention getting together with some of my boys and catching the Cardinals-Cubs game shugging a few pops, and eating some pizza.

    Wow. What a ramble. Anyway, the product needs to change. Not the awareness. I mean who doesn’t know that the Devil Wears Prada, or that there is some sort of super-man, or that there is another pirate cruising the waters?

    Mark, thanks again for the challenge.

    Comment by E -

  120. The solution seems simple to me, but I am probably overlooking a bunch of facts.

    Release the movie on DVD first, in an abbreviated cut. A few months later, release the theatrical cut, only in theaters. Then perhaps a year or two later, release the theatrical cut on DVD.

    The “abbreviated cut” of the movie would be 30 minutes long and reveal all the major plot points except the climax, but it would omit many of the juicier fight and/or character development scenes (though it would of course hint at them.)

    The “abbreviated cut” would be a complete artistic work in and of itself, not just a chopped-up version of the theatrical cut. It should be enjoyable and well-rounded as an independent work.

    Put it out there, sell it for $5, get it made into a TV special, get people talking about it. Let people put it on YouTube or Google Video or on their MySpace or whatever. Three months later, release the theatrical cut in theaters. Leave it in theaters for at least three months.

    Basically, the best way to get people to watch your movie is to SHOW THEM THE MOVIE and let them decide.

    Comment by Uchendu Nwachukwu -

  121. Break your production company into smaller units. Brand each unit to fit a certain demographic. i.e. 2929drama, 2929SFS (some funny shit). Once you have your smaller production companies branded you strongly attach to production companies name to the movie titles. i.e. The Referee another 2929Horror production. Once you’ve put out a great movie attached to a smaller production unit you will start to build a loyal fan base of the production company, so the next time 2929SFS puts out a comedy people won’t need to see repetitive advertising to go to the theatre. Instead of making a 150mm movie that nets 15mm, you could make three 50mm movies that net 35mm.

    It’s a rough sketch but it would work.

    Comment by Eddie -

  122. The answer is limited access.
    Showing the movie 7 days a week, a billion times a day, across multiple screens…..eliminates any compelling reason for me to “not” wait for the DVD — because I don’t want to be like everybody else. Everyday of my working life, I am like everybody else….why the hell would I pay you so you can treat me like everybody else?

    The problem is too much availability of the “good” product. Think Cabbage Patch dolls. Make your mass money on DVD, PPV, web. The “theatre” money should be made with limited access “events”. Like an NBA game. Only so many tickets, and those who get them, also get limited production DVD’s that include “anything” that will not be available to the masses….and just maybe, Tom Cruise will show up at your particular viewing of his movie.

    You say you want to compell people to come to the theatre for the experience……well, the “experience” means different things to different people — its an individual thing — and it is insulting that you think you can figure out how to mass-produce my “experience”. Trust me, you cannot. Experience comes from feeling you are part of an event that others will not be “allowed” to enjoy, because you have the last ticket. Get the star of the movie to tour the country and show up unannounced at randon showings (unique events). Think of Prince (the musician) — man has a cult following because he is reclusive…..but you never know when he will just show up at the local pub to jam….and you find this out by being a part of the “inside” fan base that attends his concerts, multiple times/events. They spread the word at the concerts, and people wait in lines for the after party at some bar.

    You seem to want to change the theatre concept itself. Well, then it wouldn’t be a theatre. It would be something else, wouldn’t it?

    There is no financial reason you could not simply have Leonardo DeCaprio tour the country going to these limited showing events (unannounced) of his movie….and allowing every ticket holder to take their picture with him. What is that….100 photos per screening? You would have 13 years old girls making their parents drive them to every theatre that is rumored to be the one where Leo will show up this time. They’d pay to see the movie multiple times (at the theatre) just at the limited access chance to see Leo live. If Leo won’t agree to it, don’t hire him for your movie.

    Limited access. It has ALWAYS worked. Changing the theatre, or the theatre technology, requires too much $$ investment, and not enough ROI to justify it. Not when you can just release the video on DVD, and your margins are off the charts.

    Comment by Scott -

  123. How to get 5 million people to go see amovie without spending millions.

    Why do people spend $5 to $10 for lotto tickets? Why do people lose $1,000 in a slot machine over and over? They dream of hitting the life changing long shot jackpot.

    My idea is to provide drawings for lucky ticket holders with say $100,000 prize. People who may not want to see a movie will be enticed to go see one if the $100,000 drawing incentive is set up.

    Comment by Enrico Adrias -

  124. I think the best way to change the movie industry would be to market from the bottom up rather than from the top down. As far as i can see (and i’m not a movie insider, so this is just my take) most movies are sold from the top down – the industry basically tells the public what is good and then hopes they buy it. i call this the 6th grade girl effect – all you have to do to market something to a 6th grade girl is tell her that it is cool, or in, or whatever you want to call it and she will buy it because she wants to be cool. its a situation where perception becomes reality. the problem is, the movie industry wants to market to more than just the 6th grade girls, and telling everyone over and over again through commercials that this is a “great movie” is very expensive.

    If you could do something with movies similar to what reality/contest tv and TV shows like American Idol has done to pop music, i think you could do well. if you did that, you would be getting a ground up kind of marketing – the audience would tell you what or who they want to see in a movie rather than some film studio telling you what is good. And, it would pay for itself, or even end up being a profitable form of advertising. i’m not sure, but i would imagine the “America Idol” concept has been tried with actors before. But hey, Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player either, and that has worked out pretty well.

    The bottom line is if, and its a big if, you could develop a kind of culture where the audience is essentially developing their own movies, you have taken the guesswork out of your marketing. To take it a step further, if you did develop this kind of culture, you could potentially sign your contestants (actors, writers, producers, etc.) to contracts and sell them to other film studios (aka Mark Cuban’s minor league basketball concept from a month or so ago).

    It may be a long shot, but if it works for music, and news (like, then why not for movies?

    Comment by Brandon -

  125. I think the best way to change the movie industry would be to market from the bottom up rather than from the top down. As far as i can see (and i’m not a movie insider, so this is just my take) most movies are sold from the top down – the industry basically tells the public what is good and then hopes they buy it. i call this the 6th grade girl effect – all you have to do to market something to a 6th grade girl is tell her that it is cool, or in, or whatever you want to call it and she will buy it because she wants to be cool. its a situation where perception becomes reality. the problem is, the movie industry wants to market to more than just the 6th grade girls, and telling everyone over and over again through commercials that this is a “great movie” is very expensive.

    If you could do something with movies similar to what reality/contest tv and TV shows like American Idol has done to pop music, i think you could do well. if you did that, you would be getting a ground up kind of marketing – the audience would tell you what or who they want to see in a movie rather than some film studio telling you what is good. And, it would pay for itself, or even end up being a profitable form of advertising. i’m not sure, but i would imagine the “America Idol” concept has been tried with actors before. But hey, Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player either, and that has worked out pretty well.

    The bottom line is if, and its a big if, you could develop a kind of culture where the audience is essentially developing their own movies, you have taken the guesswork out of your marketing. To take it a step further, if you did develop this kind of culture, you could potentially sign your contestants (actors, writers, producers, etc.) to contracts and sell them to other film studios (aka Mark Cuban’s minor league basketball concept from a month or so ago).

    It may be a long shot, but if it works for music, and news (like, then why not for movies?

    Comment by Brandon -

  126. Aim older.

    For example, coordinate matinee movie outings with local retirement and assisted living communities. The need outings for their guests and can provide transportation. Generally the movies that your companies make skew to an older demographic, and HDNet’s concerts and classic programming have a distinct appeal as well as no need for adjustment for digital movie projection.

    Senior citizens are arguably the fastest growing segment of the US population. They have money, loyalty, and fall into habitual patterns of activity. The movie theater experience’s unique characteristics are well suited to older consumers. The large picture, loud and crisp sound and chance for socialization could prove irresistible. Also, particularly for grandparents, a chance to purchase merchandise from a program they enjoyed for their family is important.

    Comment by Nathan -

  127. I think me (post no 286)and Ivan Meraz (post no 290) are on somewhat of a same page with trying to shift the focus off the movie and on to creating a movie theatre ‘experience’.

    “You may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one. Hope someday you will join us…”


    Comment by sanjeeth -

  128. I actually think about this quite a bit, since I work in the theatre business. The question should not be, “How do I get more people to see this movie” but “How do I get more people to come to the theatre.” The overall answer to the question of how to get more people in the door is to look at our past. Movie going used to be an event, now it is not.

    The theatre of the past was a palace. A large, comfortable and beautiful auditorium with a big waterfall curtain covering the screen. The staff was friendly, there was enough of them, and the lines were not unreasonably long. When you got in the theatre, the seats were comfortable, the auditorium clean, the sightlines good, and the guy running the show had a clue as to what he was doing. If someone was disruptive, the ushers took care of the problem. The films were better then too, and you had to see them in the theatre – it took a year before they would be on tv.

    The theatre of today is quite different. They are quite large, and quite crowded. The waterfall curtain has been replaced with obnoxious advertising. The lines are long, the staff isn’t friendly, the whole complex is messy. Its nearly impossible to watch a movie without a screaming infant, a talking teenager, and some schmuck who won’t get off the phone. You could ask an usher to deal with it, but good luck finding one. Adding to the distraction from the crowd is an annoying black line running down the screen, a slight lamp flicker, and the constant state of blurry because the kid in the booth didn’t bother to check the focus. Why put up with all that? Odds are the movie is crap anyway, and, if it isn’t, the dvd will be out in a couple of weeks.

    The problem goes far beyond marketing for individual films, creating websites, etc. The problem will not be solved by a marketing solution. The problem can only be solved by, once again, making theatre attendance a pleasant, enjoyable event.

    How can this be done?

    First, eliminate the things that annoy the average person. Drop the ads. Shorten the lines. Clean the building. Fix the broken stuff. Eliminate the distractions. Make your presentations top notch. Get the staff to smile once in a while.

    Second, make theatre going convenient. Provide free parking – don’t make your customers pay extra for it. Provide special showings for customers with small kids, or expand on Harkin’s idea of in theatre child care. Leave enough time between shows that the theatre can be cleaned and open for seating before the customers start arriving.

    Third, upgrade the facility with the technology necessary to provide the “event”. There are a variety of formats and technologies available that go far beyond what a consumer can get at home (large format 15/70, RealD digital 3D, motion simulation, etc). For movies that are produced in traditional formats, you can still provide comfortable seating, digital sound, quality projection, etc (a properly presented 35mm or DLP presentation will blow anyone’s plasma screen out of the water). For adult audiences, VIP theatres or VIP balconies equipped with restaurants and bars will provide an experience that you won’t get at a traditional theatre. You can also look at alterative programming, such as concert feeds and sporting events projected on a DLP system, to get people in the door as well.

    The best thing you can do, Mark, is to walk into your local Regal or AMC or Cinemark, take a look around, and think “how can this operation be improved?” When you have your answers, build the theatre that can do it better.

    Comment by Jim -

  129. I have an idea that may be a little out there but who knows. Although I haven’t read all 800+ responses I didn’t see this idea in any of the ones I read.

    What you need to do is get people to go to your theatres for reasons other than to just watch a movie. What I saw the most in the responses I read was “make better movies”. Well, that’s easier said than done. Lower prices. That’s been done. People say that if concessions weren’t so expensive they’d go to the movies more often. What they don’t understand is how the theatre business works. They don’t understand the a movie theatre makes its money at the concession stand, not the box office. The distributors make the money at the box office. Well, those are all ideas that are simply not feasible. So here’s my idea:

    Ok, we all know that sex sells. This falls in line with what Alamo Drafthouse does, but I take it one step further. Dinner and a movie but have your waitstaff in short shorts or skirts and tight shirts. And not just the waitstaff. The bartenders, concession cashiers, box office cashiers…all the way around. If you can picture Hooters going into the cinema business, that’s what I’m talking about. You can make it age restricted, say 16 and up or I think you could even leave it open to anybody. I mean c’mon, Hooters promotes a “family restaurant”. Why would this be any different? I think with this you’d at least get more men going to the movies with their family rather than just letting the wife take the kids to the movies. Guys would be more inclined to take their girlfriend or wife to a movie at a theatre with this type of environment. So I get distracted from the movie because I was staring at the waitress’ ass. Oh well, movies these days aren’t that good anyway. That’s one of the biggest problems the industry is facing right now. So why not change the whole movie going experience completely. It would be a drastic change, but maybe that’s just what the industry needs. Something different. Something that’s never been done before. Theatres have been the same old routine for decades. Change it up! I’ll be honest, I go to the movies maybe once every six months. I’d probably go more often if there was a theatre in my area with this type of environment.

    Here’s another idea. Make it more convinient for people to get food, popcorn and drinks, without making them wait for a waitress to take their order and without making them leave their seat to go wait in line. Attach a POS terminal to every seat in your auditorium so that people can order anything from the concession stand, restaurant or bar right from their seat. They should be able to swipe their credit card at this terminal as well. The orders print at the appropriate location and get filled then brought right to the customer. I work for a company that develops POS software (mainly for theatres) so as far as the technology, I know it’s there. There’s obviously some serious money that would need to be invested in this, but I think it would sky rocket your per cap and turn out to be a good investment. That may be too expensive so maybe you could just do it in certain auditoriums in your theatre and charge a service fee to watch a movie in these “more convinient” auditoriums. Or maybe just put a POS on every other seat. I’m sure there’s a few ways to do this. You just need to figure out the most cost effective way to do it. Also make these auditoriums reserved seating. Most people don’t wanna get up and miss the movie to go get a drink or popcorn. And most people don’t wanna wait in line at the concession stand. Why not just go sit down and relax and order your stuff while you wait for the movie to start. Alot of people skip the concession stand just because there’s a long line. If you make it convinient, people will spend money. This idea will not only attract more people to your theatre, but also keep your current customers coming back.

    Now, if that’s not feasible because of the cost, here’s another idea. Make 2 or 3 auditoriums reserved seating. You would have a kiosk where patrons can buy tickets and concession items. When they purchase their concession items they enter their seat number. The concession order the prints at the concession stand where it is filled then taken to the patron where he/she is seated. This would be more cost effective and the patron still avoids the line at the concession stand. It’s all about convinience.

    Ideas are popping into my head as I type this and I would love to keep going on this but I really have to get going.

    Hope you like my ideas!

    There’s my 2 cents.

    Comment by Ivan Meraz -

  130. My solution:

    – Cut each movie advertisement budget in half

    – From now on, advertise films like so:

    “Seeing this movie could make you a millionaire.”

    (Caution: Get out of the way as the teeming millions stampede for the theater gates)

    – Use the millions saved in advertising to execute the following strategy:

    — Provide a Prize structure for every elligible movie (first prize $1M,
    second prize $0.5M, third and fourth $0.25 M, fifth to tenth $0.10 M, etc)

    — Set up an infrastructure to provide special tickets, marked with a serial number, that moviegoers can bring back home and verify on a dedicated website. Alongside the big money prizes, also provide an array of low-cost consolation prizes, like free tickets to another movie, free popcorn and soda at theaters, etc.

    Obviously my presentation is a bit oversimplified, there are a lot of tricky details to solve, but the underlying idea is this:

    If moviegoers have a chance to become millionaires by seeing a film, my guess is they will flock to theaters in droves.

    Take care,

    Comment by Martin Rivard -

  131. Hi Mark,

    The bottom response it the one I had written prior to seeing that this idea has been mentioned before. So I’ll toss out some brainstorms to see if there’s anything that you find appealing.

    – ePaper tickets – updated via wireless signal. Every time you pass near a theatre your ticket (or plastic card) gets a new special offer on a show
    – You don’t need to be in the theater to see the move. You can buy a ticket to get the movie broadcast to you at home
    – Get a half-price copy of the movie viewed when it’s released (pre-release for those that see the movie) – I’m not sure of the economics of this though
    – Somehow, someway, link the movie to ABC’s Lost.

    The short and sweet of it is…raise the price.

    You’ve indicated that many of the responses have focused on the experience. I agree completely with split that you proposed. My little brother and friends should be able to talk, text, call to their hearts content. I wouldn’t be caught dead in the middle of that.

    I would rather pay extra. I would like to take my girlfriend to dinner in a restaurant within the theatre (or in close proximity). I envision valet parking, and decent to fine dining (perhaps even a dining theme to match the movies being played). I won’t have to rush through dinner to make it to the theatre on time since the staff knows what I am going to see. The theater will be less crowded or at least, rowdy (perhaps add extra aisles to provide more personal space). There will be zero commercials (commercials before the movie??? WTF?) and since the food and service comes with a premium, the lost ad revenue could be offset.

    I would like to see the theater experience change to become that of a night out, a shared experience. The kids can have their movies and we can have ours.

    So, I recommend two tiers of pricing. Keep the same prices for the kids. They’ll go to the movies no matter what (what else is there to do if you can’t drive and want to hang out?). Let those that are interested in a little quality pay a little more for the experience.

    The business is movies, not restaurants so I’d recommend partnerships with national or regional chains. This of course will not work in all locals but could easily be tested with a few pilot programs in key cities. Incidental services could be added such as car detailing (the car will be there for at least 3 hours)…whatever could be offered to raise the margins.

    On another note, unrelated to this proposal…wouldn’t it be possible to partner with educational institutions during the mornings? Distance learning is becoming more and more popular and the theatre seems like a decent setup to allow professors to reach out all over the country to groups of students.

    This was a fun little project you tossed out there. I hope that you’ll write about a few more.



    Comment by David D'Alvarez -

  132. Just pay people to post about it. Check out what they’re doing at and you’ll see the principle being developed.

    That’s how the papers do it. Why not pay bloggers instead?

    P.S. Why do people waste their time writing an essay as a comment on your blog? Nevermind, basketball season’s over and football season hasn’t started.

    Comment by techguy -

  133. This may be a bit ‘out there’. But I thought I would mention it anyways.

    The way I see it is…

    People go to a movie theatre for
    the movie itself and not for anything else.

    So there is only one variable (selling point) in play here.

    People go to a restaurant
    1) for food, snacks
    2) for the Alcohol and Non alcoholic beverages
    3) to meet with friends, hang out
    All leading to an interactive atmosphere/ experience with 3 variables (selling points) in play.

    So if we increase the number of variables, movie theatre’s chances of success should increase too.

    So how about we have a movie theatre where a part of it has provisions for sound proofed glass booths where people can sit down with their friends or family, talk, have food and watch the movie.

    This way we help usher in a shift in peoples mentality where they stop associating movie theatre with the movie itself and instead focus on ‘movie theatre experience’.

    This coupled with the other loyalty programs etc might help in getting about the desired change.

    I personally believe that as long as people associate movie theatre with the movie itself they will never pay for a movie they dont think is good.

    Comment by sanjeeth -

  134. Honestly I think the biggest problem facing the movie industry right now is ninety percent of the movies out absolutely suck. If people want to see a movie and it is not a plot that has been rehashed billions of times, they will go. I am just sick of the shitty “horror” films and all of the mindless gore with no creativity. If you are going to kill a bunch of people in a movie at least come up with an original way to do it. Keep making IU look good for us Mark!

    Comment by Josh Salmon -

  135. The progressive movie……why do people watch 24? Why are millions of people going to go back and see pirates3……why?? Because they want to see what comes next. I think that a concept such as the progressive movie is not necessarily a downstream idea. Now before you say this has been done before, with teasers and see what happens next commercials, you have to think about it from a different context. Yes viral marketing and ads, myspace, etc. are very expensive…no question and cult followings are impossible to predict and create. Also, the idea of user generated previews, etc are not going to draw 5mm to the theatres. However there is a benefit to the community and to release **theatrical quality*** episodic content with grassroots marketing and distribution on hdnet, etc…..that is worthwhile watching. If you can produce quality episodic content with a buildup to your theatrical release that can get traction you may be able to get enough people interested in this content to go to the theatre to see it. Now, this works with concepts on highly publicized and promoted products, however the community at large with the right content may actually want to see the move that goes along with it. Nothing is for free and nothing is cheap, but if the quality of the content you are putting out there in p2p and myspace and all these places has value and enough suspense to drive eyeballs….it may very well be viable to drive them to the theatre to see the ending in a 2 hour theatrical release…..things like blair witch, etc. that got cult following could have been built up even further with actual high quality content out there…thing about it like a trailer but longer, better, with multiple parts and release over a period of time to coincide with the actual advertising before your theatrical release. you never know you might have one heck of a move following…or nobody ever sees it.

    Comment by Josh M. -

  136. Here is my take on what is needed: 1)Killer Content, 2) Enjoyable Experience, 3) Relevant/Useful Information, 4) Efficient and sticky retail experience

    1) It all starts with “Snakes on a Plane”. No seriously, this is where it starts. Create and sell compelling content that is interesting in a social setting.

    Example: Me last week: “Damn, I just got a speeding ticket and my boss yelled at me at work”
    Girlfriend: “Snakes on a Plane”
    Me: “Seriously, Snakes on a Motha@#%! Plane”


    2) Creat an enjoyable viewing experience. Good screens and good sound. Check!

    3) Give me ALL the information that I need to make an educated experience. Take a look at JetBlue or Southwest’s websites to see what I mean. I don’t just want movie times. I want everything you can give me:
    Movie start time (the real time if possible), Movie end times (not just how long the movie is, don’t make me do the math, not everyone has a degree in physics, well some of us do but still….)
    Show me how many people have already purchased tickets
    Create a diagram with the estimated seating distribution so I can tell I will probably get shoved to the corner
    If I check online later after buying a ticket I want to see the new number of tickets sold for that show
    Show me time options like southwest does, give me options
    Potentially prearranged seating? That might be cool.

    No Check!!

    4) Give me a good web retail experience like southwest, but cross it with extra content, movie blogs, reviews, user feedback, polls, background on the movie, background on the actors, bonus content. The time I spend on a webpage dedicated to the movies the more I will go see them.

    No Check!!!

    Work on 3 and 4 and you can get your 5 million people.

    Comment by Stefan -

  137. re: 7/28 blog:

    i totally agree with the idea that theaters need branding, they need a face lift, a new image, they need to spend money on improving the theater ‘experience’ as a whole.

    for example, i love movies. yet there is only one theater i consistently go ‘out’ to watch a movie. that is the AMC Century City mall. it’s beautifully redone with much more to do than just watch a movie. the outdoor food court is great, for kids there’s a play room, for others there’s shopping downstairs and parking is free and somewhat easy.

    if i want to support a specific film i will venture out occasionally to the local ‘art house’ theaters, though honestly i’ve often waited for the dvd and ordered it through netlflix.

    your assessment of the huge impact ‘theaters’ have on the movie going experience is accurate. if theater-going was more of an experience, a night out, a fun day with friends, a date or family…i think more people would pay to sit in a theater and watch a film.

    in short, the movie must be part of the larger experience.

    the movie can no longer be the end result in itself if you want to get people to venture out of their homes, away from their ipods and computers to watch your movie.

    Comment by annette murphy -

  138. How do you get people out of the house to see your movie without spending a fortune?

    Coming soon,

    How can you convince 5 million people to give up their weekend and go to a theater to see a specific movie without spending 60mm dollars?

    Coming soon,

    So I tried to change The Movie Business Challenge into Donald Trump’s The Apprentice and then I tried to change it into The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I don’t know I guess I might be trying to change it to The Brian wins challenge.

    My attitude is its not about going all Rhinestone where Dolly Pardon makes a bet that she can turn the first person she sees into a singer. So this Sylvester Stallone cab driver who was in the right place at the right time kicks ass like Rocky and Rambo. I mean my attitude is Sly and Dolly were really cool and the idea was really cool but It Could Happen to You and Next Big Thing type subjects like that are really relevant and “By Golly ” don’t take my Rhinestones but movies where they hammer out really relevant subjects in really relevant ways is the coolest thing in the world. Like I said if for some reason every movie going for that means I don’t get my Dolly and Sly then I want my Dolly and Sly but I think theres unlimited room for relevance and still plenty of room for Sly and Dolly..

    Theres a post on blogmaverick about how the internet isn’t exciting anymore. Well if you’re right thats unacceptable because the internet is the hugest part of these present times and is an even huger part of our futures and we don’t have a choice about that. I mean stuff thats far from the internet can be more exciting than the internet but theres so many possibilities where losing excitement about the internet is the last thing people need to be doing. The Movie Business isn’t a much smaller part of our present times and future and we may have more choice but not much less choice than we do about the internet. You’ve got a person attempting here who’s saying they’re facing the consequences of complacency that are really no good and the best thing they got going for them is a project called Narcissistic Bit That Would Give Zues A Woody Especially Allen which isn’t something to believe in too much or doubt too little and whatever they lack they’re saying they’re hoping you see the AH HA idea is taking someone not just willing but more into than as much it gets for coming up with and figuring out shit for your companies to Rock The Movie Business that if people are right about it sucking thats unacceptable which I guess if they say so they might not be the rightest but they’re not wrong. Are my attempts here relevant to you or people you want your companies to reach. I mean if not Sly and Dolly star in my dozenth sequel here. But if you find the shit I talk relevant as I do to at least myself you’ll believe I’ll work as hard and long as it takes to do whatever even if its another Narcissistic Bit That Would Give Zues A Woody Especially Allen relevant as it gets to rock the movie business companies and how take The Movie Business farther. Which I guess I’m being a Bill Gates wannabe because it seems like I’m kind of talking about doing a “The Road Ahead” for Cuban/Wagner Movie Business Companies and The Movie Business but would trying to show up the biggest business dogma in the world and the biggest business companies in the world and the biggest business itself in the world be so bad. I think the size and quanity and lack of quality (just like I said web designing/multimedia artisting would be highly appealing) of my attempts could be unappealing or make me even seem too nuts. I just think what I got you got to get and give (which that makes me think of that Chili Peppers Song Give it Away Now but The Chili Peppers song wasn’t on and I wasn’t thinking of the Chili Peppers song). I’m excited about maybe working for and with soldiers again. Its not about how I want to win and work in The Movie Business for or with Mark Cuban and his folks so bad. Not that I don’t want all that but its all about helping you help me help you. I can get to my ideas its just theres so much flavor and its so good it takes me a while to serve the meal. My recruiters calling tomorrow and tell me whether its Wednesday or Thursday or Friday I re-swear in. I’m a character from an appealing story with relevant characters and either way I’ll make the next chapter the coolest thing in the world.

    Everybody take care of each other because who else do you got,

    Comment by Brian Brian -

  139. First, anything that is actually going to work (and isn’t entirely obvious) is going to be painful, likely expensive, and possibly borderline illegal. That’s the nature of innovation.

    That said, here are the three things that seem possible if you are trying to tackle the problem by looking at its roots:

    1) Everyone hates the price of popcorn, so raise it.

    This goes into your “improve the experience” category.

    Along with a frequent rant of mine about “you’re building a culture, not a company” is the rant about avoiding making your customers feel like they are being ripped off. And that has nothing to do with price.

    In a culture of $5 lattes no one gives a shit about paying $5 for popcorn, they do care if it’s terrible popcorn. So charge $2 for some pre-bagged crap if you want, but I say offer people something they can’t get at home. Make it fresh popped, from *organic* kernels, using local butter. Make it an experience.

    I want to wake up on a Wednesday night in cold sweats with my mouth watering waiting to pay $7 for a bag of popcorn.

    2) The problem is not the plasma at home, it’s the babysitter watching it.

    My gut says that the biggest drop-off in moviegoing happens when consumers have kids. You go from free-wheeling nights out to just praying the kid stays asleep for more than four hours. This coincides with a general point in your career where you can strech to afford a $1500 plasma, and woops — you just lost a customer.

    One possible way to stem off this “loss moment” would be to Offer child-care at the movie. This will not help in bringing back opening night, but it would be great for matinees. I know they offer family movie days, but that is only used by parents in desparation. Movies are fantasy, and it is hard to maintain disbelief when your kid is screaming in your ear.

    Gyms long ago noticed this issue and many offer on-sight child care. This made sense, but it really struck home when I noticed that sometimes when my wife needs a break and doesn’t have a babysitter lined up, she has been known to go to the gym just because it’s easy.

    The movies should be the same kind of consumer choice.

    3) Give people control of the film.

    The 16-25 demo has stopped being passive consumers. You mentioned giving them a theatre of their own in which to holler and scream at, but go a step futher. Let people remix a film online into 60 second pieces, then show the best of the best in the theatre after the film is done. There has been some great work done by us over at the MIT Media Lab that makes remixing as easy as using a word processor.

    This could only be possible because of the string of assets you have put together, you should do it.

    These are just a few off the top, and I ultimately I don’t think a few sentances of an idea is going to change the industry. Go back and read the vision statement for and I’m sure there were at least 50 others just like it. I haven’t had the time to go through 1,000 replies, but someone probably mentioned these.

    In the end it’s putting together a vision (improve the experience, build it into a destination) and being able to genuinely build a better brand and experience for consumers. That’s the right way.. pull it off the wrong way and each new “feature” looks like a cheap marketing ploy from the dieing throws of a terrible brand (see AOL).

    Whatever you do, just don’t die from incrementalism, do it with drama and purpose. Because I, for one, want to love the theatre again.

    – Nabeel H

    Comment by Nabeel -

  140. good

    Comment by imdbcn -

  141. Maybe the reason you’re not getting any game-changing ideas is that you’ve over-defined the question. The question of ‘how do I make it cheaper to get people to come to the theater’ is ultimately more limited than ‘how do I maximize profit for my movies.

    For the first question, you’re asking for a new type of marketing. And the suggestion you will get from the public probably won’t be as good as you get from a modern marketing firm. Throw in the fact that the young generation today holds a distaste for overt marketing, and an even bigger one for ‘shadow’ marketing, and you’re asking a question which cannot really be answered.

    The second question, which I have posed as ‘how do I maximize profit’ has a much wider range of possibilities. One idea would be to stop sharing revenue with between the theaters and the studios. Let the theater keep all of the money and do the marketing. Charge the theater a flat fee, whcih is significantly less that the current portion of box office receipts you take, and let the theater market them locally. Then the studio takes their profit on the back end with DVD sales, etc.

    This would mean that you would have to focus on smaller budget movies, and open additional revenue streams earlier, like offering the DVD on day zero (something I remember you doing) and adding downloads for the movie as well.

    This system gives the theaters incentive to improve their own experience, but it also removes economies of scale from a marketing perspective. So, obviously, it’s not a perfect example. But it’s my point that the question you were asking leads to a dead end, whereas if you asked a different question, you might find the magic response you were looking for.

    Comment by Joe -

  142. My suggestion would be to make the movie theater experience just that, an experience. Kind of roll everything into one night event. I got this idea from a great old theater here in town that now hosts comedy shows. I would have a similar format as comedy shows imploy. Have a two drink minimum, maybe some snack food. Have a waitress or two circulating the patrons and keeping up with any possible orders. And I wouldn’t even necessarily have typical “theater” seats. Have couches or more casual sitting arrangements. Change the atmosphere, maybe reintroduce the intermission. I would still try to keep a modern conveniences of todays theaters with a more relaxed environment.

    Comment by Jason Kobler -

  143. Mark,
    I’m a married father of two kids (both under the age of 3), and the number one thing that keeps my wife and I from seeing movies that we genuinely want to see IN the theater is babysitting. The main problems being: finding a babysitter and cost. I got this idea from my local Gold’s Gym. If there was babysitting available AT the theater, where we could drop the kids off for two hours or so, we would definitely see more movies (as would many other couples just like us). I realize that for this to actually work, more staff would have to be hired, the movie experience will cost more, and people would have to entrust their local theater with the health and well-being of their kids. But this has already been proven to work at local gyms around the country. Just an idea.

    Comment by michael keedy -

  144. Mark,
    I’m a married father of two kids (both under the age of 3), and the number one thing that keeps my wife and I from seeing movies that we genuinely want to see IN the theater is babysitting. The main problems being: finding a babysitter and cost. I got this idea from my local Gold’s Gym. If there was babysitting available AT the theater, where we could drop the kids off for two hours or so, we would definitely see more movies (as would many other couples just like us). I realize that for this to actually work, more staff would have to be hired, the movie experience will cost more, and people would have to entrust their local theater with the health and well-being of their kids. But this has already been proven to work at local gyms around the country. Just an idea.

    Comment by michael keedy -

  145. Dear Mr. Cuban,

    In order to solve this specific problem, we need to step back and take a look at a much bigger but quite a related picture.

    That is, we need to go back to the recent dot-com meltdown and ask ourselves what happened and what could have been done differently.

    The biggest problem during the dot-com meltdown was that the new economy looked at the old economy as if it was made of dirt and not even bricks and mortar.

    What was missing then and is incredibly still missing now is that nobody has ever thought of better integrating the two economies.

    How many times have you heard the term “Wal-Mart of Internet” and most often in reference to Amazon?

    Since Wal-Mart is mostly about logistics and a good part of Amazaon is about building warehouses that “Wal-Mart of Internet” does not yet exist.

    However, we could build it and by doing so we would end up totally messing up and turning upside down and reinventing a huge segment of economy.

    World’s biggest venture capitalists would forever be sticking our mug shots onto the “disruptive ideas” page of their presentations.

    Oh and yes, in the process we would be selling tons of movies and a whole lot more. 😉


    Comment by Idea to Venture -

  146. I got it allow the movie that is created to be free 100% free for about 1 month or so. Allowing everyone to go see it, there more likely to buy the dvd later on and know about it. And the ones that think its still free after the month will go and end up paying for it, since everyone else has seen it. So email for a chat, thanks Robert Mena

    Comment by rob Mena -

  147. Mark’s 4th point, nicely coined, Movie Marketing 2.0; accords very closely to what we are proposing at my company across the pond, slingshot, but I find his objections to it a bit baffling.

    Firstly: yes, it will only work with a property that at least some people [and the magic number of how many are needed to achieve a tipping point is, of course, context dependent] are passionate about. But surely, that’s a reasonable starting point? A kind of marketing that could persuade tens of millions of punters to go see bad films that nobody cared in the first place at low cost, would’nt be marketing, it would be voodoo.

    Secondly: whilst there is yet to be an online destination that is to film what MySpace has become for music (though of course, MySpace itself is trying with its film-maker forums, and our cousin company LoveFilm is rapidly becoming such an aggregator in the UK), why does Mark feel the need to own or build such a destination himself (other that that Mr. Cuban is a man who seems to enjoy owning things)? Why not work with existing aggregators of movie fans? Well one reason is that they are all acutely aware of the value they add and are selling access to their users at an increasing premium to the studios already – the owners of social media destinations are starting to act like the gate keepers of old media.

    But there is another route worth exploring, which is to realise that the core audience for any one particularly movie may not aggregate under the banner ‘movie fans’ but instead by other socio-psychological groupings. MySpace didn’t start as a place to push music. It started as a place for young people to get together. It just happens that young people use music as a proxy for personality and tribe.

    So where might these people group? The short answer, surely, is that it is going to vary film to film. And that’s what makes this a non-trivial challenge.


    Comment by Arvind Ethan David -

  148. Free Tickets ALL the time. Sponsor out the films, sell advertising, produce GREAT films that millions will want to see, millions of movie goers means a huge audience to advertise to. What would you rather have some one that pays $10 for a ticket and doesn’t buy anything else or give them a free ticket and see it as a $10 discount off of something else your selling them? More money would be made if you had free tickets and they then could buy the gas to get there, pay the baby sitter (who then buys your stuff), goes out for dinner (maybe at your resturaunt), buys popcorn , pop, and candy (instead of sneaking it in) at your theater.

    Comment by Matt -

  149. Movie Business Challenge Solution

    · Relative pricing throughout theaters

    o Problem: Pirates of the Caribbean 2 is sold out. However, Da Vinci Code is only 30% full.

    o Solution: Pirates of the Caribbean 2 costs full price, but Da Vinci Code is sold at a reduced price.

    o Analysis: Similar to an airline company, movie theaters need to begin thinking economically sound, precisely by thinking at the margin. An airline that is about to depart New York to Los Angeles may charge $300 per seat, however, if there are 10 seats open, and 10 people are willing to pay a reduced rate, why make them pay $300, and lose the customer, when you can get $150 and guaranteed money? When thinking at the margin, it is always best to maximize any profit that was not previously anticipated. In this situation, selling an airline ticket for any cost above pillows, blankets, food, etc. is profit for an airline that would have otherwise had 10 open seats. This can be aptly applied to the movie theaters. People may not be willing to see Da Vinci Code because it received poor reviews, and may not be worth the risk to spend $10 at the Megaplex if it is a bad movie. However, if they are told they can pay a reduced rate, say $5 instead of $10, suddenly there may be interest in a showing that was expecting full price from the moviegoer, and would have otherwise been relatively empty in the theater.

    o In addition, the increased traffic for an otherwise “old” movie at the Megaplex, can lead to increases in concessions and other merchandising opportunities at the theater.

    o This situation creates brand loyalty for a theater chain such as Landmark. If a “fence sitter” knows they can receive tiered pricing at Landmark, and see movies at a reasonably reduced rate, it will make them choose Landmark over a competitor such as Regal or AMC.
    ·Frequently Asked Questions

    o How would pricing be calculated?

    · The price is determined by a computer program designed to analyze and track trends so that it knows how much to charge for each screening. The obvious goal would always be to maximize the profit and not lose money by charging too little.

    o Where could I find the prices for the showtimes? This all seems confusing and complex.

    ·The prices would all be available on the internet. Perhaps in an exclusive partnership with a company such as Fandango or the Landmark Theater Official Website.

    o I never wanted to see Da Vinci Code. How does making it cheaper increase the incentive for me to watch it?

    ·True, but to appeal to the masses, a good movie with good content is obviously required to attract moviegoers. People see a movie like Batman Begins because it is directed by Christopher Nolan, and stars an ensemble cast such as Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, and Gary Oldman. The same cannot be said for a production like Malibu’s Most Wanted just because a friend on Myspace told you to check it out. In addition, creating a theater chain that properly prices movies not only extends the revenues for a major motion picture, but also creates a movie theater chain that provides an incentive for moviegoers to attend on a regular basis. There would be no point to go to a theater other than Landmark, if they were anticipating full admission for empty movie.

    Comment by Brad Bogner -

  150. The answer is limited access.
    Showing the movie 7 days a week, a billion times a day, across multiple screens…..eliminates any compelling reason for me to “not” wait for the DVD — because I don’t want to be like everybody else. Everyday of my working life, I am like everybody else….why the hell would I pay you so you can treat me like everybody else?

    The problem is too much availability of the “good” product. Think Cabbage Patch dolls. Make your mass money on DVD, PPV, web. The “theatre” money should be made with limited access “events”. Like an NBA game. Only so many tickets, and those who get them, also get limited production DVD’s that include “anything” that will not be available to the masses….and just maybe, Tom Cruise will show up at your particular viewing of his movie.

    You say you want to compell people to come to the theatre for the experience……well, the “experience” means different things to different people — its an individual thing — and it is insulting that you think you can figure out how to mass-produce my “experience”. Trust me, you cannot. Experience comes from feeling you are part of an event that others will not be “allowed” to enjoy, because you have the last ticket. Get the star of the movie to tour the country and show up unannounced at randon showings (unique events). Think of Prince (the musician) — man has a cult following because he is reclusive…..but you never know when he will just show up at the local pub to jam….and you find this out by being a part of the “inside” fan base that attends his concerts, multiple times/events. They spread the word at the concerts, and people wait in lines for the after party at some bar.

    You seem to want to change the theatre concept itself. Well, then it wouldn’t be a theatre. It would be something else, wouldn’t it?

    There is no financial reason you could not simply have Leonardo DeCaprio tour the country going to these limited showing events (unannounced) of his movie….and allowing every ticket holder to take their picture with him. What is that….100 photos per screening? You would have 13 years old girls making their parents drive them to every theatre that is rumored to be the one where Leo will show up this time. They’d pay to see the movie multiple times (at the theatre) just at the limited access chance to see Leo live. If Leo won’t agree to it, don’t hire him for your movie.

    Limited access. It has ALWAYS worked. Changing the theatre, or the theatre technology, requires too much $$ investment, and not enough ROI to justify it. Not when you can just release the video on DVD, and your margins are off the charts.

    Comment by Scott -

  151. Advertise at the gas pump we all have to stand there for 5 minutes at least Use a video display to show previews and it can also be interactive so that you choose what preview you would want to watch. Trailers can get downloaded to ipods or cell phones through IR and you could make ticket purchases at the pump The owner would get a buck per transaction and get paid for allowing you to use his pump. Also once you have the patron at the cinema the prices have to be more reasonable. 3 – 5 for a softdrink. Come on…way too expensive, you need to cobrand and allow theaters to sell SUBWAY, Chick Filet etc at the going rate and not the cinema prices.

    Comment by Armando Villarreal -

  152. post #51 (Papasik) is seeing the light. THAT’s the direction films will have to take. It solves many problems. How is it that a Madonna concert can cost $200 per ticket yet the concert still instantly sells out? What about football or NBA games. Folks will scalp thousands for those seats. Why can’t movies create the same illusion of value? Easy, the answer is marketing

    Supply and Demand is the answer, not gimmicks. Make them value a movie ticket at $100 and they’ll pay it.

    Comment by Jason -

  153. Mark—–through the mailbox and into the john.

    I believe it has to be done as an industry. The movies are what they are and it is still the best thing for a night on the town. The movies have to band together and promote as a whole more. All the people want is the available movie options in one package in an informative way. That’s how they decide on what to watch, not freaken banner ads and these other gimmicks. Here’s the catch—-the presentation. Newspaper listings lack info, excitement, and people are too lazy to open up to page 6 and forget its there half the time. Only diehards are sifting on the internet. Get something out there so all the lazy and busy people know where to turn.

    #1 Via mail, Movie Monthly or weekly or something that lists every current movie in theaters and has beautiful information on that movie. List the movie’s myspace and website on there.

    #2 Movie channel

    —-This is something that won’t change the industry, but Mark can do. Why not just buy Pizza Hut or McDonalds or something and promote the shit out of all your other companies using their platform.

    Comment by bucknut5 -

  154. Mark: I see there are TOO MANY Americans and too few us Europeans reading your blog. You all got it all the way wrong. You do not need to maximize viewers, you need to maximize revenue. Right? So you need to get not more but LESS visitors on the opening night. It has to be an exclusive event. Opening nights are severely underpriced, just as concerts. This is quite counter-intuitive but it will boost competition for seats, and prices. There are a few different ways to accomplish this. If you need details, email.

    Comment by Papasik Rugasik -

  155. I’d take watching a dvd on my big screen or my widescreen computer monitor over being in a theater any day.

    I can lounge around on my couch and if I want, pause the movie and get up and make something to eat or whatever…

    Comment by Yatahaze -

  156. This will be short. I always hear parents or people say “I will just wait until it comes out on DVD”, so going by logic it means that (in the mind of the consumer) there’s nothing I can’t see at the theatre that I can’t eventually see at home. If you want to eliminate that reasoning then create “exlusive theatre only” events; never to be released on DVD or any other media. If you want to create an atmosphere of urgency to get the family out to the movie, give them a good reason to do so. Original, exlusive content; theatre only. Give them a real reason to go to the movies, not a reason to stay home.

    Comment by Brandon Piddington -

  157. This will be short. I always hear parents or people say “I will just wait until it comes out on DVD”, so going by logic it means that (in the mind of the consumer) there’s nothing I can’t see at the theatre that I can’t eventually see at home. If you want to eliminate that reasoning then create “exlusive theatre only” events; never to be released on DVD or any other media. If you want to create an atmosphere of urgency to get the family out to the movie, give them a good reason to do so. Original, exlusive content; theatre only. Give them a real reason to go to the movies, not a reason to stay home.

    Comment by Brandon Piddington -

  158. You need a video trailer that people can watch on their cell phone, then if they like it they can forward it to their friends for them to watch, and include their comments about what they think about the movie.

    Comment by The Movie Man -

  159. (part2 )The thing is, IM NOT SURE THIS PROBLEM IS SOLVABLE. THERE MAY NOT BE A SOLUTION. There are only so many ways to make a movie. The problem MIGHT BE THE MEDIUM ITSELF.

    I’d say to be honest, why did movies used to be fresh to me? Because I was a kid, and I hadn’t seen anything like that before. Now, I’m not sure it’s the same for todays kids, because Star Wars was actually new, where today the big budget effects vehicle is not, so even if the kid hasn’t seen one..he’s been exposed to enough on TV and everywhere else it’s not going to seem so fresh. BUT, he’s still a kid, it’s still new to him to some extent.

    Comment by Ben Capizzo -

  160. (part 1) I think the problem is fundamental Mark. Movies have more or less, all been done before.

    I’m 31 years old. When I was a kid movies were fresh and exciting. There were even new types of movie experiences the public had never before seen. Take Star Wars. Star Wars, at the time, was a WHOLE NEW EXPERIENCE. It was a the first time special effects could be done plausibly enough to make a drama in outer space work, the first special effects blockbuster really. PEOPLE HAD NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT BEFORE.

    Now today..we’ve seen almost every kind of movie. They’re all so formulaic. It’s not the movies fault, it’s that all the formula’s have been exhausted.

    Like I say, I’m 31. I feel like I’m a hundred. Almost every movie I can say “well, I kinda want to see it, but I’ve seen this before”. There are movies that offer compelling new experiences, they tend to be smaller flicks I see on DVD, such as Donnie Darko, Office Space, Napolean Dynamite, Better Luck Tomorrow (one of my personal faves
    most people have never heard of). The original Matrix, was a great NEW experience at the time. The sequels however, were terrible.

    I mean what are the big movies this summer:

    Superman: Special effects blockbuster (BB), boring previews, another superhero movie.

    X-Men 3: Saw it, pretty decent, but how rehashed is this?

    POTC: This is the big hit and I understand why. Cus Jack Sparrow rocks. But it’s still a sequel, a rehash, big budget spectactle, etc etc.

    There was a Adam Sandler comedy. REHASH.

    There’s some kiddie CGI flicks, same as every summer, REHASH.

    I mean every movie seems to be in a catagory. Teen flick, gorefest, chick flick, crappy romantic comedy starring Owen Wilson and some chick, bawdy comedy starring owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, Ben Still, or some combination thereof, whatever.

    Comment by Ben X -

  161. More of an experience…

    Think Dave and Busters with movie theatres.

    Comment by et -

  162. How about this one:

    • In the week before the commercial launch, mail a couple of million DVDs to households (start with some commercial mailing list, but offer people an opportunity to sign up).
    • 99% of the DVDs contain a trailer and a few background features (Making of.., whatever).
    • 1% of the DVDs contain the ACTUAL, full-length movie.

    1) It’s not THAT cheap, but in bulk might be about $1 per mailing or less (I’m sure you know the economics better than I do). Some 5 million DVDs might be enough to cause a substantial splash.
    2) Some potential DVD sales lost (but probably not that many).

    1) People are motivated to watch the trailers.
    2) People are motivated to sign up for more trailer DVDs.
    3) You believe in same-day DVD releases, this is pre-same day!

    Comment by microtherion -

  163. hey mark,

    my name is adam b. i’m an entering sophomore at uconn, 19 years old, just had a little idea. i was thinking about what i would need in order to go to the movies more often. i decided it would be better (healthier, more stomach pleasing) food. and i realized this wouldnt get people to come to the movies more, it would just provide better food for the already exisitng movie-goers. so here’s my idea. we need restaurants – inside of movie theaters. a restaurant (popular restaurant) or 2 or 3 or 4 in the front of the complex, and then the movie theaters more within the complex. people eat, and continue on. they get their tickets for the movie when they pay the bill for their meal. people dont have to eat at the restaurants first, but if they do, take one or 2 or 3 dollars off their ticket price. those who dont eat first will enter a different door, pay full price, and still buy concession stand food. money is made by all, and the movie theater obviously gets a cut out of the restaurant profit because the restuarants are within the movie theater. i dont know if this idea will work or not, but i thought id just get my name and idea out there.


    Comment by adam -

  164. I dont even know if this already exists or has been already thrown out there by someone else, but I’ll shoot it anyway:

    Season tickets.

    You buy a seat for a year. Cost depends on the row and the screen room. The seat’s yours for the entire year. You can walk in any time, any day and watch any movie. The seat’s yours whenever you want.

    Comment by Niko -

  165. Transferable ticket.

    30 mins in a movie, you dont like it? You can just walk out and wait to catch another movie.

    What you’re really selling here is seats. Unless you sold out all your screens, you dont really lose money letting someone go from a movie to another.

    You just have to put down a couple of simple, enforceable rules and it can easily be done.

    The upside for the customer is that he can “sample” what he’s paying for and he has a “live” choice. Giving the customer that type of choice might make him feel more “at home” in the theater.

    Change the paradigm. You’re not selling products (tickets), you’re selling a service. If you can’t attract new or more customers, at least make every customer you already have want to come back more often by offering him a more convenient service.

    Comment by Niko -

  166. The answer isn’t making multiplex tickets cheaper, or making multiplexes better. The answer is providing an alternative to multiplexes that’s a WHOLE LOT BETTER at a HIGHER ticket price.

    Consider a film like “Titanic.” What if it had opened – not at the local multiplex – but at an upscale dinner-theater combination in downtown San Francisco, (or NYC or LA or Chicago)? How much could you have charged for a ticket that included dinner?

    What if the *only* way to see Titanic for the first six months after its release had been to see it at this venue? Now how much could you have charged (especially if it sold out every show)?

    What if there were parties with dancing after each screening of the film? What if there were buses to take the audience to a cruise ship waiting in SF Bay, where they could sail up and down the coast until 2am? Now how much could you charge?

    Of course, it would cost a fortune to provide such a venue – wouldn’t it? That depends. If you tried to do it all by yourself, it would cost billions. But if you partnered with local restaurants, cruise lines, etc, it wouldn’t have to cost all that much.

    People hate multiplexes. So give them something better. A lot better. And make them pay. (See my earlier post to the first blog entry on this subject for more details.)

    Comment by George -

  167. The Theater Going Experience…

    1. The expensive answer would be to change the way theaters operate. Improve the seating so that there are more comfortable seats, get rid of cell phones or make cell-phone only screens so that obnoxious people who absolutely can’t shut off their cell phones have a dedicated theater, and lastly improve the selection of movies so that the same movie isn’t shown on half the screens. Ok…those might be expensive..and you didn’t want that so move on to number 2.

    2. Change the way movies are shown…get rid of the 30 screen mega theater and cater more to the individual. Offer giveaways and prizes with the purchase of a ticket, and instead of giving away movie posters to the theater chains that probably throw away half the freebies they receive, let fans in on some of the brand advertising with t-shirts, posters, etc…Giving the individual an incentive to go to the theater would have a bigger impact than paying people who use the web for referrals. There needs to be a lure to make me want to spend my money on movie ticket versus waiting for the dvd to be rented or bought.

    3. Instead of stars promoting movies on talk show after talk show where they repeat the same “scripted” sounding answers, make the actors/actresses/directors show up at screenings across the country and have them do 30 minute Q&A sessions with the paying customer. (This might be too costly, you would know better than me on this one).

    4. Bring back double features on Friday and Saturday nights…For the price of one ticket the patron can see two flicks.

    5. While discounted ticket prices and matiness, and voucher offers are great ideas to get customers back…there is must be a better way of distribution. Why must fans wait months and months to buy a movie on dvd? Why not offer the dvd for sale after the movie?

    6. Lastly, how about bringing back serials? A few trailers, a few cartoons or animated short films, and a weekly serial to lure the patron back for next weeks installment, followed by the feature film in the end.

    Comment by Eric P. -

  168. What a genius… Getting all these ideas for free. No worry about blatantly stealing people’s ideas because they have no copyright/patent/intellectual property protection. Genius. All under the false premise of offering a “job.” As if there is a real job out there he is going to give one of us… lol…

    Comment by Dave -

  169. Golly gee,

    There has to be a great idea to get people to ride horse and buggy again too.

    Comment by Steven -

  170. Did anyone else notice that there are 2 number 3’s?

    Comment by Ryan -

  171. How about “your face on an extra”.

    You go to the theater, you enter this booth, your face/body is scanned in 3D and with a little automatic electronic wizardry, you get added as an extra in the movie you paid to see.

    Hey, I’d pay to see myself in a movie!

    Comment by Niko -

  172. 1) Enable tickets booking via cellphone text messaging, website and phone. Open all floodgates to take in orders.

    2) Start a non-refundable ASSIGNED seat booking program. I noticed that the theatres in the U.S are free seating. Seats are wasted this way. It should be sold like how airline sells seats – ASSIGN best seats on a first come first serve basis. This creates sense of urgency to buy tickets.

    3) The way most movie theatres are designed here is a money losing situation. With the price of one ticket, you can hop around theatres watching every show because all entrances are on the same corridor, wide open. In college, we call this “movie buffet!”
    So, either redesign theatre exits or usher movie goers OUT of the theatres after a movie.

    4) Bring in international award winning movies as a staple for some theatres. Do not underestimate the audience size, even if the language of the movie is not English. The promotional money is already spent by the countries who produced the movies. A lot of immigrants are still very in touch with their birth countries and culture because of the internet. The power of word of mouth within minority communities is more powerful than millions of dollars on promotion.

    5) Improve the movie going experience. Sell “luxury seats” at $25 each. These seats will be at the back of the theatre, larger, more comfortable and the usher to serve drinks with the “air stewardess” service call button.

    6) Have a trade mark theatre interior design. ie: an illuminated dome in the ceiling, art work on walls, or reclining seats for front rows (because it’s neck breaking to watch a movie in the front row!)

    7) Sell lots and lots of pre-movie ads from movie previews to specially edited product commercials. Screen commercials with products of interest to the age group of the particular movie. There is no better way of having full attention of a target audience who can’t flip the remote control. Start movies late by 10 mins ON PURPOSE by playing these commercials.

    8) Open cineplexes on the top floor of prominent shopping malls. Stop building stand alone movie theatres in the middle of nowhere. Make it a one stop shopping, movie going and dining experience.

    9) Get film distribution rights. Distribute film to smaller local theatres for a fee.

    10) End of resume.

    Comment by i 1 e job -

  173. Hello….

    My suggestion – interactive movies (different to what everyone else suggested).

    You watch a movie and midway through the movie theres a ‘break’ and people get to vote (on an electronic pad or something similar) on 4 different directions the movie could take. Majority wins and that version is played.

    This will encourage people to come in groups so they can influence the majority and get the ending they might want.
    It will also reduce piracy as a pirate would only be able to copy 1 from 4 possible versions at every sitting.
    AND this will increase demand for dvds. When the dvd is released, it will have each different ending so if people didn’t get to go to the one they voted, they can watch it later

    Good luck

    Comment by H.E. -

  174. Thye problem with theaters is that it goes against the biggest trend in the past, oh, 50 years of mass economics: individualism.

    Video clubs or illegal downloading have edged theaters because of one particular factor: individual choice.

    The only thing one has to gain from going to the theater is to see movies when they come out in DVDs. That and the “event” factor that comes when a specific movie is buzzed/hyped to death. Someone mentionned controversy as a source of buzz/hype. Its not really controversy per se, its the crossover exposure of a movie that makes headlines over politics or other news that creates the sort of hype that’ll make the everyday person spend money to go to the theater.

    People want the taylor-made, customized experience only the video store or illegal downloads can offer; but people also are social animals who want to be “in” on the “buzz”.

    That’s what draws people to theaters: the “event” factor. And you’ve got to market that event. And to do that, you’ve got to market the content of the movie. Most of the biggest “even movies” in recent years were movies where the actual content was already somewhat familiar to the customers.

    Just look at the highest grossing films of all time. Most people already knew the Titanic would sink. Most people already knew who Shrek was. Most people were already knew Anakin would turn into Darth Vader. Most people already knew Spider-Man was a geek who’d get bit by a spider and turn into a reluctant hero. Most people already knew Jesus would get arrested and die on the cross. Most people knew Frodo would throw that ring in the fires of Mount Doom.

    That’s what drew people: they knew what would happen but they wanted to see it happen. Wide-spread excitement and expectation. They couldnt wait for the movie to come out on DVD 4 months later.

    Problem is: most of those movies already had a fanbase before the movie came out. And when you look at the bulk of “other” movies, 30 seconds trailers and traditionnal marketing just dont convey that same excitement. Unless it has some ground-breaking special effects like Forrest Gump or Jurassic Park. Not even “alternative” marketing works too well. The only exception seems to be The Sixth Sense and the Blair Witch Project, both of whom benefited greatly from word to mouth and informal marketing channels.

    Not lot can be done on the marketing front when so much depends on the movie content itself. One thing that could be done is to go further to familiarize customers with the movie months before it comes out. Expectation and excitement is something that is built over time. Going to the theater has to be the payoff for months of anticipation; not a quickie campain a week before the movie gets released.

    Make going to the theaters an urgent event again.

    Comment by Niko -

  175. I am going back to the drawing board.

    In the meantime, I suggest that anyone who is passionate about examining what’s wrong with the today’s theater experience check out this lively discussion moderated by Variety writier and podcaster Claude Brodesser-Akner:

    MARK – You will love the last segment when Claude brings in an ad agency to specifically brainstorm ideas for a theater image campaign.


    Comment by Pete Mauro -

  176. Back to work….

    Comment by Danny Freisner -

  177. First off: Go Lakers.

    Second: I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned, but it seems to me like back catalog is an extremely under-exploited asset. I bet you could sell out special screenings of the original (preferably untainted) Star Wars here in Santa Barbara at least once a month. Why bother with the 10:00pm late showing of the latest 12th place stinker on it’s 4th weekend when the geeks will sign up to see “Touch of Evil” with other like minded induviduals.

    Setting up a “petition” web 2.0 kind of site where people could signup for what movies they’d crawl of the couch to go see in all their big screen glory. Once you have enough signatures/signups per zip code the theatre and showtime of the screening is sent to the people who petitioned. I’d imagine you keep pricing the same.

    For the less web savvy you could have physical signups with phone numbers at the theater perhaps?

    This is probably not logistically all that appealing right now, but once you get theaters all digital you’re in there. I’m sure it’s relatively easy to track which new release has “overstayed its welcome” and you would slide in a few old classics/cult favorites in its place depending on the demand in the region.

    I’m sure there is licensing issues, etc.

    But I’m sure you can figure something out.

    I just want to see “The Thing” on the big screen. I wasn’t old enough the first time around.

    Comment by sharky -

  178. Wow, I just went to the movies for the first time this summer, and as I sat in the theater disgruntled that ticket prices have gone up…..again! Then I got to thinking how much the movie experience today sucks. Coming to your blog and seeing this topic was nice surprise.

    1.) Make theaters hi-tech:

    a. I’m no cutting edge technology sort of guy, but it’s a said state of affair when I’ve got a better sound system in my humble abode that the megaplex up the street. Get Sony or a big electronics company to supply the newest and best hardware and let patrons know what you have and where it is from.
    b. Better seats. Seats have been upgraded in everything from airplanes to NFL stadiums, yet movie seats have not changed. In fact, redesign the theater altogether. Do what some restaurants or churches do. Have seating that is flexible and can be re-arranged or moved to fit the needs of the specific audience. Also flexible seating could allow you hold non-movie events during off hours. Or go after non-movie business like showing sporting events in a sports bar type atmosphere.
    c. Better service. If I can order food via my cell phone or blackberry at a sporting event and have it brought to my seat so I don’t miss any of the action, then I should be able to get the same type of service from a movie theater.

    2.) Stop the massifaction of story lines for the benefit of the largest audience. This will cut down on costs. To do this:

    a.) The industry needs to be brought into the 21st Century. From the way films are shot to removing the use of film to how they are then delivered to the theaters. Why send a movie via an over the land mail type system when they can be sent via Satellite or the internet to theaters? Advances in technology seem to make production costs go down in just about every other single industry but the movies. Cheaper production and lower costs for distribution via new technologies will allow more films to be made & shown at a theater.
    b.) Smaller target audiences will then mean studios can stop paying actors millions for a film. Last time I checked the world is full of starving artists. If you don’t need the star power of a big name star for the mass appeal of more eye balls, you can higher a great actor with limit exposure for a fraction of the price (and something tells me the acting may even been better when using the big screen neophyte.
    c.) Target a different type of audience each week. For example, Monday nights during Football season could be Lady’s Night Out. Show movies that cater to an audience of spouse who hate football. Go after the book club audience on Monday nights. Have wine and a discussion after the film (or even during it.)
    d.) Stop making predictable crap. The days of going to the movies to experience their magic are over. I don’t care if the guy gets the girl or everyone lives happily ever after; especially, after sitting for 2.5 hours with my feet stuck to the theater’s sticky floor. If movies stop being predictable, the adrenaline rush of not knowing what will happen next and the shock value of what will happen next will create a buzz about a film. Buzz is the cheapest advertising you can get.
    e.) Halt doing stories that have already been done. Do we really need to see a remakes of moldy old TV shows now airing on Nick at Night? How much is paid in licensing to repackage the came old crap?
    f.) Remove product tie-in synergy. How much is spent on the mega-marketing campaign to put a film on everything from snack-foods to car parts. Let movies go back to just being movies. After spending $20 to see Rocky XV, do I really have money left over to purchase the $45 special addition Rocky XV denture cream? Why try to get me to spend my money on movie things sold not at or by your theater. Shouldn’t those dollars be spent on seeing other films at your theater?
    g.) Get rid of all the commercials before a film. Nothing says, “F-you.” To the audience more than raising ticket prices while increasing the number and length of commercials before the film begins. Instead, use product tie-ins in your movies of products that fit into the storyline and do not take away from the scene.

    3.) Lastly, hire me because I’ll work cheaper than anyone else you can find.

    Comment by Phil Larsen -

  179. I don’t think the theater defines the moviegoing experience anymore, since most of them are pretty much the same now. It’s the people seeing the movie around you define it. I saw Brokeback Mountain in the bar-none worst theater in Fort Worth and still loved it because everyone there took it seriously. I saw The Aristocrats at the Magnolia and pretty much all I remember is the lady in front of us reeking of about a quart’s worth of perfume. If you invite riffraff into the theater by showing the kind of movie they would want to see (like Clerks II at the Inwood), it drags everyone else down. Let them go somewhere else – they won’t even know the difference anyway.

    Comment by Jamie -

  180. The answer is CONTROVERSY…and it can’t be done with all movies, some movies will never just find the “holy grail of marketing”

    Farenheit 9/11 was hated by around 50% of the people, but ended up being the most popular documentary ever.

    Passion of the Christ, same as above, but seen by millions.

    Mark pisses off people on his blog, and they talk about him on TV ( remember TNT? )

    For movies that just cant create controversy (like something animated) the only thing I can think of is getting the word out.

    Think about it;

    On The movie blog alone people were spending so much time writing their answers for a job, why not get people to spend so much time advertising your movie in a BIG WAY for some kind of prize? Millions of people will do it and it’ll only help you at the box office.

    – Sam

    Comment by Sam -

  181. I think your biggest issue is that you’re trying to find a solution from within. You mention the MPAA and their idiocy wrt piracy, it’s just a symptom. Would we even know Henry Ford’s name now if all he had done improve on the horse and buggy? Forget trying to make the theater a more pleasant experience. Fuck theaters. Who needs them? Horse and buggy. Forget them. Forget the MPAA. They’re an anachronism. Forget movies with highly paid Hollywood stars. Very booring. Like horse and buggy. New distribution channels. Not the web. Or, not only the web. Not primarily the web. Think big. Think small. An image projected onto a screen is just so restrictive. We can do better than that. The technology is available, and not really more expensive than what’s being used now.

    Comment by Peter -

  182. Theater comment: It’s very intelligent to do the targeted-demographic theater idea.. I think the Landmark Theater experience sounds good too… how do we get one in our town (Tallahassee)? Is it something local entrepreneurs can do?

    Comment by Tim -

  183. Challenge idea: don’t charge on entry to the movie. On exit, charge $X if they leave within the first 15 minutes of the film; X+Y if they leave within the first hour, $X+Y+Z if they stay past the first hour. X, Y, and Z will need some discussion.

    Their “ticket” when they enter the theater could be a countdown timer on a card (hey watch circuits cost very little these days) that they turn in as they leave the theater, where the cashier collects their payment for the entertainment they received.

    Put the policy in ads for the theaters but don’t spend huge amounts promoting the films, at all.

    Comment by Tim -

  184. You can bring 5 mm kids by promising free babysitting on Saturday morning.

    You can offer a free copy of the movie on DVD. It doesn’t even have to be the same DVD.

    Good luck

    Comment by Steve -

  185. Mark:

    My idea is you need to use the concept ofexclusivity to pull in theater-goers. To that:

    1. Take the movie premiere/red carpet experience ‘on tour’, like a concert. Rather than opening the same day all over the world, do it in a spread out tour format, and take the stars and director out on tour with the movie to premier in more than NYC and LA.

    2. Rather than a giant theater, create a theater of ‘skybox suites’ and sell access to them. They could be the size of a luxury home theater. Personal attendant, your own concession (no lines). Again you could charge a premium for this and people woudl eat it up.

    Let me know if you need my resume’. If you just pay for me to go to b-school even that’s cool with me

    Comment by Krista -

  186. MOVIE BUSINESS CHALLENGE random thoughts:

    Maybe have/promote a SINGLES NIGHT, COSTUME NIGHT or a PARENTS-WITHOUT-PARTNERS NIGHT or other large group night on a weekly, semi-weekly or monthly basis.

    Provide a chef in the concessions area, serving decent FOOD. Maybe a little/mini deli. Why not serve sandwiches? Or a boxed lunch (or supper or snack)….

    How about a “ball room” for people with little fussy ones…they can still get out of the house if they can’t get or afford a sitter, and still see the rest of the movie instead of having to leave when the little one decides to throw a tantrum.

    Comment by Debbie Rogers -

  187. Market the movie at the movies. The old movie preview has been with us for a long time, but while it can create some excitement, it’s very limited. It gives highlights, glimpses, hopefully provoking some interest, but it does not create a connection.My idea (and there’s two versions of it: the mild postview and the more radical serial approach) would create a connection.
    In the mild version, after the movie you were attending was over a “postview” would start, unlike the 2 minute highlight real that is a preview the postview would be an actual screening of the 1st ~30 minutes. This would allow time for an attachment both to the characters and the story to form. It would leave the audience not just thinking they might like it, but knowing they have to see it.
    Taking the postview concept to the extreme would be what I think of as the serial approach. Create a series of movies. Each film going experience you’d see 1/2 of 2 movies in the series. The ending of one movie (one who’s beginning you had caught a week before) and the beginning of another. Assuming the films were of enough quality, every movie going experience would end with an audience eager to return next week (or month) to see how the story they’ve become engrossed in ends. People don’t return to shows like Lost or the Sopranos each week solely because they like the show, but because they’ve become invested in the shows, they need to see how something resolves, how their characters survive…. The audience needs to be left wanting….wanting more….wanting to return….in fact needing to return because not knowing will continue to haunt them.

    Comment by Robert Castiglioni -

  188. Is todays movie theatre relevant to the audience. I see places like Movie Tavern and say hey that’s a good idea. The problem is if you have video rental, pay per view and the like, people would rather stay home. People like to go out to dine because cooking and cleaning up afterward is a chore. Where as being entertained at home is a convienance. When movie theatres were in their heyday, there was radio but no TV. The only way to get people into a movie theater is making it an event. Maybe what you need to do is have live entertainment with the movie. local comedians or rockbands before or after the movie might be a way to do it. You could even have talent contests with prizes, none of this is new you would basically be reinventing vaudeville. The Rocky Horror picture show became a cult event. You could also have have heckel the bad movie night. If you want to have butts in the seats you have to make people want to be part of an event. People can watch sports at home but as an example they would rather see the Mavs live because there’s more excitement to being there.
    People have to want to go the the Theatre because the experience they get there cannot be duplicated anywhere else.

    Comment by Andrew Winter -

  189. Mark, it is not expensive to get people to websites if you optimize them the day you decide to make a movie. With a correct SEO plan in place, you could build a ton of websites that will optimize naturally and cheaply. A brand new website with no traffic is going to take between 8 to 18 months to garner natural search engine rankings via link-buying and content writing. However, the more sites you build, link and write that mention your company, the more value you add to the web, especially if you resonate with users.

    I don’t know much about the movie business at all, but I’m guessing, if it takes you 18 months from greenlight to having a movie in the can and ready to market, in 18 months you’d have a site kicking ass in natural rankings if you had a site that featured a blog by the writer, plus a blog by one of the producers, plus weekly to daily updates about the movie, topics the movie is about, a user forum, RSS feeds, email subscriptions, etc., etc. The first movie you do is not going to get you the automatic traction you want, but by the second, third and fourth movies, the keyphrases [movie name] + [your company name] will always, always rank #1 on every search engine. All the sites that come after get the same links as the first sites. Links are not that expensive, especially if you link to blogs written by movie buffs. Run a decent PPC campaign on month 19, push some digital media out there on bigger websites and areas where you know your fans are congregating, and you got something going. SEO is not expensive – it’s just very hard work and commitment. But it seems to me like you are going to have the time with a movie anyway. Granted, you are at first only going to reach fanatics. But all of that traction is going to get you high rankings, and once you get the high rankings, you will get volume browsers once you put even a little bit of paid media out on the net pushing your movie.

    The expense is in the beginning, but with the right plan at the beginning, you could build a content management system that could manage a ton of websites with the same basic premise. And the expense of search engine optimization is still much, much cheaper than any other media plan. You don’t need “flashy,” media-driven websites. You just need CONTENT.

    I think media companies are getting content on the web wrong – they are pushing traditional media onto the internet by creating flash movies and streaming digital video, and frankly it’s just not that interesting. Yeah, I want to get media via my computer, but I don’t want to watch it on a 17″ screen at 72 dpi. I want to hook my laptop to my kick-ass tv screen and watch the thing I just downloaded in the same glorious resolution I could get in the theater, and I’ll pay for that. But what I really want as a consumer is to become intrigued, and websites that are primarily words – stories, content – could have the power to suck me in. What if you had serialized stories, some kind of pre-quels, about the characters in the movie you are shooting, a la the last Matrix movie? I personally thought the comics and the dvd that came out before the third installment were better than the movie. But they whetted my appetite. They didn’t tell me what I was going to see, but they kept me going with stories about the characters in the movies, so that when the movie came out, I was salivating for it.

    Bring back the power of Dickens – serialize some content, via the web, before your movie. Get people to subscribe to a blog that has a whole pre-quel about a character. That would be cool. And optimized. All it costs is an optimized website, and a content writer. It is really not that expensive at all.

    Sorry for the long post.
    Michelle Tackabery

    Comment by Michelle Tackabery -

  190. Mark-

    Forget about other things right now….think what brought you the spotlight, the media spotlight….BASKETBALL MARK!! F’N BASKETBALL!!!Mark you need help with your team…Keith Van Horn, BAD!! Eric Dampier…BAD!! Those two moves costed you a ring MARK! Think about it…DIRK can’t D-up anyone, he never will be able to…You need better scouts MARK…get me in there, I can replace Van Horn and Dampier for you…you dont have anytime for the NBA Mark. All I ask is for that one shot man…thats it.

    Comment by RJ -

  191. Mark,

    Easy thing to do have all your employees in a referees jersey…that should piss u off!!

    Comment by RJ -

  192. Mark,

    I think you have the basic premise for your revolutionary idea already. It is simple but effective. The answer I believe is word-of-mouth advertising (WOMA). The answer is to find a way to make WOMA profitable in a grand scale.
    The premise is that people already practice WOMA on their own. All we would need to do is to make WOMA profitable for them. In addition, to encourage people to continue doing it. These people would in turn tell others about your movie and so on.
    There is no question that WOMA is more economical than TV, Radio or print media advertising. The question is whether it can be a lasting and sustainable form of advertising. Yes, is the answer as long as it is done properly. People would receive a monetary reward for their referrals and as their referral become customers of your movies they would pay a small enrollment fee (something like $20-30 dollars one time fee) all of which would be refundable to a certain point (say up to three or six month from the date of enrollment). The customers would continue to pay a monthly fee to remain in your movie club. (I would need to crunch the numbers but I am thinking something like $10-20/mo for a monthly fee).
    Working properly a company would only need to send a monthly publication to their subscribed customers about the movies and locations and the rest would take care of it self.
    The customers could come and watch said movie for free at specific locations and maybe pay for some popcorn at the location if they wanted it.
    Reward the subscribers for their referrals; provide a quality movie going experience at a reasonable price and you would have the movie giants quaking at your feet.
    The brand name MCM (Mark Cuban Movie) would be many times bigger than MGM.
    This idea would need to start slow and grow as people are warmed up to the new concept but in 10 to 15years, you would be amazed at what was accomplished.
    Think Wal-mart, Sam’s Club vs. Woolworth’s, Sears’s way back in the day. All Sam Walton did was to do what everybody was doing but just a little bit better. There was no “A-HA” moment just a good plan and a willingness and patience to bring it into reality.

    Comment by Antonio Howell -

  193. Set up a referral program (pyramid scheme) like Xango…

    problem solved.

    Comment by Scott -

  194. #1: Make your movie productions “Open Source”. People will promote to many others things they feel they have contributed too or have pride in. While the secrets, even the plot of the movie maybe spilled early on, the viewing of the movie would be to many like watching a home video. They would simply go with their friends to see how it all fit together and what their contribution accomplished.

    For example, like you are doing now, solicit and reward script adjustments, humor overrides, scene imagery…

    #2 Instead of buying advertising, get advertisers to pay you. Afterall, movies are a media event like the news or any other television show. I’m not suggesting you run commercials during the movie, but possibly offer banner space on your webite, have contests where advertisers pay for movie tickets for movie goers as part of their arrangement.

    Comment by Thomas Hoops -

  195. Great challenge Mark.

    Why not do something like a ‘movie wholesale club.’ In this, people would sign up for a yearly ‘membership’ fee (the could, perhaps, add a wife or children at a reduced cost) which would allow them to see as many movies as they want free of additional charge, or at least, at a heavily reduced charge. I think that the notion of ‘pay per play’ in the movie industry is what has to go.

    Here are the advantages of the ‘movie wholesale club’ idea in regard to its impact on the movie promotion method:

    1. There is perceived value in purchasing membership to such a ‘movie’ wholesale club. When one buys a ticket, there is less of a feeling that the money spent on tickets is a crap shoot, i.e., when Joe Q. puts down his hard earned movie for a movie ticket will it be worth it or not? Well, Joe has to wait to the end of the movie to decide. This way, the purchase of the movie club removes this anxiety/tension.
    2. Clients would, after purchasing a membership, have a vested interest in going to movies, hence driving down the cost of promotion.
    3. Promotions for movies can then be centralized and overlap. From a marketing standpoint, it could then be possible to market and promote the ‘movie club/warehouse’ rather than individual films. By promoting the ‘place/method/medium,’ all movies at that locale are then promoted simultaneously. One’s promotion dollar can go much further.
    4. There is most likely (to be verified by research) a natural ‘critical mass’ when it comes to how many movies one can see in a year, or better yet, an average number of movies one sees. As a result, fix the price of the ‘movie wholesale club’ just beyond what one would typically spend on films/month/year, thus ensuring profitability.
    5. Finally, I would think that the movie studios would like this idea as well, for it would change the way they make films. If one could predict how much profit could be made from a given film (i.e., how many memberships does X place have which is going to be showing my movies), then they won’t have to deal with huge, outlandish production priced movies, trying to ‘gimmick’ people to watch their films. I would think this could provide some fertile soil for making some darn good movies.

    Advantages related to the movie going experience:

    1. If someone sees a bad film or one that they don’t like, then it won’t leave a bad taste in their mouth, because a) they saw it for free (dirt cheap); b) they can see any number of more. (This would assuage the constant lament over the poor quality of films. How many comments on your blog went like this, “if you want people to go to the movies, make better movies.”)
    2. The membership revenue could drive down the cost of concessions, relieving another movie-going complaint.

    Love the Mavs, and miss them terribly now that I’m in England.

    Hope you read this,

    Comment by Jeff -

  196. How about this –

    According to what I’ve read – the movie studios take a large percentage of the box office when a movie opens. The longer the box office run, the lower the percentage is taken out.

    I think your original idea of same day multi-format release is key. The one option I did not see was PPV.

    What if the movie studios took a smaller percentage of the box office run, and then offered the same first run movie on a PPV channel the day it comes out?

    The current system:

    Spiderman 3 opens on 4000+ screens. The movie studio will take around 85% of the initial ticket sales for box office leaving the theatre 15%.

    My idea:

    Spiderman 3 opens on 4000+ screens and on the new Box Office PPV channel for $24.99. The movie studio takes %65 of the box office, and %100 percent of the PPV sales. This leaves the remaining %35 of the box office to the theatre.

    This idea is geared towards the people who want to see movies, but can’t get the babysitter, or do not want to brave the crowds.

    Like you said previously – all Mavs games are on TV but there are still sell-outs. You can cook a mean steak, but it doesn’t stop you from going to a restaurant.

    The people who want to see movies on the big screen, will still go to the movies. And its those people who you work on generating better experiences for.



    Comment by Dan Irwin -

  197. Mark,
    Please read your I-R-O-N-Y email. It will be worth it.

    Comment by Aaron -

  198. I hope you checked out my idea because Ive talked to a bunch of people that thought it would be awesome.

    To elaborate alittle more on it, you could give out like mystery points on peoples accounts, so if they go to see a certain movie (that will picked at random on everyones account) the get like bonus points.

    and you could do like raffles, and the more points you have built up,the better chance of winning are, and you could win a car,money or something.

    I really think the idea of making a Movie theatre network with a membership wordwide would really work very well.

    See ya, raph

    GO MAVS!

    Comment by Raph Terrigino -


    1) Filling up on gas
    2) Grocery shopping
    3) Banking

    Most everyone (or at least movie-goers) has to drive, eat & spend money.

    Make it fun to do these things and have your company wokr directly with the biggest of these in each market. Example:

    1) GAS STATIONS – The world’s biggest are ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, among others. Maybe run a promotion or lotto where every 10th person gets one free ticket to a specific film and a specific theatre. So, every 10th (or 50th or 100th or whatever is fun but not too costly for you) paying-for-gas Mobil customer gets one free ticket to TURISTAS or IN BLOOM at a Landmark theatre with an expiration date.

    2) GROCERY STORES like Albertson’s, Osco, Walgreens, or whatever big company owns a chain of grocery stores, they offer a similar deal. One free ticket to a specific film at specific theatre.

    3) BANKS – Again, a specific, friendly chain (CitiBank, B of A, Wells Fargo) offers one free ticket “” “” with a deposit of $50 or more (or any given number).

    First, most people see movies with others. Rarely, people see movies alone. So, that other person must buy a ticket. Second, most people don’t see movies because they can’t afford it. Those who gripe about theatre experience STILL GO to the theatre. Third, both parties are happy. The theaters are happy because more “butts are in seats” and the gas stations, grocery stores & banks are happy because they have more customers. It’s win/win. Fourth, most good movies survive off of word of mouth. Positive energy births positive energy.

    So, what do you think, Mr. Cuban?

    Comment by Brian Wright -

  200. The only way you are going to get me to a theater anymore is if you change the seating, etc. I would prefer something similar to the seating on an airplane (with more room of course) with headphones and trays that fold down. I like the idea of pre-sales walking up and down the aisle. It is really hard to beat renting and staying home anymore.

    Good luck with your ideas…I always like reading you because you try to encourage thinking outside the box.

    Comment by Kim -

  201. A little bit of my idea (which may have been concurrent with that of others who posted after me) appears in what you just said.

    I cannot stress this enough, if you SELL THE THEATER, you can get people to see whatever. In fact, to be more concise, theaters should have more of a boutique experience in that people come to see whatever, and because of internal promotions such as a rocky horror night, or something else interactive, you can actually get customers to buy tickets for other films while at the film they came to see.

    If the theater is set up in a way that makes people want to “hang out”, then there is a greater chance that you will get patrons to just show up, and if the experience is satisfactory enough, they will see any movie, just to be there.

    If you focus on the pure retail aspect and couple that with constant event planning (one event a week, or a night, or whatever makes the most sense), you will have audiences want to show up, want to come.

    I would also propose in this vein, that if you have a say 13 screen multiplex already, you could eliminate 2 screens, replacing one with a restaraunt, and another with a pure retail area selling merch similar to what you would find in a Suncoast (possibly a partnership w/ Sam Goody?) This leaves you with 11 screens. Of those screens, 10 should be devoted to first run features, with the one screen devoted to “retro” screenings of popular films that audiences may not have gotten to see on the big screen but would want to.

    Another way to enhance what this theater could be is to do tiered screenings. From 9am-Noon, you can have screens devoted to family fare, from Noon to 11, you have standard first-run features, and from midnight, you do two seperate types of midnight movies, say in one screen you do your Rocky Horror type of event, and in another, you have some other sort of cult film.

    The point is that with all I have suggested, you give viewers a choice, and not in what type of film they see, but in what sort of experience they wish to have.

    Changing the theater experience beyond bigger seats and silence is what is going to change the industry and evolve the theatergoing experience. I know you aren’t a huge fan of Convergence, but I say that this sort of convergence in theaters is ultimately what is going to save it. You need people to come out, and if they come, and they like it, they will bring others.

    I implore you, it is worth a try, and if it works (which it should), every other theatre chain will be chomping at the bit to do something similar…you would in effect be changing the industry, and the way I see it…for the better.

    Comment by Hashim Hathaway -

  202. I also enjoy the movie experience at the Studio Movie Grills in Plano

    Comment by Aquariuz -

  203. Movies target people, advertising a movie must target the people you make the movie for.

    Make a chick flick, advertise it on Lifetime.
    Make a sports flick advertise on ESPN.
    Make a crappy flick advertise on urinals.

    Use your advertisements for the Mavericks to your advantage. Subliminal placement of ads for your movies could be fit into the back ground. Placement of ads for your movies during Maverick games could be advantageous to your movies.

    I don’t live in a huge metropolitan area, so I have no idea of any movie that your studio has created. Maybe I am not the demographic you target?

    Make a Tech Movie starring Tech stars Leo Laporte and Kevin Rose. It would be a huge downloader.

    Comment by Aquariuz -

  204. Then, you obviously didn’t read mine, Mark, ’cause it’s badass!

    Comment by Paul McEnany -

  205. You have a Landmark Theatre in Houston that is in a beautiful historic structure. It provides the most unique cinema experience in the city.

    They are trying to tear it down to build a Barnes & Noble plus parking garage. Don’t let them.

    Comment by Corby -

  206. Essentially, what you’re doing here is asking for ideas on how to sell something (movies, theatres) which most people have already decided that they do not want. Common among these posts is “movies suck” and “movie theatres suck”. No amount of marketing is going to sell a product which the consumer has already tried and decided they don’t like. You have to give them a better product – better movies, better theatres – and convince the consumer to give it one more try.
    So this isn’t really a marketing issue at all, it’s an operational issue. Build better theatres, operate them well and then all you have to do is advertise that “movie theatres don’t suck anymore!”. This is what the consumer wants, all you have to do is give it to them.

    Comment by Pantsman -

  207. I apologize if this has already been suggested (and also for how the long the comment will be), but your site has received a ton of emails apparently, and comments too, and I do not have time to read all 170+ comments.

    I hope you enjoy my idea…..
    Movie Business Challenge…

    Look at Nintendo’s Wii – Nintendo knows people like interacting with games but it is about to push it to the limit with their new controller. I’m not saying every seat in the movie theatre should get a headset and controller to interact with the movie by controlling the camera (movie would have to be filmed in a reallly expensive camera) – that idea has been proposed long ago and it still seems too complicated and money inneficient for the returned revenue it would probably achieve. However, combine this idea with one of the most desired things in the game industry right now: Non-linear paths through a game and/or different endings to replay the game for.

    When you combine those 2 ideas to movies you now have a movie that could, yes, cost twice as much to film to set up 2 or more different endings – but to be honest plenty of movies already have different endings every year, whether it be on accident or not. Offering different movie endings to people AS they are watching the movie would shock and awe the world and get everyone back into movie theatres – not just once, but easily 2 or 3 sittings per movie. So how do you handle non-linear movie paths? Simple..

    Every movie more or less uses the proven 3 act setup, so the first movie to start this new style of movie entertainment could easily just get away with having Acts 1 and 2 written in stone, with an Act 3 that the movie audience chooses. How do they choose? Well you could bring back intermissions for a 3 minute pause to let everyone vote via a machine built into the armrests. Would cost a heck of a lot of money though to spread these gizmo armrests around the nation but it would totally be worth it I think. But there is another major con to this argument – it will kill the momentum of the movie, something which can add to the movie in some cases, but usually just detracts from the movie as a whole. However, if this choice occurred right before the climax it would help build up tension to the max as everyone votes in hopes that the rest of the audience votes the same way they do. Could work extremely well. Then they want to come back and pay to see the other ending. And when the movie goes to DVD? Every dDVD player comes with a remote – having a popup interface asking for which ending they desire wouldn’t be a big hastle at all.

    I know this interactivity and interface idea is very new to the world of entertainment, even though video games have been around for over 20 years now. But times are changing once again and people are really starting to assimilate the youth’s belief in new ways of doing things since computers are slowly outgrowing our grandparents in age. I’ll even offer a few examples of how it could work really well in the next paragraph, followed by an entirely different way of doing the same thing without an electronic audience vote.

    The most sensible thing would be crafting a movie plot that boils down to a climax where the main character must choose between saving his or her loved one, or (you guessed it!) the entire world! Wanna try it on a stupid summer horror movie that all the teens will want to see? The climax could boil down to the main character hot adolescent lady being trapped in her house with the killer inside. For once the audience could finally choose whether she decides to hide in a closet, run down to the basement, or [insert other stupid idea]. Knockoff epic LOTR adventure movie in theatres in 2011? Give the audience the choice of having him go through the mines of moria or around the mountains into the dangerous dark woods filled with more minions that await. This would let movie makers spend an extra few million for ‘hidden’ scenes, but would hopefully get people to pay for the movie again just to see the one scene. So many different possiblities on how to use this idea. You could even have it be introduced 5 minutes into the movie when the astute main character girl meets the jerk of an arrogant guy that will screw her life up in the next 2 hours. He asks for your phone number even though you don’t know his name – but hey he just saved your dog and he looks cute – do you give him your number or not? Audience says yes and you go home and sleep with the guy only to find out he’s the boss of the new job you just got hired for. Awkward… Say no and he becomes disgusted and when he sees you at the office the next day he then makes the job a living nightmare for you. 2 movies in one, both could be filmed for under 60 million, and I would pay to see both once or twice even though these crappy movies come out once every 2 or 3 years. SO MANY POSSIBILITIES!

    Too revolutionary and impractical for your moneys worth? Ok – how about you try adding a little Rocky Horror Picture Show to the mix of movies. The cigarette burns in the upper-right corner of the film screen tell some high schooler in the back of the movie theatre to switch the movie reels right? Just have 2 different movie reels for Act 3 of the movie with the understanding(thanks to commercial and poster promotion) that when the movie pauses at the theatre after a certain big question is introduced to the main character, that you are to stand up and shout what you want the hero to do. Whoever wants their ending more will easily let the high schooler in the back which reel to put on thanks to the lungs of the audience that just payed 8 bucks for a movie they can control.

    Lots of possibilities. I’m sure the first people to do it could patent the movie the gizmo-voting chair device, pay to put them in every theatre, and then charge movie studios to use this feature in their movies – giving the first movie studio to do it a small percentage of every movie that goes through the movie theatres.

    Thanks for your time,
    Tom Fronczak

    Comment by Tom Fronczak -

  208. Poeple will go see Pirates if the theater atmosphere resembled the “seedy” part of Skid Row, but will they leave the house and see Good Night and Good Luck when they could just sit at home and fall asleep watching National Treasure for the 16th time? Not without incentive.

    Make it simple…Go to a “Cuban Rules the Roost Picture” and have a 1 in 10 chance to win $40. Send in your stub and maybe win some $$. It’ll take one big push, and from then on should allow you to back of the marketing some as it feeds itself. If I know there is a studio out there giving away $40 to every tenth dude who goes, I’ll do a quick check on Thursday to see if there is something worth going to that weekend (and that’s all you want, everyone to give your movie a thought before deciding on visitation rights).

    Theoretically its $4 a person, but if half the movie going public is as half brained as I am you will only receive the movie stub from half the audience. Makes it $2 a person, which may just be a buck or two less than the marketing bucks you can back off on.

    Don’t forget to throw in a couple grand prizes of dinner with one of the stars. Hell, if you cast Natalie Portman with this incentive I’d go see anything 67 times.

    Have fun and Go Bulls

    Comment by Doug -

  209. Mark,

    Create a large theater with 3 screens in one room. Arrange the chairs so I can sit by my wife and kid but we are all facing different directions. My wife can watch a chick flick, my daugther can watch a Pixar and I can watch an action movie. We each have our own head phones.

    Comment by Jason Mitchell -

  210. Mark—-bring back Lobby Cards.
    “I will say that in many cases, these cards are a lot more entertaining than the movies they are advertising. Every one of them makes me curious to see what the movie is all about. That shows that the lobby card is doing its job. It’s a shame that lobby cards have gone the way of the dodo in this age of cinema multiplexes and mall theaters.”

    Just expanding off of my movie card idea (movie cards exist, but suck and are different than what I have in mind)

    On the idea of lobby cards or movie cards, they would be in every retail store—free with purchase of a tin can of popcorn or something.

    While you are eating, you find these cards (bigger than baseball cards, some can open up like a pamphlet and display different scenes.)

    —-they contain Factoids. Interesting things that happen during the making of the movie such as budget, locations, etc.

    —–there is an area on the card for a ticket stub to go (or something similar), making it an official souvenir. Get enough cards with ticket stubs, you win a prize.

    —–some random cards mean “You get into this movie free”

    As far as cost (not sure, just throwing ideas out there)—-the popcorn or whoever distributes the cards for you, their sales would greatly benefit from this. That being said, I doubt fast food chain’s let movies advertise for free, even when action figurines increase their sales.

    Cards can be cheap to make. You don’t have to go to topps, you can manufacture them yourself. Maybe other movies will pay you to be on your cards?

    Maybe it would be best if you came out with your own brand of popcorn or whatever. Combo it with the movie cards. I’m thinking of already popped popcorn, in tin cans–of which advertise the movies. Have caramel popcorn, and all different kinds of flavors. If that’s not enough, include flavored nuts (the kind they have at Orlando Magic games)

    Comment by bucknut5 -

  211. Here’s what you need to do:

    1. Tell all the Left-Wing Liberals that the empty seats in the theater are causing global warming. It is very scientific, but the particles in the air are being zapped into ozone by the light projected from the projector to the screen. The human body will absorb these particles, but not enough to make it safe unless the theater is full. OK, you’ll need at least one famous actor and one ex-Vice President to make this claim to the masses. The liberals will come in groves to stop it.

    2. Next you need to let it leak to the Right Wing Conservatives through a prominent Conservative University Science Department that their studies show that the more bodies in the theater actually increases the effect of the ozone. The conservatives will then come in groves just to tick the liberals off.

    Of course, if you try this method, you might change the world of science for many many years. You must consider that.

    So the way to deal with it without such ramifications is to treat the theater like the beast it has become: endangered, on the brink of extinction. Form an activist group known as “Screenpeace” and have them rally and lobby to “Save the Theaters!” I’d buy that T-shirt!

    Good Luck and Have a Great Day!

    Comment by Special K -

  212. Public Investment in Movies: Let us share in the risk and reward.

    Develop a system where the public has an opportunity to research movies at early stages of development and purchase shares based upon the projected success, kind of like an IPO. There are various ways that this ownership could be tied into large blocks of ticket sales that could than be distributed by the purchasers (individual or company). Such an incentive will:

    -increase the buzz around a movie at early stages.

    -provide real incentive for the hard core movie viewers (mavens, connectors) that are the tipping point for movie success

    -generate a new source of revenue for the movie industry.

    -get a better sense of what the market really wants to see.

    2. More focus on co-promotion with relevant advertising partners:

    Advertisers from credit cards, cars, and consumer products can benefit tremendously by pairing up with the stickiness from films in their ads. American Express and McDonalds did a great job of this with the lame pirate movie. Movie advertising needs to become a turnkey solution where the advertising partner is involved pre-launch, pre-movie view, and within the movie with product placement. The ROI on this type of solution would be very high as a result of the demographic targeting and emotional ties that would be generated with the brand as a result of the movie experience.



    Comment by Ryan Cook -

  213. An idea for the movie challenge. This is a two part idea that would be guaranteed to bring in millions of viewers, the first part is already kind of done but is a very good thing if done on a larger scale, and the second part is revolutionary in itself and will draw the big audiences for cheap prices(obviously the movie has to be good or this wont work as nothing will). The first part deals with teaming with a TV network, that is part of the demographic a particular movie is trying to reach, and hosting a movie extravaganza type night. For example you if marketing to teenagers you would do this after a new episode of smallville on the WB this wouldn’t be too expensive as it would create buzz for the network also. Here you pull out all the stops get the movie out there have the stars of the movie there basically promote the hell out of the movie in a 1 hour extravagaza while making the audience believe you are doing it for them (MTV kind of does this but they do it after movies are released on opening night sometimes). Now here is where the revolutionary second part of the idea comes in. Why not go ahead and make going to movie not just entertainment (in the sense i pay to see this movie type) like it already is why not go ahead and put a little lottery type aspect into the movie have prizes. Now this lottery affect would be at many levels for every showing of the movie after the movie a random seat number will be picked that will get a $100 that makes it about 1 dollar at the most per person there you will atleast have 100 people in a theatre or the movies not doing good opening weekend. Next have a national thing that all people that go to the movie by entering ticket number online or even all people who won a $100 prize at thier individual movie (the second way you eliminate leaving it in the audiences hand never a good idea people are lazy) get entered into a larger sweepstake so if it showed in 3000 theatres with 20 showings each over the weekend there would be 60,000 people in the drawing 1 winner from each showing. You go ahead and in this larger sweepstake have 5-10 million in prizes which would be 1-2 dollars a person with like 1 2million dollar cash prize to a sports car if its a teenage movie to a date with the acttress in the movie or actor. Maybe a vacation to where the movie was shot all types of prizes and multiple prizes ok so in all you spent 1 dollar a viewer out of 5 million to colaborate with the network about $0.50 for the individual show $100 prizes and about 1-2 dollars a person for the larger sweepstake you spend around 2-3 dollars much less then the 10 right now and you would get so much free promotion because it would become like a national phenomenon if done right where people are like whose going to win the prize this time. These days one type of fun can’t grab peoples attention but two types mixed together could do wonders. These is the basis of the genius to revolutinize the movie industry. Now you have my genius idea what I’m a college student with many ideas this is 1 of the thousands i have now i need a job. My hope is that this idea wins the competition and I am working for you soon Mr. Cuban.
    Soham Sutaria

    Comment by Soham Sutaria -

  214. What perplexes me about all of this is that you are suggesting making movies for sepcific demographics, not making movies and discovering their demographics. This is a far cry from how a strong film culture is formed. It souds like the goal is ticket sales not audience development. It is a totally different idea than the one you first challenged your public with. You asked how to get people into the seats for every film, not how to create spaces for specific films. I’m almost sick to my stomach Mark.

    Comment by bravesoul -


    I think that Geico commercial says a lot. Treat your customers like they are the only people in the world and they will come back for more.

    Also something should be said for “value pricing”, or bulk pricing. Yes, it is difficult to alter prices dramatically, but it’s also difficult for families (like mine, a family of five) to pay up the fifty or so dollars every time we want to see a new movie. Why not offer value pricing for families like theme parks and the like do? Families of four might be able to get in for $35, families of five might be able to get in for $38 (assuming a standard one person rate of $8). For an extra five dollars, tack on two large popcorns with one free refill. This way families can enjoy the movies together and not break the bank!

    Comment by Chris -

  216. Act more like a retailer. Do not accept bad movies.

    Walmart and Co. vigorously weed out bad products. The studios push even weak stuff down the consumer’s throats. You have a responsibility to protect your customers. Currently, going to opening movies is a high-risk business (with lots of disappointment). Better having others get burnt first. Thus, your increasing costs in filling seats.

    Comment by jaywalker -

  217. Movie theaters are outdated and use an antiquated business model. They first were established because people had no other way to watch moves. People HAD to watch the movie reels in a group setting at a theater because of the technology at the time. Now that people can watch movies anytime they want from anywhere, the only way theaters are going to survive is by providing exceptional individualized service.

    Here’s my idea… instead of a large theater with one movie playing, why cant you have individual booths made for viewing? The usher takes to you your booth fitted with a large individual plasma screen, speakers all around you in enclosed booths custom fit for groups of 2, 4, 6, or 8 people. The booths could be set up something like those old racing arcade games. You want a drink or snack? Push a button and get it sent to you. Start the movie when you want, pause it or rewind it.

    Comment by Jay Du Bey -

  218. I’ve posted in my blog because I’m having trouble posting to email and to the site. My article has links to back it up included…


    Comment by Tim Toomey -

  219. Hi Mark,

    (my links are at the bottom, footnoted throughout)

    I might as well get lost in the wilderness of response threads because I’m interested in any good entrepreneurial discussion and I work in television advertising sales, one of your biggest expenses promoting films.

    The issue with filling movie theatres is that internet and DVD technology has made it easier and more pleasant to get content (i.e. movies). So what you need to do is make the context (going to a theater) more important.

    Restaurants continue to generate more revenue every year, and several movie theatres here in the Pacific Northwest have switched to a model of showing older movies and making the movie going experience the focus. Serving food, providing alcohol, and having wait staff greatly enhance the movie going experience. Theater chains such as McMenamins1 use this technique to great advantage, as they have changed the business model from “destination programming” to just “destination.”

    On the production end, there aren’t enough movies and the ones out there are trying to appeal to too broad a demographic. I’m sure you’re familiar with the recent ROI calculations placing Tyler Perry2 as the most valuable actor in Hollywood.

    I actually think that what Tyler has done is use more sophisticated demographics than the basic age/sex calculation employed by major studios. His Madea3 series attracts an older, church going, ethic demographic and can provide huge returns relative to the cost of production. The costs of marketing to this select audience are greatly diminished from buying shotgun style Network advertising.

    Which leads me to the biggest problem facing movies: advertising. Spending on advertising is hell-bent on creating a giant opening weekend4 for films, which presumably gets media coverage and also makes theater chains around the country want to put the movie on more screens. However, if you are producing movies for more specific demographics, you can avoid expensive network ads and but directly in local markets. This allows you to avoid primetime programming (the highest cost per viewer) and select which markets you want to reach based on political inclination, education, etc. as opposed to just the gross measures age and sex. It also means you can avoid regions of the country you’d pay for anyway with Network ads (An Inconvenient Truth doesn’t need blanket media coverage in the Panhandle, but should probably be in Oprah & local news in the Pacific Northwest).

    Especially as a theater owner, as opposed to a movie studio owner, you need to worry about the movie going experience and cutting advertising costs. Also, featuring smaller, more carefully targeted films will address the concern voiced in the comments that “all movies right now are crap”. Also, if your theater’s are fun, the quality of the movie doesn’t matter as much.

    To sum up: Make it about the theater, not the movie. Air more movies on less screens, and target your advertising to a specific region OR a demographic more exact than age/sex.

    Good luck, you can email me at your leisure.

    John Harper

    Comment by John Harper -

  220. To Mr. Cuban:

    Landmark Theatres has shown itself to be a thriving independent chain with specific downfalls. While leading the pack in “art-house” cinema, it appears to be falling short in sales, along with the majority of movie houses nationwide.

    Shifting the economics of the industry is not far off. Please consider the following:

    1. The “Escape” Promotion

    The primary reason that people go to cinemas, (as per personal surveys I have held), is to escape the present world into another. Two main aspects of this escape are important to promote. The first is the imaginative; promoting how no matter what occurs in the world, people can escape for two hours to relax, learn, etc. The second is the physical; theaters are an escape physically, with comfortable temperatures, seating and lighting, which must be appropriately modified for maximum comfort settings. As simple as it sounds, many people attend simply due to air conditioning.

    2. Short Films

    While discounts are generally out of the question, perhaps another option is in order. Quality short films are not too difficult to obtain, and are extremely low in cost. Offer people a chance to visit a theater for a specific range in time, shorter than the average 2 hours, and you may have a gold mine.

    Consider this option; Lower the ticket price considerably for one half hour to an hour show, and combine multiple short films together. Many of those who are strapped for time in the evenings, looking for a short date or even want to kill a lunch hour, would love to catch a half-hour in an air-conditioned room watching a great short comedy.

    3. All-Day Passes

    “Movie-hoppers” are a major problem for most cinemas, cutting ticket sales considerably. For those that wish to spend an entire day in the theater, (and perhaps receive “VIP” treatment in the form of free drinks or the like) can purchase an all-day pass for a higher price, (perhaps slightly less or the equal to two ticket costs). This way, you ensure that you get the most out of a movie viewer, and bring them in for two shows, (where nowadays, the average movie viewer rarely sees more than one film every few weeks.)

    I hope you will take these notes into consideration. Below I have listed smaller issues, none of which are “industry changing”, but may greatly boost the quality of your cinemas.

    – Consider using only red or orange lights for aisle lighting. Sitting on the lower end of the light spectrum allow for a less sub-conscious distraction. (Take, for example, the Nuart Theater in Los Angeles, CA, the blue lights along the aisleways can be a distraction, and the patrons may not even know it.)

    – Upping the screen brightness to 16 ftL makes for a far more pleasant visual experience. Many theaters operate at only 8-9 ftL. No one at a theater should have to wear glasses to a film, (pardoning subtitles of course).

    – FLM Magazine. I have noticed that the magazine you release is a wealth of information, and could be a valuable tool in garnering interest. While the issue fluctuates in quality, articles from filmmakers, as well as definitive movie synopses, make this a valued item, at least here in the Los Angeles area. Please consider increasing the quality and output of the magazine, as I am sure it has the incredible possibility of being a resource for every film-going individual inside the industry and out.

    Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Cuban. I hope these ideas assist in increasing the already-high quality Landmark is known for.


    Travis R. Chesney

    Comment by Travis R. Chesney -

  221. Mark.
    This is a very interesting challenge. I think we have all missed the mark (no pun intended)on the challenge of getting people off their butts and into the theater seats..first, you have to ask yourself why you would rather stay home than go the movies – its not necessarily because of the costs, its based on the comfort levels and the atmospheres of the movie theaters. Think about it…the only thing that has changed in theaters in my lifetime has been stadium seating; however, you still have to sit there and have that uncomfortable moment of, “oh God, I hope they aren’t going to sit next to me!” If you could revolutionize (as you do everything else) the inside of the actual theater (more ideas if asked) then it would generate such a buzz that it would be like most things you operate..on the cutting edge. Make theaters more like living rooms and with more personable space or family space.

    I’m not a marketing genius, but entrepreneurship runs in my family and the first thing you have to do is look at a potential customer’s comfort levels.

    Just a thought, but it could revolutionize the theater experience and couple that with HD high quality movies equals big market opportunities.


    Comment by Brian-Arlington -

  222. Mark.
    This is a very interesting challenge. I think we have all missed the mark (no pun intended)on the challenge of getting people off their butts and into the theater seats..first, you have to ask yourself why you would rather stay home than go the movies – its not necessarily because of the costs, its based on the comfort levels and the atmospheres of the movie theaters. Think about it…the only thing that has changed in theaters in my lifetime has been stadium seating; however, you still have to sit there and have that uncomfortable moment of, “oh God, I hope they aren’t going to sit next to me!” If you could revolutionize (as you do everything else) the inside of the actual theater (more ideas if asked) then it would generate such a buzz that it would be like most things you operate..on the cutting edge. Make theaters more like living rooms and with more personable space or family space.

    I’m not a marketing genius, but entrepreneurship runs in my family and the first thing you have to do is look at a potential customer’s comfort levels.

    Just a thought, but it could revolutionize the theater experience and couple that with HD high quality movies equals big market opportunities.


    Comment by Brian-Arlington -

  223. McDonalds, Wal-Mart and even Blockbuster Video would be great places to sell movie tickets. A few bucks cheaper than the theater and you’re still ahead of where you were. How about The Home Shopping Channel? If you sell 1 ticket per Wal-Mart store and a thousand or more on the HSC that’s pretty decent and at a reasonable cost per sale.

    Image at McDonald’s “A Night at the Movies” Meal. One ticket to one specific movie for a discounted rate. I think partnering with high traffic businesses is the best way.

    Comment by Scott Gardiner -

  224. You see nothing that is going to change the economics of the industry?

    I often admire the stories of your childhood newspaper route, but wonder how well you’d do peddling today’s paper?

    No matter what setting you surround your product, if the customer does not want or identify with the product, they are not going to buy it and you, and the film industry, will continue to hemorrhage patrons. No matter how you present the product, they don’t want it! Eskimos don’t need freezers, but certainly don’t need freezers full of ice….even if this freezer is a really cool and for Eskimos only! It’s a losing strategy going into a period of immense change in the economics of the film industry.

    Hollywood controls your product, and you’re resigned to selling that product as well as you can. If you are a car dealer and Chevy sends you a gallopy to sell at an outrageous MSRP, you are not going to sell many cars. You need to build a better one.

    Let’s assess what ‘Hollywood’ controls now:


    Instantaneous and concurrent release of film and DVD is certain to devastate the theater industry. (TIME)
    The time advantage will not be regained until theater technology surpasses home theaters, the so called ‘Cameron 3D theory’.

    Enhancements with DVD technology allowing the time elapsed destruction will remove the logistical constraints of DVD rentals. Now, a DVD will self destruct after a few viewings and there is no longer a need to return the DVD, maintain a membership, and the DVD can be sold anywhere from 7-11 to Target. (DISTRIBUTION) and various other innovations in distribution such as piracy, downloading movies on iTunes, etc……………………….

    The only thing you can possibly assert control at this point is content. READ: The only thing you can control is content.

    Controlling content has varying degrees of effectiveness from mere editing by selection of features to the full procurement, production, and distribution. You are limited in your ability to control content unless you also control production.

    You are favorably situated for subsequent distribution. Your Landmark theaters enjoy a premier event status (time) and sales to other venues, DVD, and international rights offset the costs of production (distribution). Ask Mary-Kate and Ashley how their direct to DVD sales alone are doing? This in addition to the current apparent favored strategy of garnishing the surrounding of the viewing experience. All the while, you turn a theater into a major studio by contrasting styles and building a product, that is currently nonexistent; to replace the current one the customers are fleeing. Where the middleman was eventually to be cut out, he know controls the process.

    Of course, this involves major investment, but we are favorable situated in Dallas. We have an untapped resource in local major studios. Projects? There is a dearth of projects in the thousands, currently ready for production, denied by current studios, not for lack of art or profitability, but for contrasting content. This concept is not new. It occurred in the mainstream media and IT WILL occur in the entertainment segment. NYT vs. FOX, CNN, MSNBC, et al vs. Fox, NYT Online vs. Drudge, AirAmerica vs. Fox, etc,etc.,etc. The project would have to be thoroughly chosen, but there are many BLOCKBUSTERS that were never produced. Hollywood is currently an inefficient economy evidenced by the fact supply (actors,films,etc.) far exceeds demand yet actors still make millions? Why is that? There is a challenge. I’d wager my meager PSP/ESOP/401(K) to your outlying investment, it would work. Not only would it work, it would grow to studio house figures of the golden yesteryear. That is taking a theater and turning into an industry. That is Maverick thinking.

    Comment by Charles Little -

  225. You should be able to reserve your seats at a theater. I hate going to the movies because my increased time allotted to the ‘experience’ might actually result in a worse payoff (me getting a terrible seat). To ensure that I have the best possible payoff, seat, I need to drastically increase my time and get to the theater early. If I can going to drastically increase my time allotted, why not wait for DVD and ensure I will have a great seat in a perfect environment. You can buy tickets online, why not be able to pick your seat as well? Oh and the ticket dispenser machines are broken more often then not, that’s also annoying.

    Comment by Seth -

  226. My idea would be to change the entire viewing experience to suit the family or couples dating experience. I’m talking about a complete remodel and have viewing rooms with 2, 4, 6, 10, or 20 seats. This would be a premium movie watching experience. Here’s why I think it will work:

    1.) People like the movie experience: drinks, nachos, popcorn, etc. Throw in alcohol and beer for the correct age rooms. Could mash up the restaurant and movie experience in one?

    2.) The traditional movie experience sucks! You have kids smacking their gum and popcorn, txting, kicking your chair, talking, moving, etc. You don’t have all these issues when you rent a movie and watch it at home.

    3.) It’s another thing to do on a date. You’re all by yourself and if you don’t want to watch the movie, you don’t have to (if you know what I mean). This is the 2 seater! Plus, some ladies fall asleep at home, so you are taking her out and doing something thoughtful.

    4.) The screen size isn’t the most important thing. Depending on whether its a 2, 4, 6, 10, or 20 chair-room, you adjust the screen and speaker arrangement.

    5.) Have computer ordering in rooms. Room service. People can get their food brought to them without leaving in the middle of the movie. It will increase concession sales. Might allow for tipping.

    6.) You could appeal to those people that won’t show up to your kid-theatre or rock n’ roll theatre. This is a premium deal, no cheapos necessary.

    7.) drawback – costs of buildout. Might have to pay some more dough for construction and premium seating, but you get cash in different ways. Run the numbers on it.

    Comment by PK -

  227. Improve your content. If the movie is quality, people will go. And you won’t have to spend as much on advertising to try to persuade moviegoers to see it. Side Note: There are droughts in movie releases, like in the period before all movies tagged for Oscar buzz are released. One month, there’s nothing worth seeing and the next, the market is flooded with so many prospects, moviegoers can’t fit them all in their calendar. Is that actually profitable?

    Comment by Marcia -

  228. We’re living in an era of short attention spans and overwhelming demands on our time. Right now the current movie-going experience probably takes up 2.5 to 3 hours when you factor in lines at the box office and concessions as well as commercials and trailers before the movie. Kids don’t want to sit in one place that long. Adults don’t have the time to do that either. My idea is to have much shorter movies. Find a way to give me an entertaining experience that only lasts about an hour. I can see many benefits to this idea.

    – People living a busy life would find it much easier to spend 1 hour in the theater instead of 3.

    – Shorter movies should cost less to make.

    – You can get more customers into your theater in one day with shorter movies. Those customers are all still going to buy concessions and other products, especially if you can give them shorter lines.

    There could of course still be longer movies for the conventional movie crowd. But this idea could tap into the huge market of customers that are just too busy to invest 3 hours of their time into a movie right now.

    Comment by Brian Nauta -

  229. You need to take a look at that other passe entertainment venue — live theater. If moviehouses are going to survive they will have to emulate some of the techniques that LORT theaters have pioneered since motion media took over. You are in the unique position of producing films in much the same way theaters do … script to screen. If you’re going to hire someone, look for someone with a Theatre Marketing background. (more on our blog at Best of luck.

    Comment by K. Williams -

  230. [reposting, as it did not take on the main thread; excerpted from my blog linked above]

    . . . taking [the question] at face value (i.e., trying to solve the problem of how to get people into movie theaters, as opposed to suggesting alternate distribution channels for media), the movie theater business is a fat pipe designed, much like bestseller-driven book publishing houses, to shove product of a certain size out with a certain frequency. The problem has become how to stuff the pipe full enough, and how to spend enough on marketing to ensure the attendence is there (even if the quality of the content is not), leading to a downward cycle of more and more marketing for ever-safer movies that need more and more sales to break even.

    There are several very obvious approaches to solving this problem, many of which have parallels in other industries.

    1. Make it like cable tv. Add more content to the pipe, and break up the business model so it’s not so monolithically focused on delivering such a small number of products. Break your multi-plexes into multiple channels – so there’s always an indy film on, and a new chick flick every week. A savvy operator realizes he can sell off this distribution, or at least rent it (like cable).

    2. Make it like “appointment” TV. There’s always a foreign film on thurdays at 8, and a Hitchcock classic at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Cancel the channels and shows that don’t work after giving them a fair shot.

    3. Make it like HBO. Go out and get the very best content, even if you have to bend the medium. Speaking of HBO, why not a weekly showing of the Sopranos, or Entourage, or NFL football?

    4. Make it like a stadium / a ski resort / a cable company / a Dell computer. In combination with the above, experiment with the pricing model. Several good suggestions have been made in the comments already, but tying innovative pricing to something beyond “all you can eat” is more interesting. Think luxury boxes, half-share box seats, season passes not good on weekends. Sell channels a la carte or in packages that appeal to market segments. . . let people “build your own pass”.

    5. Make it more social. Group discounts and family nights. Neighborhood discounts that rotate by what street you live on. Internet planning outing planning tools, comment publishing tools. Going to the movies is a great American institution. Take a cue from the Celebration, Florida, or the reinvention of classic ballparks, and reinvent this iconic experience around community.

    6. Make it like a nightclub. Hire promoters with rolodexes. Encourage private bookings. Have exclusive VIP stuff. Have event-driven nights (think Oscars, Emmys, Superbowl).

    7. Make it like Target. Have a celebrity programming host for certain slots and build identity around those personas. “Stephen King presents” has a promising ring to it.

    8. Make it like Google’s IPO. Completely reinvent the distribution model — when you have a hot enough hand to do it — by giving the theater a huge incentive to make your film. If a typical model is to spend $10 per butt-in-seat opening weekend, of which the house keeps 50% and for which the average capacity ranges from 60-100%, pay the house $4 a seat (at 100% capacity) to run it free, for opening week only, for as many seats as you want. (You could probably pay even less for late shows given away on a “buy one get one free basis” that helps theater owners sell their other shows and popcorn.) Give the house a bigger (60%? 75%) cut of everything sold thereafter, and make the house commit to: a) significant coop advertising pushing the film for a month; and b) keeping the film open for as many weeks as the theater is at least 50% full (net on the week). If the movie’s any good, there will be word of mouth, and both sides win (less risk for the theater, less marketing cost for you). If it’s a stinker, you just saved half your marketing loss.

    9. Mix and match!

    Comment by Greg Cohn -

  231. I use to be a die hard movie fan, and one day I just stop going to the movies. Waiting on line to get overpriced popcorn and soda just to sit in the theater and feel like this movie was not worth $10 bucks. When I could just sit at home, download it and shoot to my big screen T.V. while eating Steak dinner.

    What would it take to get me back in theaters? The answer is simple – it’s the same thing that would get millions of people back in the seats. The movies need a Kick Back System. A Kick Back System would provide some extra incentive for the movie consumer?

    Kick backs are already done by companies such as Discover card offering 1% for every purchase. I buy everything with discover for this reason.

    We will offer “Movie Lotto” – where everyone who buys a ticket to a movie will have a chance to win money just for going to the movies. – The kick back system will not cost a lot of money, and it will bring people back to the movie theaters.

    For the same price that a movie company spends on advertising on TV (1 to 2 million dollars) we can give that money back to the consumer in a Thank you for supporting movies type of way.

    Promoted properly – we could say “we know it is hard these days to always go out and support movies, and because of that we would like to say thank you to the consumers who make, making movies possible. We would like to offer to people who go to the movies a chance to win money. We will give away 35,000 thousand dollars to over 300 people. The number basically breaks down to – for every 20 million the movie makes we take 1 million to give back to consumers, so for every 100 million the movie makes we have only spent 5 million on the kick back system. Small amount for such a great out come, and with the average movie grossing over 200 million because of the kick back system we will be able to give up to 300 people 35,000 dollars each. This would get me back to the movie theater in a heartbeat and I think it will work with everyone else.

    Comment by jeff -

  232. Couple thoughts:

    1. Start running the theaters like an ice skating rink. Make the theaters smaller, digital projectors and let people come in and rent out the theater for a special showing. Looks like theaters have started with hosting business meetings. Parents could have parties for the kids, adults (with liquor license) could do a film festival. Disconnect the need for new releases to drive feet in seats.

    2. Get rid of the worst seats – there is nothing worse than paying for a full ticket and getting the front row. All the seats should be worth the ticket price. Maybe assigned seating.

    3. Break the economics – digital distribution which would allow for smaller theaters because the cost of the reels is eliminated. Theater size would be adjusted for the actual demand of the show.

    4. On marketing your films – I think you’re on track with the influencers (seed audience), but what would take it to the next step is finding the hand raisers (people who click, view a trailer, etc) then market those who associate with them. I’m not sure behavioral technology is there yet, but the user generated content sites will probably be where this is innovated. UGCS have the rich data sets and the social network, find your ideal customers and off you go after the rest. Refine your targeting by tracking ctrs and ticket purchases against each segment built off your seed audience. I wonder if it’s possible to buy anonymous movie rental data from NetFlix or BB to see how different DVD rentals correlate similar to Amazon’s others also purchased feature. That could be a way to help determine the audiences to target when there might not be a following.

    Comment by Rob Deichert -

  233. PART 1 of 2

    Okay, so the dilemma here is movie economics. What is the best way to get people to the movies in masses and how to you sustain that?
    ISSUE 1:
    I think you are on the right track with looking deep at the issue instead of just the next gimmick. People aren’t coming to the movies in the numbers they use to for several reasons. I’m sure there are several market studies out there showing the different causes: home theaters are higher quality, demographic differences (This is a big one, let’s face it teens are targeted more than adults), price, big name star, theater experience. I’m sure there are several hundred more. Let’s focus on the one you can influence the most. Theater experience.
    There’s no doubt that the whole movie experience needs to undergo a transformation much like it did from the drive-in to the cinema. The biggest area for improvement is to create a welcoming environment to all. One of the best examples of a multi dimensional demographic location is a mall. A mall has something for everyone. Consider designing new theaters with “wings” or sectors that are focused on age groups. I think you touched on this idea in your latest post and it needs some serious development. Next, you need to promote the theater. The only time I have ever seen a promotion for a theater is when I’m already there. If you advertise a movie, you’re going to make me want to see the movie. I may just wait the 4 extra months to do so. If you advertise the theater, then I’m going to want to go to the theater and catch a movie while I’m there. Show me the Hollywood glitz and glamour there, give me an experience that I can’t get at home. Much like the AAC. Sure I can watch a game at home for free, but it’s the experience of being at the AAC that draws me out of the house. Television shows have professional laughers sitting in the crowd, whose to say you can’t do the same at a movie. Match up the “character” to your demographic wing. A little kid cracking up at the latest animation film showing in the kids. Have the loud mouth screaming “Don’t go up the stairs!” during the horror film in the young adults wing. Mix in a food court, souvenir shop, etc. If you entertain the masses, then they will come back for more. Make an interactive movie, where the audience gets to vote on what path the movie takes next. Throw in the screaming lady and those America’s Funniest Home Video voting gadgets and you will have a totally different movie going experience. Now you can get people to come back more than once with friends for higher voting power to see how the movie may change from before.

    Comment by Derick -



    We’ve known each other for some time. Please think deeply about my response to your question. It may sound insane, but there is an way to make this happen.

    1) Make movies people want to see, in a movie theater. (yes, preserve the movie going experience)

    2) Make movies free.

    (I have a detailed thought about this, in your case because you own your own theater chain it makes this a much easier proposition but can apply to your movies playing in other chains. Basically movie theaters themselves make money from the concession. Studios from the rentals to the theater or ticket sales. With a networked digital projection system in place, we are talking about the ability to step up the ad sales pre-movie opportunity. More asses in seats and always an person in the theater equates to good numbers so long as your theaters are targeted. hence your kids theater concept, brilliant. Works across the board)

    3) Enable people to earn rewards points for watching your movies at landmark theaters, etc.

    ( working off the ad supported idea, people become members of the theater. They get a card, they earn points from your advertisers towards more free stuff, discounted things like the movie dvd, etc.. think of it as a big click through model. the more they participate they more they get. first step is to step inside the theater, get registered they were then and then so on)

    I could go on and on here. Obviously this is a totally crazy approach. But I like it and know it can work. If we’ve learned anything from the web, free is good.

    hope all else is good in your world.

    ever forward,

    marc scarpa

    Comment by Marc Scarpa -

  235. As you’ve noted, plasma / lcd screen prices are falling, and discretionary spending is on the rise… more and more people each day have an incredible home theater experience they can come home to, and heck, with the quick dvd release calendar, it almost makes more sense to wait for a movie to come to you rather than expend the effort to head to the theater; we all have busy lives and are getting more and more restless as technology improves and we cant be bothered to lock ourselves in a theater where we cant interface, where we cant pause the feature and where we cant do things on our terms. Not only does watching from home give you freedom to multitask, you totally control the experience (you can pause, rewind, chat, have a beer, set whatever ambiance you please) and its cheaper.

    Okay, thats tough, so how do you get people to abandon this comfort and head out to a theater? surely not the traditional way, because, if we really are becoming more impatient as a society, if we are really working harder and have less free time, if we really crave communication and being “in touch” more than we used to, we’re not going to silence and isolate ourselves in a theater. Instead, we need more of a “happening”. You almost hit on it with the “rock & roll” theme, but you’re after the wrong demographic. It is the single, hard working, 25 – 35 year old that you need to appeal to… because these are the ones that are abandoning the theater in favor of their living rooms or abandoning movies completely in favor of something more “live” or interactive, perhaps even a bar. What probably needs to happen is to mesh the concept of theater with “guerilla marketing.” i.e, you need to stage random, outrageous screenings; things that are so unique that people cannot afford to not go; events where you can not only soak in a movie, but you can still grab a few drinks and meet a few people… ie, the experience you cannot simulate (or do better) at home. Also, as the studios would be presenting these events on their own, they’ll save the cost of the third party distribution intermediary (theater chains, etc)… This takes a certain type of movie and has to be done judiciously, because the more commonplace a guerilla screening becomes, the less exciting it is, also, there are certain genres of film that this just wont work for. But if used right, i’d happily pay more than the price of a traditional ticket to experience something different. People pay large cover charges to get into clubs for less of a spectacle than this could be. Just a thought.

    Comment by Graham Lawrence -

  236. I used to go to the theater every Saturday with a group of friends. After a few months, and an ever-growing email list of friends and potential attendees, it became more about the event, than the movies themselves. The movies were good or bad, but people came back every Saturday for the experience itself, and it was the degradation of that experience that ultimately caused the end to our Saturday afternoon matinees. Now I go once or twice a year.

    Most people would agree that, all things being equal, seeing a movie in a theater is better than seeing it on DVD at home. The big picture! The big sound! That shared, group emotion that comes from 200 strangers sitting in a dark room, experiencing the same sound and images. But I have a lot of demands on my time these days, and I refuse to spend more and more money to sit in a room full of seat-kickers, cell-phone talkers and free-range children, trying just to hear the movie, let alone enjoy it.

    As for marketing, the current system seems doesn’t make any sense to me. Studios seem to be spending an increasing amount of money to get a decreasing pool of movie-goers to see their picture instead of the other studio’s movie. Does this make sense to anyone? When
    the Titanic sinks, everyone eventually ends up in the water, even the king of the world.

    For me, the answer is simple: Improve the Theater Experience, and market that Experience, not the movie. Instead of marketing for each of the 4-6 movies opening this week, and weeks to come, convince people to see a movie this weekend, then show them what you have to offer.
    And if that’s too much change for the old world studios, tackle it one theater at a time.

    I love the idea of theater branding. You know what to expect at a theater aimed at families and children, and I’m sure my kids would have a blast there. And even though I topped 40 last year, that Rock N Roll Theater would probably be a great place to see the big action and
    special effects blockbusters.

    Home theaters are becoming cheaper and cheaper, but they still can’t compare to a great movie-house experience. Let’s work to improve that experience and keep it alive.


    Comment by Kevin McCloskey -

  237. The movie theater experience is stuck in a horrific time warp. It’s about 40 years out of date.

    Suppose for example that I take a date to see a romantic comedy. Every guy wants to impress his date, he wants to put his arm around her, he wants an atmosphere of intimacy. No cell phones, to TXT messaging, no cramped seats you can’t get into.

    He doesn’t want to get up and squeeze past tiny rows of seats to wait in line for food. Why not have dressed up waiters and waitresses bring food to them? Why not sell food that matches the experience of the movie? How many people would have loved to have had a glass of wine watching Sabrina or The English Patient? Or hot dogs and chips served during an Adam Sander comedy?

    Theaters need more variety and much better food. I don’t want to eat the same old stuff I can find at 7-11. You’re selling an experience. You’ve got to sell something you can’t get elsewhere.

    When I walk into a theater, it should be relaxing, inviting, clean, professional, I should be anticipating a wonderful experience. No one cares about a bunch of obnoxious ads before a movie. I want to see a curtain opening up, the lights going down, I want to settle into my seat, with my arm around my date. It’d be awesome if you could order food from your seat, and then a well dressed waiter comes out and bring it to you. That’s classy.

    A theater should be very different than going to your buddys house to watch football on a sunday. If there’s a secret to improving the theater experience, it would be to simply walk into one on a friday night or saturday afternoon and ask yourself, how is this different than going to a friends house to watch TV? The greater the difference, the better off theaters will be.

    Comment by John -

  238. Mark,

    I just wrote a bunch, and deleted it because I tried answering your forgone objection: Putting a restaurant in a movie theater to subsidize costs doesn’t change the movie-goer paradigm. Here’s what will.

    Exclusivity. Everyone’s gonna hate it, but stop releasing DVD’s so quickly. You should know this better than anyone, CONTENT RULES ALL. If you have the content, you have the business. People will always watch movies, and I’ve seen too many people complaining about “Make better movies!” Shut up. You still watch them. You’d still watch bad movies if the only place you could see them were in a theater.

    Why does the movie industry COMPELL me to wait for the DVD. They offer extras (sometimes 10+ hours), the ability to watch it when *I* want to, and in the comfort of my own home on my 40+ inch plasma screen. That’s pretty compelling.

    We need to make the theater experience compelling. My first point about exclusivity is a start, but likely not a popular one. I don’t care. Its a risk, but people have always watched movies, and they always will. Don’t make it easy for them to *not* go to the theater.

    There are other supportive actions you can take. Design me a theater I’d go to regardless of it being a theater. Restaurant? As long as its good and fair priced. Bar? Awesome source of profit, could help bring ticket sales down. Games? Why not reinvent the “Arcade” while we’re at it? Its easy, but slightly off topic, so you can email me to discuss that one. These are all things, if done right, will bring people to your “Entertainment Center” and the fact that it plays movies will be one of the centers “Features”. Moreover, all of these supportive features are all money making ventures.

    The point here is that the home theater is fast approaching “Theater”, so theaters need to get on the ball and innovate. I’ve offered a bunch of options, and there are *tons* more which can be tailored to any crowd.

    Email me, and we’ll get to work.


    Comment by Dave -

  239. You present really good ideas. And I think they will work. But you’re right about showing your age. I’m 22 and I guarantee that no one in your target demographic is going to go to a theater called “Rock N Roll Theater.” There is no connection between people my age and the words Rock N Roll. No one says that anymore so what makes you think they’ll go to a theater called that? If you want a better name, I can’t give it to you. Sorry.

    Also, the children’s theater sounds money. Having retail with dolls from the movies on sale is the best idea. But just looking at the market, children’s movies only come out every 3 or 4 months. There’s not a constant flow so you might be short on supply. Think about it.

    Comment by D C -

  240. Interesting ideas from the other members – love the idea of demo-specific facilities. Some issue with keeping enough content but you could always reach out in other areas of “entertainment” (e.g., child-specific theater could also be daycare, playground, etc. – 21-35 demo could have lounge, card room, etc.).

    The other idea that I haven’t seen is less facilities focused and more content focused. What if you did exactly the opposite of traditional DVD add-ons. Meaning – what if you marketed the movie to have something unique that you CAN’T get on the DVD? Different ending, additional scenes that won’t be on the DVD, etc. I doubt you’d canibalize DVD sales (since they’ll happen regardless) but might drive traffic to the facilities. Love the discussion…keep it up.

    Comment by Rob -

  241. Use parking lot spaces to advertise. You can target audiences at each retail outlets. Home Depot is a different target audience than a Kohl’s parking lot.

    You can use placards on a post or simple design art in the actual spot. These can be changed once a week or whatever time frame is needed. And depending on where you put the ad, nearly 100% of all people who park in that spot will see that ad.

    Comment by Phil R. -

  242. Since the theatre experience is what most people are complaining about, and this is a hard problem to solve by tweaking the existing infrastructure of the theatres themselves, you have to go way outside the box, and create a distribution method that solves these issues but does not involve tweaking the existing theatre infrastructure.

    Solution = Mobile Movie Theatres

    Create your own network of Mobile Movie Theatres, i.e. Sprinter Vans (like FedEx uses) that are self sustaining movie theatres. You now have your own distribution network of mobile movie theatre vans that can reach anyone, and are a better experience, hence a competitive advantage. You could possibly get a utility patent or design patent for this type of innovation to the theatre industry. In addition, these things would act as mobile billboards for your movies and your mobile theatre chain.

    Problems It Solves:

    1-No more ringing cell phones, crying babies, or talking during the film. You and your group of friends, or just you and your wife, can have the mobile theatre van arrive at your driveway, and you can watch the film in your own cozy environment. Want to have a few drinks during the movie? Go ahead, since the vans could be licensed under limousine laws, and possibly allow alcohol to persons of legal age. Want to chat with your friends during the film? Go ahead, because you’re the only ones in the van viewing the film. This customizes the movie going experience, and prevents you from having to deal with the existing theatre infrastructure mess.

    2-Less transportation headaches. By bringing the movie to the viewer’s driveway, families don’t need to worry about gas prices, traffic, or being late. The movie-van arrives in your driveway at a particular time you rent it for. It then heads to the next person’s driveway. Also, this allows persons under 16 to watch new movies, without having to get a ride from their parents to the theatre. This is a completely untapped audience. Bored 12-15 year olds who are trapped at home.

    3-No more ripoff priced refreshments. Let people bring their popcorn, soda, whatever into the mobile movie van. Problem solved. People pay to rent the movie van, and know they can eat whatever they want, whenever they want, and not worry about running up a $50 snack bar tab.

    4-Seating. Now you don’t have to worry about purchasing a ticket and getting stuck in nosebleed section, or having complete strangers next to you and your wife. You can relax and rest assured you’ll get to site exactly where you want, since its your movie van during your rental period.

    5-No more expensive real estate. Rather than occupying major retail areas that are extremely high traffic and hence extremely expensive per square foot, you can park your mobile movie vans outside of town, in cheaper location, or near the airport where real estate is much cheaper. Just have some good security to protect your fleet, and fence them in.

    6-Since you now control your own distribution network, you have more flexibility. Offer membership clubs, package deals, or bulk pricing rates. If you have a sufficient selection, you might be able to get some good recurring revenue going, rather than one-time shots hear and there. If you’re always putting out good independent films, the people who appreciate these (like me) will probably be interested in some type of membership rate or package deal.

    I believe the best way to price the movie van is by having people rent it for a particular film, with time slots reserved throughout the week and weekend. For example, group A rents movie van #201 to see Bubble and has the option to purchase the DVD in the van after watching the film. They can also purchase other items such as t-shirts etc… from the film. Essentially, each movie-van would be a theatre for the particular film, and you would have numerous vans for more popular films. For example, you might have 3 vans for Bubble in Dallas, and 8 for another movie which has a bigger audience.

    I believe this allows you to retain control of your films and not worry about piracy, which is the downfall of allowing downloads on the day of release. Also, people without expensive home theatre systems get to enjoy movies in a nice home theatre environment with the latest in technology and picture quality. Obviously the ideal scenario for moviegoers would be to have the entire normal size theatre to themselves, but the economics just don’t work out. This might be the next best thing……

    Comment by Sean -

  243. Mark, I like your “themed theater” idea. In fact, I like it so much I want to expand upon it. Having a more narrow demographic in your theater opens up a particularly huge idea that otherwise is impossible: making the theater a hangout.

    Currently there are too many people, and too broad an audience to create The Starbucks Effect at a movie house. By The Starbucks Effect I mean creating a place your demographic likes to go for reasons above and beyond your primary product (coffee, or in this case, movies). This is becoming less and less desirable for audiences as multiplexes get bigger and broaden their audience, as evidenced (albeit a bit weakly) by the declining size of arcades, if nothing else. Most people who attend a multiplex showing can’t wait to get the heck outta Dodge as fast as possible when the flick is done.

    As a kid I used to love going to the theater. Nowadays the theater is merely a means to an end; it’s the tool I must use to see a movie on a big screen. I want a movie theater tailored to me. My personal theater might have the following items. I know this is not a list for everyone, but let’s just use it for the sake of example.

    – A vintage arcade, with pinball machines. (You can find a skeeball / racing game arcade anywhere–D&B for example. No thanks. This is my demographic, I make the rules!)
    – A good Tex Mex restaurant
    – A used videogame shop. Decent prices please, I’m a cheapskate.
    – Balconies
    – Batting cages

    Other chains could be similarly themed. A kids’ theater could have a massive indoor playground. A chain for older adults could have an indoor driving range (how cool would that be?) or an indoor botanic garden, or heck, both. Of course the movies you show would reinforce the demographic. The idea would be to get as many like-minded people together in one place as possible.

    A little background. I’m 30 and I dislike the bar scene. Where’s a guy like me to go for fun? I have to pick and choose since there is no obvious choice. Outdoor attractions go kaput at night. Entertainment megaplexes like Main Event are a bit too overstimulating. I love movies and personally I’d love to have a reason to hang out around a movie theater. There are millions of people like me. Please, take our money!

    Comment by Jason -

  244. Select a film. Have a list of 5 titles for viewing, people sign up in advance for the film they want to see. A week out you announce which one will be playing based on the number of commitments.

    While it may not drive 5mm, it would allow you to have a better idea of which films will draw, who the customers are in the area, how often they are willing to go to the film, etc.. you can adjust staffing and concessions based on those forecasts.

    Could take a little of the guess work out of who will be coming to the movies this weekend.

    Comment by Nick P. -

  245. Select a film. Have a list of 5 titles for viewing, people sign up in advance for the film they want to see. A week out you announce which one will be playing based on the number of commitments.

    While it may not drive 5mm, it would allow you to have a better idea of which films will draw, who the customers are in the area, how often they are willing to go to the film, etc.. you can adjust staffing and concessions based on those forecasts.

    Could take a little of the guess work out of who will be coming to the movies this weekend.

    Comment by Nick P. -

  246. Put one of these in front of the theater, it’ll catch people’s attention:

    (Of course, replace other movie images with images of the movie you want them to see)


    Comment by JoseQ -

  247. well, i don’t think i have the silver bullet here, but i would like to add my $.02 …

    first – the 80’s generation was the last to not ‘have’ to go to the theater to get the ‘theater experience’ as vhs was just getting started, not everyone had a vhs player, and digital tv was not even in the dictionary. now everyone collects movies like they did music back in the day, and if you don’t have a digital tv you want one, and they are becoming very affordable. kids today grow up with watching movies at home, they are comfortable with it.

    what about the must have ‘theater experience’? well, in the 80’s you had to go to the theater to experience “The Empire Strikes Back” properly. it was awesome to sit in front of that big screen and watch the blockbusters, but now i can sit at home and be wowed on my 50″ plasma tv showing my Blue Ray / hddvd movie whilst my surround sound engulfs me.

    you want to get me out of my living room? give me a bigger screen and digital, better sound, less people, and oh by the way, i am willing to pay for it.

    i live in ann arbor, mi, and the showcase cinema on carpenter rd. just opened an IMAX in one of their theaters. now THAT is a step in the right direction. i love movies and am a big fan of the imax. when i see a movie in imax it’s an experience. i can’t replicate it at my house. it’s soo cool i go to see educational showings like lewis and clark, shackletons adventure, space station 3-d, etc.

    what is the definition of insanity? to contiue doing the same thing and expect different results. imo – the theater is going to continue to die until you beat the home theater experience. and I suggest doing it in such a way that 5 years from now you will be back in this same

    it’s a shame because I really loved the theater, and I hope to see it’s glory days restored.


    Comment by scotty -

  248. Mark,

    The lead actor gets arrested for DUI and makes antisemitic comments…to sell more tickets to a bad movie


    Comment by Bobby Orbach -

  249. Mark, this is a simple solution. It won’t help much for your next movie, but if you are in it for a few years it should make a difference.

    Marketing movies is expensive because you are promoting new movies from scratch. It’s like launching a new brand for each title. This makes crappy sequels and movies based on comic books economically appealing, while many good stories can’t be made.

    Every dollar you spent on marketing your “Enron” movie is now down the drain. You need to leverage that next time. You do that by establishing a brand. Perhaps a few, one for each genre. A few of these already exist, for instance “Disney” means children’s movies.

    My solution is simple. You need the title to contain a brand name. You make sure that when the movie is mentioned in free media, the brand name is mentioned.

    Hollywood’s mistake is that they let the stars become the brand names. “Tom Cruise,” for instance, is worth $20 million/movie because he is saving them that much, or more, in marketing costs.

    You don’t need to hire me. I already have a great job. Go get someone from Proctor & Gamble who knows how to build a brand.

    Comment by Jim -

  250. For one thing, i agree that the negatative theater experiences do keep people away.

    But the theater experience is awesome – in comparison to the average viewer’s home theater system.

    Market this theater experience…not a movie. If i see a trailer for a movie that sells that movie to me – i don’t inherently FEEL that i need to go to the theater to enjoy the movie MORE. I do decide that i want to see that movie but i don’t mind waiting for the DVD or PPV or whatever because the THEATER EXPERIENCE isn’t sold to me as well as the CONTENT of the theater.

    Another idea wrapped around this…make the opening weekend MORE special. Have movies opening weekend then don’t show the movie for the next few weeks…then release it again. So customers aren’t thinking, well, if it’s crowded, i’ll just go next week…make the alternate “cost” be a month before that customer can see it.

    And lastly, have area restaurant packages with reserved seating. Eat here, go to the theater at leisure and have the seat you want with a nice full belly and no line/crowd fighting. (Even just reserved seating could help things…knowing i don’t have to go to the theater WAY early for a seat would help me actually try going more often…maybe do this just for the opening weekend.)

    Comment by Bryan Paynter -

  251. Remember your question was “How do you get people out of the house to see your movie without spending a fortune. How can you convince 5 million people to give up their weekend and go to a theater to see a specific movie without spending 60mm dollars.”

    Are you looking to get the people from the current movie goers or the folks that are not going to movies much or at all? If the answer is you don’t care you just want meat in the seat, you can stop reading responses now. Your question dictates your responses.

    If the audience you are looking for are the people that do not go to theaters, or that do not go often you may find a revolutionary result.

    What would have been the popularly of “Desparate Housewifes” if it was only available as a weekly series at movie theaters?

    In the 30’s and 40’s in North Carolina there was a fellow who traveled from town to town filming the people in the town during the week and then showing the film at the local theater as a short before the feature. He got part of the gate.

    If the focus is on getting people to the theater you do have to niche the theater experience and brand it.

    Not having the “AHA Moment” is not the point. Those are few and far between and in my experience of creating innovations for 26 years they usually only come after lots of mistakes instead of during blue sky sessions. But they sometimes do show up.

    Truly market changing innovations always start as things that do not seem worthwhile and only focus on the least desirable segement of a marketplace. Not a very promising place for anyone to have an “Aha!”

    What will get you the answer is lots of grunt work of trying things and measuring and tweaking and measuring and tweaking. Then do more and more measuring and tweaking.

    I used to own a sailboat with two other guys. They both worked pretty high up in the government administration world. Everytime we needed to tack or come about they wanted to discuss it and consider the result, etc. I would just tack the boat and then we did not have to guess at the result we knew the result. My main goal was to not run aground twice in the same place.

    Comment by Duke Williams -

  252. Continued from Post #613

    4. Host events around the films. For example, have movie trivia contests. People love guessing those little names before a movie. Now, turn it into an event with prizes, stats etc.

    5. Direct mailing. Borrow from McDonalds Monopoly gmae and send ouot materials with game pieces that offer prizes such as a walk on role in the film, movie tickets for a year etc.

    6. Show short films before every film. Plenty of them out there, the filmmakers would love the exposure, enriches overall experience.

    7. Have your concessions include one off the wall item. Something your theaters can be known for. Something distinctive that only your theaters carry. Also, you should always have one item that can be purchased for $1. People love buying things for one dollar.


    Adam Neuhaus

    Comment by Adam Neuhaus -

  253. Stick with technology thats where its at and where it will always be.
    People are lazy they want it now. If they have the ability to view an opening night movie at home or in the theatre I’d be willing to bet the majority would say they’d stay home. Poll your blog. Movie Theatres are in a decline, ticket sales have been down the last few years. They’re slowly dying and I believe will someday. They’ll become a novelty item. So what to do…

    Sell the theatres and take the money and start an on demand service/system. Not like the ones today but one that houses any and all movies, similar to what itunes has done for music. Its heading that way anyway, why fight it. Bye bye NetFlix, Bye bye Blockbuster, Hello Cubevision or Cubanvision if you’d like. A six-sided program.

    1. Monthly Subscription
    2. PPV New Releases = Price Point 2
    3. PPV New Releases + Purchase (DVD or download to DVR) = Price Point 3
    4. PPV Cataloged Movies = Price Point 4
    5. PPV Cataloged Movies + Purchase (DVD or download to DVR) = Price Point 5
    6. A La Carte Membership = Price Point 6

    Poll your blog. Who would not use this? Think of all you could do.
    When a song is playing in a movie click a button on your remote, buy this song. Think of the brand partnership/brand tie ins/advertising. Who ever does this will change the way we all view this industry. There is no better person to do this and take on this revolutionary change. I’d rather see you do it than Steve Jobs.

    Are YOU up for the challenge????

    Comment by Eric -

  254. Main idea:
    *****Try creating marketing partnerships with third parties who would be willing to tie their fee (or at least part of it) with box office success of film.*****

    This in addition to making theaters more segmented and an entertainment destination in and of themselves (apart from movie). Many ideas about improved theaters have already been suggested.

    Comment by michael -

  255. Mark,

    I just wanted to praise Landmark Theatres for working to improve the theatrical experience. Truly, when I think about why I don’t go to the theatre more, it’s usually because I don’t want to deal with the multiplex crowds, who seem to be there for every other reason than to see the movie. I’ve gotten to where I rarely go to movies except at Landmark-owned theatres. I even wrote about one of them (the Hi-Pointe in St. Louis) a while back in glowing terms. It’s film-going experiences like that that keep me going to theatres instead of holing up with my big TV and surround sound.

    Now, just open a theater in Waco, TX, okay? I just moved here from St. Louis and I’m having withdrawal pains.

    Comment by Jandy -

  256. Two problems and easy to solve:

    Digital delivery of content – cuts down the cost of distribution and allows for the next solution (the kicker) to work

    Kill the multiplex – all entertainment has taken a turn for personalization (ipod,, etc. – no shit right). Well movies theaters need to do the same. Make people pay for the experience which is where the multiplex idea started. Make them smaller and create a experience based on the local culture. New York Hipsters, San Fran Vally guys, teenagers, etc. and make the environment speak to them. Very simple its what every other retailers try to do? Even Wal-Mart and Target have demographics the try to reach. What makes the movie industry different. The studios understand the targeting aspect but the exhibitors have no idea. If you are going to see goodbye and good night do you really want to be in the same building as people going to see bring it on 7? Annoying as all get out! But that’s not saying some movies do not have universal appeal (i.e. 9/11) with the digital distribution nothing to have them in more than one place for cheap. AMC needs about 5-7 divisions based on demos and build theaters that have 5-10 screens based on the demo. And go from there.


    Comment by Mark. -

  257. Hi Mark,

    In case you missed it I have invented a new type of movie ticket with intersting properties and capabilites. Working on the patent application now.

    If you want to get kids into the theaters, and provide some therpeutic therapy, build Light Playgrounds. They will drag there parents there. Haven’t thought it out totaaly but it might work.,70883-0.html?tw=wn_index_3

    Still waiting for that call.

    Don’t forget

    Comment by Richard Gerber -

  258. When I was 9 years old I went and saw DeForrest Kelley give a lecture at UNT. If you don’t remember who he is…he played McCoy on Star Trek. He said that in the future we will be able to turn on our television set and with a few buttons on our remote we will be able to watch any movie that was ever made. Will we ever have a subscription based program (like Comcast…oops I mean Time Warner’s ON DEMAND feature) that would grant us such access? Like for the TV.

    Comment by Nate Miller -

  259. How long will it be before Blockbuster video goes out of business. I never would have thought the retail business plan would be such a failure for them. Netflix is cool but we are such a culture of “instant gratification” that waiting for snailmail to bring your next film just doesn’t “do it for me”. I love the DVDPLAY vending machine. You swipe your credit card and out comes your movie. It’s only a dollar a day. No employees. Open all the time. If you don’t return it they bill your credit card $20 for the movie. I wonder how long before Blockbuster becomes a vending machine? I don’t mean to hate on them but I think all the late fees I paid ’em made me harbor resentment.

    Comment by Nate Miller -

  260. I worked for Cinemark when I was in High School Mark….so I have movie theater experience. I’m an Eagle Scout too so my head is full of ideas like these.

    Going back to my previous post of partnering with a DQ or a Sonic type business. Well…if you don’t like the “drive-in concept” then how about co-branding a restaurant brand with a movie theater? I know from working in the industry that the theaters operating costs are like 90% or more paid by revenue from Concessions. Money from ticket sales go to the distributor and ultimately the studio. Do I mean having a McDonalds or a Starbucks in the lobby of a multiplex? probably wouldn’t work. The idea of bringing a bar and grill into the movie theater isn’t new or innovative BUT using the marketablity of a restaurant name brand just might be that one mitigating factor that would make me choose to go to THEATER A over THEATER B.

    Comment by Nate Miller -



    Dallas has at least 5 or 6 old filmhouses that could be renovated and reopened to the public. Look what Erykah Badu has done with the Black Forest Theater. On the nights that Casablanca or Gone with the Wind isn’t playing these old theaters could be venues for live music or other forms of entertainment. Look at the Granada (although I must say I miss having a movie theater that I can drink booze and watch a flick)….or better yet like the Alamo Draft House in Austin.

    If I had the money I would fix up the Texas Theater on Jefferson in Oak Cliff. I’d show old John Wayne movies and stuff. I went there a few times as a kid. My buddies and I took turns sitting in the Lee Harvey Oswald chair in the back row. Did you know that movie theater was owned by Howard Hughes?

    This was before he was wearing a tin foil helmet and kleenex box shoes…

    “All the world’s a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players”
    -Bill Shakespeare

    Comment by Nate Miller -

  262. I’ve got a great idea….partner up with someone like Sonic or DQ (I loved it Mark when you worked at DQ…you gained my respect for life that day) and here’s what you do…

    America needs Drive In movie theaters!!!
    I miss going to them…
    You open a Drive in Theater and you use DQ or Sonic or someone like that to run your snack bar. So….you draw them in with a restaurant brand name they know and trust…and you show them the movies they want to see. The beauty part is you get to watch in the cozy confines of an automobile. I’d also like to see them show old school movies too….like maybe a 3 Stooges episode before the feature. You wouldn’t need to put a speaker on your window. You can tune it in on the radio in your car.

    Please bring the drive in back!!!
    I’ll be the manager and hire all the pimply faced kids to come work for me.

    As a kid I didn’t go to the Astro drive in to just see a movie….it was the experience that brought you back time and time again.

    You have to WANT to go to the theater.

    I quote Field of Dreams…..

    “If you build it…they will come”

    Comment by Nate Miller -

  263. The movie challenge….Look, everyone wants to be a millionaire,( a car or a fabulous vacation is not enough incentive to go out). You don’t want to spend 60mm on advertising, how about 5 or 10 million? Four time zones in the U.S., four 1 million dollar prizes, one in each time zone. To be eligible, go to the movie, keep your ticket (I assume each theater has some kind of numbering system for ticket sales), randomly select a theater in each zone and randomly select a ticket from each theater, post and announce the winning numbers, winners present their ticket for verification, pay off winners at press conferences. Utilize free press before movie comes out, while movie is playing, and hype it up for the next “Millionaire Movie Goers Giveaway”. If you like my plan just forget the job deal and send me 1/2 of one percent of the net profit on each movie you market this way. You see, I already have a job and I’m tired of working, besides I’d like to be a millionaire also. It’s kinda like starting your own lottery. “If you market movies this way, WE WILL COME.” Moondog in Minnesota

    Comment by Jim Kellems -

  264. stop making movies with “hollywood” endings, the damn things are way too predictable. Some of my favorite movies Tin Cup, he loses, if hollywood had their way, he woul dhave hit the first ball over the water and won the dame US OPEN. Don’t alter stories or as I call it the “Disnification” of a story, I just recently watch “Glory Road” which I though because of the significance of the event would be a good movie, but they altered irrelevant things about the story, they made it happen in Haskins first season, they had all the Black players arrive on campus the same year, and they had them win in THE WRONG YEAR! these changes did nothing to add to the story, the Story was already an amazing story, changing the year that the one has to be the dumbest thing i’ve ever see someone in hollywood do…..make REAL movies….how about a website where the movie idea is layed out, and it has choices for the stars and people can vote on who should play what role, alot can be said for making people feel liek they are a part of the production

    Comment by WIll -

  265. Hey Mark,
    I just recently had the chance to read your blogs…I’ve spent the last couple of months in Africa, so I’ve been out of the computer loop for a while…I wanted to write about your MOVIE PROBLEM….I never got to read all of the comments, so I don’t know if this is original, but I have an idea…
    Since most people are so star-struck, I think using this to your advantage will get the people back in the theater….If you market your movie with a raffle or sorts and when you buy a ticket, you get a number…..You set the raffle to end a week after opening weekend, and then you select a winner based from the numbers on the tickets sold….Since it’s your movie, you have the moviestars are your beckon call most of the time, so the winner gets to fly with a couple of friends to spend a day with one of the main actors in that movie….All expenses would be paid, but the profit gained from young teens wanting a chance to meet their favorite star should surpass the cost of actually getting them to their star…On the flipside, you could also take a couple of moviestars to the fans…The winner would get a couple of the main stars of the movie flown into their hometown for a party with them and 20 of their closest friends….The buzz that the chance to meet their favorite celebrity would generate would bring back the young girls wanting to meet heartthrobs and young guys wanting to see the hot, sexy ladies in all the movies….To not use this love for meeting stars to generate ticket sales would just be ignorant….
    I live in the Irving area, so giving my that job would be way too easy for you to do…

    Comment by Chris Prock -

  266. You’re asking the wrong question! The question is, “How do we make consistently great movies?” Getting millions of butts into theater seats happens naturally and easily from there.

    Comment by Gary -

  267. Movie Marketing Idea

    Databases are just waiting to be used for promotional purposes, like Fandango’s database. Tap into the millions of people that must be sitting in there with information such as the movies they attended, how often, how many tickets, what genre and their addresses. I would get the product placement corporate sponsors of a particular movie and have them sponsor a mailing out.


    Comment by Wild Flower -

  268. Changing the theater experience is definitely the way to attract the masses. It sounds like you are definitely on the right track with the new Landmark “kids” and “teens” theme. Here is some more s***t to throw against the wall and see if it sticks:

    1.Instead of having a massive multiplex with 60 foot screens build individual “home theater rooms” of varying sizes and décor where you can enjoy a movie with friends, family, and small groups.
    2.Instead of 10-15 movies premiering, have a library of movies available to watch.(Blockbuster at the Movies, if you will).
    3.During the day, market educational movies and programs (from the library) to schools and the growing number of homeschool groups for field trips, etc…. * this would be a big boost for revenues since during the school year theaters are ghost towns during the day.
    4.This would also be a great place for private parties. Birthday parties, rent out rooms for sporting events (i.e.,watch the Mavericks win the 2007 NBA Championship), NFL Draft parties, Madden tournaments, TV rooms with the Sunday Ticket for Fantasy Football Leagues.
    5.Along the gaming line, have the latest and greatest video game available for play. A group could rent the room and play for hours.
    6.Food Services, not sure if this would work, but have the Mini fast food restaurants ala the malls and maybe a dinner restaurant available with “room service” for the romantic dinner and a movie.
    7.Put in a retail shop as you mentioned before and you have tremendous opportunities for revenue streams other than ticket sales and expensive popcorn and candy bars.

    The key is the “experience” and the little details. You changed what going to a Maverick game was all about. I have read and heard you say it is all about entertainment. Build a Disney World for Movies and they will come.

    Comment by KPF in ATL -

  269. You will have the first run blockbuster running on one of the screens, last weeks blockbuster running on another screen, and some long haul movies or kids movies suited for groups or school attendance. While discount theaters do exist today they are typically run down and not a top quality experience.

    Comment by golden -

  270. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head by specializing theatres for each segment or type of moviegoer out there. This is an essential element in driving people to the theatres. In reality, a night at the movies is meant to allow social interaction for those attending. In reality, people do not care how much money it costs to go to the movies. It is the same as attending a sporting event or concert, except much cheaper. The main difference is the previously mentioned events provide more social interaction for those groups. If you attend a Jimmy Buffett concert, you know what kind of people you will meet/socialize with. In turn, this is the problem with movies. Although cheaper, they do not provide much in the way of interaction for movie goers. What I would propose (mind you this is within the frame that theatres are tailored for specific groups) to actually raise prices to the movies. Raise the prices for the movies but provide more of an atmosphere in the theatre. Make it a place where people can socially interact with others. Also, the pay raise would allow people an all access to the theatre. I remember going to movies in my teens and consistently watching 2,3, sometimes 4 movies off of one movie ticket. People are willing to spend that time in the theatre, but aren’t willing to pay for each ticket. If you allow them viewing for the night, based on the purchased ticket, it will increase the likelihood of additional purchases, whether its food, drink, merchandise, etc. Additionally, this will drive viewings of movies people might necessarily watch. I doubt this would provide an answer to creating demand from another 5mm people, but it would definitely enhance the movie going process and provide an additional stream of revenue.

    Comment by Andy -

  271. Mark,

    Here is my thought- I hope you haven’t already heard it 1K times. Why not mix the excesses of American life with the movie experience? Include free popcorn and soda with the purchase of a movie ticket. I’m sure that these are high margin items for the theater, but you can take the ARPU and increase the ticket price accordingly. I don’t know if this would fit Landmark’s target demographic, but it’s a thought for other theaters.


    Comment by A Davis -

  272. My thought is simple – make better movies! Stop re-treading old ideas But that isn’t enough is it? The 2 biggest movies of the year so far have been pretty ordinary (pc2 and da vinci)but safe.
    I was thinking that other highly-paid performers (Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, nba players) have to conform to rules to be able to make big $$$’s, so why shouldn’t the same apply to actors, and movie studios?
    So here’s my theory:
    1) Pay less to make movies – incentivise actors
    Let’s insert a moratorium on paying any actor more than $2m-$5m (?) a movie. When a movie costs $50m in the top 3 actor’s salaries before a reel has been shot something is wrong, and that means that studio-driven movies don’t take risks. It’s safer to put out another Adam Sandler fart-joke movie than it is to try something new. By all means incentivise actors the way Mel or Clint buy in to their movies (as an Aussie, let me just say that Mel isn’t flavour of the month downunder at the moment – just an example).
    2) Bring down the cost, make more, riskier movies – this might mean we have less $100m openings, but it won’t matter as much, as movies need to make less to breakeven.
    3) Decide on a max marketing budget per movie – possibly as a % of total budget. If anyone overspends, no Oscars or Golden Globes for that year. If they overspend 2x, they’re banned for 10 years.
    5) Make it mandatory for all major actors to do one month of rep theatre (maybe the major cities could put these on for free?) to be able to qualify to play in the pros.

    Matt the Aussie Marvel

    Comment by Matt -

  273. How did you feel about my pay-per-view idea? By offering a new release on demand would guarantee getting more money out of my pocket.

    Comment by Joe Stuart -

  274. Strike a deal with colleges across the nation offering an on-demand pay per view channel only available on campus. This will do 2 things for you.

    1.It will make you money away from the theater.
    2.You will be able to gauge how well the film will do before putting it in the theater.

    Or you could just start building theaters on college campuses.

    Comment by Me -

  275. Mark,

    As a parent, I have to say you’d get me into your Kids Only Theatre exactly ONCE and then I’d be so pissed that you’re cramming more marketing crap down my (and my kids’) throat that I’d never take them back there. I realize you have squillions of dollars at your disposal but not all of us do. It’s expensive to take kids to the movies. (Actually, having kids period.) Add the kid pack concessions to the ticket prices and the average cost per person is $15.00. Do you really think I want to spend MORE money for arcade games and stuffed animals? That idea’s the plague. The plague I tell you.

    Comment by Susan -

  276. I think you have to utilize the marketing efforts of the video and music retailers to draw customers to the theatre experience. If I pay for the initial theatrical-release ticket of a movie – i should get something in return (risk/reward). If i spend the “big money” up front – wouldn’t be nice if could take my ticket to Blockbuster or Wal Mart and get a discount on the rental or purchase of that same movie? Maybe i like the soundtrack – or a particular song – and i can get a discount on iTunes or Sam Goody’s – again with my theater ticket. This way the video and music retailers are promoting the movie as well, and not just the studios themselves.

    Comment by Shelby Beattie -

  277. I have no idea whether you picked a winner yet or not. I just want to be heard… plus I’m unemployed and a giant loser, and I want a job. Here are my ideas for The Ultimate Movie Theatre:

    – Daycare
    – Bar
    – Restaurants
    – Club for teenagers
    – Recliner chairs in theatre
    – Audio option within armrests to listen to movie in Spanish w/headphones
    – Weekly promotion give-a-away for trip, cruise, season tickets, date with a star, etc.

    That’s all I got. If you’d like for me to expand on it, feel free to send me a reply email. And on a more personal level, would you mind giving some tips to the Sixers on how to build a championship contender?

    Comment by George Bradney -

  278. Add actual restaurants and bars to movie theaters. What does everyone like to do after movies? Talk about how good it was or if it sucked. No movie theaters have nailed the hangout spot after or before a movie. They’re missing out on all the hype. Maybe they talk to someone who says I just saw a great movie, they may hang around and go see it “Want to see it with me again?” “Sure!” No brainer here. Theaters are not social enough. Throw up some terminals so people can blog about the movie right afterwards too. Internet cafe perhaps. Plus, I would love to check my email after wasting 2 hours on a shitty movie. I would pay for it too.

    Comment by Drew Olanoff -

  279. Yes et… Dave and Busters Rox!!!

    I’ve been there once in Atlanta!

    Comment by LinkGratis -

  280. Interesting comments.
    I’ve done my best to skim through previous entries–some I agree with, some I didn’t–but if the answer to this presented problem were easy then this poser wouldn’t be here! *laugh*

    My ideas are a little too vague at the moment to post but I’ve noticed that most answers are fairly vague. ‘My solution is’ or ‘the problem to be solved is’ is the general theme and fairly basic much of the time. Even the good ones usually don’t comment on the potential problems and solutions implementing said ideas!

    For example, one person suggested headphone jacks for audio so to ignore annoying cell phone users.
    Problem 1: Gum
    Problem 2: Glue
    Problem 3: Popcorn (yeah, I know, it won’t fit. Really.)
    Problem XX: Etc…

    I’ve got nothing on the realistic viewpoints of the various types of movie goers, good and bad, coming to the ‘new and improved’ proposed movie theater. Poor Mark has to do all the work on that, doesn’t he? At least give him a better visualization.

    ‘Do this and everything will be swimmin’!’ is fine and all but… details, people, details.

    Comment by Darren Steffler -

  281. I saw your blog on Indiewire and I think your companies are on to something big. Many people have said that you do not care about independent film and that you are out to dismantle it, but I think that is furthest from the truth. I rooted for the Mavericks in the finals (because the Heat beat the Pistons), but it was exciting to see an owner on the bench, yelling at the refs, and really getting into the game. You have a passion for what you do and you can tell you aren’t just in it to make money. I think you will do the same with independent film.

    The theater system is seeing declines because they aren’t giving the customer more value as it raises prices. There are so many competing formats out there that the theater must adapt to the market place. You have to connect with the audience in order to see 5 million people go to a movie without spending a fortune on advertising. It should be easier to see a film, not harder. The kids cinema is brilliant, but if you have a kids section at a regular cinema (with chaperones) you can attract the whole family to the theater and they can all see the movie they really want to see. Some theaters have programs for mothers with infants and different things like that that make it easier to see a film. There is nothing like watching the newest picture on a large screen, but with smaller DVD windows it is easier to wait at watch the movie at home.

    The question you pose is how do you connect? Political and religious films have become popular because filmmakers are addressing issues that people care about. Issues that people sit down and talk, yell, and scream about. The ranting and raving about the film propels it through the market place with very little advertising. Word of mouth carries far with these films.

    Indie and Hollywood films have to step out of their formulaic box and makeless contrived films and start making films that resognate with people on a personal level. Word travels quick on the internet and it doesn’t matter how much you spend to make and market a film if it’s not any good.

    We are in the final stages of post production on Sodom and Gomorrah and we would like to screen the film for your company. We would like to see a wide release for the film because there are a lot of people who are excited about it, but we are also willing to self distribute with a distributor for hire like Rocky Mountain Pictures. We screened the trailer at Gay Days in Orlando and got a great response and we have frequented christian events and churches to spread the word. There are volunteers across the country passing out postcards, posters, and dvds to their churches communities and work places.

    William Roebuck
    New Fire Films
    PO Box 618091
    Orlando, FL 32861-8091

    Comment by William Roebuck -

  282. Regarding a great movie experience, my wife and I are writing a travel book, called Cinemantal Journeys, which features theaters that create or recreate the classic movie experience before the dawn of the megaplexes. You can go to our website and share a favorite movie memory if you like.
    Mike Walker

    Comment by Mike Walker -

  283. Movie theater marketing plan
    Two tier plan to getting more people to the movies

    Tier 1 – cost efficiancy
    The inspiration for this tier comes from the airline business and in particular one of the most succesful european discount operator Ryanair (CEO Michael O’Leary). When O’Leary took other the management of the strugling Irish airline he knew that he had to come up with a whole new plan for the airline if it was to be competitive. A former accontant O’leary is very cost concious and he double check the figures and then check them again. The result he came up with was to make the airline the most cost effective airline in the business. He has done this in a number of ways that will be discussed below. I believe that a number of the parameters used by Ryanair can be applied to the movie business and contributing to making the business more profitable and at the same time generate new way to market the movies.

    Tier 2 – new media marketing
    The hottest thing in media development at the moment is without a doubt community driven media. Just look at the likes of YouTube, Digg, Delicius, Jason Calacanis efforts to turn around around using the community angle and Robert Scoble switch from Microsoft to PodTech where is to run a number of employess creating news in a whole new way with podcast and videocasting. These are all new ways of running a media business – a real business. Granted the mentioned examples and other are far from agreeing on how this new business should be run. However, I believe that the movie business can learn from all of them, take the best bits and use it for marketing their movies. More on this later.

    Ad tier 1.
    Besides working the numbers and thinking outside the box to came up with new ways in which to run the business more efficiantly Ryanair and O’Leary has done one really brilliant thing to be more competitive. They have cut their product down to the absolutely bare minimum. First they promote their prices one way which has made their prices seem lower (trust me it works – all the other discount airlines has later copied this idea). This is not that relevant to the movie business business but it shows how one should think. Make it seem cheaper to the customer and your number of customers will increase. Another thing Ryanair has done is to shave their product down so when you buy a ticket with them there is alot of things that are not included: you dont get a meal but you can buy one onboard with your credit card, the ticket doesnt include you checking in a suitcase you pay extra for that per bag. Naturally there a no free drinks onboard and they have even been trying the idea of not having any personel checking in the customers bags they do it them selfes on kiosks. Also they fly out of less used airports where they are able to negotiate lower fees to the airport making the ticket cheaper.

    Of course it is not the same extra products customers want in the movie theater. However, the fundamental idea can be applied to the movie industry. What elements one chose to implement will demand throurough investigation and calculation which demand acces to all business information which I do not have. However, here are some ideas for extra products one can charge people for at the movies, hence making it posible to lower prices a bit drawing in more people and being more competitive:

    – Babysitting service, dump your kid right there at the theater where sweet young girls will look after the child in a safe an fun enviroment – the girls will also love it.
    – Display prices for the ”bad” seats and charge a small extra for a decent seat.
    – Snack service, people can order snack and drinks from home and a young smiling girl will bring it to your seat.
    – Movie and a meal, charge extra for having food ready for the whole family after (or before) the movie. Somebody will know they are comming and will pick them up and take them to their seat and the food will be ready fast coz you will know when they are comming.
    – Paid parking, charge extra for a parking spot close to the entrance. People wont have to walk around endless parking lots looking for their car after the movie.
    – Charge for merchandise
    – Etc.

    The ultimate goal for Ryanair is to make their tickets free and solely make a business of of selling extras to the customers. Although this seems like an unreachable goal it seems like a good goal to have. It definitely shows rethinking the business and thinking outside the box. It is my belief that the same thing can be done for the movie business.

    Ad tier 2 – – community driven movie media
    Recriut moviebuffs and have the do blogging, podcast and videocast. Only requirement it has to be about the movies and the theaters and all stories has to link and mention the website of the movie and where people can buy tickets. Reward your moviebuffs with special treats:
    – acces to premiers
    – Limited merchandise
    – Meat the actors
    – Come to the sets
    – Early information about future movies
    – Etc
    This is a relatively inexpensive way to market movies and if done right this can generate alot of attention to the movies. Also this is word of mouth marketing which in my mind is a lot more efficient than “regular” marketing.

    The two above mentioned tiers together I believe could make a real difference for the movie business and drive a lot more people to the theaters.

    Comment by Kasper Retvig -


    Mr. Cuban,

    Since movie theaters provide one of few outings for teenagers, we should create more opportunity for this demographic at theaters.

    Underage sports fans in particular have few options to catch a game with others unless they actually attend the event. Hence, Movie Theaters should host games for this demographic so that they can enjoy the camaraderie of the action with others! This goes for every sport. Certainly every big sporting event!

    Is it possible to incorporate the HD technology to create a theater broadcast for an event! On the Big Screen?? I’m willing to bet fans old enough would skip the local bar and head to the local theater to see a big event on the big screen!

    I know Cineplexes have shown live concerts at theaters, however the entire IU basketball season, that is something far greater!

    The perfect broadcast opportunity would be at Showplace Cinemas in Bloomington, we could all have a tailgate in the theater parking lot before an away game at Kentucky!

    As a recent IU alumni, I know we would sell out every game!!!

    Also sounds cheesy, but I remember in High School the entire Varsity Football team went to see Varsity Blues. Afterwards half the kids went back to see it again on dates. Now imagine if every school in the city had organized an event like this and gone to see the movie in large groups at their local theater, and then again on their own admission. The theaters themselves CAN attract their local communities with specific tailored events like this one. There is a ton of opportunity within schools and sports teams to create fun outings like these.

    Comment by Patrick McGovern -

  285. First of all make some decent movies. This is a good first step. Now offer one dollar off the price of an opening weekend ticket. To everyone, everywhere, from the first screening to midnight on Sunday. That is all. Screw the gimmicks. Book all the revenue for the high gross and back off the comp once it hits the GL. Didnt read all the other responses. Sorry if this is a repeat.

    Comment by Janet LaRue -

  286. I remember when i was in highschool like a few years back, and napster was still in, i used to seel those music cds, and it went real well, you know i got the kids that were popular and promised them a CD a week if they get like ten of their friends to check it out to.
    I got lot’s of customers cause people follow a crowd.
    Now, you can’t give them copied cds of course, but what a bout a DVD of the movie before it’s released? Everyone want’s DVD’s of movies before they’re released.
    Problem, how you find the popular guys and girls?
    You could always hand out flyers, check the local college basketball team or their cheerleaders.
    Popular people aren’t hard to find, that’s why they’re popular.

    Get some popular members to post it on the site, people with lot’s of friends in myspace etc. etc.

    All in all you need to change the image of theater from lame and costly to “simply cool”.
    And how better to do that than having somebody cool say it’s cool?

    It really works that’s what we do, follow the crowd.
    here in china to start a successfull business you just get a hundred people to wait in line, others will just wait there to, cuz it has to be good they think.

    Comment by Oliver Sun -

  287. Love the challenge …

    To think about marketing the movie business, you could think about what American Idol is doing and could do for marketing in the music business.

    The audience chooses what it wants. The audience participates in the process to help ensure that the audience is there before the content is delivered. The audience makes itself known in the process. Marketing the result is almost a snap.

    If anything, American Idol hasn’t taken it far enough yet … they should let people vote for the songs on the albums, for the producers, for the arrangements. It would sell even more — if the “artists” could just give up their “creative control.” (I do believe in real artists but I know the difference between art and entertainment).

    Here’s an extreme scenario for the movie business: start a TV show (Movie Maker?) where people can choose among a variety of movies they might want to see. Let them choose the subject; then let a group of writers each write a small bit, and let the audience choose the writer; let some directors each shoot one scene and then let the audience choose the director; let the audience cast the movie; let the audience see pieces of the film as it’s being done and provide feedback on different cuts, different music, different scenes being in or out. $10 million movie budget — how much profit do you think it would make? Make the movie showings some sort of participatory event too.

    Can these concepts be extended to the internet? Some up front audience involvement without a complete American Idol redo? Hmmm, I think so. Might not work as well, but wouldn’t cost as much or take as long either.

    Come to think of it, there could also be a model here for running a basketball team. Let all the season-ticket holders — or anyone? — decide whether to re-sign Jason Terry, or who to draft. You might not have the best team, but you’d sure as hell have a lot of involved fans. How about this: for $1000 per year you can join the Mavs management team and vote on basketball decisions … how much new revenue would that generate? How much fan involvement, new opportunity?

    That’s marketing for the new millenium. Audience participation to the extreme.

    Comment by Jonathan Alexander -

  288. The fact is that those of us who respond to this question represent about 1% of those who go to movies. Great ideas, but you have to cater to a world of dumbasses. Why do you think NASCAR is as popular as it is? It’s wrestling on wheels. Watch the numbers on Talladega Nights.

    Comment by Wally -

  289. The fact is that those of us who respond to this question represent about 1% of those who go to movies. Great ideas, but you have to cater to a world of dumbasses. Why do you think NASCAR is as popular as it is? It’s wrestling on wheels. Watch the numbers on Talladega Nights.

    Comment by Wally -

  290. My solution: “BOUTIQUE THEATERS”
    The concept of the Multiplex must be iliminated! You are on the right track with your “Rock n’ Roll theatre” idea.

    I beleive that the movie-going experience declined with the advent of the multiplex. By sticking all movies together in one huge complex little attention can be payed to each individual’s movie going experience, or the experience of seeing one particular movie.

    Theaters need to start catering to smaller markets. Forget the 25 screen multiplex that trys to cater to everyone and fails miserably. I’m picturing smaller “boutique theaters” in which theater owners concentrate on a specific market. Maybe its the campy action flick lover, or the intense drama lover. The theaters need to realize that enjoyment of a movie has a lot to do with atmosphere and the movie going experience, BUT the experience that makes a movie enjoyable largely depends on what KIND of movie you are watching.

    Imagine going to a smaller one or two screen theater to see the latest bond flick. The whole place only shows action and adventure films and you immediately get that sense from the decor and atmosphere. A giftshop sells all sorts of action film memorabilia, posters, DVDs (yes even DVDs), and has that attention to detail you would expect from a small establishment.

    The same could go for a theater for Children’s films (imagine how much could be made on selling merchandise- mommy mommy i neeeed that), drama and art films. These theaters would KNOW thier audience and could best cater to them instead of casting one giant net.

    Best of all, you can rest assured you don’t have an obnoxious group sitting behind you talking the whole time who originally wanted to see american pie 6 but realized it wasn’t playing at that time and insead ended up with you watching mystic river 2.

    Here is how I picture boutique theaters being implemented:
    You actually wouldn’t have to do away with the idea of a multiplex completely. Instead of building one massive structure with a bazillion screens, you build a bunch of smaller structures in an enjoyful outdoor plaza kind of set up. Kind of like a lot of the commercial developing going on in suburbia in which developers try to create entire walkable areas full of stores and restaurants. In this setup each smaller theater would cater to a specific kind of movie experience with each structure being completely seperate in style and name. You know what kind of experience you are going to get when you enter. This setup could easily be developed on the same amount of real-estate that multi-plexed currently occupy.

    In dense city areas, this method would be harder to implement, but could still work as smaller theaters could easily become a specific kind of theater. If cineplex odeon has 3 theaters in lower manhatten, then they could make each one a different theme.

    In addition to this approach, theaters could pop up as smaller businesses. I could open a theater that I was going to cater to children, and given I met quality standards could get the latest releases (granted its much more complicated than that to get the latest films). I would know my market and cater to them specifically and could be hugely profitable (though on a smaller scare than the giant theater companies).

    Comment by Steve Corby -

  291. – Problem #1 “The Experience”

    Movies are supposed to be “entertaining” and depending on the genre, they can also be considered “art”. Add a little showmanship to the “experience”, and you’ll turn a potentially boring movie watching event into a news worthy and buzz generating (and yes “cheap”) experience. You don’t need to compete with TV, DVDs, and the internet if you can deliver experiences.

    – Improvement #1 (just one idea, others will cost ya)

    Do you think people watching the Ballad of Ricky Bobbie in a remote movie theater in Amarillo Texas would notice that the movie was a dud if Will Ferrel was selling popcorn inside while wearing his racing outfit? Nope. Think the “story” would make headlines all over the south (and rest of country) once he did that? It sure would, and the theater owner would sell a hell of a lot of popcorn that night. I’m willing to bet your money that a few well chosen appearances at other movies a week before Ricky Bobbie opened would build more buzz than than their costly radio/tv promotions.

    – Problem #2 Empty Seats and “Perceived Value”
    Movie theaters face many of the same issues that airlines do. In the end, the plane is going to take off and every empty seat is a lost dollar. The same can be said of movie theaters. Now that airlines started charging for everything under sun…they are actually better off giving away an empty seat and attempting to charge for lunch and baggage.

    –Improvement #2 (just one idea, others will cost ya)

    As much as I hate to use the airline industry as an example (of what to do), why not offer “frequent flick minutes”? Like frequent flyer miles, I would accumulate frequent flick minutes by watching movies, buying food while at movies, and buying products/services from partnering businesses. You can’t cash in and see the free 162 minute movie with your miles until you’ve “earned” the time. Not only would I be more likely to watch a movie and bring a friend if one of us did it for “free”, but I’d also be more likely to to buy a drink while there with the idea that I didn’t pay to get in.

    In reality, you paid a hundred times to get the frequent flick minutes…and you filled an empty seat that led to a $6 coke purchase. Lets not forget that coke is carbonated water, sugar, and ice in a waxed paper cup.

    As much as I’d love to work for you Mark, I have investors to look out for. You might have to buy my software co’s before I could help out with the marketing gig.

    Go Mavs!

    Comment by Marks Marketing Guy -

  292. Hi Mark,

    I just thought of one more idea. (I have 2 other postings: #202 from 8/3 and #221 also from 8/3.)

    This idea is more of a convenience for movie-goers. It’s not going to revolutionize movie theatre economics, but may increase sales a little and promote good will.

    E-Tickets. TicketMaster has this, but charges too much. It would be a great convenience to be able to print out tickets directly from our computers. Much easier than the advance purchase system currently in place. (Cuts out an extra step.) I’m sure there’s a way to prevent abuse. Either charge nothing for the added convenience or possibly 50 cents.

    Comment by Rhonda Moskowitz -

  293. Film will never die, but it will become a novelty. Digital imaging is more than capable of exceeding the resolution and color depth of film, and has the ability to provide spectacular images that film could never touch…

    I agree with the post by Larry Jacobson. Actually, I wonder if he’s the same LJ from this link?:

    The problem with theaters today is that whatever ideas they come up with to attract crowds – is defined and confined, by the box they work out of. There needs to be a fundamental change of philosophy by theater owners.

    The problems behind movie theaters and lack of attendance could not be fully detailed in a novel the size of War & Peace. For years now, theaters have treated patrons as a herd of cattle and with each step, lessened their status as a premiere entertainment facility. This decline started with shoebox theaters, and has hit rock bottom with television commercials before the feature. In an attempt to maximize profit, theaters have inadvertently fallen all over themselves to be more like home, then wonder why they can’t compete again the home theater… there’s no place like home!

    Poor quality movies have little or nothing to do with lack of attendance. For every On the Waterfront, there’s been a Naked Alibi. You can’t blame or use “better” marketing – one could make the argument that marketing opportunities have never been better, or more easy to come by.

    Theaters used to stand for an entertainment experience beyond the home or any consumer technology – an experience you could only find at the theater. The movie may have been the initial motivator, but the experience itself exceeded the quality of the movie. A great movie just made the experience that much better. To correct the experience, theater owners and designers have to think “outside their boxes”.

    Theaters should no longer be designed as they have been for 100 years. All theaters in the near future will be digital. Those designed around this enabling technology will thrive – those that use this technology to simply show a movie will die. Digital theaters of the future will not look like what you and I see today – there will be no “box” – the theaters will not be lined up in rows with a common mezzanine. They will be built in clusters, each cluster designed to cater to a specific group. Each theater within that cluster will be specifically designed to meet each group’s needs. One theater may have traditional seating, while the next is set up in a lounge environment. In a digital world, there will be a vast choice of content, and the variety of content available will be vastly more specific – gone will be the 5 showings of one feature – but 5 choices available at 5 different times, all in one theater. While one theater shows Monday Night Football, another theater down the walkway shows a foreign film. Some theaters will show films in 2K, some in 4K, some in 2D, some in 3D.

    Because of the ability to create a unique construction footprint in a digital environment, among other opportunities, theater designers will have the freedom to create a more unique theater experience. Between these clusters, specialty stores for refreshments, ice cream, video games, or movie merchandise give the patron an opportunity to experience entertainment beyond the home environment – and as importantly, allow the theater owner additional revenue opportunities.

    Comment by ObiTbone -

  294. There is a series of problems in drawing people out to see movies, but at the root of the problem is that the experience has not evolved to reflect the advances that are happening in society. People today are becoming more sophisticated and can access information and products in almost real time( mostly due to the intarweb…). My thoughts would break the business into the following:

    Decentralize movie theaters completely. Today they are these huge spaces seating hundreds of people where there is huge opportunity for things to go wrong.

    Completely reconfigure these huge theaters to have smaller rooms holding 8-15 people (optimization would be needed here). Technology would allow these establishments to create smaller intimate theaters that have a very similar experience to the bigger theaters. Use the very latest bleeding edge technology in each of these “mini-theaters”. Charge people more to watch the movie, because that doesn’t seem to be the problem that they are having. This decentralization would also remove this timing issue of movies. Basically demand would dictate what movies and there would be no need for start times. Also, these places should be open VERY late to tap into a market of people that would want to watch movies later into the evening.

    Equip each room with a phone or something along those lines (computer with touch screen, or something), and allow people to order food, drinks (including alcohol). Waiters/Waitresses would then bring the food/drink to the room with no need for people to have to move.

    Strategically place restrooms to be shared amongst these mini-theaters as well. Allow easy access to people, and the ability to contr ol whether the movie can be paused or stopped, etc.

    I have lots more ideas of how to radically restructure this business. If you are interested in hearing more, let me know.

    Comment by Kevin Frey -

  295. Prize drawing would make small increase in sales. But not a huge jump. Mark is looking for the idea that will make everyone fiendish about movies.

    Film will never die, I do not think that digital media will ever really be able to capture the beauty that 35mm film does, so while Digital Media is becoming more and more popular, to me it still looks too much like home video. 35mm cellulose is so beautiful to shoot on, it just won’t die.

    Comment by Todd Johnston -

  296. Searching for an improved marketing tool/methodology that will dramatically improve theatre attendance can very much be likened to an attempt to increase passenger train sales in the wake of a developing airline industry. Certainly the quest to improve our existing business should always be mandatory. In the case of theatres today, there is an opportunity for a textbook paradigm shift – specifically with Digital Cinema.

    Theatres are built to accommodate film. Digital cinema is not a film theatre with digital equipment; it’s just not. Digital Cinema (the business) commences only after the conversion and then really when the industry is confronted with the realization that the theatres (the physical plants) are incapable of entertaining to their fullest.

    Maximum utilization of theatres (far beyond the 20% and below enjoyed today) will be achieved in the future through a series of design modifications that enhance the digital medium within the entertainment environment themselves.

    Freedom from film expands the opportunity to entertain exponentially. We are truly at the forefront of the most exciting period in the history of this entertainment industry.

    Those exhibitors who have huge inventories of auditoriums, i.e., the majors, will have a much more difficult time competing in this upcoming digital age as the film based complexes will only serve to negatively impact sales.

    So, a challenge to improve attendance immediately is noble, but you have an opportunity to capture the future of an industry.

    Consequently, that is my challenge to you.

    Comment by Larry Jacobson -

  297. The answer is limited access.
    Showing the movie 7 days a week, a billion times a day, across multiple screens…..eliminates any compelling reason for me to “not” wait for the DVD — because I don’t want to be like everybody else. Everyday of my working life, I am like everybody else….why the hell would I pay you so you can treat me like everybody else?

    The problem is too much availability of the “good” product. Think Cabbage Patch dolls. Make your mass money on DVD, PPV, web. The “theatre” money should be made with limited access “events”. Like an NBA game. Only so many tickets, and those who get them, also get limited production DVD’s that include “anything” that will not be available to the masses….and just maybe, Tom Cruise will show up at your particular viewing of his movie.

    You say you want to compell people to come to the theatre for the experience……well, the “experience” means different things to different people — its an individual thing — and it is insulting that you think you can figure out how to mass-produce my “experience”. Trust me, you cannot. Experience comes from feeling you are part of an event that others will not be “allowed” to enjoy, because you have the last ticket. Get the star of the movie to tour the country and show up unannounced at randon showings (unique events). Think of Prince (the musician) — man has a cult following because he is reclusive…..but you never know when he will just show up at the local pub to jam….and you find this out by being a part of the “inside” fan base that attends his concerts, multiple times/events. They spread the word at the concerts, and people wait in lines for the after party at some bar.

    You seem to want to change the theatre concept itself. Well, then it wouldn’t be a theatre. It would be something else, wouldn’t it?

    There is no financial reason you could not simply have Leonardo DeCaprio tour the country going to these limited showing events (unannounced) of his movie….and allowing every ticket holder to take their picture with him. What is that….100 photos per screening? You would have 13 years old girls making their parents drive them to every theatre that is rumored to be the one where Leo will show up this time. They’d pay to see the movie multiple times (at the theatre) just at the limited access chance to see Leo live. If Leo won’t agree to it, don’t hire him for your movie.

    Limited access. It has ALWAYS worked. Changing the theatre, or the theatre technology, requires too much $$ investment, and not enough ROI to justify it. Not when you can just release the video on DVD, and your margins are off the charts.

    Comment by Scott -

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