Apparently these days movie theaters only use fifteen percent of their total capacity, according to this recent Vulture post. Given changing models in distribution and marketing for film and television, are movie theaters doomed to become a piece of collective cultural nostalgia like the arcade room? The article goes on to give several persuasive strategies for how the shared spectacle and experience of the theater might be saved from the atomistic model most videogames have adopted:
In February, Nicholas Gonda co-founded Tugg, a new venture that bills itself as “a collective action web-platform,” but is really just a simple way to see the movies you want at your local movie theater with a bunch of fellow fans.
Basically, Tugg is Groupon meets the Long Tail, at your local multiplex: You want to see Dr. Strangelove on the big screen with a bunch of like-minded souls? No problem. Tugg has deals with most of the nation’s largest chains (like AMC, Regal and Cinemark, to name a few) and, increasingly, with many of the studios. Just get the theater’s minimum number of butts into seats, and you’re screening is a “go.”
“It’s leveraging behaviors that have been taking place online for quite some time,” says Gonda. “Within the Facebook ecosystem, everything that was once an obscure interest isn’t [anymore]. People can identify with others who share their likes — sometimes in the thousands or hundreds of thousands.”
Since launching in February, hundreds of screenings have occurred in over 30 cities, eliminating empty seats in underutilized time slots. “For the content owners, this isn’t speculating,” says Gonda. “This is those people saying, ‘We want to see this.’ So, for studios, it’s pretty much a no-brainer.”
As a culture that spends so much of our time staring at screens of all shapes and sizes, encouraging a social dimension to all of this staring is warranted and deeply necessary.