Adam\’s Stream of Consciousness

If you blog it, they will come

Mark Cuban’s Movie Business Challenge

Posted by Adam on July 25, 2006

I happened upon the blog of the Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban and noticed a question he had posed to the masses.  Cuban has entered into the movie business and is looking for a way to market films without breaking the bank.  You can read the entire challenge here.  Figuring I had nothing to lose, and plenty of ideas in my head, I decided to respond.  The following is what I sent to Mr. Cuban.  I’ll be back later tonight with my thoughts on week 4 of Rock Star: Supernova.

Regarding your “Movie Business Challenge”:

The movies are not the problem.  There is a market segment for every type of film, and research will pinpoint that segment and allow you to focus on them.  This is marketing 101, and everyone does it.  If this were untrue, then you wouldn’t see a DVD released for every single movie that hits theaters.

Competition for your entertainment dollar starts to play into it.  The average price for a movie last year was $6.41, though that figure factors in matinees and other discounts.  I would wager that the average price of an evening show adult ticket has got to be closer to $9.  For $10 or less you could spend the evening bowling, or shooting pool, check out a local band live, rent at least 2 movies (the number increases depending on how many people are watching), or even take in a sporting event from the cheapest available seats.

With home theater technology growing and advancing so rapidly, the benefits of a super large screen and surround sound are much less noticable to the general public.  When you watch at home the movie starts when you want it to, as opposed to the set schedules of theaters.  Plus concessions are free (or at least much cheaper) when you don’t have to buy them at the theater.

The key is giving a people a reason to come to the theater.  Make the movie going experience an event.

With Regal and AMC/Lowes owning the bulk of the mainstream theaters in the country it would be extremely difficult to change the existing infastructure.  I suggest taking a page out of the Magic Johnson Theater blueprint.  If you can’t fix what is broken, then you build your own!

I know you were instrumental in making the American Airlines Center one of the best home arenas in the country.  You added to the enjoyment of Dallas Mavericks basketball by improving the entire experience.  What if you parlayed this same mentality to the movie going experience.  Build your own theaters.

Think of the possibilities.  You can control ticket prices, show times, amenities.  With added focus on your films, and perhaps even exclusivity, you would be driving the business to you.  The technology is there.

Imagine going to a movie theater with the most comfortable chairs, personal surround sound speakers imbedded in each seat, extra leg room to be comfortable.  Allow patrons to bring their own refreshments.  Even if many do, just as many will still end up buying concessions from the theater itself.

Alter show times to fit everyone’s schedule.  The idea of having the same movies play at the same times every  night of the week is outdated.  Why not start a movie at 6:30 on Monday, 7:00 on Tuesday, 7:30 on Wednesday, and 8:00 on Thursday?  Let people have the flexibility of making a mid-week show.  Want to go early enough to not be out late?  Now you can.  Are you working later, but still want to be able to catch a film?  Now you can.

Watching a movie in a theater still has appeal.  The atmosphere of seeing it with a large crowd.  The pleasure of catching opening weekend and avoiding the spoiler talk of others who saw it before you.  Its just a matter of making the entire experience enjoyable again.  Make it an event.   Mind the words of Shoeless Joe in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, [they] will come.”

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