Monday, June 09, 2008

Still something's missing - Are we speaking the same language?

There are some things people should know about the City. One of them is that it creates this weird time/space vortex, which makes going around it, through it, or under it more tricky than it would be to cross that distance in any other situation. We forget that we live near any ocean. When the City is in the middle of two destinations, you should think long and hard about what it is that is so great about the thing on the Other Side. Some people will never understand why in movies and TV shows people are chagrined and slightly frightened when they have to move from Manhattan to one of the other boroughs. These people will also never understand how the City two opposing points long distance automatically. On the flip side, the City is the most amazing American city there is.

Speaking of the City...

I had two very different movie experiences last week. I went to see Sex and the City with one of my best friends, and then the next night took my two brothers to go see Prince Caspian. I thought the City was well done and delightfully entertaining and true to the tone of the TV show (probably more like the uncut version, not like the TBS version that I watch). Prince Caspian was amazing, though. Incredible movie that I would definitely pay (a reasonable amount) to see again in theatres.

But one of the most interesting things didn't have to do with the film itself. My friend and I went early to the theatre for The City, about half an hour, and there was already a line to get in. In Prince Caspian, there was only a man and his little daughter who kept saying "Zombie!" during the previews (friend of yours, Emily?). There are a couple of variables here, location of theatre, release date, day and time, but this, I think, is the real reason why The City showing was packed and Prince Caspian was not.

Optimum is giving away free tickets. If you have Optimum Triple Play, you can get two free movie tickets to Clearview theatres every Tuesday and six dollar tickets every other day. In an area where the going ticket rate is $10.25, that's reason enough to use Optimum. I know that I wouldn't have gone to see The City in theatres if my ticket wasn't free. And my friend reports that the crowds at the Clearview on Tuesdays have been crazy. When we went the parking lot was more full than on a Friday night.

I'm not a business major or economics major or anything - but this is a theatre going behavior worth noticing. Who's making the money here? Are these free tickets being counted toward box office totals? How many paying theatre goers have been stolen away from weekend premieres to see a movie on a Tuesday? Are the theatres making loads from selling concessions to packed out theatres on a Tuesday night? Are people more willing to buy concessions after saving money on a free ticket? How many of those full houses were people who had gotten free tickets and how many were friends that came along for the discounted price?

My family just switched to Optimum again today. My dad said a door to door salesman came by with an offer he couldn't refuse. He also told me that the same company - Time Warner - owns Optimum, Clearview, and all the other businesses that rewards are offered for. So the money stays in the family. I am just pleased that I will be getting "my own" Optimum card.

Still, there's something worth thinking about here. If the price of movie tickets dramatically dropped- maybe from ten dollars to six dollars like Optimum customers get - would that bring more people back to the theatre? Or are people going to go regardless? I wasn't going to pay to see The City in theatres, and I didn't. But that extra person in the theatre increased the potential that concessions were going to be sold, that the free ticket holders were going to bring extra friends, guaranteed that they were going to be exposed to advertising for more movies. On the flip side, I was going to pay to see Indiana Jones. But tomorrow we're using the passes to get our two free tickets and one discounted one, from thirty dollars to six. Maybe it evens out. Maybe there's not enough of a dramatic change in movie going trends to warrant a change in the theatre business. But when Tuesday nights are packing out better than Friday night premieres - it's worth thinking about.

PS. I'm glad Susan got to cause some serious damage in those battle scenes.

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