Facing competition from streaming services like Netflix, movie theaters have had a hard time in recent years. In 2014, movie attendance plunged to the lowest level in nearly 20 years. Business Insider reported that this summer’s ticket sales were 3.5 percent lower than the same period the previous year. To combat the decline, the industry is experimenting with new experiences that can justify higher ticket prices. Below are the four trends to watch.
Many theaters offer individualized screenings for audiences who want to enjoy the latest film in a private setting. Instead of hundreds of attendees watching the same film in the same theater, a small group can rent a private screening room and watch whatever they like. The service is offered by both large, multiplex chains such as Harkins Theatres as well as intimate spaces such as The Pavilion, in Brooklyn, NY. Screenings are popular with companies that want to reward employees, promote sales or entertain clients.
A growing number of movie theaters offer reclining seats along with food and beverage service. From full menus to handcrafted cocktails to a full waitstaff, movie-goers can drink and dine without leaving their seat. The service is targeted at an affluent demographic willing to spend for a luxury experience. For example, iPic, a dine-in cinema at New York’s South Street Seaport, charges $14 to $29 per ticket, depending on the seat, show time, and choice of film—food and drinks are extra—according to New York Post.
Experience is the key word for movie theaters trying to rebuild their audiences. One way to deliver an experience is through sheer size. IMAX, whose screens and domes dwarf even the largest home theater, announced that it grew its Western European market by 43 percent in two years. Meanwhile Nagi, a movie system that combines a new film format and projection technology, is likely to take the viewing experience to the next level. Nagi integrates 4K resolution and, according MIT Technology Review, renders the details of a film far more sharply and brightly than standard 3-D movies.
In the future, movie theaters will deliver more than bigger screens and higher resolution. With the development of flexible screens, motion controls and other technology, an audience may be able to connect to the movie and experience the story as a participant. Orbi, a cinema-based experiment launched in Yokohama, Japan, provides audiences a taste of tomorrow. Visitors are able to explore a real and projected world through sight, sound, smell and touch according to the Tribeca website. Filmmaker Andrei Severny says Orbi delivers a “a complete illusion of being part of a film.”