Toys “R” Us lived a long and fruitful life, and Blockbuster Video was here with us for what seemed just a few fleeting moments. It almost seems as if beloved cultural institutions, no matter how cherished, just can’t seem to keep up with the sands of time as we look at them with our eyes filled with adoration but give fist over fist of cash over to the less loved, newer and more convenient competition that is taking more and more of our time. Yes, we loved Toys “R” Us and Blockbuster, but convenience outdoes nostalgia every time.
Americans will fill theaters to see the newest flicks each and every time, such as the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, but the trends show that overall domestic theater going is hitting an all-time low. Teenagers and college students are more fiscally responsible than we give them credit for, since a $14 popcorn and drink combo along with another $13 per ticket for a movie is less convenient than sitting on a couch at home to “Netflix and Chill” where they can binge watch a show to their heart’s content.
What are theaters willing to do in order to keep afloat in these dire times to avoid the trip to the commercial graveyard that has just planted fresh dirt on Toys “R” Us? Cinemark in 2017 launched the Movie Club where for $8.99 a month you can see any film of your choice (and tickets roll over), a second ticket purchase is only $9.99 and you can also receive a 20% discount for concessions and waived online transaction fees. Is that the single solution though? Ask around and most movie-goers don’t even know about that program. What about a Netflix-type model for theater-goers? Even that model has been floated and tested.
Theater chains are missing the point – no matter how many discounted programs and leather reclining chairs they put up, nothing can defeat the comfort of convenience. Maybe this is a slump and the next great idea for theater chains just hasn’t been thought of yet, but unless someone launches an idea soon, the great American movie theater experience may be receiving an official terminal diagnosis rather soon.