I would really love to see an interactive movie theater. Give the audience control over what movie screens on what screen at what time. I know that sounds crazy, but crowds can be pretty wise.
I had this idea awhile back when sitting in an empty theater one Sunday afternoon. My wife and I were there to see a movie that had been out a few weeks that was now overshadowed by the latest offerings. As I was sitting there, I wondered if maybe there was some other movie — even an older movie — that would get more than just my wife and me in the theater. The movie we were there to watch obviously wasn’t it. Maybe an interactive approach to scheduling could get more butts in the seats at off times. What about interactive scheduling?
Here’s how it would work: A day in advance, theaters could provide a catalog of possible movies, which could include older movies no longer available. Movie goers would then vote on a movie and a desired time. To increase the likelihood of the showing, and to give theaters added confidence that people will actually show up, they could allow people to put down a deposit on their vote, which would only be reimbursed if their choice is not selected. Theaters could then schedule the next day’s showings based on votes.
While not perfect, an interactive approach might get more tails in theater seats, especially for screenings at odd times. Maybe it’s worth it to show an older, beloved movie at 3:00pm that was a size-able vote-getter, rather than showing yet another screening of some lame movie that’s ready for DVD. Even if only ten people came to the screening, it’s better than an empty theater.
This is, of course, facilitated by digital technology. Obviously, an online portal would be required for voting, but this model also assumes easy access to digital versions of films, since you’d need the films “on hand” in order to replace/screen them on short notice. Some sort of streaming or small, digital format could facilitate this.
Who owns a theater and likes to dream big??