Will there be a day in the near future when people stop watching movies a theatres?

Death of the TheatreThis will all depend on several things:

  • Date nights and the like.  Movies are cheaper than other options and you can’t get the “experience” at home.  Think about the food, the company, live events, etc.  Will this still entice the audience to come?
  • Theatre technology. As with all technology these days, it will advance. Technology such as 3D movies, IMAX films, and higher frame rates will only become better and even more realistic.
  • The rights to show movies first. What will happen if movie theatres loose the right to show movies before they are released to streaming, cable, dvd and blu-ray, and like?
  • How much the theatres make? Will theatres be forced to close their doors because too many people are choosing other options?

What to expect from home theatre technology in the coming years:

  • Televisions are already getting bigger, better, and cheaper as technology advances. Expect to see big screens to be commonplace. Home projector technology has become almost as cost effective as buying a television unit.
  • Using computers in conjunction with televisions.  Viewing computer content through televisions is a huge improvement to home entertainment. People will be doing more with, and expecting more from, their televisions.
  • It is most likely that theatres won’t be able to show movies exclusively on first release.  Think about the timeframe that used to be standard from theatre release to dvd release. This timeframe has gotten significantly shorter and audiences can expect that timeframe to be, at least almost completely, eliminated as market conditions change.
  • On-demand access to movies will get better and better. Consumers expect to be able to view what they want when they want. Companies like Netflix and Amazon will respond accordingly.

With all of the changes, it’s easy to imagine that theatres will lose customers to the home viewing experience. It isn’t a stretch that theatres will start to go out of business. Some are already starting to fold up. There is hope for theatres though.  Let’s look at why people go to the movies:

  • The younger set goes to the movies out of necessity. Regardless of advances in home theatre technology, teenagers aren’t going to go on a date or hang out with friends while mom, dad, and the rest of the gang are watching. That’s not fun and it lessens the independence that teenagers need to feel. Aside from the obvious conflict factor, movies are a cheap way to go on a date, and get out of the house.
  • Parents go out to the movies to get away. It’s cheap and they can watch a movie without the junior(s) stealing the remote, screaming, or distracting in any other way. It’s a glorious two hours out of the house. Let the babysitter wrangle the kids in front of the big screen at home.
  • People in rural areas often  only have the local theatre activity available at night.
  • Movies are cheaper than restaurants, sporting events, concerts and amusement parks.  There are cheaper options for entertainment, but not usually at night. It is likely that movies at the theatre will remain cheap relative to other entertainment options.

It’s important to note that movie theatres offer an “experience” that you just can’t get at home. Especially with the technology advances with 3D and IMAX.  It’s a spectacle to be seen. Regardless of the movie quality there is just something to be said about viewing a movie at the theatre; the smell of popcorn and the quiet social atmosphere of like-minded audiences still connects people.

What is the future of theatres? It’s obvious that many factors will contribute to the outcome for theatres but only time will tell.