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Took our family to see the excellent Toy Story 3 the other day and a couple of things came to me. Could it possibly be that movie theaters are responding to the severe and increased competition from mobile entertainment, home theater entertainment, and all of the other types of cool entertainment we have today?

I used to hate going to the movies with my kids or as a kid, especially if I managed to get there early. One reason was that the pre-preview stuff was awful, or non-existent. The move to the short Coca Cola features was an improvement a few years ago, but not by much. At the movie we just went to, the 20 minutes or so before the previews started this time were nearly as engaging as anything we could freely choose on television or some other means – we really liked it. The technology and know-how for this has always been around, so I suspect that it is the competition from these other entertainment sources that is driving this increase in enjoyment.

Second, in response to an old theater in town trying to do something with its dead capital at off-peak times, the nice theater we go to is now instituting “free” family movies on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10:00am. The concessions would be open of course, and it is a good time for the theaters to advertise their other excellent features.

I’ve often wondered why theaters did not try to make arrangements to show big time sporting and other events on screen? For example, wouldn’t people flock there to watch election night? What about big sports playoff games? I am sure there are anti-competitive reasons for the latter, but why not more things like the former?

In any event, you may think these are idle conveniences, or small droplets in the prosperity pool, but they add up. And not only do they add up, they are emblematic of larger conveniences which make life so wonderful to live these days.

2 Responses to “Movies, Capitalism and Competition”

  1. Bobo says:

    Mike, FYI, some theaters are successfully doing exactly what you’re talking about. From the Providence Journal:
    http://www.projo.com/movies/content/lb_movie_biz_04-02-10_P6HBNFN_v22.21726e4.html

    Sox games:
    http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/bos/fan_forum/cinemas.jsp

  2. Harry says:

    In one nearby town a local entrepeneur (for the progressives, by definition a redneck) refurbished a movie theater.

    He combines low prices for tickets and popcorn with cleanliness and reasonable comfort. For a little extra, you can sit in the balcony in comfortable armchairs. We’ve gone there, and it appears there is enough patronage to pay the utilities and the movie rental cost, and clear something. On some weekend midnights you can dress up like Susan Sarandon and watch Rocky Horror.

    But it has to be a tough business, even if you show baseball games. Right now the Phillies lead the Giants 4-3, on HDTV.

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