Sunday, November 30, 2014

News You Can't Use: To Lure Young, Movie Theaters Shake, Smell and Spritz

Hey, young person! Yes, you there with the Chinese electronics and "with it" ideas. How would you like to see a movie based on a cartoon designed to sell toys from 1986? What do you mean, no? Would you change your mind if I told you that you'll be sprayed with various vile fluids and shaken like a Bond Martini? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Having tried 3-D films, earsplitting sound systems and even alcohol sales in pursuit of younger moviegoers, some theater chains are now installing undulating seats, scent machines and 270-degree screens.

Where gimmicks from the 1950s and "Underage drinker night" failed, the scent machines will surely succeed. Can you imagine how much better old films would be if the sent of desert sand or old newspapers was constantly blasting you in the face? Clearly this will produce a golden age of Super Movies that will make us wonder why we even cared about all that old junk.

For an $8 premium, a Regal theater here even sprays patrons with water and pumps scents (burning rubber, gun powder) into the auditorium.

Still cheaper than the popcorn, haw haw. Here's three Washingtons and a King Lincoln, can't wait to safely simulate car accidents and gun mayhem.

Can’t cope with two hours away from your smartphone? One theater company has found success with instant on-screen messaging — the texted comments pop up next to the action.

As my seat spun around and I inhaled simulated distressed rubber I was worried I was under-stimulated. Thank goodness for this.

“When I step back and think about what will get people off a couch, in a car, down the road and into a theater, the answer is not postage stamp-sized screens and old seats,” said Gerardo I. Lopez, the chief executive of AMC Entertainment, the No. 2 chain in the United States.

What will get you to take that gun out of your mouth, dress yourself, get into that car, hit the accelerator, negotiate traffic on a road, find a designated theater location and then exchange federal reserve paper for the privilege of seeing a Young Adult novel sort of come alive? It's certainly not going to be compelling stories or skillful direction. Scent sprayers, that has a chance.

“Why would they bother? What the hell, stay in the house.”

No spinning seat that rattles in time with the explosions? Might as well just pull that trigger, the world has nothing for you.

Ticket revenue in North America has fallen 4 percent this year compared to the same period in 2013, according to box office analysts, and attendance is equally down.

Well, that explains the explosion of low budget films and huge pay-cuts for name actors.

Last year, despite a glut of extravagant action movies, the number of frequent moviegoers ages 18 to 24 dropped 17 percent, compared to a year earlier; the 12-to-17 age bracket dropped 13 percent.

We know those punks love deadly violence and loud talking from examining their own pathological behaviors, but for reasons unknown they're not going to theaters. Must be the lack of odors.

The undiscerning young ticket buyers Hollywood has long counted on to turn out weekend after weekend are suddenly discerning.

The nightmare of an educated society! Deploy the new Smart Phones!

Or they are at least busying themselves with video games, living room wide-screen televisions and devices that can pull up thousands of movies with a couple of clicks.

Relax, no one got any smarter. Just much lazier and much, much more pathetic.

“The traditional moviegoing experience is at odds with the rest of their lives,” said Ben Carlson, president of Fizziology, a consultancy that focuses on entertainment and social media.

My doctorate in Fizziology is less useful than you might expect.

There are two types of water effects: rain, which drops from the ceiling, and mist, which is squirted from the seat in front of you. (Patrons can turn off the water by pressing a button.)

Forgive me for not wanting anything squirted from the seat in front of me while at the theater.

“We’re adding to the story, not taking away from it,” said Catherine Yi, a senior editor for CJ 4Dplex, the company behind the technology.

For the last time, this not a stupid gimmick. Please stop asking.

“It’s way cooler than it sounds,” said David Ramirez, 25, as he left a crowded 4DX screening of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” last weekend.

"I'm a man in my mid-twenties but I went to a movie based on a novel aimed at twelve-year-old girls," he added.

But the current move toward interactivity and immersion is unlikely to go away entirely, analysts say, in part because of a generational shift.

Sure. Wake me when "Sense-r-round" comes back.

I'm a unique individual full of value.

Allowing patrons to use their smartphones in certain auditoriums has been discussed intermittently by exhibitors, although worries about piracy, among other factors, have prevented that notion from moving forward in the United States. But theater chains paid keen attention to a recent texting trial in China.
I'd love to read those texts, full of loyalty to the glorious People's Government and Right Think. Show us the way, China.

At August screenings in 11 cities of “The Legend of Qin,” an animated movie, ticket buyers were allowed to log on to a Wi-Fi network and use their mobile phones to text with other attendees as the film played. The messages appeared next to the action, much like VH1’s “Pop Up Video” program.

Behold the huge leap forward in yelling "Don't go in there, girl!" at the screen.

“Our customers really seemed to like it,” said Timothy Warner, Cinemark’s chief executive.

Nothing soul-crushing here, that's for sure.

But Mr. Warner vowed that Cinemark would go only so far. “Unlike some of the others,” he said, “we still think the reason people go to the movies is to see movies.”

It sounds crazy, but you might be on to something here.

Full Story.

"Maybe one day this theater will produce a real rain and a vibrating seat."

Aaron Zehner is the author of "The Foolchild Invention" available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

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