Why movie attendance has dropped, while Broadway’s has risen.

Movie attendance dropped by almost 6% last year, returning it to a number that hasn’t been seen since 1992. (No wonder why so many Hollywood stars are looking to Broadway to make a buck.)

Butts in seats at your local cineplex has been on a decline for years . . . while Broadway’s jumped a few year’s back and has been holding steady for the past few.

What’s the problem with movies that super-expensive Broadway seems to avoid?

Two things:

First, movie theaters got pummeled by other distribution methods for their content.  Here comes YouTube, Netflix, iTunes, OnDemand, and more delivering an endless supply of movies for your enjoyment in your own home, or on your laptop, or on that 2×2 inch screen in your pocket.  Sure, sure, you may not get the absolute latest release, but with the “long tail” of content available, consumers had plenty to keep their nights busy.

Second, the technology of home theaters and those laptops and yeah, those even ‘smarter’ phones in your pocket has advanced at such a rapid pace, the viewing experience at home can rival that in the theater.  So “seeing it on a big screen” isn’t as much of an argument to get your a$$ to the multiplex.

What’s the takeaway for the theater?

Spoiler alert, it’s a good one.

See, as more and more distribution methods for Hollywood’s content pop up, and as technology for the consumption of that content advances, our content, live content, becomes even rarer.  And when something is rarer, it becomes more valuable.

There is no alternative distribution method for live.

There is no technology to replace the live actor, on stage, crying her eyes out while belting out a tune.

Nothing beats it.  And nothing ever will.

It’s why the theater is still hopping after thousands and thousands of years, and the invention of the radio, the TV, and yeah, the internet.

So theater ain’t no “fabulous invalid” anymore.

We just might be saying that about Hollywood soon enough.

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  • Carvanpool says:

    Them why are short sighted producers looking to kill the golden goose by filming and showing live theater in movies and via streaming? It simply makes no sense.

  • MTS_Cincy says:

    It’s all about the money, Caravanpool. Based on the then-successful model of National Theatre Live in the UK, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the film chains created a joint venture to bring various types of live entertainment to cinemas and arts centers with screens. Efforts range from truly live via satellite to nearly-live via delayed broadcast. As movie attendance has devolved to less than 40% of capacity on average, $20-$30 tickets for “live” events are an attractive way to fill empty auditoriums on slow days. The process is easy using existing infrastructure — pulling a screen out of Hollywood rotation for one-offs doesn’t bother the big film distributors and the businesses that own the movie chains don’t care because the real profit center is the concessions.

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