Movie theaters are dying. Are Broadway theaters next?

Lately when I meet people and tell them what I do, they say, “Oh man, I’m so sorry.”

My response, “Hey, at least I don’t own movie theaters!”

(There’s always a bright side, right?)

And it’s true.

Movie theaters are in trouble.  Not only are people NOT going, but content is not coming.  Big movies are getting delayed, or going straight to digital . . . (Frozen 2, Hamilton, to name a few that you’d be familiar with.)

That’s one of the reasons Regal cinemas announced it was closing 540 theaters across North America.

So sure, I can see why people might ask . . . “If movie theaters are in such trouble, are Broadway theaters next?

How shall I say this?  Ahhhh . . . no.  Wrong.  Sorry, but not sorry.  Broadway theaters are not in the same universe as movie theaters.

There are two reasons that the movie theater industry is oh so different than what we do.

And there are two reasons why the movie theater business WILL die (or come close to it), while we will not only survive, but will thrive again.

Reasons #1 Why We’re Different:  We weren’t in @#$% shape when this started.

At the beginning of this pandemic, a speaker in an entrepreneurial mastermind that I’m a part of told me “Let me be blunt . . . if your business was in trouble before the pandemic, it’s dead now.  Give up.”

He was right.

I’ve witnessed it first hand myself.  A gym that I belonged to went bye-bye (I loved it because there was never anyone there – which turns out, ain’t good for the gym business).  And personally, I’ve had to close up a couple of subsidiary companies I run that hadn’t yet broken through.

And the movie industry?  Well it was already against the ropes.

It was only a matter of time before the movie theater industry got knocked out.  The pandemic just accelerated the issue.

Ask yourself, when was the last time YOU went to the movies?  Now scroll back 10 years.  20 years.  How many times did you go then?

That’s what I thought.

Reason #2 Why We’re Different:  There’s no replacement for what we do.

The experience of watching a movie at home is getting so good, that it’s no longer a thrill to see a flick in a theater just to hear the cool sound on the big screen.  You’ve got something close to that in your living room!  And now that the streaming services are getting new releases?  The popcorn just ain’t worth it anymore.

In the theater biz, there is no way to replace the live experience.  Sure, sure, there is a streaming movement in the theater that I’m a big believer in, but that will supplement what we do, not replace it.

 

So yes, movie theaters are dead.  Or, at the very least, they are about to be the opera.  They were once THE social thing to do, but soon going to a movie theater will be for aficionados and super special date-night throwbacks to a different age.

But Broadway?  The live theater?

Live will live on forever.  After all, it has survived thousands and thousands of years . . . and every major crisis the world has faced . . . and every major technological advancement.

In fact, when movie theaters first came out, I bet everyone thought they’d kill Broadway.

Sorry.  But not sorry.

(And hey – maybe we could turn a couple of the empty movie theaters into Broadway theaters?)

– – – – –

Want to hear my prediction for EXACTLY WHEN Broadway will return?  Along with what the box office will look like and what that means for you?  Click here for a special 3-part video series.

 

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Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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