I was teasing an industry friend of mine the other day who shall remain nameless (although I am biting my fingertips right now–I so want to type it) because he hadn’t seen Miss Abigail’s Guide . . . yet. I was actually going to let him off the hook when he pulled me aside and said, “Ken, listen, in all seriousness, I am going through a tough time right now . . . and I haven’t seen ANY theater because frankly, I just can’t afford it.”
My first thought? Pity. When someone says, “I can’t afford it,” about anything, your heart goes out to them, right? It’s the ultimate out.
But I had a theory, and I decided to test it out.
“NAMELESS PERSON,” I said, “Can I ask you something?”
“Have you seen a movie in the last month?”
“Well, yes, I have.”
“Have you seen more than one movie in the last month?”
“I’ve seen two.”
“Ahhh, I see. But you can’t afford the theater, right? You just spent at least $25 on movie tickets. You know about TDF, right? You know about 20at20, right, where you can see shows for $20?”
He didn’t answer.
I could have pressed on . . . “Did you have popcorn when you were at the movies? Oh, and do you drink Starbucks? Watch Netflix?”
But the point wasn’t to embarass him . . . the point was to demonstrate how the problem isn’t price. The problem is value.
Here was a theater person, who was claiming that theater tickets were too expensive . . . who chose to go to the movies instead. The movies were of a greater value to him.
And that’s our problem.
There are cheap ways to see theater. Period. And people who can’t find $20, $30, $50 or yes, even $120 to see a show don’t value the experience enough to work at finding that money. (And please, don’t challenge me to say that you’re different and you really don’t have even $20 to see a show, because I will come to your house and do an audit on your life and find $20 somewhere, I promise.)
And if theater folks won’t work at finding those extra few bucks, how are we going to get ordinary folks to do it?
So the next time you find yourself saying “Theater tickets are too expensive,” stop yourself. Man up and admit it. Say, “I don’t find enough value in going to the theater.”
If we admit the problem, maybe we’ll come closer to a solution.
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