Summer Slump: Winning Back Movie Customers

How theaters are trying to fill the seats

This has been a tough summer for the movies. 

Not only are fewer Americans going to the movies, but many families feel they have been priced out of the theater.

“The cost definitely has a lot to do with it,” said Melissa Williams, who took her daughter to a dollar matinee Wednesday.

Aaron and Valerie Barlett also look for cheaper times when they take their two children to the movies, or they simply stay home.

“We watch them a lot at home, we watch them on DVD, we watch them on Netflix,” Aaron said.

People in the theater business are looking for ways to attract families back to the movies.  That is often done by lowering prices.

“I’m concerned at times because there are so many options for people to watch movies,” said Julie Bravo with San Diego-based UltraStar Cinemas.

The UltraStar Cinema in Hazard Center is trying to win back families by offering dollar movies for children in the mornings and capping their regular theater prices at $8.

“Attendance is picking up,” Bravo said.  She says it’s hard for families on a budget to pay for luxury seats that sometimes sell for $20 and higher.

As for movies on the screen, there have been few true blockbusters.  Even those most popular films have not passed the $300 million domestic revenue goal.  Also, there are fewer family films this year.  Pixar does not have a new release in 2014.

While there is a constant competition for viewers, Bravo says her theater offers something that tablets and TV screens can’t.

“You can have a beautiful screen at home. You can have a great surround sound, but something about being in a theater, a dark room with 200 people, hearing them laugh, hearing them cry, smelling that popcorn," she said.  "You can’t recreate that with the best home system."

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