Last weekend I took advantage of AMC’s theater rental program and rented out an entire theater to surprise my family of 5 to watch “Nightmare Before Christmas” on the big screen by ourselves. The cost was only $99, and the whole experience was very pandemic friendly. We pre-ordered concessions online and barely saw another human. Other than a few gas station restrooms, it was the first time my kids have been inside a building other than our home in seven months. They loved talking during the movie and running up and down the stairs. Fun!
But the experience also underlines how at-risk and vulnerable the movie theater industry is today. The hottest movie in the world is Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, which you could stream online on its premiere night for no additional cost beyond your Amazon Prime account fee and in the safety of your own home.
Meanwhile, AMC is letting you rent their theaters for a paltry price, which won’t help them fend off bankruptcy. I used to work at a Carmike movie theater in high school and still have a romantic notion of a night at the movies and the overwhelming power of giving a longford piece of content your undivided attention while surrounded in darkness and booming surround sound. So it was eerie leaving a theater at 8:45 p.m. on a Saturday and seeing the security gates closed and a handful of part time employees waiting to go home from the ghost town. It felt… like hospice.
I’m not rooting for theaters to die. But I do think some creativity and vision would go a long way toward better managing costs and driving revenue. The movie-going experience hasn’t changed significantly in decades — other than maybe digital projectors and recliners. Will Netflix or Disney swoop in and take over? What if your Amazon Prime membership gave you access to a movie a month in a theater? What if the entire theater could vote on a choose-your-adventure-style digital movie with different outcomes depending on how people voted? Now I’m just giving away free ideas.
But nobody asked me. So I’m grateful for the chance to make a fun and safe memory with the family and highly encourage you to rent a $99 theater of your own while you can.
AND if you’re looking for pandemic-safe activities outside your home, here’s the running list from our 22 weekends in a row doing surprise weekend road trips.
My best advice? Don’t over think it. A little creativity and suspense goes a long way when you live, work, and go to school in the same four walls all week long.
See you on the internet!
PS: With the election next week, just a friendly reminder that it’s okay to unplug from your personal social media for a few days or maybe not respond to every comment or maybe not engage every person you deeply disagree with. No matter the outcome of the election, social media is going to be the fulcrum point for a lot of negativity and damage in the coming weeks. And for those of us who do this for a living and can’t just ignore social media entirely, there’s no shame in giving yourself a pass when it comes to the personal stuff. Take care of yourself.