While companies like Netflix generate headlines for disrupting the way people watch movies and shows, exhibitors maintain that they, too, have been invested in innovation. Regal and AMC have upgraded locations with recliner seats and are enhancing their menus with snazzier snacks and alcoholic beverages. Both companies say the new features have resulted in more foot traffic and concession sales.
“If you look at any business, the bar keeps getting raised and expectations keep going up,” Thewes says. “People have a lot of choices about where to spend their disposable income, so we need to keep raising our game.”
B&B Theatres’ Bagby says he’s convinced audiences will keep returning, provided exhibitors come up with novel ways to lure them out of their homes. He notes that his company has outfitted locations with a play area, as well as a 4D auditorium with seats that spray, mist and move along with the on-screen action. The business, which has 400 screens in seven states, has been in Bagby’s family for four generations. He wants to keep it around for several more.
“My grandfather always said that everyone has a
kitchen, but they still go out to eat,” Bagby says. “They’ve got to get out of the house. I believe in this business. I think the future is bright.”