Watch CBS News

​Filling movie theatre seats with gimmicks

People just aren't buying movie tickets like they used to
Movie studios and cinema chains experiment to sell tickets 02:25

Going OUT to the movies is increasingly out of the question for our Contributor Conor Knighton:

Tonight, Hollywood honors the best films of 2014 -- what's predicted to be the WORST year for film attendance in almost two decades.

Food and drink delivered right to a Dine-In Theatre patron, luckily seated on the aisle. AMC

People just aren't buying movie tickets like they used to. Tickets are expensive. Netflix streams thousands of films for just $8 a month -- and HALF of tonight's Best Picture nominees are already on iTunes.

Video games and tablets and smartphones compete for our attention, and with big HDTVs and surround sound systems in home theaters, it's tough to convince audiences to leave home and go to an ACTUAL theater.

That's why some studios and cinema chains have been trying to "enhance" the cinema experience.

AMC has been investing in extra plush seats and dine-in theaters.

From an AMC commercial promoting their "Dine-In Theatres":

"Kick back in our extra comfy seats, and when you're ready to order, press the button, and your server will appear -- it's just like magic, only better!"

Better than MAGIC?!? I don't think so. I've been to one of these theaters. I was trying to watch the movie, the guy beside me keeps ordering buffalo wings, then the waiters bring everyone their checks right during the pivotal scene . . . it is super distracting.

But it's not nearly as distracting as Disney's experiment. They've been toying with "Second Screen" experiences, encouraging audiences to bring their iPads along.

From a Disney commercial promoting their "The Little Mermaid: Second Screen Live!" event:

"Download your app, bring your Apple iPad, and see 'The Little Mermaid' on the big screen like you never have before . . . A new way to watch movies with your friends and family where YOU become part of the story. Wow, cool!"

No, NOT cool! Unless you are a talking crab or a sea witch, you have no business being part of "The Little Mermaid."

Disney doesn't want you to turn off your electronic devices when you go to the movies -- they want you to BRING them, so you can interact with "The Little Mermaid." "Moviegoing has never been so much fun!" promises their ad. Disney

But for those who really want to feel like a part of the movie -- by literally FEELING PARTS of the movie -- there are new "4D" theaters. Already popular abroad, these theaters offer gusts of wind, splashes of water, smells, and gyrating seats.

Conor Knighton gets some added special effects during a screening. CBS News

I got to experience a "4DX" screening in Los Angeles. The technology is pretty cool -- for a 15-minute theme park attraction. But for a two-and-a-half-hour movie, it's a little too intense.

Maybe I'm just old-fashioned. I go to the movies to shut off ALL distractions for a couple of hours. I want to get caught up in a great story, and I'm perfectly happy with a dark room and a comfortable chair. But in today's competitive entertainment landscape, that might not be enough any more.

Tonight, as the stars crowd into the Dolby Theatre to hand out awards, we'll be witnessing what's becoming a truly Outstanding Cinematic Achievement -- a packed theater.

For more info:

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.