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Movie theater playgrounds latest tactic to lure families to big screen

Playgrounds at movie theaters
Movie theater offers playground for kids 03:42

Climbing, swinging and sliding aren’t usually what you do at the movie theater.  

But Cinépolis, the world’s fourth largest theater chain, spent a million dollars to upgrade two Southern California theaters, creating a family space that caters to kids. They invited some families to try it out before the grand opening, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy. 

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“What was your favorite part when you were up there?” Tracy asked one of the children.

“I think my favorite part was the climbing things,” Annabel said.

Kids can explore the playground for 20 minutes before the movie starts. But come showtime, the jungle gym is closed and monitored by a theater attendant during the entire movie.

“What do you think of that?” Tracy asked a young movie goer, Ethan.

“A little bit awkward,” he responded.

Even though these kids behaved, some parents are skeptical that might not always be the case.

“It’s a challenge to try to keep them in their seats and happy. … It will be interesting to see how the kids do when they’re told they have to sit down and watch the movie and not play,” mom Heather Spohr said.

It may take more than a slide to get families back to the movies. Although movie theater revenue is up, hitting nearly $11.3 billion last year, that’s in large part due to higher ticket prices. The number of tickets sold has declined since 2002.

Several theater chains have attempted to bring customers back by adding high-end dining and alcohol, luxury recliners and a 4-D experience with moving seats and special effects. Industry experts say rising costs and better technology at home are prompting families to stay on the couch.

“Now you can have a very high-resolution picture in your living room… and you can practically pay for it with a family going to the movies three times,” entertainment industry economist Hal Vogel said.

But for special occasions, parents say the pre-theater playground could still be a lot of fun.

“It makes it that much more memorable for the kids, which is – makes it more fun for the parents, too,” Spohr said.

For now, tickets to this theater will cost a dollar more than a regular ticket, but that is likely to go up. The playgrounds are only in theatres that will show kid-friendly movies. 

In case you’re wondering, no adults are allowed on the slides.

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