Idea 052: Mini Theaters

Someone needs to redefine the movie experience with a new product. Something much smaller and intimate.

In today’s world of everything customized, catered and niche, why wouldn’t someone do exactly that to the movie theater industry? So, here’s what I’m thinking:

Right now, movies are fun. You take your date (or spouse, or friends), buy a ticket and enter a large room with a few hundred other people you don’t know. You sit by one, or not, depending on how newly released the movie is. You buy your popcorn (after mortgaging your home and firstborn) and you enjoy the movie…somewhat.

My vision of this idea is individual theaters for which you pay a premium to “own” the room. These smaller theaters are no larger than the size of a one car garage. The movie is projected full screen on the wall and it’s OK that it’s smaller because you are much closer up.

Rather than chairs, big, fat, oversized La-z-boy recliners. I think six of them, in case you have a few friends to bring, but most of them would just be occupied by a couple. Of course, great surround sound installed in every theater. And they can also order dinner. Popcorn and drinks are included already, so you don’t pay extra for that.

Here’s the key: you get to pick any movie at all, new(er) or old. Rather than showing up and hoping the tickets aren’t sold out, you request what is shown and it’s all reserved for you. These mini theaters only play movies that are a year or so older, like what you can get on Netflix or Redbox. I’ve heard that movie rights are some of the most expensive operating costs a movie theater pays. That’s why they have to stick it to you on the food. But movies a year or older, it seems, would be far less expensive.

We all enjoy watching our favorite movies multiple times- it seems there would be a niche to serve that audience. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems there would be.

Reservations would need to be made ahead of time. A location could have a dozen or so of these in the same amount of space a traditional movie theater would take to build just one theater.

To make it work, ticket prices would be a premium, which would be possible because it’s a premium, personalized, catered experience. I’m thinking $50 or so per person, plus the price of dinner. Staffing would be considerably less and overall operating expenses would be much smaller. The key, of course, is to keep those rooms booked. You could have two showings per room per evening: 4pm, 7pm and 10pm for the late nighters.

This is perfect for special occasions. For example, it’s your anniversary. And you have a special movie you want to watch from 20 years ago when you first got married. Or a birthday party to watch a kid’s favorite movie.

So there you go- take it and run. Or comment below on any thoughts you have to enhance the idea.

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