For the first time in many many years, I went to the cinema to take my daughter to see the pet movie that just came out. I basically wrote it off in my head as cash spent to keep her quiet for a few hours.
But because I did it in a rural theatre, and not the ones in the city, it was very different.
It was dirt cheap to buy an entire "box" to ourselves in the theatre. I could book online in seconds. I did so, and then spotted the served-food section. I added on some popcorn and chips and other things. In total, for me and her in a private box, it came to less than I would pay for a child ticket in my own local cinema.
We arrived, and there was nobody there. We grabbed tickets and walked straight into the theatre, no waiting around. A guy led us to our box. We had four seats to ourselves, an unobstructed view to the entire screen.
There was barely anyone else in the theatre so no distractions. We still had the usual shite of tons of adverts but I was talking so didn't care. The food was brought to us and we were left alone when the movie started. We could hear, we could see, there were no disturbances, we had our own little table. It was great. The film, however, wasn't. But the experience is the best I've ever had in a cinema.
However, that just doesn't scale. I realise that.
I don't pirate. I have loads of purchased content on Amazon (including Prime), Google Play, etc. as well as my own library. Because it's one-click, play anywhere, download for offline, share with family. It's simple. The biggest problem is price online (Â£7.99 for Ghostbusters II, the original Terminator, etc.? Fuck off).
But if you could combine decent prices, decent content (even old movies at the right price) and the experience I got from that cinema, I'd go every week.
As it is, before that, I went for The Imitation Game (personal hero, movie was worth the money, the cinema wasn't). Before that? I can't even remember. Probably the original Independence Day.
Fix the experience, it doesn't cost ANYTHING to do that, fix the shit on show (including old re-runs at really cut-down prices if you want to fill the cinema in the week and weird hours, and empty screens on the evening), but also scrap crap adverts, horrible people in cinemas, stupendous prices, and utter shite "remakes" (everything post Aliens in that franchise, for instance, Mr Cameron).
Fuck the 3D. Fuck the Dolby super-whatever-sound. Fuck the "movie start time is 15 minutes after the time on the ticket" (literally, just tell me both, I'll still be there on time to get my food and beat the queues, but won't feel cheated), and fuck the "this movie won't be out on DVD until a year after it's never been played in a cinema" shite.
Decent theatre, decent management of it, nice and easy, and a half-decent price. How can it cost less in a rural theatre to a city theatre, when national minimum wage applies to most of the staff?
Outside of that, online availability everywhere, for the same (decent) price that drops over time, and isn't (like a recent Ghostbusters rental) butchered with all the original music cut (probably for contractual reasons, but fuck that shit), within a decent time of the movie being released.
The most obstacles you insert between me pressing play or buying a ticket and watching the movie throughout unhindered, the more people will go elsewhere.