Thanks for coming to my pitch meeting!
I don’t think the movie theater experience will last much longer in America. While box office sales aren’t terrible, they’re definitely down significantly from their peak in the early 2000’s. We’re closer to mid-90’s levels now, and I think the trend will continue downward.
Options for watching at home are simply getting better. I love movies; I would definitely categorize myself as a “movie buff.” As a result, I have a pretty sweet home theater built in my basement. Projector, nice surround sound, all that. Even so, it’s amateur/hobbyist level stuff; I have some friends with way nicer setups. But even my amateur setup is awesome and makes my desire to go to the movies almost non-existent. Combine that with the fact that modern streaming services deliver to me an incredible variety of content options and you can see why I’m not eager to spend $100+ on a night at the movies.
But there are certain facets of the experience that aren’t captured by my home theater. It’s not especially large; it’s designed for my small family unit. I couldn’t host a party of even 10 comfortably. But many of our movie (and even television) experiences are inherently social experiences. Even if you watch by yourself, you immediately want to discuss the latest Avengers movie or Game of Thrones episode with your friends or the fandom online. And I know many people like to actually gather to watch those things together; when 30 Rock was on the air, we used to gather every week at a friend’s apartment to watch and laugh together (30 Rock is still one of the greatest shows to ever air on television, by the way. Fight me.)
Okay, that was a lot of preamble. Here’s the actual idea: Small, rent-able movie rooms. Tagline: “The Best Living Room In Town.”
You walk into what used to be a movie theater. Instead of 20 large theaters showing big movies at specific times, that space is now divided into 160 decent-sized “living rooms.” Each one has incredibly comfortable couches and an awesome screen, and is sized for between 10 and 20 people. You rent the rooms by the hour, and you can watch whatever you want. The business has commercial accounts with every streaming service, so you can watch any Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO, Disney or whatever else you want. It also still gets movie licenses, so you can watch the newest releases, too. Super Bowl Sunday probably has some surge pricing, but watch it here – no clean up, no angry spouse! Want to take your kids to see a movie, but they’re a little rambunctious? It’s cool – the rooms are private and sound-proofed, no worries about disturbing other patrons or forcing your kids to sit in one spot for two hours. Want to get together with friends and binge all of Good Omens or Stranger Things in one day? Split the cost of the room and have fun!
A central area has a decent food court, and you can bring your snacks or meals into the rooms – there are tables in there. Pause any time you like for a refill without missing anything – it’s your room! Want to get your Smash Bros. on? Bring your system, we’ll hook it up for you, and you can play on our awesome screen instead of at your mom’s house. Looking for an awesome party idea? Ask us about our Karaoke options!
I’d like to think of this as the experience of “social watching.” When it’s just your friends and family, you can talk if you want to, pause when you need to, be comfortable, and enjoy spending time together. I’d go!