It rambles, meanders and tap-dances for the sake of tap-dancing. But a smart 7.9 article by the Detroit Metrotimes‘ Ashley Lindstrom does specifically grapple with a big exhibition fear — i.e., that competition from the proverbial third screen (computers, Apple TV, iPhones, iPods) will hurt or kill big-screen venues. The answer, provided by NATO president John Fithian and a USC Digital Media Center report, is that this just isn’t happening.
“It would seem counterintuitive that an attention-deficit generation of instant-gratification addicts still makes up the majority of frequent moviegoers,” Lindstrom writes, “but Fithian recalls a 2007 study by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) which shows that individuals who own or subscribe to five or more technologies (DVR, satellite TV, MP3 players, etc.) actually see about four more movies per year than, er, neo-Luddites.
In short, “the old wisdom that techies are by their very nature antisocial creatures is being challenged. For instance, the University of Southern California Digital Media Center’s 2008 report showed that internet users say they spend more face-to-face time with friends and family than nonusers.
“‘For [young people], this is just one more form of being pervaded by media,’ Fithian says, adding that many theaters are looking into rowdier, text-friendly auditoriums to serve their long-term welfare by meeting their youthful patrons’ desires– AMC’s Star Theatre in Southfield, anyone? — and additionally creating adult spaces for more challenging content. AMC offers its ‘AMC Select’ for, they tell us, ‘special films for select tastes,’ most of which are released regionally and occasionally screen in a Detroit-area AMC theater.
The result, says Fithian, is that theatres “are finally back on track after the 2005 slump, and that this year’s take — as of 6.13.08 — is only slightly under last year’s — the year of ‘threequels,’ Fithian interjects — and he fully expects to make up the difference in no time.
Fithian further points out that “the total number of U.S. screens actually increased in 2008, though the sum of theater locations has decreased, which he ascribes to older facilities being torn down and the erection of more modern multi-screened structures.”
Wait…”rowder, text-friendly auditoriums”? As in darkened auditoriums where you’re supposed to watch movies? Include me out.