New Study Suggests Movie Theaters Don't Have To Be Just For Movies Anymore

The Fabelmans
(Image credit: Universal Studios)

As the calendar year draws to a close, and Hollywood surveys its landscape, it’s clear that there is still plenty of work to be done in the weeks and months ahead to help bring movie theaters and the movie-going industry back to full health. WIthout questions, box-office successes like Top Gun: Maverick and the anticipated arrival of James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water provide needed shots in the proverbial arm for theater owners. But one major issue still facing theaters is a lack of new movies available to show, compared to where the industry was three years ago.

With that reality in mind, The Cinema Foundation and the research firm The Quorum conducted a recent study that points to new and inventive ways that movie theaters can start to generate interest from consumers by showcasing nontraditional content. The study’s results proved that there is a high interest from participants to see more nontraditional programming and opportunities in theaters, essentially saying that movie theaters don’t have to only be for movies, anymore. Patrick Corcoran, Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for NATO, joined CinemaBlend’s ReelBlend podcast recently and opened up about the survey, saying:

The biggest takeaway is that people love going to the movies, and it’s not central to them what that thing is. Obviously the thing that is our biggest offering to moviegoers is movies. But for a lot of people, they want to see more things. There’s an opportunity to get more people, more often, into a movie theater. And really interestingly, people who have not gone to movie theaters very much – or at all – would be interested in coming back to the movie theater. They like that experience. They’re just not that interested in mainstream movies. So the idea of nontraditional content, non-mainstream or current movies showing up in the movie theaters is an attraction for them.

The term “nontraditional” from the standpoint of the survey conducted by The Cinema Foundation could mean anything from special television episodes and live concerts to cooking experiences that are beamed into a theater auditorium. Theaters experimented with this when they helped viewing parties for the Game of Thrones finale, giving fans the chance to experience a cultural event together. The survey emphasized the need for theaters to tap into niche programming with a dedicated fanbase. As an example, the faith-based series The Chosen aired the opening episodes of its third season in theaters, and ended up earning more than $8 million at the box office for that weekend. 

Patrick Corcoran continued:

Live cooking is interesting. That took us by surprise. … There can be things where you have cooking demonstrations, mobile kitchens – the same way that you do it on a TV show. They are there on the set with a mobile kitchen. But there’s also the opportunity with in-theater dining, which is such a big deal right now. You can tie this (idea) into what’s happening back in that kitchen there.

Listen to the entire conversation with Corcoran as part of the most recent episode off ReelBlend, which also features an interview with J.D. Dillard, the director of the Naval aviation drama Devotion.   

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Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.