Why Airlines And Studios Should Allow First Run Movies On Flights

Captain Marvel in the airplane 2019

When it comes to flying, there can be a lot to complain about. Leg room is always an issue, the food is subpar at best, and somehow there's never enough room for luggage. For all the complaints one can find with flying on a commercial flight, however, the television and film selections are usually pretty solid. Most new Digital releases can be found on flights, and sometimes you don't always have to pay to see them!

As good as movie options on airlines typically are, they could always be better. In fact, it would really be the best if studios would collaborate with big companies to allow first run movies to play on flights. Like some in-flight services, it could be offered as a luxury to passengers for an added fee. It doesn't seem like it would be all that hard to implement and could be something that could be mutually beneficial to studios and airlines.

Why Is This A Good Idea?

For airlines, the pros behind providing first run films on flights is obvious. Movies may not be the deciding factor in someone's airline choice, although it's more than fair to say the right movie could potentially factor into choosing an airline. For example, if I were choosing a flight the Friday Avengers: Endgame opens and I saw one provider had it available on my flight, I'd likely choose them provided my flight was as long as its runtime. Plus, there's potential for happier customers who are watching first run movies instead of no movies or content they've already caught before.

Of course, there would probably be some on the flight who wouldn't care about the film or might choose a different flight if it were cheaper or had better times, for example. That's unfortunate, but not a deal breaker as airlines already have a system in place for those to pay for additional content. As long as the price for a film is left off of the plane ticket, folks shouldn't complain.

Of course, theater chains might be less pumped, as many are already scrambling to bring audiences back to movie theaters with various ideas. Giving airlines first run rights likely wouldn't sit well with some at first, especially those with theaters already in some airports. Granted, that's an experience only a select few airports offer worldwide, and it's more than fair to say this an arrangement shouldn't hurt the average theater's bottom line.

After all, it's not like someone is going to book a flight cross-country every time a movie they want to see premieres. Additionally, folks flying to and from locations probably aren't planning to go to a theater that day anyway, although I suppose an argument could be made this might inhibit an eventual trip to a theater. With that in mind, perhaps this is why this plan has not happened yet. But I say theater chains should really get involved!

How Theaters Should Get Involved

This is why it's a good thing theaters can get in on this action as well, and make the allure of watching first run movies on flights even more attractive. Sure a new movie on a flight is awesome, but imagine being able to watch the latest and greatest movies during those crushingly long layovers at airports? Suddenly, six hours sitting in a random terminal sounds a lot more bearable.

There are some logistical issues with this of course, seeing as people would be flying in and out of airports at varying times, and choosing any combination of movies to view. The bottom line is that simply building a movie theater to accommodate this experience is impractical, and would be the wrong way to approach this.

With that said, if a theater chain had a row of kiosks available to travelers getting off flights to resume their movie, that would be great. A kiosk prevents multiple people from crowding in (comfortably anyway) to piggy back on one purchased film, and would allow another person a reasonable amount of privacy to relax and enjoy the rest of their film and possibly another while waiting on a connection.

So How Would This Work? 

Presumably, a person's progress on a film would be linked to their plane ticket and could be scanned at a kiosk, or they could be given a QR code to photograph with their smartphone to pull the film back up at the airport. Either way, a method like this would be necessary, as buying the rights to view a film twice when the first viewing was interrupted would be something most consumers wouldn't tolerate.

Additionally, a way of tracking one's progress in a film and transferring it would be handy for those with connecting flights. Pausing a film and then being able to seamlessly resume it on the next flight would be remarkably simple, which quite frankly, would be a godsend considering how stressful making a connecting flight can be. Of course, there'd probably be instances where airlines wouldn't honor each others purchases, so this plan isn't full proof.

A third party were to do the legwork on making this a thing. That would at least encourage mass adoption across airlines, and resolve the headache of them having to directly interact with each other. It's a niche market, but surely there's enough demand for one company to do it well and usher in a brave new movie experience? I don't have a business degree, I just have ideas.

I also have a mild anxiety of flying that would be severely lessened by the fact I'd get a chance to see a new movie. As mentioned, the options on flights are sometimes pretty solid, so a move like this would merely be an upgrade to one of the nicest parts of a flying experience. That is, until VR on planes becomes a thing and I can simulate any other type of experience that isn't flying high in the sky.

Readers, would you pay the extra money on a flight for a first run film? Sound off in our poll, and hop down to the comments for any additional thoughts you may have. For more on things happening with theaters, check out one form of transportation that may be getting a unique viewing experience in the future.

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Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.