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2020 wasn't a great year for movie theaters, and only time will tell just how bad that year ultimately ended up being as studios pushed to streaming. With that being said, the industry was forced to get creative in a way it never really had before, and consumers got some pretty cool things as a result. For example, I experienced a private movie theater with my immediate family over the holidays, and it was pretty great.
Now I'm sure this option existed in some way before lockdowns or when theaters were required to shutter for months on end, but there's no denying the idea of renting out a theater really skyrocketed with the mainstream in the past six months. I was skeptical of the entire experience before being invited by my family a couple of days before Christmas. After experiencing it, I think this is a clear revenue path theaters should keep open in the future.
It's Not Nearly As Expensive As You Think
When I first heard about the premise, I immediately assumed renting out a theater costs an arm and a leg. The truth is, seeing a current new release at my local AMC isn't exactly cheap at $249.00, but it gets a lot cheaper with friends and family sharing the cost. Given the current price of an adult ticket, you're essentially paying the equivalent of 14 people to watch a movie. Even if your family or friend group is smaller than that, splitting the cost five-six ways is relatively affordable.
Also, that's only if you want to see the newest of new movies. Say you're looking to watch an older movie like The Big Lebowski, or maybe The Karate Kid after finishing Season 3 of Cobra Kai. In that instance, you're only paying $99. That's about the cost of taking a family of six to the movies, and, of course, it's completely affordable when split between a few people or more. It's a good deal, and one that, with a little planning and friends willing to share the bill, is totally worth the price of admission.
Is it ever going to be cheaper than streaming it at home? Of course not, but it's not like dropping some cash at the movie theater is a completely new and novel concept. Also, this isn't going to be something you'll do every weekend, which makes me feel like the current admission price is more than justified. Of course, once theaters can re-open at full capacity, these theaters for rent will likely be occupied with much fewer openings available. I'm hoping the current price of renting theaters stays the same in normal circumstances, but it may just be a product of the current situation.
It's The Theater Experience You Love Without Other Annoying Variables
There's nothing quite like seeing a movie on opening night, but when attending a public theater, your experience is completely reliant on the strangers in there with you. It all hinges on others adhering to theater etiquette rules, which tend to vary from person to person. This is a problem that is mitigated by the private theater experience, provided you don't invite anyone who crunches too loudly or starts a phone call mid-movie.
Let me tell you, if that potentially annoying variable is your toddler daughter, this is a pretty sweet option. My daughter loved seeing The Polar Express in our private screening, but she also liked walking over to my sister and ask her how she's doing, and just walking up and down the aisle to burn off some energy. Obviously I'd never let her do this or trust her to behave in a regular theater experience, but when surrounded by friends and family, no one really cared.
I used to think one of my favorite ways to watch a movie in a theater was with as few people as possible late at night. Once I eliminated the idea that a stranger I know nothing about is involved in the experience, I realized that was the real problem. I like watching new movies at home (beyond obvious pandemic reasons) because I control who is or isn't there with me. The same is true when you rent out a theater for a private screening, and for me, that was really awesome.
You Can Transform The Experience Into Something Else Entirely
One special part about the private screening I attended was that it had a dual purpose. My youngest sister's boyfriend actually created a fake trailer and proposed to my sister ahead of the screening. It's a move I would've objected to if I'd had to sit with my family in a crowded theater with strangers, but amongst family, it was a really cool moment.
It got me thinking of other unique movie experiences over the years, such as special screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. With a private screening, there's a freedom for people to get creative and develop new ways to enjoy old films with like-minded people. Maybe there's a perfect drinking game for Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets a group of Potter-fanatics can enjoy in a group, or maybe some other movie with a drinking game?
The point being, there's a lot of things you can do in a private screening that would be frowned upon in a public screening with no prior warning. For those who are renting out a theater, find a way to have fun with it. If showing up and watching the movie is all that's needed, that's completely fine, but don't be afraid to jazz it up with some goofy costumes or geeky games as well. I'd love to participate in some weird, goofy event screenings once things are more back to normal, so I'm also hoping I inspire some creatives to come up with events I'd be interesting in attending.
Those who have rented out a movie theater, how was your experience? Share your thoughts for others in the comments and continue to stick with CinemaBlend for all the latest news in television and movies.