Revisiting the past – the story of the cinematic experience
During the golden age of Hollywood, going to the cinema was a special event. When ‘Jaws’ came out in 1975, the ‘blockbuster’ was born as people queued for hours to experience the adrenaline rush of seeing that shark on the big screen. Again, a major event.
Fast forward to 2017 and what has the movie outing experience become? People now associate a trip to the cinema with sticky floors, stale popcorn and loud interrupting ringtones. In the age of on-demand online streaming and film piracy, are we seeing the end of the cinematic experience? As a film-lover who believes that the best way to watch the latest release is on the big screen, I sincerely hope not, but if cinemas don’t improve their public image I fear the only way to enjoy a movie will be via the internet. So how can cinema turn the tide and win back bums on seats?
Cinemas need to better promote the ‘experience’ of going to the movies and what makes it so special. They need to convince customers that spending over ten pounds per ticket is worth it. The enhanced experience of seeing a film on a huge screen with the pixel-perfect picture quality and the superior sound cinemas can offer, ensures the overall experience of watching a film at the cinema trumps a TV or laptop every time.
How then are cinemas attempting to win round those people who have forgotten the magic of a movie outing? Many are now utilising social media, such as Snapchat, to engage with their audience and incentivising their customers by offering reduced products and private screenings. This approach communicates with digital savvy customers who have fallen into streaming their movie content from the limits of their own home. They are also refocusing on what gives them the edge and made concerted efforts to improve cinema technology and surrounding, introducing VIP lounges, bars and at-seat service – recreating cinema as a shared social event.
My hope is that cinemas can reignite people’s passion for the full experience of a movie visit. There really is no substitute. The ‘story’ of going to the cinema should not be ignored. How many people have had their first date at the cinema, or introduced their child to a movie series they have adored at a similar age (Star Wars, anyone)?! These are powerful moments that cinemas can capitalise on to highlight the importance of seeing films the way they are intended to be viewed.
In terms of the wider lessons we can gain from the struggles cinema is going through, it is crucial that PR professionals remind prospective customers of the uniqueness and benefits their clients can offer. Revisiting USPs by utilising storytelling and connecting emotionally is a compelling way to re-engage the disenfranchised. A good story needs three components – conflict or bad news, human interest and relevance. The current state of cinema currently boasts all three of these key ingredients:
- Conflict or bad news – it is in a struggle for survival
- Human interest – people have an emotional connection with the ‘experience’ of the cinema
- Relevance – online streaming continues to grow in popularity
As the Oscars draw closer to celebrate the best storytelling put to film this year, I hope cinemas can learn to tell their own story before we lose the experience altogether.
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