Getting patrons in seats is a challenge faced by exhibitors not just in America but all over the world. Whether its offering a dine-in experience, re-releasing old classics for a limited run or putting on marathon events leading up to a new release, theaters are coming up with all kinds of new and innovative ways to attract audiences.
Multiple theater chains already serve food, restaurant-style, to customers in their seats. Others, such as the Alamo Drafthouse, go further, customizing their food and drink offerings to reflect the movie playing at the theater; when they showed Office Space, patrons were provided staplers and flair buttons, and bats to destroy office equipment after the movie.
One company in London is taking all this a few steps further. Future Cinema stages themed evenings devoted to one particular classic movie at a venue called the Troxy, which they transformed recently into a prison to serve as the setting for a nightly screening of The Shawshank Redemption – patrons could get their mug shot taken and get roughed up by the cops – and their current attraction has re-created Rick’s Café Americain from Casablanca.
That is, of course, the iconic nightclub owned by Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) in the movie, which the company re-created with a mock casino and faux -Moroccan restaurant. As they entered, patrons were questioned by a Bogart look-alike, and “Nazi officials and police officers gave chase to numerous crooks” throughout the evening, according to a report at UK movie site Hey U Guys. After the movie, a jazz orchestra provided tunes for everyone to dance to. The Casablanca events completely sold out, and the run was extended through March to accommodate the demand.
So that got us thinking: Could the concept work in the United States? Future Cinema thinks so; they’ve made plans to expand to America this year, starting in New York City.
What about your area? If a theater or special events company staged a smart, fun, movie-themed evening, would that be enough to drag you off your living room couch? Would you support that kind of event on a regular basis?