Dinner and a Movie Take on New Meaning

Discussion
Jun 24, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson

It used to be that when people talked about going out to
dinner and a movie it required two stops. Now, however, a new concept in entertainment
lets consumers get their big screen entertainment and a meal
at the same time.

According a report by The Dallas Morning News, chains
such as Movie Tavern, Gold Class Cinemas, Movie Grill and Alamo Drafthouse
are offering consumers quick casual types of menu offerings along with the
latest Hollywood releases.

“I think the concept and [our] company have unlimited potential,” said
John Hersker, president and chief executive of Movie Tavern (Movies Never Tasted
So Good). “We’re comfortable that there are competitors. We take it as
a sign of the health and viability of the concept. We think there’s room for
everybody.”

Cinema eateries currently represent only about one percent
of all movie theaters, but the concept is growing.

Patrick Corcoran, director
of media and research for the National Association of Theatre Owners, told The
Dallas Morning News
, “A lot of different
companies … are entering this space.”

The newest operator in the Texas market
is an import from Australia. Gold Class Cinemas, which bills itself as “the
ultimate movie experience,” has
six facilities operating in Texas.

The company operates by free membership.
About 17,000 people in North Texas became members the first six weeks Gold
Class was open for business. With membership and $17.50, consumers get a reserved
spot for a show in a comfy recliner with tray tables and a storage bin. Non-members
pay $29 for entry on a space-available basis. Entrees at Gold Coast range from
$11 to $19.

Movie Tavern’s Hersker thinks the concept is price competitive
with the traditional movie theater experience. “If you measure total costs
— restaurant, theater, concessions — against what people are paying at Movie
Tavern, it’s … comparable to what you would have spent if you’d gone to that
casual dining restaurant first,” he told The Dallas Morning News.

Discussion Questions: Do you see cinema eateries having a big future in
the U.S.? Which, if any, casual dining chains would you recommend get into
this space?

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16 Comments on "Dinner and a Movie Take on New Meaning"


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Marge Laney
Guest
10 years 10 months ago

I hate going to the movies, but I like this concept. We have a Star Cinema right up the street and I have actually enjoyed going there on occasion. Movie theaters are all about delivering a high fidelity experience and they had a lock on it for a long time. But, with the advent of big screen TVs and home theaters the difference in fidelity between the two has blurred. Staying home and watching a movie via cable, or Netflix et al, with the added advantage of easy food, drink, and bathroom availability has upped the home experience to the point that it’s taking a big toll on movie theater receipts. Being able to get decent food and an adult beverage may be just enough to get people back into the theaters for that big screen experience.

Max Goldberg
Guest
10 years 10 months ago

Movie theatres have been playing with this concept for years. Whether it be the big theatre chains offering upscale food and waiter service or smaller companies building theatres around the meal and a movie concept. Each will find a niche. The problem is Hollywood; will they consistently make films that appeal to an audience older than 25 or 30? Without films appealing to people older than 30, these new theatres remain niches with limited membership.

Ian Percy
Guest
10 years 10 months ago

We’ve slowed way down on movie going–when you pay $10 or more for popcorn and a drink plus $15 for a couple of tickets–Netflix looks pretty good. But money aside, my mind went immediately to revolving restaurants, another place to eat while something else is going on. There may be exceptions but generally the universal rule is you can’t get good food in a revolving restaurant. My suspicion is you can’t get good food in a movie theatre either. If it’s simple fast food you can get a hot dog and chemical cheese in any theatre. If it’s anything more elaborate, what’s the point if you’re not even paying attention to what you’re eating?

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
10 years 10 months ago

Dinner theaters are nice
Done that lots more than twice
But so much commotion
Deters my locomotion.

If I have the “dime”
To apply my time
Wherever I please,
I opt for home ease.

Thus I have no itch
To enjoy this niche.
I’ll sit in my chair
And let TV be my stare.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
10 years 10 months ago

We’ve had one in the neighborhood, and discovered that they were ideal for children’s birthday parties. The challenge for the operator, though, is to get beyond the chicken nuggets and cokes and create compelling cuisine that will attract adults.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
10 years 10 months ago

Can you say “niche”? I’m with Gene and on this one. This concept, in various forms, has been around for 40 years, at least. The last thing most people want when going to a movie is the people near them chomping on more food, adjusting their recliners, and slamming their tray tables down. The best thing about going to a movie is the big screen experience. If we make it harder for people to see and hear, with more distractions, they may as well (and are, increasingly) stay home.

Michael L. Howatt
Guest
Michael L. Howatt
10 years 10 months ago

Gene, don’t give up your day job. I too have been to one of these theaters and let’s just say they are more a novelty than a trend. The food was less than adequate, service average and really, are there any movies made these days worth keeping us going out vs. waiting to rent at home at a later date?

Gene Detroyer
Guest
10 years 10 months ago
I partake heavily in movies, though with the purchase of a wide screen TV, my attendance at the theater has dropped. Movie going is an experience. It is a night out. It is a change of pace. The advent of wide screen TVs, surround sound, Netflix, et al has brought much of that experience to the home. The studios have recognized this and accelerated the release of 3-D entertainment. They want to offer something that you can’t get at home. And, they have been successful, not only in filling theaters but in getting outsized admission prices on top of $12 tickets for regular movies. The dinner and a movie concept is trying to do the same thing. It is designing a competing experience for movies at home. But, the idea is not new. 40 years ago in Rochester, NY a theater offered coffee, dessert and wine as you sat around small tables taking in the show. In NYC, there are several outdoor and rooftop summer festivals at which goers are encouraged to bring a picnic,… Read more »
Janet Poore
Guest
Janet Poore
10 years 10 months ago

This concept has been around on a small “indie” scale for years at art film houses serving upscale meals before the movie starts. I don’t see it becoming big in major theaters.

There are 2 things I hate about going to the movies. First is trying to listen to the movie while people talk around me. Second is listening to people munch on food and make noise with wrappers behind me while I try to listen to the movie. Having people in recliners eating while they watch a movie will only make this worse as it will give them the feeling they’re at home instead of in a theater with strangers around them. I doubt I would go to one of these theaters. I’d assume the food would be expensive and inferior as well.

In addition, like many others, I enjoy going out to dinner after the movie and talking about the movie over dinner.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
10 years 10 months ago

We had one of these here in Oakland, and although it was frequently described as “popular,” I think the fact that it is “had” rather than “have” hints at the limitations of the concept; combining different business concepts is often difficult, and when each of them has it’s own specialized marketing, health and safety issues–as is the case here–I would think that would be even more true.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
10 years 10 months ago

This format will undoubtedly attract an audience. With luck, it will attract the market segment that seems confused about the idea that there are people in the theater (like me, for instance) that are there to actually experience the movie and find cell phones, texting, personal conversations, candy wrappers, and other fun activities to be an annoying distraction.

The bigger threat to the movie industry is still home entertainment and the shortening cycle between theatrical release and digital availability. For movie purists like me, though, there are still films, like Avatar for example, that are best experienced on the big screen.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 10 months ago

There is a difference between dinner theatres and this concept of dining and a movie. One, of course, being a show usually put on by the staff of those serving dinner. the other being the traditional theatre type film. I like them both. Certainly the cost will be lower, but not significantly. I would be in favor of giving it a try. Why not? We need new innovative thinking to help traditional business models fresh.

I am a spurt movie goer, usually seeing one weekly for a few weeks; then none for a few months. This seems to coincide with the new releases.

Robert Straub
Guest
Robert Straub
10 years 10 months ago

As with anything involving food, the independents have been getting this right for years, but chains will water it down and and generally take the real spirit out of the concept.

George Whalin
Guest
George Whalin
10 years 10 months ago

This is a wonderful concept that’s been around for several years and hasn’t yet captured the attention of a broad audience. The convenience of going to just one place is just one part of what should be emphasized by owners of these businesses. The social aspect is equally important since it can provide families with another way to spend time together. And, of course entertainment is at the heart of their business with what seems like an ongoing number of blockbuster movies many of which are perfect family fare.

While the owners of these venues have had some success in growing in some areas of the country, success has not been widespread. There are still plenty of opportunities for growth. I believe they just need to do a far better job of marketing the concept.

John Crossman
Guest
John Crossman
10 years 10 months ago

We have one of these concepts in our of our centers and it has been there over 20 years. If done right, they can do very well.

Gary Edwards, PhD
Guest
Gary Edwards, PhD
10 years 10 months ago

The growth of online content, while still prevalent, has not led to the demise of movie theatres that many had predicted. Cinemas and the cinema experience is the exemplar model of what it means to spend in an “experience economy”. It’s the experience of both the product — and of the services surrounding them (food, etc.) — that really matters. As evidenced with the wildly popular movie, Avatar, every person who saw that movie (at $10-$15 each) certainly came away with an experience to remember — whether or not they liked the actual movie.

Cinema viewing is an incredible economic model that will only continue to expand, as theatres have largely proven economically counter-cyclical today. While going to a movie typically falls under “discretionary spend”, this experience often trumps many alternatives based on the value. And so movie theatres, for the most part, continue to do well.

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