I love films. Always have. Always will.
Unfortunately, I may never step foot inside a movie theatre again.
For the last few years, every single time I have gone to see a film in a theatre the overall experience has been really frustrating.
Last weekend was sadly typical. My wife and I went to see Casino Royale at our local movie theatre. We should have stayed at home. Not because of the film, which is quite good, but because of all the other crap we had to put up with.
(Be patient, there's an Internet angle to this...)
First of all, we had to contend with a bunch of people who showed up late and expected to get good seats, leading to lots of us who got there on time having to move over in our seats, ushers waving flashlights around, toes getting stepped on, etc.
Then, of course, there's the folks sitting next to us who insist on saying asinine things out loud during the course of the film. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind people thinking stupid things - that's their prerogative - I just don't want to hear those stupid things while I'm trying to watch a film. Save it for the living room, folks.
What really ruined the evening for me was the fact that the entire film was projected out of focus. Not once during the course of the film did the projectionist (yes, there was one) even bother to check the projection. Since I was sandwiched in the middle of a long row, I didn't want to have to clamber over (and disrupt) dozens of people in order to notify the theatre staff of the problem. And, quite frankly, I shouldn't have needed to do that in the first place if the projectionist and the theatre staff were doing their jobs.
I should mention that I studied filmmaking and worked in the feature film industry, so I know how hard everyone who works on a film tries to make their films look and sound as good as possible. I've also been a projectionist in a movie theatre and, to be perfectly blunt, it's not a difficult job to do well - especially now that most of the job has been automated.
After the film was over, my wife and I did what we seem to do every time. We asked to speak to the manager, and we let him know about the focus problem. The manager did what managers do every time; he apologized and gave us two movie passes to "use next time."
Two movie passes. Just like the last time we complained, and the time before that, and the time before that.
Which is where the Internet angle comes in.
There's already a gazillion Websites where consumers rate movies. What's missing is a Website where consumers rate movie theatres. Think TripAdvisor or Epinions, but for movie theatres. Theatres could be rated on their cleanliness, quality of their projection and sound system, projection quality, friendliness of staff, variety and quality of refreshments... you get the idea. Very Web 2.0 if you're into that.
I'd love to see a Website like this, (by the way, the domains rateyourtheatre.com and rateyourtheater.com are still available as I write this) and I'd be the first to contribute my ratings of the theatres I've been to. The thing is, I don't see much of a business model behind such a venture, and I've got plenty of other things keeping me busy, so I'm not going to create this Website.
But you can. Someone can. Help give a voice to those of us who still give a crap about the movie theatre experience. Before it's too late.
Take my idea, please!
(Update - December 6, 2006: I guess I should be flattered. It would appear that not only do the folks at TripAdvisor read my blog, but they liked my idea so much they went and registered the domain names I suggested within hours of this post being published.)
Domain name expert Bill Sweetman is the President & Lead Ninja of Name Ninja, a boutique domain name consulting firm that helps companies acquire, manage, protect, and profit from their domain names. Bill has provided strategic domain name advice to major companies around the world for over 20 years.
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