With the rise of bootleg DVDs and films being released on demand the same day as theaters, it’s becoming clear that modern movie theaters need to develop new ways to attract moviegoers. One way of doing this is by offering movies in a manner not normally available in people’s homes, projecting them onto massive screens and making use of cutting-edge 3D technology.
Even this may not be enough, though. Even movies with CG-driven imagery that are well-regarded by critics, such as Ender’s Game and Pacific Rim have failed to make much money for studios or theaters, part of a trend overall in 2013 that has seen many big-budget films flop.
Theaters are beginning to try something new, however, at least within King County. Rather than try to compete with large franchises like Regal Cinemas, other theaters have begun offering perks that are unrelated to the movie experience or put a new spin on it. Cinebarre is a chain of theaters (owned by Regal Entertainment) that both show movies and have built-in restaurants, an interesting combination of services that initially seem completely unrelated. Guests sit at tables in front of the movie screen and order food from a menu before the movie starts. A Cinebarre recently opened in Issaquah to replace the old Regal Cinema that once stood there, which moved to a new location in the Issaquah Highlands a few months ago.
Seattle, too, has a selection of theaters for moviegoers looking for a slightly different experience. Cinerama is a novelty popular during the 50s that makes use of three images projected on a massive, heavily curved screen. Movies shot in Cinerama have not been made for decades, but there is one theater in Seattle that shows them, a refurbished establishment that reopened in 1999. Because there are only four such theaters in the world, the Seattle Cinerama is a popular movie theater for film buffs, and is even visited by casual moviegoers, as new films not shot in Cinerama are also shown there.
Only time will tell if Cinebarre will be as successful as Cinerama, but movie theaters as a whole will hopefully be a staple of American culture for decades to come.