I gave the matter some more thought and think I’ve come up with an idea that has some legs. I’ve already sent Mark Cuban an e-mail, so no point in stealing my proposal and presenting it as your own. If you care to read about the future of moviegoing, read on.
Before lunch, I casually dismissed the efforts of your blog’s readers (http://frontburner.dmagazine.com/archives2/016045.html).
During lunch, I challenged myself to do any better. I think I have:
Any marketing push has to have an online element. But websites alone do not put butts in seats. Here’s how they might: combine the social networking of MySpace, the “everyone’s a critic” of Amazon.com, the matchmaking of dating sites, the movie rentals of Netflix, and mix it all with a frequent flier program.
People will register with Landmark’s website and get to have their own home page and blog or whatever. On that page, each person can–and should–list their Top 10 Comedies, Top 10 Dramas, Top 10 Action Flicks, Top 10 Documentaries, Top 10 Foreign Movies, and the like. They will also become amateur movie reviewers. Because of the lists, when I read a person’s review, I get a sense of where that person is coming from. (If someone says “40 Year-Old Virgin” is the funniest movie of the past five years, I’ll give that more weight if they also love “Dr. Strangelove.” If they think “Happy Gilmore” is the ultimate… not so much.) So there’s the Amazon.com analogy.
But people who read books don’t go to one place to do so (apart from libraries, but whatever). People DO go to movies. At your theaters, reserve four or five rows of prime seating for people who have registered with your site. People who sit there know they are among online friends. If you take it to another level, you can assign seats based on shared interests or similar tastes. If I’m single and I go to a movie, and I find myself sitting next to a woman who’s apparently single too, it’s so easy to say, “Hello, hot stuff. I wonder how we ended up next to each other. Let’s talk in the lobby after the movie’s over and we can find out.” (Free internet access in the lobby might help.) It’s like MySpace, except you’re not building “online communities.” Or rather, you’re enhancing “online communities” by taking them into the real world.
The frequent flier thing? Registered users get points for money spent at your theaters. The more money they spend, the more points. Many people will try to get points just to impress people who visit their web page. (“Adam has 2,473 points! He is a TRUE film geek.”) But more than mere bragging rights, points can be cashed in for merchandise (forgot to mention: banner ads for movies all over the place on your site based on preference, a la Google model). Points also buy your way into sneak previews. Moviegoers will review those sneak previews on their individual sites. You can aggregate those reviews, a la Rotten Tomatoes.
(The Netflix stuff might not be as easy, depending on how deep you want to delve into the rental market. Plus, they already do some reviews.)
Anyway, those are my two cents. Though I think they may be worth more than that, to be quite honest.