How to appeal to the Netflix generation: Let them text in theaters

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Will AMC Allow Texting In Theaters?
The statistics show that the frequent moviegoer population loves its mobile devices.

The CEO of AMC Entertainment--you know, the world's biggest movie theater chain--made waves yesterday when he told Variety that he'd be open to allowing texting or cell phone use during movies.

In particular, Adam Aron said the move is to attract young people to the movies. "When you tell a 22-year-old to turn off the phone, don't ruin the movie, they hear 'please cut off your left arm above the elbow,'" he said.

He has since retracted the statement, in response to a social media backlash.

But based on the movie industry's numbers, you could argue that Aron's initial statement--in which he was open to patrons to using their phones during movies--was the more logical idea.

According to a report from the MPAA, the total number of "frequent moviegoers"--those who go to the theater at least once a month--decreased by 3.7 million in 2015. It specifically fell for pre-teens, teenagers, and early twenty-somethings. Those are the age groups Aron is trying to attract--the viewers who, these days, may be more likely to watch Netflix on their couch than go to the movies. He told Variety that he wants young people to "go to movie theaters with the same degree of intensity as baby boomers went to movie theaters throughout their lives."

Here's another thing Aron likely understands about "frequent moviegoers" (which includes all age groups, not just young people): They account for 49 percent of all tickets sold in the U.S. and Canada but only 10 percent of the overall moviegoing population. In other words: They are the customers who drive the industry. And according to the MPAA's stats about these frequent moviegoers, they love their mobile devices: "Frequent moviegoers tend to own more key technology products, such as smartphones and tablets, than the general population of adults 18 years and older," reads the report. "Three quarters of all frequent moviegoers (75 percent) own at least four different types of key technology products, compared to 57 percent of the total adult population."

Those statistics make it plain why AMC's CEO had the right idea, even if the announcement ruffled the feathers of the moviegoers who wish the film-going experience would stay they way it was when they were kids.

Moreover, there's an obvious truth at work here, too. Patrons are using their phones during movies anyway. No, they aren't talking. But they're texting, checking the time, and reading notifications. Glance down, for a moment, from the large screen on which the film is playing, and you're bound to see at least a half dozen smaller screens in the hands of the patrons seated in rows ahead of you.

Yes, it's annoying. But it happens. Throw it on your mental list of theater-going grievances. Mine would also include: Patrons whispering or wise-cracking to each other about what they see on the screen; previews and advertisements that seem to last for 30 minutes before the film proper begins; uncomfortable seats; sticky floors; pricey, unhealthy snacks; politically correct plots; movies no longer made on real film; and characters who mostly seem to be too healthy and photogenic to warrant any real sympathy. All of which is why I'm not a frequent moviegoer.

But here's the point: The movie theater experience comes with drawbacks. It always has. It always will. Those are the breaks, when you're getting a night out or daytime activity for what remains--compared to other ticket-taking events--a bargain, at an average ticket price of $8.43. The average total price of tickets to the movies for a family of four costs $33.72. For a family of four to watch professional sports, the tickets can range in price from $115.76 for baseball to $343.32 for football, with basketball ($215.92) and hockey ($248.72) in between, and theme parks ($209.44) in the same general pricing vicinity.

The upshot? If you're hell-bent on preserving the phone-free sanctity of the theater, you should do what so many moviegoers did yesterday: Complain about the policies on social media.

And if the rules ever change, and texting becomes permissible behavior, you should stop going to the theater all together. For if all of the above is evidence of anything, it's that the industry wants you in its theaters--and tracks its numbers and its social media presence vigorously. You can bet that if attendance ever dwindled in the wake of policies allowing audiences to text, the industry would quickly reverse its course, and attempt to win you back--much like Aron did yesterday, when the Twittersphere made it clear it wasn't ready for a policy change.

RELATED: Inspirational movies for entrepreneurs

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How to appeal to the Netflix generation: Let them text in theaters

The Social Network

Based on the true story of Facebook genius Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard classmates and co-founders, this movie shows us how one idea can go from a thought in casual conversation to a world-dominating platform.

This film also brings to light the drama and behind-the-scenes tensions that arise when setting out to begin a new business or venture. We learn through Zuckerberg's faults in the movie that you must stay cognizant of your actions and the way that you treat people, or you may damage relationships with those closest to you. 

Photo credit: Facebook

Rocky

If this picture queues the iconic theme song to start playing in your head, you're not alone. Rocky is the ultimate underdog story, one that can inspire even the most experienced of entrepreneurs.

When being called up to fight world champion Apollo Creed, Rocky sees an opportunity and does everything he can to make the most of it.

Through physical strength, Rocky exemplifies true mental strength that has us all rooting for him and the people, quite literally, in his corner. 

Photo credit: Facebook

Jerry Maguire

In a classic awakening of the conscience, sports agent Jerry McGuire decides to write a letter to his entire company about how the hunger for deals and a profit are making it easy for everyone to lose sight of who they are.

This gets McGuire fired, and he must start his own business. With only one star football player under his management, McGuire learns what it really means to love what you do while still being able to sustain an income and sense of morality. 

Photo credit: Facebook

Forrest Gump

This classic has so much to teach us about believing in ourselves, believing in others, and how there is literally no one who can tell you what you're capable of doing other than yourself. 

As someone who's mentally disadvantaged, Forrest lives a life that's anything but limited and does it all with a smile. His determination is admirable, and at the very least, this movie will remind you to never give up on the things you want the most. Mental fortitude is the most important thing.

Photo credit: Facebook

Legally Blonde

Elle Woods is the girl you can't help but root for, right from the opening scene at the start of this movie. After getting her heart broken by her long-term boyfriend (whom she thought would soon be her fiancé), she learns that he'll be attending Harvard Law school in the fall.

Determined to both get him back and prove to him she's more than just a dumb blonde, Elle works harder than she's ever worked before (with the help of everyone she knows and loves), gets accepted to Harvard and finds herself on the defendant side of a high profile court case that forever changes her life and career.

Elle teaches us how to pool our resources and connections to get to our goals. The film also reminds us about how important friends and family are to have as a support system when you're taking on an endeavor that most people expect you to fail at.

Plus, she shows us that the seemingly impossible can become possible if you're willing to smile through it (and maybe if you put on a little pink!)

Photo credit: Facebook

Charlotte's Web

A classic tale of friendship and trust, Charlotte's Web will always inevitably give you all the feels. It reminds us all that by being kind and by simply being someone's friend, you can make all the difference.

The people who find the most success and get to where they need to be are the people who care deeply for others and expect nothing in return.

The film, as does the novel, can make anyone see that the relationships we build along the way become the best investments that we make.

Photo credit: Facebook

The Intern 

This 2015 movie starring Robert DiNero and Anne Hathaway is feel-good film about a 70-year-old retiree named Ben Whittaker who, recently widowed, is looking to come out of retirement for something fun to do. When he sees a posting for am"senior internship", Ben believes he's the perfect fit.

Ben works under the owner of a fashion website (played by Hathaway) and the two form an incredible, honest bond. Their friendship shows that the most successful partnerships and ventures come from the most unexpected places. 

It's a nice reminder that hard work, positive mentality and kindness will always be in style, no matter how old or young you are. 

Photo credit: Facebook

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