We have a lot of movie theaters around here. Four of them are less than 5 years old and two of them are less than two years old. Before we had all of these new theaters there was only one main theater in town that had a great selection. It boasted 20 screens and use the moniker "The most screens in west Michigan".
Since one of the newer theaters has opened I have gone to that one as it is the closest to where I live and only 10 minutes from where I work so for the past year or so I haven't been to the "big theater".
Last week Funny Girl and I went to see Babel. We had planned on going to see it when it first came out but never got around to it. Now that it has been nominated for an Academy Award it was playing at the "big theater" along with the other nominations.
When we walked into the theater I noticed some differences from the last time that I was there. I don't know if it was intentional or if it was in reaction to their core audience but there were more minority geared films playing and in return there was a large majority of minorities at the theater. That was fine, it doesn't make any difference to me. I assumed that it might have been a change in marketing to stem the loss of customers from the other theaters opening. Maybe they were catering to a particular niche.
I went back last night because I wanted to watch the new movie Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls. They had it playing on two screens vs. the one screen at my normal theater and I was really surprised that it was playing in Theater One (the biggest screen in the theater). I guess I assumed that it would be in a smaller theater since there really wasn't a lot of advertising for the film and that there wouldn't be en0ugh people to justify the big screen.
The movie was great and even though I sat there by myself on Valentine's Day I enjoyed munching on popcorn and sipping on Diet Pepsi. I didn't feel awkward at all.
Now to the part that bothered me.
The theater was dirty. Not worried about food poisoning dirty but definitely looking ragged and not very clean. The carperts were stained and looking worn out. The theater was picked up between showings of the movies but wasn't really cleaned. There was popcorn all over the floor near the concession stand. The tile floors looked like dirt had been ground into them. Basically things that indicate a lack of emphasis on keeping the theater really clean and inviting.
On the way home I was thinking and getting a bit upset.
When did catering to minorities become synonymous with slacking in keeping a place clean and providing substandard service? It doesn't make any sense to me. They are charging $7.75 for a ticket and I paid $7.50 for a drink and popcorn so it isn't any cheaper to go there. Why wouldn't they want to make their theater as inviting as possible?
When this theater was the only game in town it was bright, clean, well maintained and inviting. Now it looks depressing and like it is fading into obscurity. There used to be an emphasis on customer service and now it seems that no one cares whether you are there or not.
My normal theater is very clean, well maintained and inviting.The thing that mad me the most upset? The "big theater" is owned by the same company that owns the movie theater that I reguarly go to.
This really, really bothers me.