Hollywood’s Surprising New Strategy to Fill Theater Seats

Jan 4, 2017  •  Post A Comment

Hollywood is embarking on a new strategy to sell theater tickets, and it’s a move that sounds a lot like what happened more than a half-century ago — only in reverse.

Back then, the still-new medium of television discovered that it could fill airtime by running movies. This year, the movie industry will return the favor, putting a TV show on movie screens.

“Hollywood’s release calendar for this year is full of potential blockbusters like ‘Wonder Woman’ and a new ‘Pirates of the Caribbean.’ But in the first week of September, the biggest new release at theaters might not be a movie at all, but a TV show,” The Los Angeles Times reports. “That’s because Imax Corp., the giant movie screen company, recently partnered with Marvel Television and ABC Television to make the upcoming superhero series ‘Inhumans,’ set to hit the cinema weeks before it appears on TV.”

The report calls the effort “the boldest move yet to blur the already fuzzy lines between films for the big screen and shows for the small screen. TV is enjoying a surge in critical prestige and has taken over some of the cultural cachet that used to be reserved for the movies. More than ever, shows like HBO’s ‘Westworld’ and Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ feature big stars and look more like expensive movies than run-of-the-mill shows.”

Ted Mundorff, chief executive of Landmark Theatres, is quoted in the report saying: “Production values are fabulous on the small screen right now, so they translate to the large screen. If you want to see ‘Game of Thrones’ on the big screen, that’s pretty awesome.”

Imax, which has 1,200 theaters, was unable to project how many of those outlets will feature “Inhumans.” But the company is said to be pushing for a worldwide release.


  1. Want to fill the theater seats, make something more than the progressive left will pay to see. I haven’t been to a movie at the theater since The Santa Clause, doubt I’ll be coming back anytime soon with all the garbage being touted as theater ready.

  2. New strategy? Forgetting they did this years (and years and years – I am getting really old) ago with shows like Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers* when they ran versions of the pilots in the theaters before they premiered on tv, aren’t they currently doing the same thing with shows like Doctor Who and Sherlock?

    While I do see this as a way to generate a some extra revenue on the side from the shows, though nowhere near what is made off DVD sales, I do not see this working out as some blockbuster masterplan that will fill seats.

    *Also, didn’t they put edited together episodes of some shows in theaters even before that, like The Man From Uncle and The Saint?.

  3. Vicki’s comment is one I’ve heard many times, but the execs who run Hollywood don’t get it (or simply don’t care) that they are alienating a large segment of their potential audience, especially the older audience, with their dark, ultra-violent, profanity laced, semi-pornographic movies that glamorize immoral behavior. Hollywood would like everyone to believe business it great, but a closer examination of their box-office numbers tells a different story. For example, this weekends number one movie “Rogue One” averaged $5,286 per screen. Divide that by 14 screenings (4 on Fri, 5 ea on Sat and Sun) and you get $377 per screening. Divide that by average ticket price of $8.50 and you get an attendance of only 44 persons per screening, or less than 15% capacity of a 299 seat theater. And that’s the number one movie! It only gets worse the farther down the chart you go. The only reason the overall box numbers are high is because they are on over 4,000 screens. But the theater itself takes a big hit, as such small attendance kills their concession business. It doesn’t take a genius to realize this can’t go on much longer before many theaters go under. Which would be a terrible shame, since nothing compares to seeing a movie on the big screen. Which brings up another issue, content produced for the small screen requires very different compositions from those made for the big screen and they don’t transfer back and forth very well. (ever notice a movie you really liked at theater doesn’t seem to “look” as good tv?). To put a movie made for tv on an IMAX screen in my opinion would be a bit of a joke.

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