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maryann johanson | #BlackLivesMatter

how to put butts in multiplex seats

The box office has been going so gangbusters lately that it hardly seems necessary, but some multiplexes have been thinking long and hard about how to get more butts into their seats. As The Hollywood Reporter reported recently, the Carmike Cinemas chain is tryinng to draw more attendees on what is traditionally slow night:

The Columbus, Ga.-based company is launching “Stimulus Tuesdays” at its 250 locations with about 2,300 screens next week. Under the deal, it will offer all 16-ounce drinks and 46-ounce popcorn for $1 each.

Popcorn and drink prices have not been this low since the 1970s, according to Carmike.

That’s nice, I guess, if you like chugging caramel-flavored sugar water and cardboard puffballs soaked in Golden Topping(TM), but those aren’t the kinds of things that might get me into the multiplex midweek. But I do have a few suggestions for things that might:

1) Allow patrons to permanently confiscate Blackberries, iPods, and any other devices with tiny little screens that glow like nuclear piles in the dark of a movie theater. (This could become a lucrative sideline for the regular moviegoer, selling impounded digital doodads on eBay.)

2) Offer a bar service along with the flick. Movies are always better with alcohol, especially most of the crap that’s on offer at the ’plex these days. Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail with a Sixpack? Two thumbs up! Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience Over Rocks? Frontrunner for the best movie of 2009! Paul Blart: Mall Cabernet? Oscar-worthy!

3) Encourage patrons to lob rotten tomatoes — on sale in the lobby, of course — at the screen during any film for which alcohol (see above) does not numb the pain enough. Consider a promotion night with Rotten Tomatoes, the review-aggregator site, during which guest critics will publicly berate bad movies and lead the tossing of soft, pulpy fruits and vegetables.

4) Child-free nights! Picture if you will, the latest blockbuster action movie — say, The Fast and Furious Transporter Dies Hard — during which the poignant moment in which the tanker truck explodes while crashing at high speed into the space shuttle launchpad is not drowned out by the screams of a squalling infant. You have to imagine it, cuz it never happens in real life… until now, perhaps.

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