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The NYU Cinema Research Institute brings together innovators in film and media finance, production, marketing, and distribution to imagine and realize a new future for artist-entrepreneurs. 

When was the last time you asked someone if they went to the movie theater?


When was the last time you asked someone if they went to the movie theater?

Michelle Ow

Old theater

And they answered, “I’ll wait for it to come out on Netflix or DVD?” They said, yes, right?

The big-screen experience remains an undeniably powerful way to tell stories. But occasional moviegoers defected by 72.2 million tickets from 2010 to 2012, which represents an estimated $575 million loss to the industry. This trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Forecasts peg attendance will decline yet again in 2013.

box office 1995-2012
box office 1995-2012

Full disclosure: I fell in love with movies after my first movie theater experience (the Lion King!). And I still believe there’s nothing better than watching a great movie in a great theater with a rapt audience.

But this fellowship project is not borne out of nostalgia.

the price is right
the price is right

"The Price is Right" will test whether some type of dynamic ticket pricing for movie theaters can grow attendance, particularly for non-blockbuster event films. In addition, can pushing this over a mobile platform capture extra demand by drawing in people with no previous intention of going to the movie?

The first phase is to gather as much research data as necessary and define the scope and parameters of the test. To achieve this, we will seek out partners and collaborators interested in working with us or sharing their thoughts on the project. This includes exhibitors, distributors, online movie websites, academics, mobile app and tech companies, and other non-entertainment firms with dynamic pricing experience.

The motivation is to answer: Is there any more money left on the table for movie theaters? Is this implosion inevitable? Is my generation permanently attached to on-demand viewing habits? The deck is certainly stacked: there’s fierce competition from other types of media, customer dissatisfaction with the movie theater experience, long-standing industry practices between exhibitors and distributors, and a fear that any change will exacerbate the problem.

If the answer is, “No, I want to watch this movie in my sweatpants and barring the apocalypse, I am staying put,” that is ok. An answer from a real-world, real-time test is good. It’d be even better to move the needle in a meaningful way.