Can Renting Your Own Private Theater Bring Audiences Back to the Movies?

Thursday September 24, 2020

Can Renting Your Own Private Theater Bring Audiences Back to the Movies?
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Scared of going to the movies because of contact with strangers? It is a legitimate concern, and people are avoiding movie theaters (where they are open). "The fact is, most Americans simply don't feel safe going to the movies as the pandemic remains rampant across the country," Entertainment Weekly wrote recently. "A recent poll by data firm Morning Consult reported that just 18 percent of those surveyed said they would feel comfortable going to a movie theater right now."

Perhaps it is time to think outside the box, which is what the Texas-based movie chain Alamo Drafthouse is doing by introducing Your Own Private Alamo, "a nationwide program where patrons rent out an entire theater for themselves — along with their pandemic pod family and friends — for $150," reports Entertainment Weekly. They are moving to expand their test run in limited markets to 12 states.

"'After a massively successful rollout in select cities we're excited to be able to offer this at Alamo Drafthouse theaters nationwide that are currently open," says Shelli Taylor, a former Starbucks executive who took over as Alamo Drafthouse CEO in April. "Our guests have been asking how their friends, family, and fellow podmates can book their own safe and relaxing screening, and we're proud to be able to deliver this to them at such an affordable rate," Taylor added, according to the EW story.

While the $150 price may seem high, that "cost comes down quickly if you have enough trusted family and friends in your group. According to an Alamo spokesperson, the average rental group is 10 people," EW continues. A second minimum charge of $150 charge is applied towards food and beverages served to patrons in their seats by mask-wearing staff.

The renter gets a private link that the share to their fellow movie-goers so they can select their seats. They also get to choose the film, which range from current releases as "Tenet" and "Kajillionaire" or modern classics like 'Jurassic Park," "The Matrix," or "Kung Fu Panda."

"When we began rolling out Your Own Private Alamo at our Austin location in August, we had no idea what the response would be," says Kristen Wheaton, Alamo Drafthouse Senior Director of Venue Experience. "It was big. Really big. In just the first few weeks we booked over 700 groups of families and coworkers at just a handful of theaters. We're so excited to expand this program to more locations across the country."

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