Yesterday, I chose to participate in a focus group for a local independent theater. The response from the vocal majority (older technophobes) was that there should be predictability in what the theater does and shows. One sweet older woman suggested a month long Woody Allen movie festival. That’s when I checked out. I like Woody Allen, but I only have so many anti-depressents to take in a given day.
What people want is stability, not predictability. We are attracted to disruptive innovation. We want to see something new. And if your business model is based on predictability, you’ll never innovate. You’ll just try to be like all of the other theaters in the area.
I’m not sure if the focus group gave the organizers of the event the feedback what they were looking for. Twirling hair and sideways glances only led to an air of confusion and nostalgia for Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick films.
What the local independent theater needs to do is realize that they are independent.
Here are my thoughts on what Kiggins Theatre should do to re-invent themselves:
- Break the rules and change the game. You aren’t Regal or Cinetopia, you don’t have the money to do what they do.
- Do something different. Show weird movies for a month, go niche (you are next to a place called Niche afterall…), go weird and obscure, try the 21-and-over idea, try every idea, just be you.
- Cater to the local film scene. Yes, there is one in Vancouver!
- Develop business relationships with county-wide businesses.
- Release and release often. You can have stability in trying a thousand new ideas, but predictability only comes from no longer trying anything new at all and resorting to cliched and tired ideas.
- Marketing movies is hard. Marketing a theater is damn near impossible. Buck the system and screw business as usual.
- Keep connecting to the community online and offline. Word of mouth is valuable and there are a lot of film influencers in this town. Seek them out and get them talking.