Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tim League owner of Alamo Drafthouse is wrong.

Tim League owner of Alamo draft house is wrong.
Tim's heart seems to be in a good place with his respect for films and film making and has built a successful business around this.  The Alamo theater business model has proven its self.  But Tim League is still wrong on the ‘texting’ or ‘non-texting' debate he seems to be having with ‘texting’ advocate "The Wrap" blogger Chris Davidson.

According to Chris Davidson's post on texting or nontexting in a theater the theater has the possibilty of removing the target market for the blockbuster,  "The difference is largely generational, and if you see theater patrons being escorted out for breaking the “no texting” rule, then chances are that they are in the 18-34 demographic.
This, of course, is the target audience for studio films today, especially for summer blockbusters, and so it does create a dilemma: how to satisfy the needs of all moviegoers without alienating your core demo?"

Chris Davidson's smoking analogy is wrong.  Smoking is a health issue period.

The bottom line is about is it is about money.  And what money making machine dose not want you to tweet, post, yack about there product.

Here is where Tim League is wrong.   If a business/theater wants to succeed it will do what ever it can to keep in there seats, buying its products.   A theater will put on events, indoor and outdoor even on a lake.  A theater will will give out prizes.  A theater will have special events for people who don't function well in social environments.  A theater will have zombie dance parties. A theater will sell beer.  Hey wait that sounds like Alamo Draft house.  Trust me if a theater is going in the tank it will do anything to fill the seats.  Even have people play air guitar.

So Tim League can tell why he feels it is wrong to text in a theater but he is still wrong.

from Tim League's letter

I will tell you why it should not be done.
1) Texting is rude to the film creators.  It is a slap in the face to every single creative professional who poured their lives into creating the film.   When I am carrying on a mere casual conversation and someone whips out a phone to text while I am talking to them, I am offended.  Imagine amplifying that to texting during a film which can take teams of thousands of people years to make.  Consider the independent feature parallel. Imagine leveraging every penny you own or worse, going into incredible debt in order to share your creative vision with the public, only to have an audience half-watching while conceiving pithy tweets.  Texting is not a passive activity.  You have to focus on your phone to text and therefore lose focus on the screen.  It is not a question of "might." You WILL at the very least miss nuance and texture of a film by breaking attention to text.  More than likely you will miss more than just nuance, but important plot points.  Ask Christopher Nolan if he would mind if you text during the opening weekend of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. I can almost guarantee you he would opt to eject every last texter if given the chance.  Pay respect to the on-screen and behind-the-scenes artists who create movies.  Turn off your phone and lose yourself in the movie.
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2) The notion that all teenagers and twenty-somethings can't sit two hours without texting is condescending.  In reading the feedback after my debate regarding in-theater texting at Cinemacon, my favorite comments were those from the alleged "texting generation" who were offended by the idea that they were being lumped in with the masses.  Real movie fans today are the same now as they were in the '20s, the '70s and any generation.  They want great theatrical presentation, and they want to lose themselves in the movie. This is the very crux of our industry.  Real movie fans can, and actively want to, shut off their devices for two hours to watch a movie regardless of how old they are.  If we as an industry cater to the notion that texting and talking during a movie is condoned if not encouraged, then we disgust our true patrons, the real movie fans.  We will take short term gains by thinking ourselves cool and progressive by allowing texting, but in the end will erode our loyal customer base.
3) Texting is rude to everyone around you.  Even if, as Chris Davison proposes, we designate theaters as "texting friendly," there will be people in the movie who are real movie fans who want to just watch the show without distraction.  If the non-texting shows are sold out, someone may opt for the texting show.  People buy tickets for a group and in that group there may happen to be real movie fans.  Folks may inadvertently buy tickets on Fandango or other online sources where the "texting friendly" nature of the show is missing or not prominent.  By introducing screenings where people are free to text during the movie, you will be creating unhappy customers at every single session.  It really boils down to the undeniable fact that texting in a movie theater is rude, selfish, and adversely affects everyone within view of your glowing device.
The only answer to this debate is taking a hard line.  Texting and talking can not be allowed in movie theaters.  Our spaces are sacred spaces for movie fans.  Chris Davison, you are wrong.  NATO, you should add commentary to Davison's article before blasting to the entire membership.  You do this for the trend in shrinking VOD/theatrical windows.  To me, the leniency towards talking and texting is a greater threat to our industry.
Tim League - Founder CEO Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas

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