AMC is either blowing up their business, or capturing the wave of the future. As the debate continues to rage around The Screening Room‘s $50 premium VOD plan, many forget that AMC is actually cool with the idea, and was reportedly close to signing a deal with the company. (The Screening Room will offer customers free tickets to the movies with each rental, which they see as a potentially sweet deal for cinema owners). Now, AMC is hoping to further tap into the instant-everything generation by catering to their need to be connected all the time.
Chatting with Variety, head of AMC Entertainment honcho Adam Aron disclosed plans to allow texting in cinemas, because god forbid someone under the age of 25 is asked to turn off their mobile device for approximately two hours.
Aron is clearly thinking about the tremendous burden one must face in not being able to check their phone every few minutes, but we’re not looking at every AMC cinema now allowing texting. “What may be more likely is we take specific auditoriums and make them more texting friendly,” Aron revealed.
If this all sounds like the end of is nigh, here’s some sobering statistics from a study done a few years back: 750 people were polled, and while 75% of all respondents said that mobile phone use in a theater “would make the experience distracting and less satisfying,” of those aged 18-34, a majority stated that using social media during a screening would make the cinematic experience better.
And that’s not surprising. We live in an age where people live tweet TV shows and sports events, Periscope going to the grocery store, and immediately share any and all reactions to pop culture in general. In a sense, cinemas will have to adapt to keep their audience engaged — you either conform to your customers’ needs, or they will stay away.
It’s logical on paper, but one can’t help sense that we’re losing something if cinema becomes a place where we all collectively go to tweet at each other. One of the most singular, distinct things about going to the movies is the communal aspect, sharing something with a room full of people that you may not know, but are connected with through celluloid (or digital). Adding more barriers to that connection to the stranger next to you is frankly one more reason to just stay home altogether.
Update: AMC has responded to reports of their plans below.
If ever, we only would pursue in a way that we can be totally confident ALL our guests will fully enjoy the moviegoing experience at AMC 2/2
— AMC Theatres (@AMCTheatres) April 14, 2016