Beyond the blockbuster previews, the schmoozing and the manufactured awards, CinemaCon—which came to Caesars Palace last week—is, at its heart, a trade show for movie theater owners, where anything and everything associated with the silver screen experience is hawked. So what does the future of moviegoing look like? Perhaps the following.
It Starts With an App: What fun is a movie experience if you can’t use your phone? The folks at Atom (AtomTickets.com) want you to use their social media app to research films, buy tickets, pre-purchase concessions and coordinate with friends.
Be Seated: Plush reclining seats you can sleep in are already de rigueur in theaters. But companies are now pushing ones with airline-style food trays, built-in speakers and side headrests. But the Rolls-Royce of movie seating at this year’s show was a product called MX4D by MediaMation (MediaMation.com) that turns any movie into a thrill ride. Seats move, tickle your neck, poke your back and blast you with wind, scents, water and strobe lights synchronized to the action.
Food, Glorious Food: While some theaters have begun offering steak dinners and other gourmet meals, snacks still rule. I played with a new vending machine that lets you mix and match your Skittle colors. For nachos, a company called Gehl’s (Gehls.com) is offering six flavors of hot cheese, including Buffalo bleu, smoky bacon cheddar and queso blanco. And something called EdaMovie (Edamovie.com) is banking that soy beans can replace popcorn.
May I Take Your Order: Apparently VIP seating with waiter and waitress service isn’t convenient enough for some. After all, who has time to wait for a server to wander by when you really want some EdaMovie? Thankfully, the new Eclipse Theater (set to open Downtown later this year; EclipseTheaters.com) will come with call buttons on each seat to summon an attendant. But don’t be too impressed. An even newer product from the same company, Embedded Processor Designs (Plexcall.com/EPD.html), will allow customers to place orders from a touch screen and swipe a credit card to pay.
Fashion Victims: Let’s face it, the 90 to 120 minutes you spend sitting in a dark room where nobody is looking at you is a time you want to look your best. How else can you explain all of the styles, colors and patterns that 3-D glasses come in these days? I counted more than 40 different models being pitched by a single distributor.