Living Room Theaters

livingroom_theater_1.jpgLast Sunday I went to the movies to see Pan’s Labyrinth. It was a matinee and I hoped that the theater would be relatively uncrowded so that I could quickly buy some food and find a good seat. After buying my ticket at the outside kiosk I walked through the door to a great disappointment – the lobby was dirty and only one of the eight snack bar stations was open, which created a long line for food. Man, could I have used a Living Room Theater!

Via PSFK I see that Living Room Theaters has just opened in Portland. As the website describes it:

Six intimate Living Room® Theaters. Exclusive high-definition digital movie projection. Attentive in-theater service right up until the film begins. Plush recliners, private tables and chairs. Sleek café. Cool bar. Warm fires. Fast Wi-Fi. Cinema that caters to all your senses.

Sounds pretty nifty to me. Plenty of people in Portland have complained about the price ($13 and $9 for a matinee) and said they could go elsewhere to see more popular films (LRT shows artsy, independent films). I guess prices are lower in Portland because that doesn’t sound like that much to me. This criticism misses the point, however. Upscale services like this aren’t about a cost benefit analysis, they’re about luxury and status. It turns out that there is another upscale theater nearby in Vancouver called Cinetopia, which is over a year old. Apparently there is a market.

These theaters are just one more sign of the growing luxury trend. Exclusivity available to the masses. Like so many industries, movie theaters are going through major change. Blockbuster, Netflix, downloadable movies, and digital movies which require capital investment are all changing that business. I don’t know if Living Room Theaters and Cinetopia will survive, and if they don’t it could be for reasons other than missing a trend (i.e. poor location, mispricing, poor selection, etc.), but it may be that in the future the only out-of-home theaters will be high-end. It’s hard to say, but for now, it continues to be difficult to overestimate consumers’ willingness to pay up for luxury goods.

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