Would you go to a movie theater where the lights were turned on, and everyone was tapping away on a cellphone or laptop? In other words, doing the exact opposite of what we’re supposed to do in movie theaters, where we’re supposed to sit quietly in the dark until the movie’s over. Hunter Walk, a venture capitalist, floated this idea on his blog and got a TON of feedback. He called this new type of movie-going experience a “social theater.” Here’s what he meant.
Let’s take the upcoming “Thor” sequel. It would play in two theaters, one regular theater and one social theater. And in the social theater would be all the people you don’t want sitting next to you in the regular theater. The ones on their cell phones, talk to their friends, parents with squirrelly kids, or workers who want to work and watch a movie at the same time. There would be free Wi-Fi, electrical outlets, and a bright room to sit and do work while the movie plays.
Walk’s thinking is that today’s Millennials were raised on multi-tasking, and they’re used to being “plugged-in” at all times. So they’d probably enjoy being able to sit in a theater and surf the Web, chat on Facebook, or text with friends, all while watching a movie. Plus Walk thinks social theaters would sell more tickets during weekdays when business tends to be slow because telecommuters would have a new place to do work, instead of crowding into coffee shops.
As you might expect, some experts say this idea would never fly because most of us go to movie theaters to “escape” into the story. Walk also got a lot of backlash from movie directors and actors, like Elijah Wood, who think the idea of a "social theater" disrespects the art of movie making.
But what do you think? Would you go to see movies in a theater where texting, talking, and being “plugged-in” was encouraged? Weigh in at [Facebook.com/JohnTesh](Facebook.com/JohnTesh).