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It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks.
As we get older we tend to get set in our ways.
Because of inertia (I am still upset with you Sir Isaac Newton), it takes a Herculean effort to change our course.
There have been numerous instances where once great and powerful companies have vanished from the business landscape because of their inability, or outright refusal, to change their business models to keep up with modern innovations.
One of the most famous of such examples was Blockbuster, who had the opportunity to buy Netflix in early 2000 for a paltry $50 million but flat out refused to do so.
The latter company subsequently shot up through the stratosphere while the former became a dinosaur.
Another business giant, Kodak, actually invented the technology that later caused their demise when they did not capitalize on it.
It pays to have people who are “forward thinkers” who can see the future landscape and potential obstacles that a company must navigate through in order to succeed beyond present day.
This post deals with the movie industry and how it is reinventing itself to keep up with the times.
Hopefully it can shed some light on the importance of the pivot and how we may be able to take some of these lessons and incorporate it into our own lives.
The heyday of movies.
The movie industry had quite humble beginnings in Paris in 1895.
Paying customers were treated to a short film which showed workers leaving a factory.
What would absolutely be a mind-numbing film by today’s standards was revolutionary more than a century ago.
There was no real competition in the entertainment market as television would only make its appearance more than 30 years later.
Without these competitors movie theaters did not make any radical changes, showing short black and white films that were “silent” because there was no accompanying audio.
As competing media began to enter the space, with television and radio becoming more popular and potentially stealing market share, theater owners adapted.
In order to tap into this potential goldmine, owners started upgrading the theaters (where some movies were being shown under tents) into a more glamorous setting.
Going to the movie theaters could then be thought of as a classy event similar to going to the orchestra and other performances that attract the upper crust of society.
With the rise of the automobile, theater owners saw another opportunity arise that they took advantage of.
In the 30’s drive-in movie theaters started appearing on the American landscape and were a huge hit, peaking in the 1950s and 60s.
Additional Pivots throughout the years.
As television continued to improve, theater owners had to quickly think on their feet and adapt to give audiences a reason to come out of their homes and spend money going to the movies.
The addition of audio, colorization, and 3D presentations were all examples of pivots that originally set the movie theaters apart from what was found at home.
This turned out to be a continuous battle.
As innovations occurred in the movie theater space, manufactures were quick to introduce them into the home theater space.
The advent of 3D DVD players, Blu-ray players, and ultra high definition TVs of ever increasing sizes, made home theaters start to rival their commercial counterparts.
Losing the customer base.
I used to love going to the theaters but soon found myself going less and less often.
Of course my home theater setup is no match for a true theater experience, but it was an adequate alternative in my mind.
There were a lot of things that made what I was giving up watching a movie on a much smaller screen at home much more palatable:
- Eliminated the hassle of getting ready and physically going to a theater.
- Avoided less than ideal seating arrangements.
- Potential distractions from other movie goers completed eliminated.
- Avoided highly marked up food and beverage options.
I would therefore often wait until a movie came out on Netflix before watching it at home and in my mind it was not that much of a compromise.
I feel a lot of former movie goers felt the same.
Decreased movie goers, coupled with the pandemic and subsequent social distancing, could truly have been a financial deathblow to theater owners.
Another pivot to the rescue.
The basis for this entire post actually stems from a recent experience my daughter and I had when we went to the movie theater and left awe-struck and with a renewed passion for going out to see movies.
The movie was Godzilla versus King Kong.
But it was not what was on the silver screen that was causing our hearts to race and a smile to be on our face the entire time.
Instead it was because the movie theaters really outdid themselves this time and upped the game with something I doubt will ever be possible to achieve in a residential setting: 4DX.
For those not familiar with 4DX, it truly transports a moviegoer right into the action.
It is similar to those virtual reality rides where hydraulics move the seats to match what is going on in the screen.
On top of that there are other additional features built into the theater seats that release mist or scents that also are coordinated with the film.
For those who have frequented Disney parks it is similar to some of the major attractions offered there.
However unlike a 3-5 min attraction, this experience lasts for the length of the entire movie (close to 2 hours in my case).
This technology truly is transforming the movie experience and no doubt costs a pretty penny.
There is a premium that is passed on to the consumers: tickets to 4Dx typically cost twice the price of a regular movie ticket.
However the experience my daughter and I had made it well worth the price of admission.
A funny aside.
Speaking of the experience watching Godzilla vs King Kong in 4DX I had to share the following with you.
I usually do not get a drink when I go to the movies (I typically just treat myself to either Sour Patch Kids or Airheads).
My daughter on the other hand will get a drink and candy each time.
On this particular visit I happened to have a birthday reward that was about to expire which was a bag of popcorn (they said it was small but it looked like a small trough).
My daughter did not want any popcorn so I was forced to eat it on my own.
At one point in the movie my throat became quite dry from eating the popcorn so I asked my daughter to pass me her drink which she did.
I partially took off the lid and just sipped some soda from the rim.
I then put the lid on and handed it back to my daughter who put the cup in the adjacent arm rest.
Apparently I did not secure the lid on well enough because during some of the epic fight scenes between Godzilla and King Kong the theater seats were moving violently enough that a decent portion of the contents of the cup proceeded to find its way onto my daughter and her clothing.
Her pants ended up getting soaked quite a bit.
She was a great sport about it saying at least she was wearing black pants, although she still kids me about it to this day.
Hopefully most of us are enjoying successful individual careers, be it in or out of medicine.
However the real challenge is not climbing to the top of the mountain but staying there.
The more successful you become the larger a target you have placed on your back by competitors.
Rather than stick stubbornly with what may have worked in the past, it is more important to sort through the tea leaves and see what advantages lie in the future for you to capitalize on.
After all none of us want to be known as having been “Blockbustered.”
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Even a steadfast DIY’er can sometimes gain benefit from the occasional professional input.
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