Just the ticket

By Andrea Armstrong

Kent State Institute fellows share their movie memories. (by Andrea Armstrong)

 

Even though nationwide movie theater attendance continues to shrink slightly year after year, it would be hard to tell judging from the line at the ticket counter at Golden Star Kent Plaza Theater on a Monday night. A line of customers grabs up tickets to recent movies like 22 Jump Street or Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the most popular on July 14, 2014.

Golden Star Kent Plaza Theater, located at 140 Cherry Street, looks empty now. On Mondays, the theater drives traffic by offering $5 movie tickets. Sometimes the line extends out of the doors and down the walkway. In fact, the crowds are so big, theater manager Aaron Madved said, "it's an art" to organize it all. (photo by Andrea Armstrong)

Golden Star Kent Plaza Theater, located at 140 Cherry Street, looks empty now. On Mondays, the theater drives traffic by offering $5 movie tickets. Sometimes the line extends out of the doors and down the walkway. In fact, the crowds are so big, theater manager Aaron Madved said, “it’s an art” to organize it all. (photo by Andrea Armstrong)

The $5 price point on Mondays has hit the sweet spot for movie-goers. The crowds, in fact, are so big that theater manager, Aaron Madved, said “it’s an art” to organize it all.

Other nights of the week, prices for tickets at the Golden Star Kent Plaza Theater are $8.50 for shows starting after 6 p.m., a bit above the 2013 national average of $8.13 according to industry figures posted by the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO). Traffic drivers like $5 movie Monday have helped theaters owners counter the downward trend in theater attendance nationwide. From 2002 to 2012, attendance has dipped 11 percent from 1.57 billion to 1.34 billion according to NATO.

Getting people to the ticket counter becomes a matter of survival for theater owners. Potential ticket-buyers now have competing forces from online streaming services and movie viewing apps trying to capture attention away from the large screen of their local cinemas. Netflix, alone, is proving persuasive. According to the quarterly report to Netflix shareholders on April 21, 2014, their company ended quarter one with more than 34 million paid members.

Getting customers past the ticket booth is only step one. Theater managers hope ticket holders won’t be able to resist the smell of popcorn before finding their seats. Madved acknowledged the timeless complaint of high costs at the concession stand, and explained the price of a ticket covers the cost of the movie and goes back to the studio. Sales of popcorn, big boxed candy, and drinks are where the theater “actually pays the bills,” he said.

It’s not code red for local cinemas though. Theaters still have the ability to create a feeling watching a movie on a cell phone or home alone on the couch can’t replicate. Madved’s younger brother, Sean, now works at Golden Star Kent Plaza Theater too. He recalled a time where a family asked him to take their photo because it was their first time at the theater. He said, “It was a real event for that family, which was special.”

Local resident, Kylie Wheatley, 18, was meeting her friend at the theater to see Maleficent. “When I’m watching [movies] on my computer screen, I’m usually alone,” Wheatley said. Even though Wheatley had seen the film already, she wanted “to share it with friends.”

Kent residents will have a chance to make some friends in line on Monday nights. Knowing his customers, Madved expects the sequel, The Purge: Anarchy, to draw some crowds.

For movie show times and special event announcements, go to:

http://www.goldenstartheaters.com/kent-plaza/

Back to: A night at the theater in Kent

 

About Andrea Armstrong

Andrea Armstrong is entering her 13th year of teaching English at West Salem High School in West Salem, Wis. For the last three years Andrea has been advising West Salem's student newspaper, The Panther Prowler, and yearbook, The Neshonoc. Andrea also teaches English classes at the 11th- and 12th-grade levels. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and enjoys living in the beautiful La Crosse area nestled between the bluffs and the Mississippi River.