(BLACK PR WIRE) -- During a vacation in London, I learned that watching a theatrical film is considered a special outing. Most British people attend live stage theater with greater frequency than they do movies. In the United States, the movie theater is an icon. Drive-in theaters were standard entertainment in the 1950s and 60s. Their importance declined, however, with the advent of the VHS cassette in the 1970s. While not entirely extinct, drive-in theaters are a rarity compared to the conventional indoor theater.
While the VHS was convenient, the theater had its advantages. Special effects were far more impressive on the big screen, and many moviegoers didn’t want to wait for a highly-anticipated film to come out on video. Still, the competition got fiercer. By the 1980s, not only did many families own VCRs to play cassettes, they were also subscribing to cable television. Now viewers had easy access to both older and recent movies from the comfort of their homes.
The advent of the DVD in the 1990s gave viewers options like never before, and gave another blow to theaters. A new DVD release may contain director commentary, options for full and widescreen viewing, foreign language dubbing, deleted footage and cast interviews, among other special features. Home entertainment systems with improved sound and larger television screens come close to the feeling of the traditional theater.
Still, theaters are not headed for immediate extinction. Professional reviewers initially view movies in theaters before they are released to the general public. It is positive recommendations from reviewers and theatrical audiences that promote rentals when a movie is released on video. Theaters also provide a comfortable venue for large gatherings. Other people enjoy the theater atmosphere or just want to spend some time out of the house.
Now that home entertainment has eclipsed theaters and DVDs have eclipsed cassettes, online technology is giving serious competition to video rental stores. With delivery-based rental companies, customers can select videos and receive them in the mail in a few days. If that is too long a wait, there is the option to watch a movie instantly on your computer. In the coming years, look for some of the old guards of entertainment to provide incentives to keep afloat. Depending on the product, this could come in the form of lower prices or upgraded amenities. Those venues that fail to do this will go the way of the dinosaur.