Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday night at the movies

I work almost every Saturday night. At the movies, Saturdays tend to be the busiest night of the week. Reports can tell me how many people came to each film, but I need to be there to feel the reactions of the customers, see which sessions are busy, and which are less so. It's always much harder on Monday to write the next week's schedule when I haven't worked the Saturday night.

The flow tonight was odd. The sessions that went in around 5pm were busy. That's not too unexpected. 5pm is a good time to see a film if you have plans later in the evening, or even if you just want to go out for dinner afterward. Choosing films that will work in this time slot is never too difficult. The sessions that went in around 7pm tonight were also, with one exception, busy. But that time slot tends to be. The older people like that time slot because they won't be out too late. My cinema is located right in the middle of the party zone, and a lot of our older audience prefer to get out of Dodge before things get too messy. I have to admit, I agree. Leaving at 3am is.... well... an experience. Not one I want to have too often.

But I digress. Where tonight was odd, was in the later sessions, those that went in around 8.30pm. This is a trend I've been noticing the past few weeks, and have been experimenting with putting different films into those later slots. But nothing seems to work then. Every cinema I've worked in before, those 8-9pm slots are the busiest on a Saturday. But not here.

Is it the weather? In the summer those slots were busy, but then, the earlier ones were less so. Perhaps in the cold, wet, windiness of winter, people don't want to venture out to the cinema later in the evening. Or perhaps they get so comfortably ensconced in whatever bar or restaurant they've chosen for before their movie, they forget to leave. Some weeks I can blame sports events for the lack of customers. A rugby game on a Saturday night pretty much takes everyone off the streets until it's over. I know, it's a sorry state of affairs.

Perhaps the films are the problem, yet I can't see that. The three films programmed into those slots were all edgy films that would appeal to sophisticated audiences or students. Yet did they come? No. In fact, I have noticed the number of student admissions dropping over the years, probably as a result of digital downloading. But we won't get into that here because I could rant for hours on that subject.

I wrote a draft of next week's schedule yesterday, but because I worked tonight and saw the people coming and going, smiling or frowning, I will rewrite it. And maybe next Saturday night we will have a few more people to our 8pm shows.

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