“Strangers in a dark room” sounds like the title of a horror film not the historic definition of a theatrical experience. That idea, however, is fading away. The future is, in fact, friends and fans in a dark room. Shared experiences with people just like you. Sad, but true.
Whether Star Wars or War Room, big or small budget, wide or limited release, theater seats will be filled with like-minded audiences — and while that’s a troubling thing for culture it may not be a bad thing for exhibitors. As “stranger danger” creeps into public spaces, audiences will look for entertainment that creates a homogenous community of similar people. Theaters will become experience centers. Entertainment will become eventertainment. As a result, marketing and publicity are maximized with efficiencies and effectiveness. Distribution is direct. And like a street side magazine rack in New York City, content programming will serve the niches.