“All too often competition is framed in a ‘dog-eat-dog’ lens, in which only a few ‘at the top’ come out with the pie and leave crumbs for ‘the rest of us.'”
Back in December I went and saw The Big Short with my family. I thought it was a terrific movie, and that Jeff Tucker brilliantly summed up its pluses and minuses.
As good as the movie was I still remember being most impressed with the theater. I remember as a kid going to the movies. Sitting crunched up next to some stranger who reeked of BO and chewed his food like it was going out of style kind of dampened the whole experience.
But this all changed in December. When I walked in to the theater and saw the way in which I was about to see this movie, I felt like Riley in the first National Treasure when, after finding the treasure, he is in tears. “Stairs,” he cried.
I wasn’t excited to see the stairs, though. I was overcome by something else: “Chairs.”The theater was stocked full of electrically reclining chairs! Chairs so nice that I’ve never even owned one for myself.
Here I was sprawled out in a movie theater, plenty of leg room to wiggle around and find the most comfortable position, enjoying a big bag of buttery popcorn, and a most entertaining movie filled with all sorts of sights and sounds. I daresay Rockefeller never had it so nice!
As a fairly active movie-goer, I was surprised that this was the first time I had seen such luxury in a theater. The first question that came to mind was: How long until the rest of the theaters follow suit?
Not long, apparently. Here’s a headline from a story today in The Port Huron Times Herald:
Here’s a slice from the story:
Birchwood Cinemas and Krafft 8 are both upgrading their movie-going experience.
Starting Friday, Birchwood Cinemas, 4350 24th Ave., Fort Gratiot, will be closing its doors for up to 105 days for renovations.
The 10-screen theater in Birchwood Mall, a Carmike Cinema, will be completely gutted and upgraded, said Codie Setter, Birchwood Cinemas assistant manager.
The theater will be getting new, luxury recliner seats, new theater screens with upgraded surround sound, new flooring, new lighting, and new wall curtains.
The seats will be luxury, electric recliners; at a press of a button, the seat leans back and a foot-rest pops up, said Jim Zehr, Carmike Cinemas director of real estate and construction.
The chairs are quite a welcome advancement, but like a good ole’ Billy Mays infomercial “they aren’t stopping there!” They will expand the variety of food offered, including pizza, hot dogs, and possibly even beer. Excellent! But, oh Mr. Movie Theater Owner, sir, why are you doing this? we aren’t worthy!
And here enlies a beautiful, real-life example of the marvelous fruits of market competition. The owners of these theaters may not give two hoots about you and I, but if they are to remain in business then they must cater to our desires. And when one theater “went there,” you see that the others are right behind.
And the joy of a more comfortable movie-going experience will spread throughout the nation to us masses.
But understand that such innovation is not deriving from emotionally arousing concepts like philanthropy and compassion. This is the profit-motive at work, pure and simple. Just ask Milton Friedman!
All too often competition for profit is framed in a “dog-eat-dog” lens, in which only a few “at the top” come out with the pie and sprinkle upon us poor masses the measly leftover crumbs. Academia is infected by this illusion:
Well, I challenge this professor to sit in on a movie and still be unimpressed by the lengths competition will drive capitalists to satisfy people they don’t even know.
After all if electrically reclining chairs in a movie theater are the “crumbs” sent down to the masses from the capitalists, then I’d say the quality of your life has become pretty damn good.