Arcades See Downturn Then Industry Explodes
A real spinning point in family entertainment came in 1959 when AMC introduced the ideas of "first run movies." At that time, people came in droves to experience the Silver Screen first-hand at the then Durwood Theaters Inc., in Kansas City .
The showing industry was reinvented again by AMC's opening of the world's first multi-screen theater in Ward Parkway Shopping Center , a mall in Kansas City . In 1966, AMC debuted the world's first four-screen theater in a 100,000 sq.ft. strip center with 700 parking spaces. AMC also achieved four other milestones: the world's first six-screen theater in Omaha , Neb. in 1967; the world's first 11-screen theater in 1970; the United States ' first 14-plex in Houston , Texas in 1987; and the largest theater in North America with 24 screens in Dallas , Texas during 1995.
Today, promoters employ newfangled concepts to lure people into theaters. Stadium seating, specialty format film theaters such as IMAX 3D theaters and the development of under one-roof components such as Regal's Funs cape concept and Planet Movies by AMC, coupling a theater and Planet Hollywood theme restaurant, are the bait used to reel in consumer dollars. It seems to be working, as movie attendance continues to climb. In 1997, 11.4 billion people went to the movies with 60% combining shopping and nearly 8% combining dining. Revenues reached $6.4 billion this year, an increase of $500,000 over 1996, according to the Motion Picture Industry Association. The most enthusiastic of movie fans are ages 21 to 39, followed by those over 40 years old and those ages 12 to 20. Of those attending movies, 70% were white, 13% were Hispanic and 11% were African-American, according to the MPIA.
There is no shortage of movie theaters for them to visit. The industry now includes approximately 340 theater chains in the U.S. with 124 of them operating 10 or more screens. A clear-cut example of the over saturation in the industry can be seen in the Jacksonville , FL market where AMC, Cinemark and Regal Cinemas dominate. This time last year, Jacksonville had 100 movie screens operating with 52 more screens on the boards and 30 screens under construction. The ratio of people to screens in the Jacksonville market is expected to hit 5,500 people per each screen. It's no drop in the bucket to build a theater as construction costs range anywhere from $800,000 to $1 million per screen. Thus, a 24-screen megaplex runs up to $24 million in a 100,000 sq.ft. to 120,000 sq.ft. facility.
|Miniature Golf Evolves Over 100 Years|
But arcades were not the only form of entertainment that attracted the masses. Miniature golf has a history rich with tradition dating back to the early 1900s when it was called garden golf.
By 1930, rails and bumpers were used to confine the ball within a boundary. Following the 1929 crash, "rinky-dink golf courses" provided a haven for a less expensive form of entertainment and Americans were hooked. During the 30s, the population's addiction to the activity led to over 150 roof top courses in New York City alone and a total of 50,000 miniature golf courses nationwide, which represented a $325 million investment. Many of these courses boasted a country club atmosphere with most staying open until 4:00 a.m.
Wanamakers Department Store bought into the burgeoning trend and featured a line of golf clothing for miniature golf players. In 1953, Putt-Putt Golf Courses of America fueled a second miniature golf craze that continued through most of the 70s. In the 80s, many miniature golf courses were refurbished and expansion started up again in tourist destination areas.
The 1990s added a new wrinkle to miniature golf courses, which are now being positione d as family entertainment centers housing snack bars and party rooms, while adding other components such as arcades, bumper cars and laser tag, in both bedroom communities and tourist areas. Wall Street has picked up on the success of miniature golf with several chains going public. Today, industry experts estimate that 50% of the American population plays miniature golf.