Sunday, July 19, 2015

Screening Sunday’s Sermon

Running late because Globe wasn't delivered on time. Had to make a second trip after I waited about an hour. At least I already did the Next Day Updates below.

"Now playing at movie theaters: pretty much anything" by Dugan Arnett Globe Staff  June 18, 2015

Last Sunday, not long after 9 a.m., the parishioners of Mosaic Boston began arriving for church, heading up the escalator, past the snack bar and the posters for “Terminator Genisys” and “San Andreas.”

For some people, Hollywood is their religion.

They made their way down a dimly lit hallway — with rooms that a few hours later would host matinee screenings of “Entourage” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” — and, eventually, entered a door leading to Theater 7.

For a few hours each Sunday, the otherwise run-of-the-mill space inside Regal Fenway Stadium 13 becomes a place of worship, transformed, at least in spirit, into a roughly 220-seat sanctuary. There, pastor Jan Vezikov preaches the Gospel from a makeshift pulpit backed by a massive movie screen.


The arrangement also serves as a prime example that, these days, movies might be the least interesting thing going on inside your neighborhood multiplex.

I wouldn't know. Last movie I saw was the Hobbit conclusion, and I was dragged to that. I don't find any of the garbage I've seen advertised as worth a ticket, despite the big screen advantage of immersion. 

Movie theaters were once viewed solely as a place to catch Spielberg’s new blockbuster or the latest “Star Wars” iteration. But in this age of Netflix and Amazon’s Instant Video, they are being reimagined as multifaceted event spaces capable of hosting a variety of affairs.

From bourbon tastings to high school graduations to weddings and wakes, there’s no telling what exactly might be coming to a theater near you.

I didn't ask.

“You’ve got a lot of seats, and you’ve got the technology to put [people] together with others at other locations,” says Patrick Corcoran, vice president and chief communications officer for the National Association of Theatre Owners. “I don’t really think there’s any limitation for what you can do.”

To be sure, the use of a movie theater for something other than a standard film screening is not a new concept. 

I guess the pew of the front page made me think otherwise.

For years, movie houses have taken stabs at supplementing their cinematic offerings. Some chains have served up the Super Bowl on the big screen, or live showings of New York’s Metropolitan Opera. In-theater dining has grown in popularity. And specialty houses like the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline have carved out a niche with quirky events like sing-alongs and late-night cult-classic screenings.

But while those events seemed a natural extension of a theater’s primary service, a growing number of extracurriculars don’t always have the obvious tie-in.

Norwood-based National Amusements, which operates theaters in six statesand overseas, has used its theaters for sports awards ceremonies and wine tastings. There’s also AMC, which has arranged video game debuts and massive New Year’s Eve soirees. And the independent Brattle Theatre in Cambridge has hosted, among other things, memorial services and a software competition.

These days, the potential uses of a movie theater seem limited only by the imagination. So it’s no surprise that theater chains, some of which have devoted small teams and Web pages to handling private events, have fielded a wide-ranging collection of requests.


Hindered, no doubt, by the rise of streaming movie services, the industry has struggled in recent years to keep seats filled. A report last year from the Motion Picture Association of America indicated as much, showing an almost 11 percent decline in theater attendance between 2004 and 2013.

Must be why they need all the tax subsidies

I haven't helped. I'm part of that decline. Don't need to see it, and if I do, no need to see it again like in the past.

And while theaters aren’t likely to get rich off alternative programming — for larger chains, they account for only a small fraction of annual earnings — taking advantage of other revenue streams, particularly during off-peak hours, can make financial sense.

“The down-hours are more of an opportunity,” said Vincent Moy, an entertainment industry analyst with the NPD Group, which specializes in market information, “and a possible supplementing of the revenue stream that they may not have necessarily thought they needed before.”

Victoria Crittenden, chair of the marketing division at Babson College, attributes the shift to basic economics.

“There’s a need [for event spaces], and there’s a capacity that needs to be utilizied. So it’s just a matter of supply and demand.”

(Blog editor snorts)

In many instances, it can be a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Such was the case with the Mosaic Boston church group, a relatively new entity without a permanent home. The group connected with representatives at Regal Entertainment Group, which worked out a lease to make a theater available for worship on Sunday mornings.

It's almost over, don't worry.

Today, in exchange for a fee, Mosaic is granted weekly access to Theater 7, as well as the party room and some storage space. The Regal is no Sistine Chapel — which, presumably, doesn’t perpetually smell of popcorn — but it’s a large, air-conditioned, and conveniently located space nonetheless....

About the only downside to hosting the event at a place that specializes in movies?

“We had to be out by a certain time,” school guidance counselor Joelle Bush said, “because ‘Avengers’ was playing in our theater.”

Amen, and time to sin.


So are you "intrigued by the possibility of a movie-theater graduation?"