January 2 2016

Downtown Cinema 8 – Our town deserves better

I don’t normally get specific about Kirksville, where I live, but the Downtown Cinema 8 is driving me insane.

Over the last several years I’ve stopped going to movies for the most part unless I am out of town on business or a vacation. For instance, during my recent vacation to England I went and saw three movies during my time there. Quite often when I travel to Irvine, California for work I will go see a movie while there. I don’t particularly like paying city pricing for movies, but it’s worth it over the experience I get at the only theater in my town, Downtown Cinema 8.

I’m currently not traveling for a few weeks, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out. There was no way I wasn’t going to see this movie in a theater, so I headed to the local theater, and… well, I quickly remembered why I try to avoid it. During my second viewing (I couldn’t help myself), the theater became even more annoying when I realized they have combined ticket sales and concessions into the same cash registers at all times.

Being the 21st century, I of course realized that I needed to take my oh so important opinions of the Downtown Cinema 8 to the Web. What follows below is the review I have posted to Yelp, Google Maps and TripAdvisor.

As the only movie theater in Kirksville (let alone a minimum of 30 miles in one direction, and much further in others), it’s easy to see how Downtown Cinema 8 could allow things to slide. That being said, it is now bordering on being unusable.

Here are just some of many complaints:

  • Website is ugly to the point of being difficult to read.
  • Parking lot is tiny and difficult to back out of most spaces. (I understand this is a restriction of the lot)
  • No online ticket sales so you never know if a movie is sold out until you get there. (Yes, I understand people did that for decades, but the technology exists now.)
  • Ticket sales are now done from the concession cash registers so you have no choice but to wait in line behind people trying to decide what candy they want or waiting on their popcorn.
  • Concession selection is tiny.
  • (Specific to Christmas time) Lobby is filled with so many yard sized Christmas decorations as to make it difficult to navigate if there is even a slight crowd.
  • Seats in the theaters are showing definite age. In the past two weeks I have encountered a seat so broken I almost sank to the floor – a seat with the majority of the left arm rest torn off – a seat that the padding was all but gone and left arm was taped down to hold it in place.

I understand we’re a small town, but this just isn’t even funny any more. As one of the few sources of entertainment in Kirksville it does actually represent us to a degree to people pondering moving here, going to school at our universities or potentially moving a business to our city.

The movie going experience has gotten to the point at Downtown Cinema 8 that I usually wait until I am out of town to see a film, or if I have no scheduled trips I most often wait for the home video release. Watching movies at home is not my preference, but DC8 has pretty much driven me to that in most cases.

Kirksville deserves better, or at least a business that seems to care about how it presents itself.

When your town is small as Kirksville, and a business is looking to move here, one thing they are going to look at is the quality of life their employees will enjoy. If a factory is going to come here, they don’t want their employees miserable. Kirksville has very limited entertainment options. We have a public swimming pool, a YMCA, a library and a movie theater. That’s about it. The Downtown Cinema 8, for all of its faults, represents the city in a lot of ways. A theater that is literally falling apart is not going to portray a very good image to folks.

The Downtown Cinema 8 is locally owned and not part of a chain, and I can understand there are numerous challenges I am unaware of as there are with any business. But when your chairs, arguably the most important thing in a theater to most people as they will likely not know a thing about projector or audio quality, are falling apart and actually on the verge of being painful to sit in, you have a problem.

I love movies. I enjoy the group experience of seeing a film. But I just can’t any more. I can’t continue to pay money to go to a theater where it is so clear that no one cares about the customer experience. There is not one step in attending a film at Downtown Cinema 8 that is enjoyable, and that makes me sad. I believe in supporting locally owned businesses, but at the same time they also need to act like they care about their customers, and it is so clear that just isn’t the case here.

If I had the money, I’d just bite the bullet and open a theater myself. But, I don’t. Instead I spent New Year’s Day morning reaching out to movie theater chains to inquire as to how they select cities to open in. Once I hear back from any of them I will fill them in on any and all information that would like to know. This is now my mission. It may not seem like a big or important one, but by golly I’m going to work on it.

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