Cathy and I want to go to a movie tonight as part of the #12DatesOfChristmas and I can’t believe that in 2019, the process of searching for showtimes is still awful. It took me way too long this afternoon to come up with a list that might work.
How It Is Now
We live in the Greater Toronto Area, where most of the theatres are part of the Cineplex chain – although we’re lucky to have the excellent Film.ca theatre nearby too.
By my count there are at least half a dozen movie theatres within a reasonable drive of here – Film.ca, the 5 Drive Inn, two Cinepleces (Winston Churchill and Oakville) in Oakville, a Silver City in Burlington, a few more in Mississauga, and even Cineplex’s flagship Queensway in Etobicoke is only 29 km away. And for the right movie we might even venture to downtown Toronto.
We’re lucky to have this many choices. The Maps app shows even more than I thought –
And here’s Cineplex.com’s main site –
why is this so hard
So why is it so hard to find a movie to go see? I’ve just spent way too long on the cineplex.com site searching. Their search process seems to assume you know exactly what movie you want to see, and in exactly what theatre. And I guess it’s good at that.
But it shows me WAY too many choices, or hides the info I really need.
Tonight, f’rinstance, I’d really like to see “Stan & Ollie”, the new Laurel and Hardy biopic starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly. If I search for that, here’s what Cineplex shows me –
I recognize a couple of those theatres – but Park Lane? Where’s that? [Spoiler: Halifax.] “Eau Claire Market Cinemas”? [Spoiler: Calgary] Why are you showing me these theatres thousands of miles away?
Fortunately I know that the Varsity VIP is in Toronto at least. Let’s check that out. Two or three clicks later after specifying the date, here are my choices
OK that’s fascinating but useless to know that the movie was on at 1:50 PM, several hours ago, and, I dunno, it’s 4:40 as I write this, have I got time to get to the 6:50 show?
Other search options aren’t much better. The actual show times for tonight are always hidden away, buried under the clutter of a bunch of movies I have no interest in.
Or, if I decide I want one of Cineplex’s reserved seat options, it shows me what theatres have that option, and I have to dig through to figure out which movies are playing that way.
What People Actually Want
My conjecture is that most people visit a movie theatre web site wanting to do one thing:
- See a good movie tonight
- Possibly in one of several different nearby theatres as long as I can get there in time
- Have a generally pleasant experience
For me a pleasant experience at the theatre is sometimes “A nap in a comfortable chair in a dark room”, but the older I get, the more I like the idea of paying a slight premium for reserved seats so that we don’t have to gamble on how early to get there.
What Movie Theatre Web Sites Should Actually Show
Why can’t it be like this?
Let’s assume I want to see something tonight, and I’m not too particular.
And show me the results on a map – but only show me the ones I can reasonably get to from home –
Look, it’s 2019. You, Cineplex, have a computer. So do I. You know my location. I might be willing to share that. You know how long it takes to get somewhere. You can avoid showing me the 95% of things I won’t want, and pick out a couple I might like.
Help me out like that and I’m WAY more likely to go to the movies.