Oct. 25--LOWER ALLEN TWP. -- Instead of taking young children to the movies to see the latest animated film, parents can share a cultural experience with them in the same place, with no need to dress up and travel for hours.
The Digiplex Destinations Camp Hill in the last year started offering sporting events, Broadway shows, the ballet, opera and concerts at a cheaper price than going to these events live at the venue. The alternative programming is something CEO and Founder of Digital Cinema Destinations Corporation Bud Mayo said he thinks is the next step in the movie theater business.
"It's all about content, that is really an outgrowth of the fact that our theaters are all digital," he said. "That enables us to provide choices of context that simply weren't available. The real difference comes with a category of product that we refer to generally as alternative programming, by that I mean things other than movies. The intent is to play content that is aimed at specific audiences."
The content is similar to what Regal Cinemas has offered audiences locally at its Harrisburg theater. As community theaters, such as the Carlisle Theatre, begin using the digital projections that are necessary to play movies after 2013, those projectors will also give local theaters the opportunity to show such live entertainment.
Theaters like Digiplex Destinations is getting a jump on those offerings, which also include West End productions from across the Atlantic in London.
Mayo founded Digital Cinema Destinations Corporation in 2010 in New Jersey. He aimed to transform movie theaters into interactive entertainment centers with its digital technology and unique content, he said. There are now 19 digiplexes in six states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Connecticut, California, Ohio and Arizona, Mayo said. He plans to expand his offerings even more, and to have the theaters in as many places as possible. Much of the alternative programming is listed around $15 per person.
"We're a for-profit business, but the only way to enhance what you're doing is to please the customers," he said. "And the way to do that is, not only do a good job in the theater, but to create more choices. There's an overlap; people who like movies may want to see an opera. It's very gratifying to us to see grandparents bring their grandchildren to say 'The Nutcracker' or 'Swan Lake' or coming in their blue jeans to see 'Rigoletto.' I mean, these are remarkable experiences that you don't get to do."
Mayo said he believes his digiplexes will allow people to have more entertainment choices and to be able to increase their exposure to cultural experiences. He said he has a team of people who focus on the alternative programming, and they discuss how to offer options people want most.
"Organizationally, digiplex is set up very differently than other movie theater chains," Mayo said. "It has a separate organization that does nothing but entertain and seek out alternative programs. We have a separate group, just like everyone else, in charge of securing the ability to play a movie. Where we differ is our manager and our staff and our corporate team have a totally separate way of approaching alternative programming."
Mayo said he feels that allowing people a chance to learn and be a part of different cultural experiences helps them to grow.
"Art and entertainment and culture are what differentiate out civilization from others," he said. "And I think that being exposed to all these forms of art ... changes the way people look at life, inspires people. Art doesn't save lives or really find cures to diseases, but it really does make life very much more worth living."
An upcoming special event at Digiplex Camp Hill will be a live question and answer session at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 10 for a behind the scenes look at the making of "A Miracle in Spanish Harlem" with star Kate del Castillo, one of Latin America's most acclaimed film and telenovela stars and the films' director.
Email Samantha Madison at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @SentinelMadison
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