Coming soon to a theater near you: business meetings

Physicians and residents attend a program by the American College of Radiologists held at a movie theater in Silver Spring, Md. (Photo by Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times)

Physicians and residents attend a program by the American College of Radiologists held at a movie theater in Silver Spring, Md. (Photo by Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times)

At a movie theater concession counter, patrons line up to buy tubs of popcorn and Slurpees. But these aren’t teens catching a matinee for Wonder Woman. These are physicians and residents from the American College of Radiology studying slides of diseases on the silver screen.

Large theater chains like AMC Cinemas and Regal Entertainment Group are finding ways to fill the seats in-between features: hosting medical conferences, business meetings and church worship services. And meeting planners are taking advantage of the perks movie theaters offer including free parking, stadium layouts for better visibility, reclining seats, more robust food and drink menus and built-in large-screen HD projection technology.

The trend is big enough that @nytimes recently published an article highlighting Mills James’ role in the future of business meetings. The article included remarks from Bruce Reid, a Mills James production veteran, now an independent consultant. Earlier this year, Bruce coordinated a national meeting for a large fashion retailer that was streamed from Mills James’ studios to 22 movie theaters around the U.S. He said by using video streaming technology and the multiple locations theater chains offer, corporations and associations can provide identical meeting experiences for attendees co-located at theaters across the country.

The article concluded that as traveling becomes increasingly complicated, meeting technology becomes more sophisticated and as organizations place greater emphasis on saving time, the local movie theater is playing more of a supporting role as an alternative meeting site.

Commenting later about the article, Bruce added, “Since February, we produced a nationwide event for a major cosmetic retailer, and next year, will repeat the fashion retailer’s conference at theaters in the U.S. and Canada.”

Read The New York Times' article on the future of business meetings here.

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