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The Unsinkable "Titanic"

Recently, "Titanic" became the highest grossing movie of all time. With this milestone, a couple of things - a couple of shopping center industry things - occurred to me.

Shopping Center World has published numerous articles during the past several years about the surge in moviegoing and the potential cross-shopping between the theater complex (which is now or is planned to be at every regional shopping complex in the United States) and the stores (which got to the malls and power centers first).

But how much shopping can take place if the shopper, er, moviegoer, is in the theater for three and a half hours?

In Las Vegas casinos, the shows are limited to 90 minutes so that no one misunderstands the real reason he went to the casino in the first place. Gambling is the main attraction; no break should be longer than 90 minutes (and I think that applies to eating and sleeping, too!).

Are Americans really time-starved (reportedly, many people saw this movie more than once)? Or have Americans simply become more selective on what or where they spend time? An argument could be made (and won) that the quality of the time, the quality of the experience, belongs at the heart of the time-starved discussion.

Did the AMC 30 at Ontario Mills show (and possibly still is showing) "Titanic" on four screens with show times every hour on the hour? That is the idea with the megaplexes, right? "The movie that you want to see, when you want to see it."

With its big budget and big promotion, the movie seems at first glance to be an example of having to spend money to make money. That is, until you examine the subject of the movie itself. The Titanic was gorgeous, sparing no expense. But, it was not quite the seafaring marvel it was billed to be, was it?

"Design" is one area where the shopping center industry already is coming to terms. No longer are awesome interiors the only asset of a shopping center or store. Indeed, it takes more than beauty to ward off tragedy.

The movie, then, is an example of spending money in the right places.

Sea captains make poor crisis managers. The captain, according to this movie, hid from the chaos. However noble it might be to go down with the ship, his inability to save others before his own surrender would never fly in the shopping center industry. Shopping center managers are made of much tougher stuff.

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