The movie theater business is a battle against the couch, rather than battle against the growth of streaming services, according to Greg Marcus.
Marcus is president and chief executive officer of The Marcus Corporation, the Milwaukee-based company that operates hotels, movie screens, and other entertainment outlets. Marcus is also a longtime supporter of the Jewish community and has served in various leadership roles.
In an interview with the Chronicle, Marcus said he is often asked about a perceived struggle between streaming and movie theaters.
“It seems like a great battle, theaters versus streaming,” he said. “The truth is, it’s really streaming versus linear television. What are you going to watch on TV tonight? The real battle is cable TV versus streaming. I don’t know why they like to make it streaming versus the movie theaters. It’s a great media story, I guess.”
The challenge for the movie theater business is getting people to go out.
“We’re in a battle against the couch,” Marcus said. “We’ve got to get people to get off the couch and go out to be entertained, but the more stuff that they give you at your couch, the harder it is to get people to move.”
Going to the movies is a very different experience, he said. “Your phone’s in your pocket, the lights are out, the screen is 40, 50, 60 feet tall, the sound is incredible. You cannot replicate that experience in your house, and you get to leave,” he said. Leaving the house can be a welcome break, he said.
Advice for youth
Marcus is the third generation of the Marcus family to lead the company founded by his grandfather Ben Marcus in 1935.
Ben Marcus started with the purchase of a single movie theatre in Ripon, Wisconsin. Today, The Marcus Corp. is a leader in the lodging and entertainment industries with two divisions, Marcus Theatres and Marcus Hotels and Resorts.
Asked for his advice for young people, Greg Marcus said he appreciates the emphasis that the Jewish community puts on education.
“Get a good education,” he said. “There’s nothing more important. It’s one of the keys to success in our world.”
Content beyond movies is likely going to be increasingly part of the movie theater business, Marcus said.
“Whether it’s going to be concerts, or sporting events, there’s no better place to watch a sporting event than in a movie theater. It’s just incredible to watch. It’s a great place. They have great food and beverage because we’ve already put the food and beverage in, comfortable recliner seats, and a huge screen with great sound. You pretty much can’t beat it,” he said.
“I feel great pride in being a part of the community and being part of a family that’s been part of the community for multiple generations,” Marcus said. “There’s that feeling of connectedness that’s really important, and I’ve always enjoyed being a part of that. It’s an important part of my life.”
Marcus chaired the board of trustees of the Jewish Community Foundation from 2017 until earlier this year, when he was succeeded by Andrea Schneider. He continues to serve on its Endowment Committee.
Marcus also serves on the Milwaukee Jewish Federation Investment Committee, which is a subset of the Finance Committee. He has served on the Milwaukee Jewish Federation’s board of directors as well as many other leadership roles in the Jewish and secular communities.
Marcus said that “we’ve always believed in the importance of supporting the Jewish philanthropic causes and we’ve been very ardent supporters of it.”