Yeah, piracy is probably part of it. Not nearly as much as the studios would have you believe, though. The lack of great movies is part of it, but that comes and goes.
The problem is the experience. A typical movie makes you sit through over 20 minutes of previews and commercials before the show starts. 20 minutes! I don’t mind watching commercials if I’m getting something for free, just like I don’t mind putting up with ads on websites that I can use for free. The problem comes when I have to watch ads AND pay for the content. Just think if every song you downloaded from iTunes had a commercial at the beginning…
Another part of the problem with theatres is how they treat their customers and how they are desperately trying to grab every penny they can. Case in point – credit cards.
I don’t carry a lot of cash. I like to carry a good amount of cash, but it rarely happens. As such, I use my credit/debit card a lot. When I go to the movies and need to pay $15, I usually don’t have the cash on hand. Guess what? They don’t take credit cards! They have an ATM inside that you can use (and pay a fee to use). My thought is that they don’t want to lose the couple percent on each transaction.
The problem is, it’s not just me. Last time we went (“Curious George”, if you’re curious…), the guy in front of me AND the guy behind me (along with myself) wanted to use a card. They were both quite put off by the fact they had to use the ATM, which was pretty slow and had a good sized line waiting for it.
The less of an “experience” you get at the movies, the less you’ll go. When people continue to go less, they’ll blame it on piracy. Very convenient.