My father and I were talking about movie theatres and cable the other day, and I have the feeling we might actually be wrong in our prediction. Here is the gist of our discussion:
Ticket prices keep going up and DVD releases keep coming faster and faster (it is now an average of 4 months between theatrical and DVD releases for most films), theatres are already complaining about the fact that they hardly see any profit on the films that they show (they make money in concessions not tickets), DVD prices and rental fees keep dropping, there is now a 3D TV coming on the market, and the average American household's buying power is shrinking.
With these indicators, my father and I agree that it is more likely that theatres will increasingly regress into 'evening out' places with massive showpiece events taking the fore while minor releases get pushed straight to immediate DVD release. Why? Well, most of the gimmicks that draw crowds to the theatres are now fairly cheaply and easily replicated in the home (with the exception of IMAX and 3D), if there is a problem with the viewing at home, you can always fix it and start over, you have no need to sit with an obnoxious crowd whose members cannot shut up during the film (as seems to happen to me about 50% of the time, a fact that those who saw Surrogates with me can attest to), you can spend $.50 on popcorn instead of $6, and you never have to worry about parking, where to eat before or after, or whether you will be shot by Joe Chill in the parking lot (though this last mostly just applies to people with the last name of Wayne).
If you really look at it, movie theatres today are in the same position as live theatre was a hundred years ago, at least in my father and my opinions.