How cinemas are going beyond in-studio marketing to keep audiences coming back

Regal Cinemas stands at night on 42nd Street in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, October 6, 2020.

Amir Hamja | Bloomberg | beautiful pictures

“If you build it, they’ll come.”

Universal’s president of domestic theatrical distribution borrowed the iconic line from “Field of Dreams” during the studio’s presentation at CinemaCon on Wednesday to describe how audiences flocked back to theaters. when there is a steady stream of content.

Domestic ticket sales in the first four months of the year may be down about 44% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019, but cinemas are seeing a significant increase year-over-year.

Blockbuster titles like Warner Bros.‘ “Batman,” By Paramount “Sonic 2” and MarvelSonyAccording to data from Comscore, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” has led to a 338% increase in ticket sales from 2021 to $1.95 billion.

Executives are excited for the new titles and were reassured last week by studios across CinemaCon that they will continue to receive a large number of theater exclusives in the future.

For the most part, this daily experiment on the pandemic is over and studios used their time at the annual convention held at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas to showcase their biggest and boldest films and showcase a wide variety of content.

However, exhibitors will not rely solely on movie studios to attract consumers to theaters. A product shortage during the pandemic, and a slow start to 2022, has forced cinema owners to be more aggressive with their marketing strategies, more innovative with food and beverage offerings. and more flexibility in the type of content they put on the big screen .

A cheeky reminder for moviegoers

For major chains like AMC, Regal and Cinemark, the focus is on adding live event streams, like concerts, sports and even the Dungeons & Dragons campaignand upgrade your theaters with projectors and state-of-the-art sound systems.

Last month, AMC announced it was investing $250 million to bring Cinionic’s laser projectors to 3,500 auditoriums in the United States by 2026. Lasers are largely seen as a step up from digital projection, offering brighter and, therefore, sharper images. The bulbs also don’t need to be replaced several times a year, meaning maintenance is easier for theater operators.

Cinemas large and small have long partnered with IMAX and Dolby to bring large-format options to consumers, but the digital projector update ensures that even those who don’t want to pay extra Paying for premium options will still have a quality experience at the cinemas. Hopefully this experience will inspire audiences to keep getting off the couch and back into theaters for future releases.

AMC has come a long way when it comes to launching First advertising campaign Last September featured Nicole Kidman with the tagline “we make better movies”. The company invested about $25 million in the campaign.

Alicia Cook, advertising director at AMC Theaters, said: “We wanted to make a bold and candid statement to remind viewers of the immersive, community, multi-sensory experience you can only get. obtained while watching a movie in theaters CinemaCon panel hosted by CNBC on Tuesday.

Traditionally, cinema owners have relied on studios to promote movies and attract audiences to their local cinemas. At the time of the ad’s launch, AMC CEO Adam Aron said the company would no longer depend on “what always worked before,” noting that the pandemic had pushed the industry into “uncharted waters.” probed”.

‘We do crazy things’

Smaller chains with little access to large sums of capital are still investing in theatrical experiences by upgrading seats, projectors and sound equipment, but they are using more of digital advertising and social to target their local communities.

“We’re more agile than larger organizations,” said Rich Daughtridge, president and chief executive officer of Warehouse Cinemas, during Tuesday’s panel. “I think our superpowers are creating events but also creating those experiences when going to the movies. So we do crazy things.”

Daughtridge says promotions range from offering margarine with movie tickets to special “father-daughter” date night screenings. Amid the pandemic, Warehouse Cinemas took advantage of the release of Solstice Studio’s “Unhinged” by hosting a car-smashing event during the film’s fifth week in theaters.

Customers who bought tickets were able to swing their used cars, resulting in a 2 percent increase in ticket sales compared with what the movie would do if the Warehouse hadn’t held the event, he said.

According to Ben Deighton, the cinema chain’s general manager of marketing, events at Reading Cinemas in Australia and New Zealand seem a bit more lenient. A surprisingly popular event at one of his cinemas is the crochet club.

“We’ve just started knitting sessions.. and knitting clubs come to the movies and knit,” he said during Tuesday’s panel session, noting that the idea came from a local patron. direction.

Starting this month, Cinepolis has started a program called Self-Care Sundays, offering guests gold eye patches and a small popcorn with ticket purchase.

“One of the things we’ve found spontaneously over the years is that people come to our cinemas and take care of themselves,” said Annelise Holyoak, senior national director of marketing and loyalty. city ​​in Cinepolis, said at a conference on Tuesday.

Each screening also features 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation for consumers to relax before enjoying their film.

“I think as marketers, we tend to say ‘this movie’s playing’, ‘this movie’s playing,'” said Daughtridge. why going to the movies is such a good thing to do… I think the message that we’re trying to make to create that interaction is about why watching movies makes sense instead of just watching movies Now showing. “

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