Free popcorn. Cheap alcohol. How cinemas attract fans
Cinema Cafe, an independent movie theater tour on the Virginia coast, is a country far from the Hollywood premiere of Universal Pictures’ “F9: The Fast Saga”. But the tiny chain of six movie houses is hosting the release in its own way – with a car show.
Caitlin Walker, head of marketing and promotions at Cinema Cafe, said the company is working with local dealers and custom auto shops to bring vehicles to their locations to make the blockbuster release event next weekend. .
“We try to give our guests more to look forward to as we celebrate cinema,” Walker said.
This is a small example of a greater push by theater operators, including single screen art venues and larger international chains, to attract customers to theaters as the industry comes out of its long drought.
Theaters are finally open almost everywhere in the United States In California, capacity restrictions are now lifted – a major relief for theaters that previously had to limit their seats by at least 50%. After months of uncertainty, the studios are sticking to their release plans for the big movies, having seen some success with films such as Warner Bros. “Godzilla vs. Kong”. and Legendary and “A Quiet Place Part II” by Paramount.
Although the box office has shown signs of life in recent weeks, total sales remain far behind what they were before the pandemic. Movies last weekend grossed $ 57 million in the United States and Canada, down 58% from the comparable period of 2019, according to Comscore.
“In general, you see how all the elements are moving in the right direction to bring us to the new normal, although we are still not there yet,” said Luis Olloqui, general manager of Cinepolis USA.
Tuesday marks the start of Film Week, a six-day effort by theater owners representing 30,000 screens in the United States and Canada, as well as studios and other companies, to deliver food deals, drink specials. and anticipated film screenings. The goal is to help consumers get back into the cinema habit after a year dominated by Netflix and other streamers.
Incentives, which vary by company, include free popcorn, movie posters and first screenings of Questlove’s musical documentary “Summer of Soul” and designs for private screenings of Marvel’s “Black Widow”.
Help from studios and other vendors is crucial for theaters at a time when exhibitors’ marketing budgets are tight and some companies, like ArcLight Cinemas, have decided to give up.
“It’s important for the industry to have that rallying point,” said Brandon Jones, a film marketing manager who is one of the campaign coordinators. “I think Cinema Week has created a lot of momentum and I hope the industry can come together and stand up for cinema.”
Here’s what exhibitors and studios do.
Discounts and gifts
Big chains such as Leawood, Kan-based AMC Entertainment, Regal, and Texas, Texas-based Plano will woo moviegoers with popcorn deals and other concessions. Some tours offer additional benefits to members of their loyalty and membership programs and offers to encourage new registrations.
Mexican company Cinepolis, for example, is making a leap into Cinema Week by offering half-price wine by the glass on Mondays. Tuesday offers discounted tickets for members of the chain’s rewards program as well as $ 10 margaritas.
Other Cinepolis offerings include half-price popcorn and candy on Wednesdays, followed by $ 2 beers on Thursdays. Incentives on other days include double reward points for members on main courses (Friday), appetizers and desserts (Saturday) and tickets (Sunday). On Saturdays and Sundays, the chain will serve Bloody Marys and $ 5 mimosas.
Cinemark, the country’s third-largest exhibitor, hosts $ 5 screenings of the original 2001 “The Fast and the Furious” at its locations, which include several Los Angeles-area theaters.
Members of the chain’s rewards program can enter to win their own screening events, which include a small popcorn and soda for each participant. Members of Cinemark’s free loyalty program can enter to earn a one-month upgrade to its cinema membership program, Movie Club, which includes free movie credit and 20% off concessions.
AMC, the world’s largest movie theater chain, hosts sweepstakes for free tickets and memberships to AMC Stubs A-List, the channel’s monthly subscription service for moviegoers.
Some smaller chains are also getting into the action of transactions. The Landmark Theaters in Los Angeles (Landmark on Pico, Landmark Westwood and the Nuart) will have designs for a free season pass, a free 25-ticket pack, and free theater rental. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Landmark will offer discounted fares on tickets and half-price concessions.
Studios and distributors including A24, Disney, IFC Films, Lionsgate, Netflix, Paramount, Sony Pictures, United Artists, and Universal are providing theaters with first screenings, preview scenes from upcoming films and other media to support th return to cinemas. .
Cinema Week to Host Designs for Five Private Watch Parties for Marvel’s “Black Widow,” Disney’s “Jungle Cruise” and “Free Guy” from 20th Century Studios. ” Searchlight Pictures’ “Summer of Soul”, due out in early July, premieres in theaters in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit and Seattle on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, IFC Films will present “Werewolves Within”, notably in cinemas in Los Angeles; the film is released more widely on June 25. Warner Bros. offers private evening events. In addition, Paramount is partnering with theaters to put on double films of “A Quiet Place” and “A Quiet Place Part II” for the price of a ticket.
In Los Angeles arthouse theaters, Landmark on Pico will present a preview of “Summer of Soul” on Tuesday for members of the chain’s free loyalty club. The Landmark also has the preview Wednesday of “Werewolves Within”. Laemmle, based in Los Angeles, will also host “Werewolves” on the same day. Many screenings are scheduled during the week, when theaters often struggle to fill seats.
Alamo Drafthouse, known for its quirky themed screening programs, plans its own events, including the screening of a secret film from the nonprofit American Genre Film Archive.
The Austin, Texas-based chain is also launching a Harrison Ford film series to commemorate the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” anniversary and brunch screenings of “In the Heights” and “The Notebook” to feature. its new breakfast menu. – friendly dishes and cocktails. The chain is rehearsing its Zoom-taped “Dazed and Confused” cast reunion, which it first featured in other locations before its downtown Los Angeles theater reopened.
“We’re finding that people are excited to be going back to the movies anyway, but we just wanted to put our own Alamo style into it,” said Kayla Pugh, Alamo’s head of programming.
In collaboration with Juneteenth, AMC this week announced a series of film screenings, starting Friday, that showcases films by black filmmakers and tells black stories on the big screen. The AMC program includes “Do the Right Thing”, “Harriet”, “The Water Man”, “Fences”, “Moonlight”, “Barbershop: The Next Cut” and “Love & Basketball”.
Certain return-to-cinema initiatives also include a charitable component.
For example, a portion of the proceeds from Movie Week merchandise sold through the initiative’s online store will be donated to a campaign called Big Screens Big Hearts, which supports the Will Rogers Pioneers Assistance Fund. The fund, managed by the nonprofit Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation, provides assistance and advice to theatrical operations, distribution and sales workers facing illness, accident or injury . The merchandising store offers coffee mugs, tote bags, t-shirts and other items.
In addition, Universal, AMC Theaters, Regal, Cinemark, Harkins Theaters and Marcus Theaters are offering free “F9” tickets to hospital workers in some major US cities, recognizing their contribution to their fight against the coronavirus crisis.
If Cinema Week is successful, Jones said, he hopes it will be the first of many such events promoting cinema. “We really think this is something that the industry could come together on at least once a year,” he said.