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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Cinema Trends & Insights : Installment #2

Cost of Going To The Cinema

It seems that consumers, of all ages, are now (more than ever) looking for value in entertainment and the cinema is no exception.  About one-third of all social media conversations regarding the cinema center on cost - particularly concession costs as being too high.  This trend brings to light an issue which the astute cinema operator can take advantage.  The notion of high concession pricing is a real issue but also a perceived 'value' issue and, as such, can be managed so as to get moviegoers to purchase more concession items if they believe they are receiving value for their purchase.

Of the social media chats regarding moviegoers views on concession, it seems that not only food costs (which make up 25% of all social conversations) but chats regarding discounts and promotions (29% of conversations) were very important.  By all accounts, it seems that moviegoers are losing interest in promotions and so-called 'club card' discounts and coupons.

Between 2013-15, data indicates that a full 66% of moviegoers considered cinema concession too expensive, while only 5% indicate that admission was too expensive.  Only 11% indicated that concession promotions and discounts were important.  The good news is that only 8% felt the movie would be better if watched at home (down from 22% in the 2010-12 period).

Concession Pricing

We have learned that cinemagoers, by a wide margin, believe that concession prices are high or at least perceive they are high.  Many cinemagoers fore-go purchasing snacks and from tracking social media chatter the data indicates that 88% of cinemagoers bring in their own snacks to either supplement their concession purchase or to bypass concession altogether. So, the response should be for cinemas to create their own brands of treats and base them around 'high valued' deals and affordability to win back concession purchases.

Movies & Music

The cinema and music chatter dominate the social media within every country. Music is dominated by recording artists.  For example, in country music, Taylor Swift propels the country music, and she only makes up a whopping 80% of all country music conversations.  In music, the country genre tops the social media chats and continues to appeal to a wider and wider audience.

Gaming is HOT

Gaming is huge in entertainment. 4 in 10 American adults own a game console and the ownership is growing with may households having two or more consoles.  Additionally, PCs for gaming, particularly for on-line gaming is growing at double digits.


Piracy of all types of entertainment content is not only rising but people seem less concerned about getting caught.  Recent data suggests that your average pirate is becoming more diverse - moving from a predominately youth base to an older more diverse pirate.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Rise of Militainment

Militainment - the merging of military tactics with entertainment technology.  If you haven't heard of this term you will.
Drones - centerpiece of militainment

Video gaming and gamers offer the military a set of technology and skills that are being used as drones play a larger role in military surveillance and direct combat. Using drones presents a different form of killing as the drone operator/ player/combatant is literally 10,000 miles from where the action is taking place - it is a total physical and emotional disconnect.

Like playing a video game the military drone operator is not a physically engaged warrior but is waging war-by-distance and it is where the military wants to be in the 21st Century.

The U.S. military has bought the intellectual property rights to hundreds of video games and aggressively recruits top video gamers for service.  Currently, 87 countries have and use drones on a daily basis, principally for surveillance, as warfare evolves.  With militainment there are no fears, anger, emotions, it's detached doing.

Movie-making and all of the technology that goes into special effects, etc. and video games where excellent realism has now morphed into virtual reality is where militainment  moves forward and turns that make-believe into 'real' reality - and there is no going back.

Cinema Trends & Insights: Installment #1

Global entertainment and media exceeded $2 trillion last year - and  growing.  Serving up a vast array of content for billions of viewers, readers, listeners, players, and fans, mass entertainment is inescapable as it reaches into every corner of the world.

At the heart of the entertainment industry is the cinema.  It acts as a window into current events and in many ways forecasts the future.  Moviegoers respond and relate to what they view on a cinema screen - it is an emotional experience.  Whether a rabid film fan or infrequent moviegoer the cinema plays a role in shaping our social insights and personal sentiments.

Consumers know which genre of movies are the top grossers and thus drive the industry. So, it is important to know what trends and issues are motivating viewers to either sit in their living room or go to the local cinema.  It is important to know what impacts users regarding the cinema-going experience and how this information translates into retaining old and developing new audiences.

Top Trends In Movies

SciFi movies generate more ticket sales than any other genre, followed by Romantic Dramas/Comedies, and Horror movies.  It is interesting to note, however, that Horror movies generate the highest level of social engagement (blog posts, tweets, social pages and postings) grabbing 53% of all movie social conversation.  In contrast, the top-grossing high-impact, scifi/fantasy movies muster only 20% of all social chatter.  This indicates that fan engagement is strongest in the Horror genre.  Romantic movies (generally referred to as RomComs) receive the most positive sentiments from viewers garnering a full 55% of positive social chatter.

In contrast, the dominating genre of SciFi generates only a 49% positive sentiment on social media conversation. It is also of note that SciFi movies have seen a shift from specialized fan-based to a more general audience appeal which has attracted larger audiences both young (18-34) and old (44-65) age groups.

Another trend is the increase in out-door cinema, be it at drive-in theaters or the (more recent) movies-in-the-park. Over the last five years, the movies-in-the-park experience has increased a whopping 4,500% in admissions.  This trend driven by affordability along with a dating option.  This trend, I believe, will continue to outpace general growth in cinema attendance.

Installment #2 of this Post 'Cost of Going To The Cinema' will continue next week

Thursday, February 18, 2016


For some years, CMG has stated that China would surpass the U.S. as the largest movie box office grosser and inklings of this are now appearing.  This month, China will out-gross the U.S. as movies grossed $554 million last week - setting a new one-week movie admissions record.
'The Mermaid' helped break record

Roughly half of the record total, or $276 million, was grossed by a movie entitled, 'The Mermaid', a film staring Hong Kong comic Stephen Chow that was not released in the U.S.  The U.S. box office is still ahead for the year but it's only a matter of time before the U.S. rule over the cinema box office will come to an end. To give some perspective on how fast the Chinese cinema is growing, last week's admissions of $554 million were bigger than China's total box office for the entire year of 2007!

In second place last week was another Chinese movie, entitled 'The Man From  Macao 3' - it grossed $120 million.  In third was 'The Monkey King' which earned $117 million.  Again neither of these films were released in the U.S.

This is why I say that the scuffle over the diversity  of the Oscars is not relevant as the whole premise of the Oscars will be less and less important as China moves into the number one spot.  The Chinese will have their own Awards shows and the current Western stars of the cinema will loose relevance.

The cinema industry is literally shifting to the East as China's huge populace flocks to the new cinemas being constructed.  The Hollywood glitterati should brace themselves for the tsunami that is going to hit the industry.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

OSCAR SWAG: More Ridiculous Then EVER!

Each year CMG reports on what's in the 'Gift Bag' the Oscar award nominees receive. And this year the swag-bag contents are off the chain.  Valued at more than $250,000 (almost double the value of last year's sack), the bags are becoming more valuable than the Oscar itself!
Steamist Home Spa

So, what golden goodies are in this year's bag-of-swag and how decedent is this whole tradition getting - as the gift-getters are the 10%ers the neo-libs are constantly bitching and moaning about.

According to Distinctive Assets, the company that puts together the bags, "Everyone Wins". Well, to me, the only winners are the celebs and to a lesser extent the gift donors - and of course Distinctive Assets.  In a statement issued by a Distinctive spokesperson, this year's bag was, "once again a blend of fabulous, fun, and functional items meant to thrill and pamper those who may have everything money can buy but still savor the simple joy of life."  Wow!  I love this kind of statement - so heart-felt. Yes, these celebs have everything but deserve more. So what will Matt Damon, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, and Sly Stallone do with their goodies? One would hope they give most, if not all, of it away.

Highlighted here are some items in this year's Oscar bag of swag:

-First Class 10 Day Trip to Israel (from the Israeli Government) - $55,000
-Walking 15 Day Tour of Japan (from Japanese Government) - $45,000
-One Year's Worth of Audi Car Rental - $45,000
-Laser Skin-Tightening Procedure - $5,000
-Lifetime Supply of Lizora Skin Creams - $31,000
-Vampire Breast Lift (uses blood-derived growth factors to provided rounder breasts) - $1,900
-Nuelle Fiera Arouser (female sex toy) - $250
-Steamist At Home Spa - $5,060
-Personalized M&Ms - $425
and so on

185 bags, full of life's-essentials, will be given out this year. I can't but wonder if this whole swag thing is getting a bit sleezy. Is it really necessary? The Academy has nothing to do with the gift bag giving, it is purely companies looking for PR and the hype their products will receive by being included in the swag array.

Just saying,

Sunday, February 07, 2016

To 3D or NOT 3D?

Many moviegoers, myself included, continue to ask the question: "Should I go see the 3D version of movie X"?  3D movies cost more so it becomes a value question in terms of money being well spent. So, below is a breakdown of the key elements that will make or break the 3D or not 3D dilemma.
3D is great if done correctly

- 3D Fit:  Does the film lend itself to 3D? If the storyline is mostly drama and narrative and the movie does not rise to the occasion to use 3D effectively than the viewer should pass on the 3D option.

- Was 3D Planned: Was the movie always to be in 3D and shot in 3D? If not, and the 3D effects were added later, the movie was not designed to take full advantage of the format and should be passed on.

- 3D Used as a Gimmick: Is the 3D real, or is it used just for 'in your face' effect.  In using 3D, realism is key to making the movie a great visual experience, if not than pass and view it in 2D.

- Brightness: 3D NEEDS lots of light to work. Many cinemas under lamp (use too small a xenon lamp) in their larger auditoriums were most 3D films are screened. Additionally, 3D glasses cut down the light going to your eyes considerably, and many scenes in films are dark or take place at night - making the entire movie very dim.  So, search around for a cinema that has a big screen that is bright and steer-clear of darker 3D films.

 - Blurry Score: While watching a 3D film take off the glasses.  You can determine how much effort went into the 3D production by how blurry the image is without glasses.  If the image is a blur most or all of the time than you have an indication that the film was meant to be in 3D and great effort was dedicated to the format.

 - Audience Reaction: If moviegoers viewing the film say they suffered from 'motion sickness', the 3D effect was probably over-baked. In other words, there was TOO much 3D effect. A rocking boat, a coaster ride, etc. can be over-played.  If you like movement sensation go for it, if not, talk to someone or go on-line and get audience reaction to the film.

Anyway, for what it's worth, these are my criteria for viewing 3D of NOT - all of which can be answered by going on-line.   If you opt to view all available 3D movies than my criteria won't affect your decision, but if you are on the fence regarding the 3D format and feel a particular movie doesn't need to be in 3D to enjoy it than pass and view it in 2D.  Save the extra cash for a larger corn and candy.

Friday, February 05, 2016

What's UP At The Movies ? by Seymour Flix

Nose Candy In Movies - What Is It?
Pacino stares at pile of  'fake' coke in 'Scarface'

There are lots of movies in which drugs are a major component of the storyline. 'Stoner' films from dramas to comedies showcase drugs as a central theme - which means actors must 'get stoned' by snorting white powder.

So, what is required is a substitute for cocaine - a drug stand-in, if you will.  In the 1980s and through the '90s powdered milk and/or baking soda were the standard replacements for real drugs on movie and TV production sets. In recent times, these were replaced with a white powder called Inositol - which is Vitamin B in powder form.  As is turns out, Inositol is really used as a cutting agent for actual cocaine, but being a vitamin can actually give you a slight 'energy lift'.  For example, Vitamin B is the main ingredient in most 'energy shot drinks' so when ingested it gives you a 'kick' - some people get more of a kick than others.

The problem with Inositol is that for some folks the side effects can be, well, intoxicating. So, the fact that it is not a 'real' drug does not mean there can't be serious problems by snorting it.  For example, Al Pacino has often commented that snorting 'fake coke' in 'Scarface' really messed up his nasal passages for years after the movie was made.

So, when you see actors snorting, know it's not close to being real, but it's not, necessarily, healthy either just because it's a vitamin.

Chinese Keep Investing In Entertainment

The Wanda Group, the Chinese entertainment and real estate conglomerate, has inked a deal with Dolby Laboratories to build 100 advanced cinema theaters in China.

The theaters will feature Dolby's Vision Laser-powered projection and the Dolby Atmos totally immersive cinema sound systems.  To be constructed over the next five years, these cinemas will render IMAX cinemas obsolete, as the Dolby equipped cinemas offer the next generation in the cinema-going experience - and cinemas must kept evolving as competition from other entertainment options looms larger and larger.

Wanda had previously announced that it was going to upgrade 100 of its AMC owned cinemas in the U.S. with the Dolby advanced cinema systems.  The Chinese cinema market keeps expanding in production, distribution, and exhibition.  The commitments with Dolby further strengthens Wanda's movie exhibition capabilities and sets the stage for the next step in the movie-going experience.

Pope Goes Tinsel
Francis with new H'wood bud, DeCaprio

Rumor has it that Pope Francis may resign the Papacy in lieu of an acting career.  Pope Francis will be making his acting debut in the film 'Beyond The Sun' - it will be a first in Papal history.

'Beyond The Sun' is being described as 'a family adventure movie'.  It will be based on Gospel writings and one that the Pope requested be made, so as to "communicate Jesus's message to children". And, if you are going to deliver a spiritual message what better messenger than the Pope, himself.

No distributor deal has been inked, as yet, but the movie will have global appeal and reach. Production is to began before the end of March and it will be filmed in Italy.  The movie follows on the Pope's foray into the hip-hop world with the recent release of a song, entitled, 'Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward!' which is a mix of his inspirational lyrics narrated to an EDM beat.

CMG wishes his Excellency all the best on his new singing and acting careers.

Just saying,
S. Flix

Monday, February 01, 2016

Cracking The Atom

Disney, Fox, and Lionsgate have teamed up to lead a $50 million investment in Atom Tickets, a mobile ticketing app that will launch later this year. Atom is designed to make movie ticket and concession purchasing very simple and will be available for free on Apple App and Google Play.
Atom Tickets logo

"We believe Atom Tickets will revolutionize the way people go to the movies", says Michael Burns, Vice Chair at Lionsgate.  Atom will also provide film reviews and trailers.  When arriving at a cinema moviegoers will simply scan their previously received codes into a reader at the box-office or concession stand, making the experience seamless and very convenient.

According to the studios, the Atom app will enhance a cinema's revenue stream as people purchase more when buying on-line and knowing they won't have to wait in line.  This not only adds value to the consumer but aides the studios and cinemas by providing deep consumer data on purchasing habits and movie choices which can be converted into such things as ticket and concession coupons.

CMG says great!  Atom does all that which makes it a lot better than Fandango.  However, CMG sees a much deeper reason for Atom - the introduction of dynamic ticket pricing (DTP)!.

DTP (and you are going to hear a lot more about this in the future) is a way to charge more or less for a movie ticket, depending upon factors like: time, location, popularity of movie, etc.  For example, in the U.S. over 4 billion seats go unsold in cinemas each year.  Atom can offer these, less used Tuesday afternoon seats, at a discount rate.  The whole issue being to increase the utilization rate at cinemas, which is about 15-18%.

All well and good, but I feel the reason for DTP is ticket price management (manipulation) on the up-side, ie. higher ticket prices for those movies in high demand.  For example, 'Star Wars' admission tickets for the first days after release could have garnered a premium admission price, perhaps as much as $15-20 for a general admission ticket.  This is what the studios are after, they could care less about a cinema's utilization rate.  DTP is a way for the studios and cinemas to extract more out of each movie's gate - be it by lowering or raising the admission price, based upon the series of factors.

Dynamic Ticket Pricing is coming. Get prepared for it.