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Monday, October 24, 2016

Boomers vs Millennials: Maybe They Aren't That Different

In this corner, the Baby Boomers: older, perhaps wiser, richer, and out for fun (Pub Happy Hours are huge). In the opposite corner, the Millennials: younger, more flexible and accepting, poorer. Hmmm, a marketing dilemma ?  No way. For a company, particularly in entertainment or hospitality, you have to go with the Boomers.

Why, because they play all the same games as their younger offspring and their grandchildren.  Social media has nothing over the Boomers. I don't buy into the notion that younger folks have all the tech savvy and "grew-up with computers and cells" making them better tech 'users' and, by extension, better and more informed 'consumers'. That advantage, if it ever existed, is now gone. Look at the Presidential race: all Boomers, their advisers, mainly Boomers, Boomers rule (for now).

In many instances the interests and needs of the Boomers and Millennials are polar opposites which only makes the job of a service provider, ie cinema operator, all the more difficult when it comes to both anticipating and satisfying their needs and wants. Knowing this, you began to understand the gravity of a cinema's undertaking and how difficult it is to improve a moviegoer's experience.

But, there are certain things that transcend the age-gap and are universal traits every single company dealing with the public must foster. One thing I have noticed and is irrefutable is that no matter what the generation, they all want to be well served and are growing increasingly unforgiving of service miscues. Take cleanliness. Having a clean establishment is not only a priority but a requisite.  But, cleanliness is more than just being clean.  A cinema's condition is also a component of cleanliness. A tear is an auditorium's soundfold, a cracked floor tile, dinged and marred wood work, worn fabrics and especially a worn carpet are all perceived by moviegoers to be an indication of cleanliness or a lack thereof.

Just as important as cleanliness is responsiveness to needs.  Every interaction with a patron requiring additional assistance or service of any kind must be time bound - and always under promised and over delivered.  The worst thing is to acknowledge a patron request and do nothing about it.

Are Boomers and Millennials very different in their wants and needs, yes! Are they the same, however, in many respects, yes! Get used to serving all of their needs and wants.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

A 'Golden' Opportunity

Cinemas should always be looking for good promotions and business enhancers. One of the best and unique promotions I've come across recently is from an independent theater client (who wished to remain anonymous) which can be implemented by any cinema - regardless of size or customer make-up.

The promotion includes running a week-long retrospective of great films starring one actor (take your pick). Along with the films comes a chance for any moviegoer an opportunity to win a 'Golden Ticket' prize.

Here's how it works: Five Golden Tickets are scattered throughout random large-sized popcorn purchases each evening during the retrospective.  One of the prizes each evening being a voucher for free popcorn for a year.  The four other winners each win a voucher that includes a free movie and large popcorn. The 'Golden Tickets' are only available in large-sized popcorn purchases.

The best part of this promotion is the use of social media. Winners and losers are urged to share their photos of the Golden Ticket experience on social media sites. Additionally, photos of all the winners and their comments are posted on the Theater's social channels.

So, think about screening a retrospective of classic, cult, or hidden gem movies.  Be creative, request moviegoers to suggest what films or actors they would like to see - remember, most films are available on disc and hook-up of a BluRay player to your D-Cinema projection system is easy.

Oh, is your cinema having a Holloween Costume Party? If not, plan one.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Movies For Grownups

On October 3rd, I posted "Boomers Find The Cinema", which spoke to the increasing cinema attendance by baby boomers and how movie exhibitors should be catering to this demographic.

It seems that Variety (the entertainment trade journal) and the AARP (American Association of Retired People) have now joined forces and are sponsoring the 'GrownUps Screening Series' of films.
The 'GrownUps Screening Series' features films for the 50+ age group and focuses on dramas with adult themes.  Each screening is followed by a Q&A session with the film's director, writers, producers, and cast members.

The AARP is a nonprofit organization with over 38 million members in the U.S all over the age of 50. The screenings will take place at the ArcLight Theater in Hollywood.

The films to be screened are those anticipated to be considered for an award during the 2017 film awards season. The screenings are open to voting industry guild members, AARP members, and special guests in the entertainment community. 'A Monster Calls', 'Loving', and 'Nocturnal Animals' are all scheduled to be screened - other films will be announced shortly.

CMG hopes that in the GrownUps Series will be available for all cinemas to exhibit in the future via either live internet connection/broadcast or hard-drive format.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Netflix Day-and-Date With Cinema Screenings

There was a lot of negative press regarding the deal inked between Netflix and iPic Entertainment ,the small, up-scale, and pricey theater chain that offers luxury seating with gourmet food and alcoholic drinks (if preferred) while you watch a movie. But, I see it differently.

I see no difference between an original movie from Netflix vs. one released from any other major studio.  I stated, long ago, that internet streamers would eventually run day-and-date product with cinemas and that the exclusive theatrical release window would eventually cease to exist. A step in that direction has now taken place.

The studios and large cinema chains (who naturally are against this) have no one to blame but themselves.  The major Hollywood studios, along with Regal, AMC, and Cinemark have been playing the 'clearance' game for years (see CMG post, "Fox Eliminates Practice of Exhibitor Clearances" posted on April 2, 2016) to the detriment of the small, independent exhibitor and now they will have to contend with their sins.

The Netflix/iPic deal calls for iPic to screen up to 10 Netflix original movies at the same time as those films are streamed on Netflix. iPic currently has 105 screen across the U.S. but is expanding with 20 new locations (typically 6-8 screens per location) in the works.

The National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) the movie exhibitor lobby group which for the most part works on behalf of the large cinema chains is adamantly opposed to the Netflix/iPic deal but ironically was closed-mouth, stating "it was not NATO's business to comment on the clearance deals" that has been negatively impacting the small, independent theaters for years.

Actually, this deal is good for the independent cinema operator.  Although the particulars of the deal between Netflix and iPic were not divulged, my guess, is that iPic is getting a better deal on gross revenue sharing with Netflix than they are with the Hollywood studios. Additionally, more good product for the independent to choose from, can't be bad.

This deal represents a crack in the dike and I predict the dike will eventually fall.


Monday, October 03, 2016

Boomers Find The Cinema

Any service or hospitality company that ignores the 'older crowd' does so at their financial peril. So, it should be no surprise that cinemas need to cater to the needs of the baby boomer generation.

Boomers are turning out in large numbers. In the U.S. a full 15% of seniors (60 and over) are classified as "frequent moviegoers" by the Motion Picture Association of America. Boomers grew up with great films, the 50s, 60s, are often referred to as  the 'golden age of the cinema', now these seniors are searching for good films.  Dramas, comedies, westerns, with mature actors are huge hits with older viewers.

Boomers look not only for good films but an experience. Alternative content, so-called 'cinema events', such as live streaming of the ballet, opera, or theater productions are very popular as well. Also luring in the oldsters is more comfort.  Larger seats and assisted listening services are now the norm in cinemas.  The new mantra for cinemas, both independents and chains, is comfort over capacity. Cinemas need to create a welcoming environment for older folks by making sure their sound systems are adequate and serviced regularly to ensure peak-performance.

In the concession area, seniors will buy but look for value and variety.  Don't forget, these people grew up going to the local cinema and are accustomed to buying concession (unlike the depression-era folks before them). They seek choice and are willing to pay for it.

It's a fact that many boomers are opting away from sea-side and planned community living and instead are relocating to cities and towns where they can continue to be active. Wealthy pensioners are increasingly living in urban hubs - where going to the cinema has never been easier.  This is good news for the independent and art cinemas as the boomers are leaving the suburbs and relocating to city-centers.

Younger people are going to the cinema less, particularly those in the 15 to 24 age group but that slack can and should be taken up by boomers.  It is incumbent upon cinemas to make the changes necessary with regard to auditorium comfort, food,  and convenience to encourage mature audiences to attend their presentations. Keep in mind that many boomers haven't gone to the movies in a long time, but they are now ready to do so. Cinemas need to be ready for them.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Hollywood Will Kowtow to China

Over the last several years I've posted that Hollywood was in for big changes when it comes to the making of movies. H'wood's political correctness will become passe'.  Nudity, sexual preferences, and gender equality will take a backseat as Chinese cultural norms set the tone for movies.

In movie-speak, China is the future.  The era of the Western domination of moviemaking is rapidly drawing to a close, as Asia, particularly China, is where the money in cinema is.  The Chinese boxoffice is expected to outgross the U.S.'s next year.  Additionally, China has been buying Hollywood, up and down the food-chain: studios, post-houses, cinema exhibition chains. etc. as well as building studios and production facilities at home.

China currently has a quota on how many foreign movies can enter the Chinese market (it now is 34 per year).  This has forced the U.S. studios to do an end-run around the quota system by entering into co-production deals with Chinese film makers.  These co-productions cater to the cinema tastes of the Chinese and kowtow to the censors.

Co-productions follow strict rules. for example, half of the cast and crew must be Chinese and story-lines must follow censorship guidelines - crime stories cannot have too many details, stories about corruption must end with the perpetrators behind bars. There can be no ghosts, religion, nudity, or politics.  Movies must be made so that a five year-old child can watch it without being scared. Too much blood and gore, no way.

What trumps political correctness is money.

Another consideration is the Chinese consumers tastes in films.  What they like, and flock to the cinema to view, are romance and romcoms, and big epic productions with loads of special-effects.
Horror and 'message' films are forbidden and wouldn't screen well, regardless.

Obviously, this is limiting creativity but a good argument can be made regarding the numerous crap films and marquee fodder H'wood spews out every year.  So, filmmakers are presented with a dilemma but one which is easily decided: to go with the Chinese flow and accept the 'way', or not.

Comprise is the new normal for Hollywood, the alternative - no movie in China.  The global movie industry from Hollywood to Bollywood must woo and kowtow to China's film norms and restrictions as the revenue source is huge and booming.  Today, to hit it big globally, a film must pass the Chinese censor gauntlet, as well as, cater to Chinese film tastes. This fact tests the range of what films can be produced.

This scenario may not be a bad thing.  What will happen is that China will, over time, loosen its censorship rules while at the same time, H'wood moves away from its over-bearing infatuation with politically correct viewpoints.  For me, that's a win - win.