Tag Archives: AMC Theatres

Sony Hackers Crossed A Line By Threatening Movie Theatres

The Interview Premiere

Though most of the entertainment industry and business world has been riveted to every breaking development of the Sony Pictures hack, we have purposely refrained from writing anything about it. That was until the perpetrators of the cybercrime threatened movie theatres showing an upcoming Sony film release with terrorist acts.

Yesterday morning, in what has become an almost daily ritual since news of the Sony hack first surfaced the group taking responsibility for the cyber attack, who call themselves the Guardians of Peace, sent an email which threatened:

“We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.”

The email went on to state that “The world will be full of fear” and referenced the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C. It suggested, in no uncertain terms, that moviegoers should stay away from movie theatres screening “The Interview” and those that live near such cinemas should evacuate their homes. No specific reason was given, however since the hack against Sony Pictures first occurred it has been widely speculated that North Korea might be responsible for the attack in retaliation for “The Interview”, a film Sony had scheduled to open Christmas day. The comedy featuring Seth Rogen and James Franco centers around a plan to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

As a media outlet focused on the motion picture exhibition and distribution industries we were among those who received the hacker’s daily emails. Over the past few weeks we could have used this site to dissect the notes of countless DCI meetings from the past ten years or even highlight the terms of Sony’s various virtual print fee (VPF) agreements, details of which were contained in the staggered distribution of Sony’s data. However, there is a reason such information was meant to be kept confidential and its publication serves no greater public need. As well, the commercial matters being discussed within such documents is ancient history and any interest in them would be purely academic at best. That our silence came with the advantage of not publicizing the hackers or their crime was an added bonus.

But when the perpetrators took aim at the general public, threatening innocent people in a venue this particular media outlet considers a place of secular worship, they crossed a line that even the most malicious hackers know to avoid. Virtual thievery in the anonymity of cyberspace gives victims the false sense they are not in direct danger of physical harm. Threatening terrorist acts upon specific people or places in a world still smarting from an endless string of such events panics a public with feelings of immediate personal danger. That’s what makes such threats so affective and why the Sony hackers’ intimidation of movie theatres is far more damaging than any of the data they leaked.

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Answering A Few Hypothetical Questions About the “Interstellar” Unlimited Ticket

Interstellar Unlimited Ticket Meme

Two weeks ago AMC Theatres and Paramount Pictures announced they’d be teaming up to provide members of the cinema chain’s loyalty program, AMC Stubs, an opportunity to see “Interstellar” as many times as they’d like.

The Interstellar Unlimited Ticket, as the offering has been dubbed, costs between USD $19.99 and USD $34.99 depending on location. Stubs members who have already seen the movie can purchase an upgrade for USD $14.99. “Interstellar”, the latest film from director Christopher Nolan; a science fiction epic that was released to a great deal of buzz and in numerous formats, including traditional 35mm film, 70mm film, IMAX and digital.

In the press release sent out by Paramount announcing the program, Elizabeth Frank, AMC’s executive vice president and chief content and programming officer, stated:

“Christopher Nolan has created a masterpiece that movie fans are saying gets better every time they see it. The Interstellar Unlimited Ticket gives these fans an opportunity to experience the spectacular cinematography and heart-warming stories as many times as they would like – at any AMC location, any showtime, in any format, including IMAX.”

Not sure who these fans are with enough free time to sit through multiple viewings of a three hour movie, nor if that says anything about the unemployment rate in the United States, however “Interstellar” was one of this year’s most highly anticipated films and got pretty decent reviews. So, putting the question aside of whether there is actual demand to see “Interstellar” an unlimited number of times during its initial run, we contacted AMC hoping to get a few questions answered in an effort to write up a post that went beyond simply regurgitating the press release.

Thus, we are inserting the following obligatory statement:

AMC did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails seeking additional information and comments for this story.

We even went so far as to send the appropriate personnel at AMC some of the questions we had about the the Interstellar Unlimited Ticket, yet heard nothing back. Left with no way to cover the announcement in a manner that doesn’t come off as pure promotion, we came up with the concept of providing answers to the questions we had hoped to ask AMC. We’re not saying our answers are accurate, but simply educated opinions based on our own research and knowledge of the industry. Let us know what you think of them, and feel free to provide some of your own constructive answers in the comments section of this post.

When did the idea for the unlimited ticket program come about? Was it before the film’s release and, if so, how long did it take to put together?

The idea came about before “Interstellar” was released. One way to take a movie from being a strong success to an outright blockbuster is getting fans of the filmmaker or cast to see the movie more than once. Thanks to shortening theatrical release windows and the increased quality of home entertainment systems, the practice of seeing a release more than once in cinemas has decreased to an insignificant number.

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Regal Cinemas Causes A Disturbance In The Force

Regal's Star Wars Force Awakens Teaser Release

A few days ago you may have felt a great disturbance in the force, as if millions of PR managers suddenly cried out in terror, and a theatre chain was suddenly silenced.

Translation: Regal Cinemas learned the hard (and often harmless) lesson so many online retailers have already experienced on countless occasions.

While updating their customer-facing website over the weekend, Regal broke the news that a teaser trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (a.k.a “Star Wars: Episode VII”) would be shown in a small number of theaters. The circuit’s website even went so far as to list the nine cinemas showing the teaser before all films from November 28th through November 30th. In a commendable attempt to be thorough, Regal also posted links to the announcement on Facebook and Twitter.

The only problem in all this is that the official announcement of the teaser trailer for “The Force Awakens” was meant to come from its director J.J. Abrams who had not yet made the news public. Oops.

The “incident”, if you can actually call it that, occurred early Monday morning setting off a nerd alert in certain sectors of the Internet galaxy. Though Regal quickly took down the webpage and deleted their posts on Facebook and Twitter, they were soon made aware (if they weren’t already) that once something is published online, it is impossible to erase. Screenshots of their webpage and even a YouTube video began making the rounds on social media and the blogosphere.

It wasn’t long before official word came from Abrams, via his production company’s Twitter account, that an 88 second teaser for the highly anticipated release would hit select theatres this Friday. Shortly afterwards Regal republished their webpage announcing details on where and when to see the “Star Wars” teaser.

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AMC Scores Promotional Hat Trick With “Big Hero 6″ Giveaway

AMC Big Hero 6 Pin GiveawayI awoke on Monday morning to a notification on my iPhone related to “Big Hero 6“. The latest animated release from Walt Disney Pictures had just topped the box office in North America during its debut weekend, fending off Warner Bros. “Interstellar” by taking in over USD $56 million.

The iPhone notification however didn’t have anything to do with the past weekend’s box office. Rather it was sent by the AMC Theatres mobile app I have installed on my iPhone. I have the app set to enable notifications and even allow for it to use my location. That’s why every time I drive past an AMC multiplex my mobile buzzes with a notification. I still haven’t determined if that’s annoying or not.

The notification concerning “Big Hero 6″, pictured here, was alerting me to a special promotion the cinema chain was running that gave away limited edition pins for the movie with the purchase of tickets. The message read, “Which Baymax pin will you get?” with pictures of both the pins featuring the huggable robot at the center of the film. One ploy in the promotion is that only one in ten pins will be of Baymax in his hero armor, presumably making those versions more valuable.

The ultimate catch in all this is that the giveaway is exclusive to members of Stubs, AMC’s loyalty program. I continue to pay for Stubs each year, always swearing it’s the last year I’ll do so. Even though I could personally care less about them, exclusive benefits such as these giveaways make more inclined to not question the annual Stubs membership charge. After all, my kids would probably love the pins… even though each would probably get different versions leading to arguments over who gets which one on the way to our seats.

I only point all of this out to highlight how AMC used the giveaway to score a promotional hat-trick. They promoted the film, “Big Hero 6″ and their loyalty program, Stubs, while at the same time reminding me about their mobile app (which I rarely use).

They may have even convinced me to head on over to the nearest AMC Theatres so I can see the film while supplies last. Maybe I can pay for my Stubs membership by selling the pin on eBay. At the time of this writing they are already fetching over USD $11.40 and counting.

Exhibitors Pin Their Hopes On Promotional Giveaways For Disney’s “Maleficent”

Regal Entertainment's Maleficent Giveaway

If Disney’s “Maleficent” fails to generate box office returns when it opens on May 29th it certainly won’t be due to a lack of marketing campaigns touting promotional giveaways. At least that’s the case in North America where the studio has partnered with two of the world’s largest motion picture exhibitors to run opening weekend promotions for the big budget movie which focuses on the villain from “Sleeping Beauty”.

Moviegoers buying a ticket to “Maleficent” at Regal Cinemas during opening weekend will get a free poster for the movie. It’s not clear from their promotional artwork (pictured above) or website whether the poster being given away is the official one sheet or if it’s a special poster created specifically for the Regal give away. Ironically, should the movie turn into a smash hit, it will be the latter which becomes more valuable in secondary markets such as eBay, since presumably such posters would only have been produced in limited quantities for the Regal promotion.

AMC Stubs Maleficent Pin Giveaway

That is the very approach being taken by AMC Theatres, which is using its “Maleficent” promotional giveaway as a springboard for a contest driven by social media. Anyone seeing the movie at an AMC cinema during its first few days will walk off with a collectible pin from “Maleficent” made exclusively for the exhibitor’s campaign. In an attempt to incorporate its own marketing push on top of the promotional giveaway, AMC is asking patrons to share pictures of themselves with their “Maleficent” pin on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. One winner will be selected to receive a USD $25 AMC gift card from those that submit selfless with the hashtag #shareAMC and #maleficent. This type of effort is meant to spark a network effect that builds awareness of the new release and ultimately the cinema chain.

AMC is also feeding into a tradition that has cropped up around the Disney brand over the years. Many die-hard Disney fans have taken up the hobby of collecting and trading collectible pins that feature characters, rides, attractions, etc. from the company’s movies and theme parks. Disney not only sanctions the practice, but encourages it by selling each collectible pin only for a limited time. Visit any of Disney’s theme parks and you’ll see loads of people walking around with pins that sometimes go back decades. Park cast members (as Disney refers to its employees) often have pins stuck to the lanyards holding their staff badges.

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AMC Theatres Expands Content Marketing Efforts With “Versus”

YouTube Preview Image

AMC Theatres is taking a page out of the latest marketing play books with its new online series “Versus”. The first episode was posted to their website, via YouTube, on Tuesday, January 28th.

The show is hosted by blogger John Campea and the format centers around two opposing advocates defending their viewpoints on a hotly contested issue. At least that’s Campea explains it. Not sure determining who gives the better super hero performance, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man or Christian Bale as Bat Man, is an issue that is either hot or all that contested. Even so, “Versus” marks AMC’s latest attempt at content marketing.

If you haven’t heard the phrase “content marketing” yet, I can assure you that will change soon enough. By the end of 2014 you’ll be bombarded with so much content marketing the mere mention of the practice might send you running in the opposite direction. You know, kind of like the way traditional marketing does now.

That’s actually why content marketing was born in the fist place; consumers stopped responding to traditional marketing methods, so corporations began to attract their attention by producing and distributing relevant and informative content. The marketing technique requires the creation of media such as e-books, blogs, magazines, videos, podcasts, etc. that enhance the entire category in which a company operates.

Some classic, often cited, examples of content marketing include the Lego Club and its associated magazine, which help promotes Lego and the Cleveland Clinic’s Health Hub, an online health resource published by the academic medical center. Probably the paradigm that sets the bar for most content marketers is the Red Bulletin, a magazine for adventuresome thrill seekers published monthly by Red Bull, which manufactures an energy drink. Red Bull has proven that the readership of the Red Bulletin matches the demographics of the customers they are trying to acquire. It’s also served to raise the public’s awareness of the brand itself.

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AMC Theatres Offers Federal Employees Free Popcorn

AMC Federal Employee Popcorn Promotion

Coming up with some unique angle on AMC Theatres free popcorn deal for federal employees is nearly impossible. Over the last 24-hours apparently every media outlet worth their salt (pun intended) must have been required to write nearly identical pieces on the cinema chain’s altruistic announcement.

We at least have an excuse for covering the four paragraph press release from AMC Theatres; Celluloid Junkie is specifically focused on motion picture exhibition and distribution. After all, a bucket of popcorn serves as our logo.

This is actually a devilishly brilliant move by AMC on a couple of fronts. First off, their press release was picked up by the likes of CNN, the Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post and… well, us, of course. By having the popcorn promotion piggy back off a hot political current event AMC’s media hits were off the charts. Secondly, many of the federal employees AMC is hoping to reach with the announcement have been sidelined since Tuesday by an unpopular government shutdown due to budgetary reasons. There are at least 800,000 furloughed workers who suddenly find themselves with some extra time on their hands. AMC is simply offering government employees one suggestion for any newfound, though unwanted, time off.

AMC didn’t exactly try to hide the fact that they are exploiting the situation. John McDonald, executive vice president of Operations at AMC, came out and admitted as much when he said:

“There are hundreds of thousands of federal workers whose lives are being impacted. While we can’t do anything to resolve gridlock in Washington D.C., we can provide a few hours of entertainment, and free popcorn, while they wait to get back to work.”

I suppose it’s a little much to suggest the promotion might even help sustain the economy during such trying times. But wouldn’t it be great if it could?

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Exhibitor Loyalty Programs Are Now Offering Free Digital Downloads

Regal Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs Download Promotion

Two marketing emails from large cinema chains appeared in my inbox during the month of September both of which proved effective, at least for me. Rather than quickly scan them before relegating them to the trash bin, I actually took the rare step of following their calls to action. Maybe you’re wondering what promotional wizardry got me to respond to a marketing email. Or perhaps, you haven’t even made it this far into the story because, much like marketing emails, you stopped reading after the first two sentences.

The first email (shown above) was sent by Regal to members of the circuit’s Crown Club loyalty rewards program. It arrived with the subject line “Free Movie Download With Cloudy 2 Ticket Purchase!” While I had zero intention of seeing “Cloudy 2″, the offer stood out in my mind to such a degree that when my daughters asked if I would take them to see the movie last weekend, I didn’t hesitate to say yes (much to their surprise and joy).

As the lights dimmed and the trailers began I realized the only reason I agreed to see the film at all was due to the promotional offer. Of course, I silently assured myself that it was also to spend time with my daughters and to give them an unexpected treat.

The offer from AMC (shown below) was even better because it didn’t require customers to make a direct purchase. The company sent out an email to members of their Stub’s loyalty program with the subject “Special STAR TREK gift for members only!”. Inside was an exclusive member offer to download the 2009 “Star Trek” film from iTunes as part of a marketing campaign to promote the release of “Star Trek Into Darkness” in the iTunes store.

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AMC Promotes New Fallbrook 7 Through Its Rewards Program

AMC Stubs Fallbrook 7 Promotion

AMC has found an interesting way to promote both the opening of a new theatre and, at the same time, its loyalty rewards program. In advance of opening the newly renovated AMC Fallbrook 7 complex, the cinema chain has invited members of its AMC Stubs program to attend an evening of free screenings at the theatre this Friday, September 27th.
First, a little history on the re-opening of the Fallbrook 7.

AMC took over the theatre at the Fallbrook Center in West Hills, CA earlier this year when Laemmle Theaters abandoned the site after deadlocking on a new lease agreement with the mall’s owner, Chicago-based General Growth Properties. When Laemmle originally made public the closing of the Fallbrook 7, which is a few miles from my home, I suspected the property owner may have been hoping to attract an exhibitor with deeper pockets. Sure enough, within two weeks of Laemmle’s announcement, AMC Theatres swooped in and took over the lease.

Moviegoers who patronized the Fallbrook 7 regularly, many of them senior citizens, were disheartened to hear of Laemmle’s plans, since it was one of the only cinemas in the west San Fernando Valley to play arthouse titles. An older theatre, it was also known for sometimes scratchy projection and sloped floors. Upon announcing their intention to take over the multiplex, AMC tried to assuage any fears longtime customers might have as evidenced by Mark McDonald, the circuit’s executive vice president of development, telling the Los Angeles Times:

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Can Movie Theatres Be Used As Emergency Storm Shelters?

Hurricane Sandy

What has been dubbed Superstorm Sandy will go down in history as one of the most devastating weather events in United States history. Arguably the most destructive storm since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it has left dozens dead, thousands homeless and millions of residents in New York and New Jersey without electricity. Though far less important in the grand scheme of the event, it has also shuttered hundreds of movie theatres along the eastern coast of the country for the past three days.

The strong winds, heavy rain and flooding brought New York City to a screeching halt Sunday evening with public transportation suspended indefinitely. Cinema owners also ceased operations with the likes of AMC, Clearview and Regal letting their screens go dark as early as three o’clock on Sunday. The move was meant not only to protect patrons, but also theatre employees who might otherwise have been trapped at work.

Much has been made about the adverse affect Sandy has had on box office receipts, especially on Sunday’s returns. But as film sprockets and reels have given way to digital bits and hard drives throughout the industry, little has been mentioned about the issues faced by modern-day cinemas.

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