40 Under 40 EUR: Sarah Lewthwaite of Movio

By J. Sperling Reich | June 28, 2016 6:43 am PDT
Sarah Lewthwaite, Strategic Partnerships Director at Movio

This story first appeared in a special CineEurope 2016 issue of BoxOffice magazine. To subscribe to the magazine click here.

Name: Sarah Lewthwaite
Company: Movio
Title: Strategic Partnerships Director
Country: United Kingdom

Sarah Lewthwaite, is fairly certain the kernel of her appreciation for cinema is directly related to her love of the snack food served at movie theatres. Indeed, Lewthwaite’s earliest memories of going to the cinema was when her mother took her to the historic Uptown Theatre in Toronto during a school break in the 1980s. She can’t remember what the film was, but distinctly recalls, “The sloped seating so that I was barely able to see unless I strategically leaned to look between the cracks of the people sitting in front of me. The red velvet decor throughout of the auditorium, and of course the popcorn.”

Lewthwaite first started working on motion picture exhibition when she took a position in marketing at Cineplex Entertainment, Canada’s largest cinema operator. She feels lucky to have worked with and learned from so many amazing people from all aspects of the industry thus far in her career, especially, “Ellis Jacob, the CEO of Cineplex Entertainment whose leadership style I greatly respect. By his example, Ellis showed me the importance of following your gut and being prepared to take risks for something you truly believe in.”

Today Lewthwaite is the Strategic Partnerships Director at Movio, a leader in data analytics and cinema marketing software for the film for exhibitors and distributors. She is very excited by her company’s ability to parse data in an effort to transform all aspects of the industry. “I believe that cinema chains and film studios alike are finally starting to tap into customer data in meaningful ways and realising that by better understanding our customers we can work together to improve the product and experience,” Lewthwaite says. Data is finally starting to be used outside of the marketing departments to start to inform everything from on-screen programming, showtime scheduling, and even cinema design.”

Lewthwaite hopes that the data Movio helps makes sense of will enable to industry to better take on one of its biggest competitors; time… or the lack thereof. “Consumers have less and less leisure time, and as a result, are less willing to take risks on things that do not deliver a good return on their time investment,” she states. “In order for our industry to maintain relevancy, I believe we need to focus on eliminating as many barriers to getting someone to the cinema and away from their homes and couches, as possible. We need to focus on the value versus time equation as this is the math that consumers are calculating in their heads when they are deciding whether to go-out or stay-in. This means creating new cinemas experiences that cannot be replicated, maintaining the release windows for the big screen and ensuring that the content on the screen itself is top-notch.”

Though Movio is five-years-old, the company is still relatively new to the European market. Thus, Lewthwaite spends most of her time building awareness of the company’s products and services. That’s one reason she’ll be at CineEurope 2016 in Barcelona. “I love meeting new people and showcasing what Movio can do,” she says. One of Lewthwaite’s goals is to help the company make a meaningful impact in the European market, and she wants to be instrumental in helping make the firm a global leader in moviegoer insights. “I would love for our innovation and thought-leadership in this space to be unparalleled and be the most respected and authoritative voice in moviegoer data in the industry,” Lewthwaite adds. “It would be exciting to look back 10 years from now and realise that I helped to shape that.”

J. Sperling Reich