by Lindsay Dickens
Going to the movies is all about the experience. There is a difference between seeing a film debut in the theatre versus streaming it at home. Since the invention of streaming services, movie theatre chains need customers now more than ever. The only reason chains are still in business, comes down to their marketing strategies.
Theatres keep about 50% of money from ticket sales. The rest of the money goes back to the film distributors. In order for the theatre to stay in business, they count on moviegoers to buy from their concessions.
More than 71% of attendants purchase something from concessions. If you really think about that, it makes a lot of sense. You can't walk into the screening itself without passing the concession stands. The layout of theatres are intentional. Not only do you have to pass the counter in order to get to the theatre but, the concession counters are psychologically stimulating.
In order to draw moviegoers to purchase concessions, there are vibrant colors and tons of detailed imagery. The large TV screens display beautiful images of popcorn and soda. Images of food matched with warm lighting, physcologically brings us comfort.
Unlike a restaurant, concession food is prepared right in front of you. You can see it and smell it. Food paired with certain colored cups and tubs (red and yellow) have an effect on the brain that stimulates hunger.
Popcorn as the traditional movie snack is not a coincidence either. Popcorn is cheap to make and salty. The profit margin on popcorn is huge. Once the salt kicks in, you just may have to buy a drink.
AMC even offers student discounts on concessions because they realize that even getting some money out of students is better than none. Chains will do anything for people of all ages to purchase concessions.
Have you noticed your movie never starts on time? Let’s say you’re seeing Spiderman: Far From Home at 7 p.m. At around 6:30 p.m. the commercials play. Next, at 7 p.m., the trailers begin. Then, at about 7:25 p.m., the feature bumper begins.
During the bumper, the theatre thanks their exclusive members and reminds you of their concession deals. Most importantly, they show happy, attractive people, you guessed it- eating food from concessions! After about 30 minutes of waiting, your movie finally starts. This is done intentionally. If you have to sit for 30 minutes, you might cave in and buy soda (especially if you see someone else drinking one).
Getting You to Come Back
Going to the movies can be expensive, so why do we keep going back? There is a mutually beneficial relationship between theatre chains and movie goers. Let's take AMC for example.
On Tuesdays, AMC movie tickets are cheaper. If you spend less money on your ticket, you might be more inclined to spend money on food.
AMC encourages you to get their app. Once you download it, they send you push notifications for deals. Even if you’re not at the theatre, one push notification could make you change your mind.
AMC also gives you reward points for each dollar you spend. These are great motivators to buy food and drink. Rewards make you feel like you’re getting something back from spending.
Since we know that half the money goes back to the distributors, it’s hard for chains to stay in business. In order to provide high-quality forms (DOLBY or IMAX), they need to gain revenue. You may not have realized, but theatres know just how to reel you in.
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