Former Home Entertainment Executive Draws AMC Theatres’ Ire

In early August, Tom Lesinski, a former president of Paramount Home Entertainment and, before that, one of Warren Lieberfarb’s top lieutenants at what was then Warner Home Video, was named CEO of National CineMedia, which sells advertising for in-theater movie trailers and previews.

With the theatrical business model under siege from over-the-top video (notably Netflix) and increasingly dependent upon blockbuster superhero movies to lure consumers, exhibitors are apparently upping the number of ads screening before and after a movie plays.

National CineMedia CEO Tom Lesinski

National CineMedia, which claims to deliver “integrated brand experiences” to more than 750 million moviegoers annually, has created a new so-called “platinum spot” that screens ads just before the main movie feature begins — and after.

In a Sept. 17 conference call and separate presentation at the 28th annual Goldman Sachs Communacopia confab in New York, Lesinski and other executives touted entering into amendments with Regal Cinemas and Cinemark to sell post-showtime advertising in their theaters.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Lesinski referenced “ongoing” and “continuous” discussions with AMC Theatres to bring similar ad-concepts to the world’s largest exhibitor.

That brought a quick rebuttal from AMC (i.e. CEO Adam Aron) — the latter long known for dissuading third-party commercial interests (i.e. MoviePass) in his theaters.

In a statement, Aron said Lesinski’s statement was erroneous.

“There are no discussions underway between NCM and AMC on this subject,” the executive said.

AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron

Aron explained that in April National CineMedia proposed to AMC commencing a platinum advertising position during the end of trailer play, which he claims was “flatly rejected” at the time because of concerns U.S. moviegoers would react quite negatively to the concept.

“AMC has no plan to introduce commercial advertising close to the start of a movie’s commencement at its theaters in the United States, nor does AMC envision entering into such an arrangement with [National CineMedia] anytime in the foreseeable future,” read the statement.

That doesn’t mean the new ad-insertion concept is dead.

After rebuffing MoviePass, Aron launched AMC Stubs A-List, a ticket subscription service that is now approaching 1 million subscribers.

Should increased marketing before and after theatrical screenings not result in a backlash from consumers, expect AMC to roll out the concept in-house worldwide.

AMC Theatres Ticket Subscription Service Tops 900,000 Members

AMC Theatres — the world’s largest theatrical chain — announced that its branded AMC Stubs A-List ticket subscription program has more than 900,000 members since launching June 26, 2018.

The service, which is priced from $19.95 to $23.95 per month (based on minimum 90-day contract) depending on the subscriber’s location, enables users access to up to three movies per week, in every available AMC showtime and format, including opening night and opening weekend.

The service was rolled out to compete against MoviePass, the ticket service pioneer that has suspended service indefinitely.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“The AMC Stubs A-List program’s continued positive momentum makes it far and away the most popular movie theatre subscription program in the world,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement.

The service enables subs to reserve tickets online or through the AMC Theatres mobile app. A-Listers also receive a $5 reward for every $50 spent at AMC, including tickets purchased for friends and family, and food & beverage spending.

This translates into a 10% discount that can be applied toward future AMC purchases.

A-List members also receive free upgrades on popcorn and soda, free refills on large popcorn and express service at the box office and concession stand.

Meanwhile, AMC said second-quarter attendance at its theaters increased 6.3% to 96.9 million compared to 91.2 million during the previous-year period.

Through the fiscal year, attendance is down 3% at 176.7 million from 182.2 million last year.

“Our [attendance] efforts in the United States have been greatly aided by the soaring popularity of our AMC Stubs loyalty program, which recently crossed 21 million member households,” Aron said.

MoviePass Reportedly Sinks to 225,000 Subscribers

MoviePass, the fiscally-challenged theatrical ticket subscription service, has reportedly shed about 90% of its peak of more than 3 million subscribers from June 2018.

According to BusinessInsider, which cited internal data obtained from the former high-profile service, MoviePass has generated just 13,000 new subs since launching an “uncapped” plan in February affording subs daily access to a theatrical screening for $9.95 monthly fee.

The new plan, which was a reboot of a previous price point that attracted 100,000 subs in 48 hours after launching in 2017, also enables MoviePass to throttle frequent users.

MoviePass owner Helios and Matheson Analytics disputes the subscriber tally, calling the data “incorrect” without elaboration.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play Daily Newsletter!

Regardless, the MoviePass business model paying exhibitors face value for every movie ticket consumed by subscribers remains financially unsustainable.

The service hemorrhaged hundreds of millions of dollars, sending HMNY stock into a nosedive. Company shares were delisted from Nasdaq earlier this year.

MoviePass co-founder Stacy Spikes

Stacy Spikes, who co-founded MoviePass in 2011, sold it to HMNY in 2017 and was fired from the company in 2018, told BusinessInsider the $9.95 price point was never intended to be permanent.

“[It was] thought of as a promotional thing, in a way celebrating HMNY buying us. But we hit 100,000 [subs] in 48 hours. So I’m like, ‘OK, turn it off. We reached our goal,’” Spikes said.

The executive concluded that $12.99 was the least MoviePass could charge, while a $75 option including Imax and 3D screenings was considered as well.

“But the overriding voice [at HMNY] was, ‘No, this is awesome, look how fast we’re growing.’ And it was this moment of ‘but $10.’ It doesn’t fly. Now the plane is falling,” Spikes said.

In fact, when HMNY CEO Ted Farnsworth and MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe were photographed joyfully in front of an AMC Theatre on Times Square after surpassing 1 million subs, Spikes had a different reaction.

“That photo changed [MoviePass’] relationship in the marketplace,” he said. “The tone turned it more adversarial [with exhibitors]. Up to that point, MoviePass had been the underdog champion for going to the movies.”

Indeed, AMC Theatres, which had initially been supportive of MoviePass under CEO Gerry Lopez, became increasingly less so under new CEO Adam Aron.

Aron made it a point to repeatedly question the MoviePass business model on fiscal calls and in press releases – despite generating millions in revenue from MoviePass subs.

Last year AMC launched the AMC Stubs A-List subscription service, which has generated about 700,000 subscribers paying $19.95 monthly for access to three screenings weekly in any format.

AMC recently raised prices to $21.95 or $23.95 depending on the market subscribers live in.

Spikes says the initial success of MoviePass, AMC Stubs A-List and Cinemark’s service underscores market demand for a subscription business model.

“The good side was cinema had not been taken seriously since Netflix really got its footing,” he said. “So what I liked about that was this had risen to the zeitgeist of conversation. Seventy-five percent of [MoviePass] members were under the age of 26. Cinema was an event people cared about again. So while there is a sadness around the brand, I was happy to see that this is front and center.”

No. 2 Global Theater Chain Cineworld Enters Netflix ‘Roma’ Dispute

Cineworld, the world’s second-largest theatrical chain (after AMC Theatres), has joined a growing dispute regarding Netflix’s aggressive marketing foray into industry movie awards.

The U.K.-based chain, which acquired Regal Cinemas last year for $3.6 billion, this week informed the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) that it was pulling support for the organization after it honored Netflix original movie, Roma, with the Best Film award, among others, in February.

In a letter to BAFTA, Cineworld cited the organization for breaking its rules by nominating a “made for TV” movie for awards consideration. Netflix’s black-and-white film about a 1970s family in Mexico picked up four BAFTA trophies, including for cinematography, foreign language and director (Alfonso Cuarón).

Like this story? Then subscribe HERE to our FREE daily newsletter!

While Netflix’s aversion to the traditional 90-day theatrical window for original movies isn’t new, the streaming pioneer’s aggressive marketing push and success with Roma has upped angst among exhibitors and some industry veterans.

In an attempt to assuage industry protocol, Netflix released Roma in select (largely) independent theaters early, followed quickly with global streaming access.

Combined with a marketing blitz in Los Angeles and New York, Roma picked up 10 Oscar nominations, winning the same three BAFTA categories – but not Best Picture.

BAFTA, which denied it broke its own rules affording Roma awards consideration, said it would initiate a “review of our eligibility criteria in the coming months,” as reported by Deadline.com.

Netflix, which reportedly spent $30 million marketing Roma to voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, upped its marketing spend after one of its first original movies – critically acclaimed Beasts of No Nation, starring Idris Elba – was shunned by major industry awards in 2015, despite 91% favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film generated just $90,000 at the box office following a nationwide exhibitor boycott.

Notably, Elba became the first actor to win a SAG best supporting actor award for his performance without being nominated for an Oscar.

 

AMC Theatres Ticket Service Tops 700,000 Subscribers

AMC Theatres said its Stubs A-List subscription ticket service added 100,000 subscribers in January and February to increase its membership base above 700,000.

Subscribe HERE to our FREE daily newsletter!

AMC Theatres launched A-List (priced from $19.95 monthly) on June 26, 2018 and was originally expected to hit 500,000 members 12 months after launch. Membership includes access up to three movies per week, in every available AMC showtime and format, including Imax at AMC, Dolby Cinema at AMC, RealD 3D and Prime at AMC.

AMC said its conventional Stubs A-List membership program has totaled 14 million attendees, including the purchase of traditionally-priced tickets for family and friends.

AMC Stubs Premiere and A-List members receive a $5 credits for every 5,000 points earned, which translates to a 10% credit toward future AMC purchases.

“With every passing milestone, Stubs A-List is proving to be a huge benefit to our guests, our studio partners and our shareholders,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. “Members are watching more movies than they did before A-List was created, and they’re bringing their friends and family members along, who are paying for their tickets at full price.”

 

AMC Theatres Stubs A-List Subscription Ticket Service Tops 600,000 Members

AMC Theatres Dec. 26 announced that its Stubs A-List subscription ticket service has surpassed 600,000 subs since launching six months ago. The nation’s largest theatrical chain had expected to reach 500,000 A-List members after 12 months.

The $19.95 monthly service (which increases to $23.95 on Jan. 9, 2019 at AMCtheatres.com and AMC Theatres app) bowed on June 26 in response to rival service MoviePass.

The service affords members upwards of three movies per week, in every available AMC showtime and format, including Imax at AMC, Dolby Cinema at AMC, RealD 3D and Prime at AMC.

A-List subs also get the discounts and benefits of AMC Stubs Premiere, including free upgrades on popcorn and soda, free refills on large popcorn, express service at the box office, concession stand, and 100 points for every $1 spent for the AMC Stubs A-List monthly fee, tickets purchased for friends and family, and food & beverage spending at AMC.

AMC Stubs Premiere and A-List members receive a $5 virtual reward for every 5,000 points earned, which translates to a 10% credit toward future AMC purchases.

CEO Adam Aron said the success of A-List contributed to Hollywood’s record $11.4 billion domestic 2018 box office.

“What an incredible 2018 for AMC Theatres and our AMC Stubs A-List members,” Aron said in a statement. “To exceed our one-year goal of 500,000 members in 4 ½ months, then add another 100,000 members in the last six weeks of the year is astounding. We remain extremely excited about what’s to come.”

 

 

MoviePass Looking to Raise Prices, Restore Consumer/Investor Trust

MoviePass, the beleaguered theatrical ticket subscription service, is set to roll out new monthly pricing plans it hopes will financially stabilize the service and restore investor confidence in corporate parent Helios and Matheson Analytics, among other goals.

In an interview with Variety, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe said the new tiered pricing plans – ranging from the existing $9.95 to $24.95 – would be dependent on where subscribers lived.

As a result, consumers living in rural areas would likely see no change to the $9.95 fee (dubbed “select”) affording access to three movies per month at select times, while moviegoers in major markets such as Los Angeles and New York would pay $14.95.

A $19.95 “red carpet” option – which mirrors the fee of a competing service from AMC Theatres – enables rural subscribers access to three screenings at any time in any format (Imax, 3D, 2D). The option costs $24.95 in major cities.

“We have a lot to prove to all our constituents,” said Lowe. “We don’t just have to prove ourselves to our members, we also have to prove ourselves to the investment community, our employees, and our partners.”

Indeed, the service’s well-chronicled missteps largely revolved around an unsustainable business model that paid exhibitors full price for every ticket consumed by subscribers paying less than $10 per month for daily access to a theatrical screening.

With MoviePass unable to convince exhibitors to share in the financial risk in return for enhanced foot traffic and sharing user data – the latter triggering data breach concerns – the service began to hemorrhage money and alienate consumers and investors.

In HMNY’s most-recent fiscal report, the company reported a loss of $137 million and just $6.2 million in cash available. The parent’s stock is worth pennies and in risk of being delisted by Nasdaq – despite a reverse-stock split last summer. A planned second reverse-stock split was abandoned after failing to generate enough shareholder approval.

“Expectations weren’t met,” said Rodes Ponzer, head of marketing. “The creative memes and the consumer vitriol, we understand it. We told customers [theatrical access] was un-limited and we didn’t meet their expectations. Now we’re going to set their expectations properly.”

 

 

 

 

AMC Theatres CEO Says A-List Subscription Ticket Service Will be Profitable a Year Early

Since launching Stubs A-List theatrical ticket subscription service less than five months ago as competition to MoviePass, AMC Theatres has generated 500,000 subs to the $19.95 monthly service.

As a result, CEO Adam Aron now says the service will be profitable in 2019 – a year ahead of projections.

Speaking Nov. 8 on the fiscal call, Aron said the service is generating $120 million in annual revenue that didn’t exist six months ago – excluding concessions. In addition, user data is tracking downward – with average subscriber screenings per month dropping from 3.4 to less than three.

The executive believes the ratio will drop to 2.5 screenings, which translates favorably on the bottom line. As subscribers attend fewer screenings, margins inch toward profitability.

“If this trend continues as other proprietary data in our possession often suggests that it will, we now believe … the program could be [fiscally] accretive,” Aron said.

“If we didn’t have A-List, some of those [subs] wouldn’t be buying tickets at all,” he said. “Some of those [subs] would still be buying tickets at AMC. But they’d be coming less frequently.”

Indeed, AMC plans to raise A-List pricing by 20% in California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts; and up 10% in other big markets.

Aron said feedback on social media to the planned hikes has been positive.

“You should read the Reddit message boards about A-List and our competitors. They’re fans of A-List because it offers them so much value,” he said.

Meanwhile, total AMC domestic Q3 revenue grew 5.9% to $895.6 million. The nation’s largest theatrical chain outperformed the industry, growing domestic attendance per screen by 9.1%, which was more than 4% better than the industry. The company, however, reported a net loss of $100.4 million, up 135% from a loss of $42.7 million during the previous-year period.

Wall Street wasn’t impressed, sending shares down 14% on Nov. 9.

Survey: Consumers Willing to Pay $22 Monthly to See Three Theatrical Movies Monthly

As theatrical ticket subscription pioneer MoviePass struggles to remain in business, a new survey reveals consumers are willing to pay more than twice the $9.95 fee MoviePass currently charges subscribers.

The survey conducted Oct. 11-14 among 2,201 adults from Morning Consult and commissioned by The Hollywood Reporter, found respondents would pay upwards of $22 monthly to watch three theatrical screenings monthly.

Respondents said they would also pay $25 to see three movies per week, and $33 for unlimited screenings.

MoviePass set the exhibition industry on its ear last year when it launched service offering subscribers daily access to a theatrical screening for less than $10 per month. With the service paying exhibitors such as AMC Theatres and Regal Cinema face value for each ticket consumed by subscribers, fiscal losses began to spiral out of control.

MoviePass now limits subs to three select screenings per month. Restrictions that resulted in AMC and Cinemark launching competing ticket subscriptions – the former priced at $19.95 enabling subs access to three screening weekly in any format, including Imax, Dolby Cinema and RealD 3D.

Three in 10 frequent moviegoers subscribe to AMC Stubs A-List, while 27% subscribe to MoviePass.

Notably, the survey revealed that just 6% of respondents are “very likely” to purchase a subscription service, while 23% could go either way. That left 71% of respondents who said they were either not very likely (32%) to purchase a subscription or had no interest (29%) in buying one. Another 10% didn’t know or had no opinion.

Millennials are the most likely to purchase a ticket subscription.

According to the survey, perks that would incentivize consumers to use a subscription service include: unused tickets rolling over to the next month (22%); ability to choose from a variety of plans/theaters (19%); the number of movies included (15%); and the ability to use subscription tickets to bring friends (25%).

 

AMC Theatres Ticket Subscription Service Tops 380,000 Members

AMC Theatres Sept. 26 announced that AMC Stubs A-List – the ticket subscription service launched three months ago to compete against MoviePass – has generated more than 380,000 monthly subscribers – including 120,000 members in the past six weeks.

The nation’s largest theatrical chain heralded the sub growth during the traditional “slow period” at movie theatres in late August and September, as the summer blockbusters give way to school schedules.

AMC said A-List is also driving box office revenue at its theaters, as the service’s impact on attendance, along with AMC’s other initiatives and a film slate, has AMC in position to increase U.S. attendance year over year for the first time since 2015, excluding the impact from the Carmike acquisition.

A-List subs are watching a wide variety of movies, including more than 363 different movie titles in just under 90 days. Early program analysis indicates incremental movie-going frequency among members after joining the program is significant. AMC noted that more than 45% of A-List subs were not previously signed up to its existing AMC Stubs loyalty program.

AMC also recently announced that its 12-month protection guarantee from the date of a member’s enrollment against any increases in A-List monthly pricing has been broadened to further provide consumers with a sustainable value. The 12-month protection guarantee for members of A-List enrolling anytime in 2018 now includes no changes in the pricing or benefits from the program within a member’s initial 12 months after joining the program.

“The early success of this program is evident as AMC is projecting an attendance increase at our U.S. theatres for the first time in three years,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement. “This is very good for AMC, and very good for our guests and movie studio partners.”