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.

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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.