With a decline in ticket sales over the past years, theaters continue to offer discounted incentives to attract movie-goers, but there is still room for improvement.
The cinema chain Cinemark rolled out their new membership program on Tuesday, promising one 2D movie ticket per month, a 20% discount on concessions, and a few more perks for a monthly charge of $8.99. At first glance, this seems like a decent deal. The average Cinemark movie ticket for a normal 2D matinee showing is around $10. So, at the very least, you get discounted concessions and a very slightly cheaper movie ticket each month. Plus, the membership program does ticket rollovers, so if you don’t happen to use your ticket each month, the credit will stay in your account without expiring. In addition to this, being a member includes waived online fees when reserving tickets, and the option to purchase a ticket for a friend at the price of $8.99 as well. All of this together makes for a moderately cheaper and more convenient movie-going experience.
Thinking about how this fares with other theater chains, AMC offers two tiers of options for rewards programs, one of which is free and the other priced at $15 a year. The two tiers (Stubs Insider and Stubs Premiere) both include perks like free refills on popcorn, membership points, and various levels of ticket savings. At $15 a year, Stubs Premiere clearly offers the best perks, offering waived online fees every time, a free popcorn and large drink as a birthday gift, free size upgrades for popcorn and drinks for every visit, and up to $5 dollars off ticket purchases on Tuesdays.
As for Regal, their Crown Club membership program is free and works through a point system. Members can earn points by purchasing tickets and concessions, which then can add up to earn free tickets and concessions for later visits. With the rate going at 100 points earned for every $1 spent, those 15,000 credits for a free 2D ticket can add up quickly on a few visits. In addition to this, members can also earn digital rewards and enter sweepstake competitions.
All in all, the main difference between the Cinemark program compared to the AMC and Regal programs is that Cinemark offers more of a guaranteed savings. Perhaps not as much of saving as the other two programs depending on how often you go to the movies, but nonetheless it provides recurring monthly savings on tickets and concessions, even if that savings is pretty minimal. Essentially, you’re paying for a membership that ensures slightly cheaper tickets and concessions rather than making multiple visits to earn free tickets and concessions. While AMC’s Stub programs are comparable to this in that they offer ticket discounts, the ticket savings at AMC is only on Tuesdays, and at many Cinemark theaters already, Tuesday is discount day regardless of membership. So, there is probably not much of a difference in savings between the three theaters, but Cinemark’s is for sure the most expensive, charging a monthly fee rather than an annual one or being free altogether. Any of these programs are probably worth the cost or the sign-up, but the worth really would vary per individual.
In spite of these efforts from theater chains on their own, none of these truly compare to the ticket savings built into the MoviePass program which offers up to one 2D movie ticket a day every day, for the price of $9.95 a month. While MoviePass does not offer concession savings like the other programs, if you’re a frequent movie-goer, or even just a twice-a-month moviegoer, this program practically pays for itself. And most of the average chains participate in the program, such as Regal, AMC, and Cinemark. The only downside is that the tickets must be bought at the theater rather than reserved online ahead of time, but with some skilled planning and time management, this does not seem like too much of an issue. It may just hinder you’re opening night plans. Another possible downside is that it only applies to normal 2D tickets versus 3D or other tickets, but once again, it seems worth it unless you’re a die-hard 3D fan. Since dropping their monthly subscription cost from $50 to $9.95 a month, MoviePass has seen a large spike in membership subscriptions with reports showing that they expect to reach 3.1 million subscribers by August of next year. That’s a large jump compared to their previous number of 20,000 subscribers with their original price.
One thing that each of these programs has in common is their efforts to attract audiences to the theater. Recent reports have shown that domestic box office numbers and ticket sales have declined significantly the past few years. Summer box office numbers were at a decade low this year. This decline is due to a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons is definitely the high cost of ticket prices, which continues to climb even as ticket sales fall behind. A trip to the theater now can be pretty pricey, and it’s no wonder that more theaters are coming up with ways to either reduce that cost or at least justify it. Theater chains like Cinemark for example, have begun to remodel, installing luxury loungers into the theater, offering an overall nicer theater-going experience. Whether or not these efforts on the part of the theater chains will achieve higher ticket sales or not it is difficult to tell. However, since there is not a significant difference in price with their loyalty programs, it will for the most part probably only appeal to frequent moviegoers since frequent attendance is the way to get the most out of these memberships.
Still, theater loyalty programs and companies like MoviePass seem to at least be trying to offer affordable opportunities for people to attend the movies more often. If they continue to experiment with different programs that offer attractive incentives, and if MoviePass is able to sustain its affordability while still adequately paying the theaters for the tickets, that may be a good start toward attracting more moviegoers.
Related Topics: Hollywood, Movie Theaters