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Author Topic: New app lets moviegoers skip the line for popcorn
Frank Cox
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1978
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011

 - posted 04-11-2016 02:09 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
New app lets moviegoers skip the line for popcorn


Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Monday, Apr. 11, 2016 5:00AM EDT

Last updated Monday, Apr. 11, 2016 2:05PM EDT

There are two aggravating things about movie theatre popcorn: how much it costs, and having to wait in long lineups for it.

Popcorn prices aren’t necessarily going down anytime soon, but Landmark Cinemas is looking to alleviate the second issue with an Uber-like mobile app that lets moviegoers order and pay for snacks on their phone, then pick them up at a dedicated kiosk in the theatre.

That means no longer having to worry about standing in a lineup and possibly missing the beginning of the movie.

“It’s a better way to get into the theatre and get what you want so you can go in and relax,” says Bill Walker, chief operating officer of Calgary-based Landmark. “It takes the stress out of the equation.”

Landmark began rolling out the system in its 45 theatres across the country about a month ago. It’s now live and ready to go in each location, Mr. Walker adds.

After downloading the app, users create an account and register their credit card details. They can then view movie listings, buy tickets and pre-purchase popcorn, drinks and other concessions.

Buying a ticket delivers a QR code to the user’s phone, which serves two purposes. When scanned at the theatre entrance, the code grants admission and alerts concession staff that the customer has arrived, so preparation of any pre-ordered food and drinks can begin.

The app has been developed by Atom Tickets, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based startup that counts Lionsgate, Disney and Fox as investors. The company rolled out the functionality in a handful of U.S. theatres last year in partnership with Carmike Cinemas and Regal Cinemas.

Both chains are seeing big returns so far, according to Atom chief executive Ameesh Paleja. Concession wait times for app users at test locations during busy periods have generally decreased to three minutes from 15 or 20, while concession sales – the bread and butter of theatre revenue – have seen double-digit increases.

“If we can make the guest experience better, people are going to enjoy their time at the movies more and they’re going to come more often,” he said.

Landmark is Atom’s first national rollout, with a full U.S. expansion through Carmike and Regal planned this year. AMC, the largest U.S. chain behind Regal, has also been testing its own order-ahead system.

Landmark has about 10 per cent of the Canadian movie theatre market share by revenue, second behind Toronto-based Cineplex and its whopping 80 per cent.

Cineplex says it has no immediate plans to introduce a similar order-ahead app for concessions at its 163 locations.

“We’ve actually tested this functionality in the past on and also through our automated kiosks, but have seen very limited consumer uptick,” spokesperson Sarah Van Lange said in an e-mail. “We’ll continue to test and learn with online and mobile concession offers in different geographies/locations, demographics and promotions.”

Industry observers say it’s only a matter of time before Cineplex offers similar options to customers. Order-ahead apps are gaining steam with mainstream users, with Starbucks recently rolling it out across Canada.

“People who don’t embrace this technology and make this available to customers, particularly over the next 24 to 36 months, are going to be at a competitive disadvantage,” said Robert Carter, executive director of the food service business at analysis firm NPD Group Canada. “It has to be part of [Cineplex’s] strategic plan. I would be shocked if it’s not.”

Atom’s app also features social functionality that lets users invite friends on their contact lists to join them at movies. Users can also opt to pay for their friends and send them QR code tickets.

The idea is to encourage moviegoing as a social event, which can also drive ticket sales. The participating U.S. theatres also saw double-digit increases in attendance and box-office revenue over a 12-week test period, according to Atom.

“It’s a win, win, win. The studios win, the theatres win and the consumers win,” says executive chairman Matthew Bakal. “There’s nobody who’s bummed about a more efficient experience.”

Atom’s order-ahead and social functions are the veritable Trojan horse for the company’s other goal, which is to introduce variable pricing on movie tickets.

While opening weekends are almost always busy and often sold out for big movies, theatres also see a huge amount of unsold seats at other times. About 1.5 billion seats were sold in the U.S. and Canada last year, but five billion went unsold, says Mr. Bakal. “That’s an e-commerce problem.”

So far, theatres have tried to address the issue with a “bazooka-like” approach, in which they blindly issue coupons and promotions to potential customers. The Atom app, however, will allow chains to target promotions and offer cheaper tickets to specific customers based on their previous behaviour. Landmark plans to test this sort of variable pricing later this year.

While cheaper tickets might sound promising to movie fans, theatres will also ultimately be able to emulate Uber’s surge pricing and charge higher prices for tickets during high-demand times.

“We’re going to see more of that pricing model across various retail channels,” Mr. Carter says. “Once they start to do this it’ll be the other way as well.”

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

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From: Forsyth, Montana
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 - posted 04-11-2016 03:02 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I guess it's a nice idea but if everyone was using the app, then there will be long lines at the pickup kiosk.

I had a similar idea for allowing people to order and pay for their concessions as they were buying their tickets --- considering a lot of regular moviegoers have a set thing they order every time. But, we don't have the space to add a separate kiosk so it wouldn't really work for us.

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Louis Bornwasser
Film God

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From: prospect ky usa
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 - posted 04-11-2016 04:26 PM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Mike: I saw a system where everything was ORDERED at the time ticketing was done. You only handled money once. The stand was for pickup only and reorders. You will need two people in the ticket booth; one only does food/drink.

It was 1979 and the guy had a $5 per cap. it must have worked at some level. (No delays at the stand) Data screen at the stand; by the time you walked there, it was ready.

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Justin Hamaker
Film God

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From: Lakeport, CA USA
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 - posted 04-11-2016 05:16 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My theatre does snacks and tickets all in one transaction, but we have 6 terminals doing this. We get the occasional complaint about not having a dedicated ticket line, but usually the line moves pretty fast. The only time it ever really becomes a problem is when we have a movie which appeals heavily to seniors who tend to not order any snacks.

Most of the people who complain are the ones who walk in the theatre 2 minutes before the movie starts on a Friday evening or Saturday/Sunday afternoon.

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Buck Wilson
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: St. Joseph MO, USA
Registered: Sep 2010

 - posted 04-11-2016 06:27 PM      Profile for Buck Wilson   Email Buck Wilson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This is super neat and all but it seems to ignore the most obvious solution- properly staffing theaters! [Mad]

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Justin Hamaker
Film God

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From: Lakeport, CA USA
Registered: Jan 2004

 - posted 04-11-2016 10:29 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Buck, I had the same thought. And people using it on a week day may have a different experience than on a weekend. Especially in smaller locations.

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