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By Daniel Loria

A member of the National Association of Concessionaires (NAC) since 2005, Adam Gottlieb has been actively involved in a variety of activities for the industry association. Gottlieb first began collaborating with NAC through sponsoring the Al Lapidus Golf Tournament in 2004. He has continued to sponsor NAC events since, including the association's annual convention and regional seminar series. BoxOffice spoke with the concessionaire veteran to learn more about his career in the candy business (and beyond).

What's the role cinema has played in the concession business, and what has your experience been working with that part of the industry?

It's a fun industry, a very tight-knit group. For people who are supposed to be competitors, they do a nice job of working together, sharing best practices, and helping each other along. It's rare to see that kind of interaction in business and it's something I like to be a part of. I can sit with four or five customers at a time and tell them what we're doing and the successes we've had with food and things like that and not have a fear that they're really going to have a problem talking together.

What are some of today's consumer trends?

I'll never forget when I first started working in the theater business. I walked into Crowne Theaters, a buyer that's no longer in the business. I thought I was going to show them everything out there that would make sense for theaters. I'll never forget he told me, "You know, Adam, thanks for coming, but I care about selling soda and popcorn and I don't really care about anything else." It crushed me because I thought I was going to show this guy all these new things he could do, and he didn't have any interest. Fast forward 15 or 16 years, almost everybody's looking for alternatives to the candy, popcorn, nachos, and soda that have always been the backbone of the industry. The changes have really come with expanded food menus, more hot foods.

Apart from the aforementioned popcorn and soda, what are some of the other staples?

The candy mix hasn't really changed. When vendors come to me and they think they've got the greatest new item to go into the theaters, I tell them how hard it is to get a new item to take off in theaters. My feeling is you go to the movies and you eat what your parents ate when they went to the movies. And they're probably eating the same stuff your grandparents ate at the movies. There's a lot of stuff that does very well candy-wise at theaters that doesn't really sell in the rest of the industry. Buncha Crunch is a very strong item, and you don't see it in retail. The last item to really hit it big candy-wise at theaters and have any staying power was Sour Patch Kids, and they were introduced when I was a kid going to the movies. They're still popular now because you've got kids who love eating the sour stuff at the movies, and you've got their parents who were the first generation to be introduced to sour candies. That's the last time the candy picture really changed.

Are vendors diversifying their offerings to meet the demand for expanded concession options, or are they sticking with what they do best in the ever-lucrative candy market?

It's a combination of both. I think that there are people going with the full-on in-theater dining concept. And there are people going with the chicken fingers, french fries, and corn dogs that can be prepared and served right from the concession stand as opposed to having a wait staff and runners bring it to someone's seat. I think there will be certain locations that can have and sustain the eat-in dining. I'm not sure it's going to be everyone that's into it now; I think you may see some people get out of it. I think it's going to be a mix of that and more of the casual, meal-replacement type thing that can be served at the concession stand. As far as candy goes, I haven't seen a lot of changes in the 17 years I've been doing it and not a lot of long-lasting changes. You'll see a lot of items that can pop up and do well for a short period of time, but I think you're ultimately going to be looking at a very similar mix to what you have now.

Different countries have different concessions, and the demographics in this country are changing rapidly. Do you think we'll see that shift reflected in the concession business in the next 10 to 15 years?

I think over time you will see a change. I can speak from what I've seen on the retail side of our business more than the theaters. Take Hispanics for example: if 30 percent of your clientele or more is Hispanic, you can do really well by catering to that demographic and putting a Hispanic candy set into a store for retail. I think you're going to see similar numbers or maybe even higher numbers on the theater end to really see that change for a couple of reasons. If 30 percent is what it takes to make it work in retail, it may need to be a little higher at a theater because I don't think you're seeing the same number of people buying concessions in a theater as in a retail store. I think to do a demographic-based food menu it has to be more than just candy. If you don't have a real high percentage of a population that's buying ethnic prepared food, I think your waste will be too high to really get into anything other than packaged ethnic foods. I think we will see a change as the demographics continue to change, I'm just not sure how quickly or how widespread it's going to be. We have had some customers who've brought in ethnic items, for example samosas for the Indian population or spicier items for the Hispanic population. What we've found, and I'm sure this is not across the board, but most of those experiments end up failing because there's just not enough buy-in and not enough usage.

Is there a secret to having a successful and profitable concession stand at the movies?

Part of it is having it staffed well, which is always tricky for any retailer. Especially going to a theater, people only have a certain amount of time they can spend before they get their seats. The challenge is that exhibitors are trying to keep payroll low, so it's not always possible to staff correctly during those peak times. The better your staff at the concession stand, I think the more successful you'll be as far as sales. The question is can you adequately balance that against your labor cost. And then there's having it properly signed, and making sure whatever you're running, static menu boards or digital menu boards, really calls out what you're trying to do at the stand. The customers that highlight their combos and offer a big variation of combo choices for their customers seem to sell more product, and they're showing a value to the customers, whatever that savings is with the combo-or the perceived savings, because sometimes you'll have a combo up there and there really isn't a tremendous savings to the customer, but just seeing it on the board triggers a buying impulse, and they're thinking instinctively that they're going to get a deal because that combo exists. The other thing is always making sure your stands look full and clean. It goes back to the same thing you'll see in retail: no one wants to shop an area that looks like it's been picked clean and going out of business. It's a combination of the presentation, the way the stand looks, the products that you're offering, and how you're promoting them.

 

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By Alex Edghill

Monday Morning Update: Star Wars: The Force Awakens was in charge on Facebook this past week as it rose a hefty 242k new likes. The jump was thanks to its newly released trailer which dropped late last week. Such a big increase for a page that already had over 13 million likes is hugely impressive and just yet another indicator as to how big this could be later this year. After its first trailer debuted in the end of November last year it rose only 80k Facebook likes, so it is picking up steam here as time goes on which is unusual but very positive.

Terminator Genisys tried to make the most of its new trailer this past week as it rose 66,151 likes. Not an overwhelming number by any means, especially as its total like number is still under 1 million. The trailer also released a major plot spoiler (I won't repeat it but its a doozy) so it was much more notable than your typical follow-up trailers. Despite a decent marketing spend, including a Super Bowl trailer and a franchise name that is one of the most storied in box office history it has failed to really catch on in social media. The lack of numbers indicates that the franchise is showing its age and failing to connect with younger audiences which it needs to expand and spawn further sequels. Based on the early numbers it might have a hard time passing the $44 million it needs on opening weekend to become the biggest opening Terminator of all time.

Jurassic World released a new trailer today which is heating up on Twitter and Facebook so I think it should post a nice hefty gain for my next week column. It managed to top 50k new likes this past week solely based on anticipation for the new trailer.

Facebook Top 5 Movies by Like Increase for the last week Ending Sunday April 19th

Rank Release Movie Likes Previous Change % Change
1 12/18/15 Star Wars: The Force Awakens 13,392,287 13,150,590 241,697 1.84%
2 07/01/15 Terminator Genisys 880,433 814,282 66,151 8.12%
3 05/01/15 Avengers: Age of Ultron 13,552,740 13,488,044 64,696 0.48%
4 06/12/15 Jurassic World 5,734,228 5,679,771 54,457 0.96%
5 04/24/15 The Age of Adaline 266,066 228,327 37,739 16.53%

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Please check the methodology page for information about our Twitter project or here for historic data.

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by Daniel Loria

You don't get too many exhibition veterans who started their careers in the chemical industry. Valmir Fernandes made that very transition when he helped launch Cinemark Brazil, growing the business into a market leader as general manager for 10 years. Fernandes was promoted to head Cinemark International in 2006, where he has spearheaded projects such as introducing the private-label premium large-format concept, Cinemark XD, to screens across Latin America. BoxOffice talked to Fernandes and got a closer look at Cinemark's overseas business.

What were some of the highlights for Cinemark International in 2014?

We definitely started the year worried about the impact of the World Cup. Not only because it was taking place in Brazil, but also because of the strong participation of other Latin American countries in the tournament and the fact that it would be held in the region for the first time in a while, meaning time zones wouldn't be an issue. The good news is that we finished the year ahead of the previous one. We performed better than the domestic industry; by itself, that was an achievement, because to outperform in a year with such a distraction in the region, and specifically with our strong position in Brazil and Argentina-with Argentina getting to the semifinals-was not an easy time for us. But we managed to offset all that distraction and perform really well. We also initiated operations in Bolivia in early 2014 and continued growing in almost every country in Latin America. I would say even with the difficulties the region is facing, business has been very good for us, and we expect to continue to perform well in Latin America.

What do you think the future holds for a country like Brazil, where exhibition seems prime for expansion but the country's economy is showing signs of slowing down?

The movie business continues to be very strong. I'm not seeing problems as long as we continue to have a great crowd, and that's exactly what we are getting. I don't feel we have the same problems that other sectors are facing, particularly because the unemployment rate continues to be very reasonable. I'm not making any forecasts, but up to now things have been good other than the fact that the whole world has been affected by the devaluation of other currencies against the dollar, but I think currency devaluation is a problem for any global company regardless of the region. Even in Brazil, with the political problems, the corruption, I don't think there will be an impact on our business in 2015. The only thing that may, and I'll be very clear, may have an impact is if people start to get worried about future investments. But that would impact three or four years from now, not 2015 or 2016. In fact, I believe we are looking at very good years, and I also expect some solid local product in Brazil to help us.

As an exhibitor that has had an international presence for a long time now, is there any way you can prepare for something like currency devaluation?

As long as you have developed sound projects, they will go through the times of uncertainty or oscillation in the currency. The good thing is that our business, other than imported equipment, is totally conducted based on local currency. We know some things get more expensive, and we know some things get less expensive when you look at things in dollars, but our way to look at this is to manage the business as if we are a local company. We manage the business looking at all the drivers and all the elements in local currency, and then after managing the business in local currency, we translate whatever the results are to dollars. But we try to be very tight to operate everything as a local company that's not even looking at the dollar, other than the fact that my imports are getting a little bit more expensive. But then I also have some local costs that are going to be cheaper-construction costs and things like that. We know the currencies are going to go up and down, and we're going to wait for better times because we have gone through it before.

We've seen Cinemark expand throughout Latin America over the past couple of years, reaffirming its faith in the region. You mentioned Bolivia as a new market. What goes into finding a new territory?

When we look at new opportunities in the area, we normally link it to either a growth potential or a very, very reasonable and attractive deal that would put us in a different country. We entered Bolivia because we felt it was a very under-screened and underdeveloped market similar to the ones we first found when we entered Latin America. We found a very high-quality project to participate in, and you get into a new country and suddenly began selling an additional 800,000 to million tickets. We continue to look for similar opportunities. We are opening in a few months in Curaçao, and we're opening in Paraguay at the end of the year or early next year. There are also opportunities in our existing territories, going to cities and areas that remain under-screened or with no theater offerings. I think what we are going to continue to see happening in Latin America is that the market is going to grow, not only because it has the potential to grow in the cities where we are already present but because there are markets that can be untapped, and then suddenly you have another project that is selling a half million tickets in a year. You'll see this trend popping up in different regions where the movie business is not present.

 

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By Daniel Garris

Universal's Furious 7 took in $29.16 million this weekend to lead the weekend box office for a third consecutive frame. The seventh installment of the blockbuster franchise featuring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and the late Paul Walker was down 51 percent from last weekend. This weekend's hold was respectable, especially when taking into account the size of the film's grosses thus far and the added presence of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 and Unfriended in the marketplace. Furious 7 has grossed a massive $294.51 million in 17 days of release. That leaves the film just $5.49 million away from reaching the $300 million domestic milestone. Furious 7 is currently running a very impressive 45 percent ahead of the $202.81 million 17-day take of 2013's Fast & Furious 6 and a slim 3 percent behind the $302.45 million 17-day gross of 2012's The Hunger Games.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 debuted in a not-so-distant second place with $23.76 million. Sony's modestly budgeted Kevin James led comedy sequel debuted in line with expectations. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 did open 25 percent below the $31.83 million debut of 2009's Paul Blart: Mall Cop, but the sequel had been widely expected to open below its predecessor due in part to the six-year gap in between films. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 did open 18 percent ahead of the $20.07 million start of 2011's Zookeeper. The solid opening weekend performance is good news for James, who will appear in Sony's upcoming Pixels this July.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 opened with $7.29 million on Friday (which included an estimated $450,000 from Thursday evening shows), increased a healthy 38 percent on Saturday to gross $10.09 million and is declined 37 percent on Sunday to gross $6.38 million. The film's estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio was 3.26 to 1, which is evidence of the film's appeal with family audiences. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 did receive a lackluster B- rating on CinemaScore. While the film is highly unlikely to match the strong holding power of its predecessor, it will still have a solid chance of holding up well in the weeks ahead due in part to facing a limited amount of competition for family audiences (outside of Disney's Avengers: Age of Ultron).

Universal's Unfriended debuted in third with $15.85 million. The ultra low-budget horror film from Blumhouse Productions opened on the low end of pre-release expectations. While Unfriended was unable to break out to the degree its high level of online activity had suggested; the film still performed well this weekend with its small price tag in mind. The potential for Unfriended may have also been limited a bit by its R rating. Unfriended opened 20 percent below the $19.88 million start of last year's Ouija.

Unfriended opened with $6.82 million on Friday (which included an estimated $656,000 from Thursday evening shows), fell 12 percent on Saturday to gross $5.99 million and declined 49.5 percent on Sunday to take in $3.03 million. That placed the film's opening weekend to Friday at an understandably front-loaded 2.32 to 1. Unfriended received a C rating on CinemaScore, which is respectable by horror film standards.

Home placed in fourth this weekend with $10.61 million. The successful 3D computer animated film from Fox and DreamWorks Animation fell 43 percent from last weekend, as the film took a bit of a hit from the new competition from Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. While it has been relatively front-loaded for a computer animated film, Home continues to exceed expectations in a big way with a 24-day take of $142.92 million. That places the film just ahead of the $142.44 million 24-day take of 2013's The Croods.

Fellow Fox release The Longest Ride rounded out the weekend's top five with $7.02 million. The Nicholas Sparks adaptation starring Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood fell 46 percent from last weekend's debut. That represented a respectable second weekend hold, especially given that Sparks adaptations often experience sharp second weekend declines. The Longest Ride has grossed $23.68 million in ten days. That is on the low end of expectations and places the film 35 percent ahead of the $17.55 million ten-day gross of last year's The Best of Me.

Meanwhile, Monkey Kingdom debuted in eighth place with $4.58 million. The latest nature documentary from Disney's Disneynature label opened on the low end of its modest expectations. Despite receiving the widest launch ever for a Disneynature film (2,012 locations); Monkey Kingdom delivered the softest opening weekend performance to date for Disneynature. Monkey Kingdom opened 4 percent below the $4.78 million start of last year's Bears.

Monkey Kingdom took in $1.55 million on Friday, increased a slim 7 percent on Saturday to take in $1.66 million and declined 18 percent on Sunday to gross $1.36 million. That gave the film an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.95 to 1. Monkey Kingdom will likely hold up well during the week, thanks in part to a promising A- CinemaScore, the past midweek strength of Disneynature films and from Earth Day falling on Wednesday.

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LOS ANGELES -- Moviegoers will be eager to get to their local Carmike theater early starting next month to participate in a new on-screen interactive platform the company is offering in partnership with TimePlay.

TimePlay Inc., a leader in the multi-player interactive industry, has announced today that they have teamed up with Carmike Cinemas Inc., a leading entertainment, digital cinema and 3-D motion picture exhibitor, to offer its proprietary social mobile platform starting on about 100 screens at Carmike theaters across the U.S.

By downloading the free TimePlay app on their smartphones and tablets, moviegoers will be able to interact in real-time with content on the big screen, compete for prizes and receive special offers from Carmike and advertisers.

TimePlay's proprietary technology transforms a smartphone into a game controller, which consumers can use to control outcomes on the big screen as they participate in interactive experiences, sparking live, friendly competition between family, friends and strangers in the theater.

"Waiting for the movie to start has never been more entertaining, or engaging," said Carmike Cinemas President and CEO David Passman. "The new TimePlay technology is also part of our company's strategy to increase alternative content revenues, while at the same time, enhancing the movie-going experience for our guests."

The platform has become so popular that consumers are coming to TimePlay-activated theaters earlier and participating more in the movie-going experience. TimePlay first deployed its interactive platform at Cineplex Inc., one of North America's largest cinema operators, in 2011. Cineplex now offers the TimePlay platform on 725 screens across Canada and regularly achieves a 40 percent participation rate among frequent moviegoers and a 35 percent redemption rate for advertising offers. Successful pilot programs have also been run in Mexico and Europe, where the participation is as high as 70 percent.

"TimePlay is very popular with consumers and with advertisers," said Jon Hussman, President and CEO of TimePlay Inc. "Our new partnership with Carmike represents our first major step into the U.S. and we're thrilled to be working with a company known to be an innovator in the exhibition industry."

TimePlay is an asset for advertisers wanting to get in front of a captive pre-show audience. It scores an impressive 93 percent for advertising awareness and 94 percent for correct brand association - significantly outperforming the same metrics for television advertising. TimePlay's platform also includes technologies that enable interactivity in advertising and trailers, in gaming and at business meetings, which allows attendees to participate in real-time polls and Q&A sessions and receive information directly to their mobile device.
The TimePlay app is available for iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry devices.

 

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