For many it’s been an incredibly long year, and for cinemas in particular it has been a roller coaster of a ride throughout it all. Whether you’re in a dip, upside down, or starting to fly towards re-opening, we wanted to take a look at three different regions and see what has helped cinemas get through. From trends that have popped up and helped draw moviegoers back, through to the most recommended and helpful feature you could be using in Movio Cinema right now. And who better to take us through it all than our three Regional Directors; Clayton Calk for North America, Richard Greenwood for Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Gabriel Swartland for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Can you share a little about your background and your experience at Movio so far?
Richard: November marks five years for me at Movio, I began my time here as a Business Development Manager for the Asia Pacific region. As the region has grown, and along with my understanding of the cinema industry, I have found myself diving deeper into product-market fit and improving our software. Prior to Movio, I was working for a corporate energy company. Moving to Movio was inspiring; to work with a team of people who really care about their products and the industry is fantastic.
Clayton: I’ve been with Movio almost six years. I originally started as a Senior Account Manager looking after the larger clients in the region. As the team grew I started taking on more leadership focused roles first as Client Services Director and then as VP of the region across all clients and products. Prior to Movio, I worked at Vista Cinema for 5 years on a wide variety of internal projects, application support, and account management. My time with Vista actually started in NZ where I lived for 3.5 years post university. I then transitioned to Tennessee and eventually back to Los Angeles where I joined Movio.
Gabriel: I joined Movio in 2017 to head up EMEA’s client services team. Before that, I was at Picturehouse Cinemas in the UK looking after the marketing and communications for both the cinema operations and Picturehouse Entertainment, their independent distribution arm. It was at Picturehouse that we first started working with Movio and I could see first hand, the positive impact on our customer engagement. I now have the privilege of working with numerous exhibitors across the EMEA region, helping them to better understand their moviegoers, and also learning a great deal from our partners in the process.
As cinemas first started to re-open in your regions, what trends did you see emerge?
G: One of the exciting things about working across the EMEA region is the varying markets we look after. From the mature, well established markets of the UK and Western Europe to the excitement that comes with the emerging markets of the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe. The pandemic has been quite the leveller however, with every region’s reopening obviously impacted by the lack of major Hollywood content being released. However, a number of countries in the EMEA region have been able to benefit from the cinema release of some titles where a streaming provider may not be available. What has stood out the most though, is the strength shown in local productions and content.
C: The pandemic, and the varying state/local approach in the US to reopening guidelines, has really demonstrated the theatrical appetite for “new”. Exhibition’s initial response to an ever changing release slate was to fall back to dependable retro titles. While warmly received by some, the approach wasn’t the savior many had hoped it would be. In the last several months we’ve seen studios test the waters with new content to reasonably positive reception. Though the continued closure of major DMAs in the US has meant studios are still sitting on their larger non-experimental titles. As the slate starts to open up we’re likely to see marketing plans include both a traditional tightly focused and data driving approach, but also casting a wider net to those that are just hungry for “new” and want to get out of the house.
R: My territory covers a huge mixture of cultures and markets but one trend that is evident across all is the message of community. Cinemas are all appealing to their customers as valued guests with commitments to their safety, managing social distancing, with the promise to keep the magic of the cinema alive in their local neighborhoods. The best cinemas are proving that you don't need tentpole programming to host a great night at the flicks.
What has been drawing moviegoers back to theatres in your region?
C: Many US exhibitors have had a lot of success with private theatre rentals. The offerings have varied widely with different packaged options that are inline with the exhibitors own brand. That includes different food/drink options as well as different content options as well.
R: Similar to the US, one really great trend I’ve seen in my region has been the ability to book your own private showing. Getting together with a few friends, a great film, and have the whole space to yourself! Additionally, some cinemas have been using Movio to find their most regular patrons – those moviegoers who come to the cinema regardless of what's on, and letting them know that they’re still open and showing content on the big screen.
G: Before the recent lockdown measures and the resulting re-closures in large parts of Europe, there were a number of success stories across the region; moviegoers in the Netherlands were coming back strong despite reduced capacities, and territories with strong local content like France and Spain were bringing significant audiences back, and in the case of Denmark, even breaking records for local content. We have also seen exhibitors maximise the marketing of more niche content like Event Cinema, particularly benefiting those showing a diversity of content and who had cultivated niche audiences already. In terms of who is coming back, as expected, initially it has tended to be younger and more frequent moviegoers. What has been very interesting however, is those early audiences who came back to cinemas in July and August, are coming back again. Perhaps having experienced the excellent safety measures and the low risks as a result, these returning moviegoers are clearly hungry for the cinema experience. What our data also shows is that they are watching content they might have been less likely to see under normal circumstances. This challenges the usual targeting strategies, making us think very differently about moviegoer behaviour in the current climate.
What's the one Movio Cinema feature you would be encouraging your clients to use over the coming months, given the trends in your region?
G: I think I would continue to recommend maximising the use of Dynamic Content and where possible, Dynamic Subject Lines. Being able to personalise targeted recommendations, perhaps with a few more options in a campaign to capture the unexpected, should still be the main focus. What I would say though is to up the usage and application of frequency and recency filters. For any new content, consider targeting the most frequent pre-lockdown audiences, and re-target recent audiences almost regardless of the film.
C: I’d encourage clients to consider rolling out usage of Movio’s Campaign Automation features. There’s a lot of additional safety rules and other guidelines which are perfectly suited for a pre-session campaign. Using post-session campaigns to facilitate “pulse” surveys is also a great way of getting feedback on the guest experience.
R: I’m excited that later this year we will be delivering a whole new way of reporting and ways to visualise your loyalty data, which will allow you to make sure you are monitoring and managing the members that are most important to the health of your program. I think now more than ever, accurate and accessible reporting is vital.
Finally, what movie are you most excited to see on the big screen in the future?
R:Top Gun Maverick. I loved young Tom Cruise, can't wait to see him back in the cockpit!
C: No Time to Die. I love this classic franchise and Bond is 100% meant to be experienced in a big tricked out theatre with all the latest presentation technology. I’ve also been looking forward to Lin Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights.
G: That is a very long list! After Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, I am very excited to see Denis Villeneuve’s Dune on the big screen. It has epic cinema experience written all over it!
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