A US scheme which enables moviegoers to select a title from a library and organise a screening at a participating cinema, if sufficient people are willing to buy tickets, will be pitched to Australian exhibitors this month.

The service named Tugg, which launched in the US in 2012, has amassed a library of more than 1,000 titles and last year organised screenings of more than 180 films in 300 cities.

Tugg co-founder and chief operating officer Pablo Gonzalez will explain the concept at the Independent Cinemas Association of Australia conference being staged in Sydney on April 29 and 30.

In his session called Cinema on Demand, Gonzales will tell exhibitors how to find new audiences, create new communities and increase business without risk.

In the US, people sign up and request a movie at a participating location at a specific time, then spread the word. When enough moviegoers register, Tugg reserves the theatre, handles ticketing and arranges delivery of the movie. If not enough people commit, there is no screening and no charge.

The initiative has piqued the curiosity of some Australian exhibitors. “I am interested to learn more about the concept,” David Seargeant, MD of Amalgamated Holdings, which owns Event Cinemas, Greater Union and Birch, Carroll & Coyle, told IF.

ICAA CEO Adrianne Pecotic said, “The point of the presentation is to introduce a new way of programming cinemas, which enables exhibitors to more deeply engage with local communities and help identify what they want to see.”

Themed Growing The Market and held at the Dendy Opera Quays, the conference will focus on the core business of content and marketing against the backdrop, challenges and rewards of full digital conversion.

The My Cinema marketing strategy will be launched at the event. Distributors and suppliers will be invited to team up with independent cinemas for national promotion campaigns which will give the indies a collective marketing umbrella.

The genesis of that initiative is the My Cinema phone app created four years ago by Pecotic’s predecessor, the late Mark Sarfaty; the app tells users the location of the nearest cinema, session times and, where available, the ability to buy tickets online.

ICAA has 93 members representing 830 screens, which equates to more than 80% of the independent sector. Pecotic says 90% of indie cinemas have upgraded to digital.

Sean James, vice president of Christie Digital Systems, will update delegates on the pitfalls in digital projection experienced by exhibitors in the US and how to avoid them.

Dendy will show how exhibitors can utilise Video-on-Demand to increase customer satisfaction and drive the cinema business. Its VOD service Dendy Direct is due to launch in the next few months while Hoyts Stream aims to begin operating in the second half of this year.

Among other sessions, a panel of experts will explore the marketing and social media strategies that are working to grow the box-office; Movio CEO William Palmer will outline how data can help independents compete with the major chains and with other content providers; and Holding Redlich will provide an update on legal and industrial relations developments affecting exhibitors.

To see the full ICAA program, click the link below. 


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