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Can Major Cinema Chains Turn It Around?

It’s no secret that the high street cinema has been struggling for survival for a long time now. While the past year has been particularly rough on the industry, major chains have been locked in an existential struggle against the forces of online streaming, which have kept the British movie-going public away from the silver screen in ever-increasing numbers. So now, as major brands like Vue and Odeon look for ways to get bums back in seats and turn their ailing business models around, can they make it work? Here are some of the ways that the major cinema chains could survive and thrive in the future.

Create more novel experiences

One thing we are starting to learn is that, when going to the cinema feels like a truly special event, people will buy tickets. This has been vividly illustrated by the record-breaking success of the latest Bond film, No Time to Die, which gave some UK cinema chains their most profitable days in years.

Premiere nights were sold out across the country, with chain locations in many cities offering live music, formal dress codes, premium cocktails and snacks, and 007-themed side events. Going forward, cinema chains everywhere could replicate this success by making each and every premiere feel like an unforgettable evening out.

Double down on discounts

There is no denying the fact that cinemas rely heavily on repeat customers, with some locations getting the majority of their revenue from a small number of intensely loyal moviegoers. That’s why chains need to do more to lure in loyal customers and reward that loyalty with discounts and freebies.

We can already see parallels across the entertainment industry, where entire business models have been recalibrated with these goals in mind in recent years. Perhaps the most vivid example can be seen in the multi-billion-pound online casino industry, where nearly every single operator offers a huge range of freebies to attract and earn the custom of loyal customers.

As this extensive list of free spins no deposit bonuses from the top UK online casinos shows, major operators will offer hundreds of pounds worth of freebies to attract the most loyal customers, knowing that the investment will pay off over time. This is a lesson that major UK cinema chains would do well to take on board in the coming months.

Digitise more

If the top cinema chains want to survive, they will have to move away from analog customer service, quickly. Again, there are lessons to be learned from further afield. Over in the US, major cinema chains such as Cinemark have rapidly beefed up their digital offerings in the past year, for example offering the chance for customers to order concessions directly to their seats via their digital “Snacks in a Tap” service.

Meanwhile, major players such as AMC have made it easier than ever to make online seat reservations and check how busy a movie theatre is in a pinch. If the likes of Vue and Odean can follow in their footsteps, they might just be able to get people back in the theatre.

More intimate experiences

One of the biggest threats to major cinema chains is that the appeal of the “standard” night at the flicks has largely run dry. When people do tend to go to the cinema, they often prefer to visit independent movie houses that can offer a more unique, intimate experience.

People don’t want to sit in a cookie-cutter room with 300 people. They want reclining chairs, plush fittings, totally unique furnishings, and an atmosphere that feels authentic and full of personality. Being a major cinema chain does not have to prevent a company from offering these sorts of experiences to customers.

The high street cinema will only be able to turn its luck around if it adapts to the new market. By following these tips, they might be able to do just that.


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