I’m a member of AMC Insiders which means I occasionally complete surveys about ideas they’re bouncing around in the corporate offices of AMC Theatres. One of the recent surveys I completed included questions to gauge my interest in several potential services they could offer while you watched movies. Some of the ideas they asked about included pet grooming and having your car washed/detailed.
While I applaud their creative thinking, they are missing services that don’t require focus groups or surveys – just a little common sense. There are several steps they could take that would enhance the movie-going experience and increase revenue that don’t require a theater full of dogs and cats.
Step 1. Remove barriers to movie attendance.
My wife and I found a sitter for our three kids and went to see the new X-Men movie. We refuse to be the people that take their 2 year old with them while they see X-Men: First Class at the Fork & Screen. Our fun night out was disturbed when that 2 year old started screaming. Did the couple remove the child from the theater? Of course not. They let him cry for awhile until he finally stopped. If AMC wants to improve the moviegoing experience and get additional people to attend, they should take a page from gyms, community centers and even churches by offering an on-site daycare. The biggest barrier my friends and I have to enjoying a night out is finding quality, affordable daycare. For a minimal charge (and an AMC Stubs Membership; see this post) AMC can offer to have certified childcare providers watch your kids. Put the kids in a playroom, purchase the rights to show some G rated movies, add in some snacks and you’re good to go. Give the parents a pager in case anything happens with their kids so they can discreetly leave their movie. It’s a win-win. The parents can enjoy PG-13 and higher rated movies knowing their kids are safe and other moviegoers don’t have to be distracted by a child that shouldn’t be in the theater in the first place.
Step 2. Create new programming streams.
I’m more than a little surprised AMC hasn’t worked out a partnership with ESPN yet to display 3D sports content. AMC has such a competitive advantage right now with three key areas already in place: food, alcohol and equipment. Their theaters are already equipped to show 3D content. Neighborhood sports bars aren’t going to be willing to make the financial investment necessary to upgrade their equipment to offer games in 3D. AMC needs to jump on this opportunity before it’s too late. Here’s the thing, they shouldn’t charge for the game. Let people come in and experience the games for free and make money off of the food and beverage. I don’t think the average person will be willing to fork out $16 to go watch a game in 3D…the technology is too new. Target the sports bar crowd and offer a comparable experience. Make going to the theater as natural as going to the bar and you’ll find they’re more likely to come back for movies as well as sporting events.
Step 3. Please exit through the gift shop.
When you think about AMC Theatres, it’s doubtful you would naturally put them in the same category as major league sporting events or amusement parks but these are indeed their competitors. They compete to get a share of your out-of-home entertainment wallet. What those other venues offer that AMC does not is merchandising. When we went to DisneyWorld last year, it wasn’t by chance that almost every ride had us exit through a gift shop. The same holds true with any sporting event you attend. The concourses are lined not only with concessions but also with merchandise booths. If AMC would like to boost their bottom line, a couple of booths set-up to sell the latest movie merchandise wouldn’t be a bad thing. Why not capitalize on the latest new releases with some Green Lantern, Cars 2 and Captain America t-shirts? It’s a safe bet that people will be lining up for the last Harry Potter movie hours before the start time. Take advantage of that fact with a cart branded like Olivander’s Wand Shop and sell wands and other merchandise up and down the line. At a minimum, they should create some pop-up stores for the holidays and take advantage of people looking for unique, movie-themed gift ideas.
AMC should be about entertainment – movies, music and sports. All it takes is three simple steps and AMC will have found a great way to extend their brand and increase revenue. Best of all, it doesn’t require coordinating a lobby full of dog and cats.