Holiday fan fare: Promotions for big movies compete with Halloween treats

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It’s October and that most American of all holidays, Halloween, marks the beginning of the holiday season. For the cinema industry, that means we need to present film promotions and special offerings that can compete with all that candy! Halloween makes it very easy to put candy in the pocket and bypass the concession stand.

So what to do? Make it too tempting for your customers, ratchet up the film promos, and bring them over in spite of their full pockets!

The call for special incentives seems to have been answered. The season will be very busy and the tie-in concession products are numerous. It kicks off with Puss in Boots on Oct. 28 and A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas on Nov. 4. Puss in Boots is not exactly a sequel to Shrek, but it stars the same character from that hit series and is being heavily promoted by DreamWorks. The film is accompanied by a large grouping of concession promos, including a sweepstakes from SunMaid to win lots of prizes. The sweepstakes lasts through Dec, 9 and will be heavily promoted in certain theatres.

Immortals and Jack and Jill debut on Nov. 11 and the much-anticipated Twilight: Breaking Dawn—Part I and Happy Feet Two on Nov. 18. The new Twilight has a full line of promo cups, bags and trays with multiple graphics from the film. This film will go head-to-head with Happy Feet Two, which is expected to produce kid tray concession sales. The Happy Feet promos include little figurines atop the drink cups, which sell very well to the younger audience.

Arthur Christmas, Hugo, Piranha 3DD and The Muppets all release on Nov. 23. This ensures that the long Thanksgiving weekend will be a big one, as all four movies have been heavily promoted and cross several genres. The Muppets has been marketed with merchandise already in stores including lunch boxes and t-shirts. The Muppets are a well-known franchise in the U.S., but it’s been 12 years since they last starred in a movie. The film has been marketed through items ranging from t-shirts to book markers, available in many retail outlets, to rekindle its notoriety. Concession bags, tubs and cups will accompany this film as well, with bright color graphics to draw in the kids, and older fans who well remember the Muppets.

The lineup for this holiday season is packing a punch every week, practically ensuring that the period will finish out the year strong. The Sitter and the all-star New Year’s Eve premiere on Dec. 9, followed by Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows on Dec. 16. On Dec. 21, Steven Spielberg’s highly anticipated The Adventures of Tintin will be released. Another Spielberg film, War Horse, finishes out the year on Dec. 25.

Tintin is also sure to be a hit internationally as a story that is well-known everywhere but in America. Spielberg hopes to change that and create the notoriety in the U.S. that the character Tintin enjoys around the globe. The marketing machine behind it is very large, and that includes concession promo items and its own videogame release. The Adventures of Tintin should attract audiences of all ages and the kid trays, cup and bag promos and figurines should help produce food sales that will thrill movie operators. Expect December to be a robust food sale month with a product lineup this strong.

The 2011 holiday movie season has a strong slate and a large rotation of concession promo products to accompany them. This will help attract consumers to the food and beverage offerings in the theatre and stand up to the urge to bring food into the theatre with them. Even if there’s a piece of candy in their pocket or gum or mints, the atmosphere of the concession promos that accompany the films entices the consumer to reconsider, or take an additional item to their seat. This holiday season is full of blockbuster sequels and enticing new stories alike; it should be a fun ride for both the operators and the consumers.

Please send comments to Anita Watts at anitaw@reactornet.com.