Holiday tidings: End-of-year releases bring promotional opportunities


After a great year to date, we are poised to enjoy a strong holiday season to finish out the 2013 box office. The slate of pictures for November and December is healthy and holds great promise. And there are plenty of promotions to accompany these films, some in the theatres and some out. Promotions are a part of any blockbuster film and there is no shortage of companies wanting and willing to be associated with them. So let’s take a look at the type of promotions planned and then at the specific films.

In the theatre we have the usual paper promotions in the form of graphic cups, tubs, and bags. We also have a few candy items and toy giveaways to accompany the animated films. It may not seem like a fit to discuss here, but the quotas on popcorn this year due to the severe lack of corn crop have affected theatres’ ability to heavily promote popcorn. They are instead putting a wider variety of combos together, and especially encouraging their growing menu items.

Outside the theatre, sweepstakes and promotional products are in play to promote attendance to the holiday film party. Pick your film, and there’s a promotion in play to get you to the theatre. The cross-promotions between retail companies and blockbuster films is beneficial to both sides, as it shows the retailer in touch with consumer trends and gives the film a wide outlet to reach the consumer. Many product promotions are about lifestyle and experience, and the film industry is an easy partner with so many different types of films to choose from.

Free Birds and Thor: The Dark World kick things off at the beginning of November. Free Birds is an animated feature from Relativity Media featuring the voices of Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson and it has many paper product promotions as well as drink topper kids’ toys and a gummi candy from Taste of Nature. Animated films bring buyers to the concession stand, and the promos for this film show it. Thor is also supported by paper promotions and has the added bonus of Halloween costumes promoted by Marvel.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire also comes out in November and has a current promotion underway with Subway to enter a sweepstakes and win tickets to the premiere of the film in Hollywood. This second installment of the Hunger Games book series is in great demand and is tracking to support November very well. Other promotions also accompany this film, some going back to the summer months, and the anticipation is high. Also out at the end of November is Disney’s animated feature Frozen, which has lined up a large group of paper promotional items as well as drink toppers.

In December, the second installment of the Hobbit series, The Desolation of Smaug, will be released by Warner Bros. and this film has paper promotions as well as many outside promotions in the form of videogames, action figures, and a special Lego collection. Lego has promoted the movie through its own movie trailer using the Lego characters. Incidentally, a full range of Lego characters will actually get their own full-length film in February 2014 when The Lego Movie is released by Warner Bros. The cast is full of well-known actors and is billed as an action comedy.

There are many other highly anticipated films scattered throughout the season, such as The Book Thief from 20th Century Fox, Saving Mr. Banks from Disney, Anchorman: The Legend Continues from Paramount, and 47 Ronin from Universal, to name a few. Most analysts expect a strong finish in the fourth quarter with this lineup. The promotions that accompany all the films are an important part of providing the experience to the consumer of a night out and a night treating the family.

Finally, operators also run their own promotions of specific combos or products they wish to highlight. This year has seen many unique, new products promoted as the expansion of the menu continues. Currently, AMC is promoting free curly fries with chicken tenders and a large drink and Regal is promoting an upgrade to an Icee from any fountain drink. Regal is also sponsoring its own sweepstakes events for three separate movies to win a trip to Hollywood for their premieres, as a part of its Crown Club membership. Concession stand revenue is always beholden to attendance, and the lineup this holiday season should bring in many customers. It is not too late to get in on some of these promotions or build unique ones of your own. Make the most of the audience who is coming to be entertained and promote your concession offerings!