Miami Beach Takeaways: ShowEast showcases bright ideas and new products

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Cinemas Features

This year’s edition of ShowEast moved a bit further south geographically from last year’s 30th-anniversary event, which was held at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. Headquarters for 2017 was the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, in the heart of Florida’s famed South Beach neighborhood, which features lots of classic art deco architecture. Fortunately, there was little if any evidence that Hurricane Irma had blasted the Eastern coast of Florida just a few weeks before ShowEast officially got underway.

While some naysayers have expressed concern that this cinema conference is declining in popularity and influence, others take the opposite viewpoint and seem to prefer its more intimate environment, where folks are seemingly not rushing around as much from meeting to meeting. Maybe it’s also the tropical Southern climate.

Coming Attractions

On Monday afternoon, Oct. 23, executives from an impressive 15 studios and distributors proudly showed off their trailer reels for the holiday season and 2018 at the ShowEast opening ceremony. It was somewhat of a marathon-like affair, but there was thankfully an intermission break so members of the audience could refresh and recharge.

Several of the larger studios also made presentations to the international audience that attended a concurrent conference-within-a-conference program geared specifically to them…similar to International Day at CinemaCon.

Full film screenings also took place during ShowEast. Among the titles was NEON’s I, Tonya, which covers the life and times of Tonya Harding. In case you don’t recall, she was the competitive figure skater with the overzealous husband who tried to eliminate her archrival. Margot Robbie stars as the infamous athlete.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures screened its Thanksgiving holiday release, the Pixar animated feature Coco, and Fox Searchlight presented its fantasy fairytale The Shape of Water, from director Guillermo del Toro.

ShowEast Learnings

Throughout the week, there were a number of informative ShowEast.EDU sessions for theatre exhibitors on an array of topics ranging from “The Buying Habits of the Next Generation of Consumers” to “The Impact of Craft Beers in Cinemas.” With more theatre owners applying for and securing liquor licenses, this is an important subject for enhancing the bottom line.

The International Cinema Technology Association presented a seminar entitled “What’s Happening in the Americas” on Tuesday morning, moderated by comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. Featured speakers included Ellis Jacob, Cineplex president and CEO; Atom Tickets co-founder Matthew Bakal; Bruce B. Proctor, president and CEO, Proctor Companies, and Shawn Sullivan, VP, U.S. and international business and legal affairs, at major circuit National Amusements, Inc.

Jacob highlighted Cineplex’s creative use of digital ads that can change on the fly based on whether a male or female is viewing them. Canada’s leading circuit has also been taking a deep dive into non-cinematic location-based entertainment, including virtual reality, eSports and a recent alliance with Topgolf, among other initiatives.

Approximately half of their income is currently being generated from non-cinema-related revenue. Their tremendously successful SCENE loyalty program has corporate sponsor Scotiabank behind it, not to mention nine million members, or one of every four Canadian citizens.

Other highlights from the info-packed session:

·       Loyalty program e-mails are sending gentle reminders to cinemagoers that they did not see opening weekend of certain titles (targets of these include attendees of previous sequels).

·       Individual theatres would be wise to design lobbies based on target demographics of core audiences. Proctor is helping exhibitors evaluate how guests flow through their buildings when they build or revamp, including strategizing locations of grab-and-go concessions.

·       Quality control such as auditorium and bathroom cleanliness checks are being recorded on tablet technology, and this and other info is readily available remotely via the cloud.

·       Theatres are achieving success with walk-up lobby bars serving signature cocktails, as well as coffee bars, which typically require less build-out and ongoing labor costs.

Best in Show

It is a lot easier to navigate the EXPO trade show floor at ShowEast than at CinemaCon, and not just because there are fewer booths. The Vegas version invariably occupies two floors and is separated by the illogical escalators that tend to confuse many novice tradeshow-goers. On the bright side, CinemaCon generates a lot of foot traffic and available booth real estate has been known to sell out in advance of the show.

Several new (to cinema at least) companies caught our eye at this year’s EXPO. The d’marie booth was very popular among attendees, who were happy to sample generous pours of their Frappe Vino drink. It’s an all-natural mix that is added to wine and water in a frozen drink machine that combine to make a wine slush.

According to founder Dianna Dunlevy-Seufer, typical exhibitor concessionaires have been selling 8-oz. drinks for $10, which equates to an attractive profit margin in the mid-80s. She points out that the machines are ideal for utilizing the contents of already open wine bottles. Red, white, rosé or fruit-flavored varieties are all good combinations and the flavor of the slushy drink comes from the wine.

Govino® produces shatterproof wine and beverage glasses. They are also reusable (dishwasher top-rack safe), recyclable and manufactured in the USA. The glasses are comprised of a flexible BPA and BPS-free polymer—good for the environment—and feature a patented ergonomic thumb-notch and contoured base.

Exhibitors and studios are taking advantage of the ability to creatively print promotional messages and logos on the Govino glasses. Harkins Theatres has branded beer glasses with its corporate name and the STX release A Bad Moms Christmas also is capitalizing on this advertising opportunity.

Caddy Products, Inc. bills itself as “the world leader in the design, development and manufacturing of cupholders, concessions trays and accessories.” Its restroom caddy includes the combined convenience of a cupholder, bag hook and phone holder. Optional is an easily interchangeable advertising panel. We’ve seen ads on urinal cakes and video screens connected to sinks (in Vegas, of course), so why not?

With reclining and other luxury-inducing seating continuing to achieve positive growth around the globe, Caddy Products has been upping its swivel table game. The company has also been adapting to the increasing prevalence of in-theatre dining options, including wait-staff service.

At ShowEast, Caddy highlighted its wood-grain line of portable swivel tables, in several sizes and varieties. The portability functionality potentially eliminates the need for serving trays from the kitchen, with swivels conveniently connecting to seats. Other features include built-in candy compartments, mobile tray stands and customized cupholders that fit a wide array of sizes.