What's New at Noovie? NCM's rebranded pre-show adds arcade games and more

Cinemas Features

With more theatres offering cinemagoers the opportunity to arrive later thanks to the option of reserving their auditorium seats in advance, “Noovie gives movie audiences a reason to arrive early to discover what's next,” says National CineMedia (NCM) chief executive officer Andy England.

England originally made this statement back in September of last year, when Noovie was first unveiled as NCM’s new and improved pre-show entertainment brand, replacing its previous “First Look” moniker. In addition to movie promotions, Noovie is also focusing on delivering digital properties that provide unique, entertaining content, purposeful commerce and interactive gaming opportunities.

“We are all about engagement experiences,” England recently noted, “creating a symbiotic ecosystem that connects brands to audiences. In addition to our in-theatre experiences, we are positioning Noovie.com to also be an essential hub of original content.”

Elements of Noovie

Since its debut, NCM’s pre-show has been featuring “Noovie Backlot.” Initial partner The Walt Disney Studios has utilized this forum to provide exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and early looks at many of its upcoming tentpole titles, including blockbusters such as Black Panther and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Noovie ARcadecombines the big-screen cinema experience with Augmented Reality (AR) gamification. Mobile downloads for this companion app to the Noovie pre-show are conveniently available via Google Play (Android) and in the iTunes (iOS) App Store for those who have an iPhone.

The first two ARcade games were Cinevaders, which begins when a galactic wormhole opens up, causing aliens to pour out and invade the theatre. It’s up to the players to utilize their powerful lasers to protect the theatre from certain destruction.

“Gaming is a favorite activity of movie fans, so we wanted to give them a fun and unique way to interact with Noovie on the big screen through mobile augmented reality while they are waiting for their movie to start,” England states. He also cautions, “But, of course, Noovie will still remind people to silence their cellphones and put them away before the feature presentation!”

The second game, Emoji Escape, is a fun fantasy that includes emojis escaping from users’ mobile devices, wreaking havoc in the theatre’s lobby. Players must catch them all before they run off with their favorite concessions...a devastating thought for most moviegoers. NCM plans to regularly roll out additional new games in the future, with an emphasis on shooting, catching and tossing skills. The hope is that people will get hooked on these fun games, arriving early to play them on the big screen.

Theatregoers are able to play along with Noovie’s “Name that Movie” trivia game, or enter a team in one of the league competitions playing a version of fantasy sports, in which participants compete to see who is best at predicting weekend cinema box-office figures. Competitors deploy available fantasy funds in a quest to field the most productive and profitable multiplex mix of actual movies in release during a given weekend. Fantasy Movie League was co-created by Matthew Berry, ESPN's senior fantasy analyst.  

NCM by the Numbers

NCM is America’s largest cinema-advertising network. Most AMC, Cinemark and Regal Entertainment Group (now part of U.K.-based Cineworld Group’s empire) screens, plus close to 50 other cinema circuits, broadcast NCM’s content to their in-theatre patrons each and every day.

According to its corporate website, the company’s reach provides local, regional and national brands access to a universe of moviegoers in excess of 750 million. This impressive level of reach is more than double the entire domestic population estimate of 327 million+ U.S. residents.

NCM commands control over an approximate network of 20,800 cinema screens housed in over 1,700 theatre complexes, located all around the country. During the average week, NCM/Noovie’s weekly audience translates to roughly an 8.4 Nielsen rating for the important 18- to 49-year-old demographic. This rating equates to what an average top 10 prime-time television show would typically score.

Drilling down on its monthly reach, NCM ranks #5 in the top 10, between broadcast television networks and the major cable TV outlets. Even more impressive, however, is that on weekends—when cinemas are invariably at their highest capacity levels—Noovie commands the largest reach of all competing networks.

The NCM Backstory

Andy England first joined the company back in January 2016, during the aftermath of a failed merger attempt between the two domestic leaders in the cinema pre-show advertising space. First announced in May 2014, NCM declared its intention to acquire Screenvision (which reaches approximately 15,000 cinema screens) in a $375 million transaction, combining cash and equity.

In aggregate, the companies controlled (and still do) the majority of the country’s all-important local and national advertising real estate before the trailers and feature film starts. Although the companies and their legal teams argued that the aggregate market of cinema advertising is just a fraction of the overall advertising pie, the government didn’t see it that way.

As a result, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sued to block the NCM-Screenvision merger in November 2014 under the grounds of antitrust. The companies tried to fight this ruling, and a trial was added to the docket for April 2015. However, in mid-March, the companies jointly announced that “the ongoing cost and distraction” of fighting the Justice Department had taken its toll and the two pre-show leaders agreed to remain independent rivals.