ICTA seminar focuses on theatre entertainment centers

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It’s no secret that the movie exhibition industry is a game of margins. Thus, when cinemas focus on creating new verticals to offset the ebbs and flows of ticket sales, it is generally a good thing.

From laser-tag facilities to bowling lanes to trampoline parks, the cinema business has been remixing and remaking the moviegoing experience to attract customers that have been slowly drifting towards the likes of Netflix and Hulu.

During the International Cinema Techology Association (ICTA) seminar at CinemaCon, “Theatre Entertainment Centers: Family Fun for Profitability,” several industry experts were willing to share the latest and greatest in the theatre entertainment space. Here are some highlights:

According to Joe McCullagh, general manager of Player One Amusement Group, converting an old gaming space into an integrated premium gaming environment can increase guest spend by 4.7 times. Also, he reports, the average customer spends $0.079 per a square foot. However, with the right mix of optimal amusement-themed equipment and layout, the team at Player One Amusement Group was able to increase this figure to $0.74 per square foot. This changes the guest spend from roughly $6 to up to $30, because guests are staying longer and are using a stored value card that keeps them coming back.

Heather Blair, head of cinema sales at 4D company MediaMation, highlighted the benefits of multiple revenue streams using the example of Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre, the first MX4D eSports theatre in the world. Some of the additional revenue streams Blair highlighted were tournament entry fees, advertising, product-placement fees, naming rights, venue rental fees and merchandise fees. The best aspect of the MX4D theatre is that it only takes one hour for the auditorium to convert between movie mode and eSports mode.

According to Wendy Smith, director of new business development and FEC sales at Qubica AMF Worldwide, revenue per lane for bowling has grown by 4.7% year over year from 2012 to 2017. This has been triggered by the evolution of bowling’s perception as a sporting event to an entertainment-driven event. Furthermore, Smith emphasized that bowling customers are now coming from a higher economic bracket, which means expectations and consumer tastes have shifted over the years.

Erik Guthrie, VP of Zone Laser Tag, emphasized the benefits of laser tag at the theatre. He reported that one of his clients, Showplace Cinemas, has increased overall revenue by 50% after removing two screens to make room for a family entertainment center. Mick Stieler, COO of Showplace Cinemas, has noted, “Overall sales have increased by 50% and almost all of that is to the bottom line.” According to Guthrie, a laser tag pack could generate $1,000 to $15,000 per year and has a payback period of 12 months or less.