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Muvico wants you to be a Muvistar

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Muvico wants you to be a Muvistar
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Walking into my neighborhood Muvico theater last night, I was greeted by a cheery young voice that said “Good evening sir, you and your wife look really happy tonight”. When we paused to make eye contact with the person speaking, the greeter continued “…and she looks just like Julia Roberts, you should be a MUVISTAR”!

That was my introduction to the new rewards program launched by MUVICO theaters in the past 30 days. To me, the interaction represented a virtual tipping point in the movie going experience. I’ve been doing some work in the space, so maybe I’m more observant of the changes, but possibly you too have noticed that going to the movies has changed dramatically over the past 18 months. Not only has reserving a specific seat become standard operating procedure across movie theater chains, small and large, but many are expanding their use of 3D projection technology and adding motion activated seating intended to enhance the movie experience.

There has also been an expansion of boutique movie theater chains around the nation, each adopting a unique approach to serving up the optimal movie-going experience. ArcLight Cinemas in California has built a solid reputation for creating a first class experience for movie enthusiasts, eschewing the cocktail driven focus of some competitors. For its adherence to a core mission, ArcLight has earned tremendous fan loyalty in the SoCal market (in the spirit of full disclosure, ArcLight is a client and I’m partial to their way of screening films). In my South Florida home market, I’ve seen iPic and Paragon open theaters over the past year, offering a more sophisticated environment in which to enjoy your favorite flick than was previously available from the mega-chains AMC and Regal.

The introduction of customer loyalty programs by multiple theater chains over the past year is the final element that pressed the scales to tip. Regal has Crown Club and AMC launched Stubs during 2011. Now Muvico has joined the rewards party with MUVISTAR.

One common element of the programs offered by the national chains is the belief that a free movie ticket is the ultimate reward in the eyes of the customer. Just as the gas/grocery partnerships in the US proclaim that “gasoline is the ultimate reward”, MUVICO states the “real desires of movie lovers everywhere is free movie tickets”. Based on the program rules of MUVISTAR, it should take members about 6 visits to earn their first free movie ticket and about 3 or 4 to earn the second freebie. On the surface, the benefits of the program are weighted towards reward with a lesser nod given to recognition. With the ability for patrons to earn tickets at an acceptable, but not exciting pace, we wonder if more benefits should be built in to make MUVISTAR a box winning hit.

The good news is that the movie going experience is improving for all consumers as the result of upgrades to technology and physical improvements within the theaters. Adding customer loyalty programs are another sign the theaters care about bringing the customer back for repeat visits. Based on what we’ve seen from AMC, Regal, and Muvico however, these loyalty program structures are first generation in nature.

As movie enthusiasts, we await that blockbuster program which will get the entertainment business buzzing about something different and a little more artful.

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