Cineplex leans into premium experiences

Movie theatres hope that adding a few bells and whistles will distract you from the fact that they’re not playing anything you actually want to see. 

Driving the news: Cineplex, Canada’s largest movie theatre chain, plans to expand its video arcades and other on-site attractions to try and pry butts off living room couches and get them into theatre seats during a time when audiences are trading big screens for streaming.

Big picture: Cinemas are embracing premium experiences like concert live streams, hard-to-find international films, and “premium large format” screens (e.g., Imax). 

  • Last quarter, ~41% of Cineplex’s box office came from Imax, VIP, UltraAVX, and 3D screens. International films accounted for ~13%, up from the historical ~3% mark.

  • The quarter before that, the release of the concert film Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour broke a Cineplex record for pre-sale ticket purchases

Why it matters: Last year’s Hollywood actor and writer strike led to production delays that reduced the number of releases this year, contributing to a dearth of sure-fire hits. Analysts project this summer’s box office revenue to be 25% less than the average pre-pandemic summer.

  • This startling regression could prove that movie theatres really are in trouble and that last summer’s success was just a Barbenheimer-fuelled fluke.

Bottom line: If reboots that reek of creative bankruptcy can’t rake in the cash — seriously, who in 2024 was clamouring for a sequel to Twister? — maybe spending on games or extra-fancy screens can make up the difference.—QH