How AR Games Attract Moviegoers to Their Seats Early

“If they can get 5 million people to download their game app and play their trivia game and make a dollar a month per player…that’s meaningful,” Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter says

As an increasing number of theater chains have switched to reserved seating across the country, moviegoers no longer have to arrive early to save seats. While the move has helped boost concession sales, it comes at a price: missing the advertising pre-show.

National CineMedia (NCM), the country’s largest cinema advertising company, has found a way to attract crowds back to those precious early minutes before the movie starts by developing augmented reality (AR) interactive video games.

“We’re not trying to be a gaming company,” NCM’s chief digital officer Rick Butler tells TheWrap. “We want to partner with the studios and the exhibitors around movie awareness for in-theater and extend that entertainment value outside the theater.”

For more than a decade, NCM produced the “FirstLook” segments that offered behind-the-scenes featurettes and news of upcoming films. It has been hard to avoid, as the ubiquitous pre-show plays in more than 20,900 screens in 1,700 theaters nationwide, including at AMC, Regal and Cinemark Theaters — all of whom have a stake in NCM. Then in 2017, just two years after a proposed merger with cinema advertising rival…

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