Studio and ticket sales executives talked up the potential of Twitter and Facebook to fill theaters during a CinemaCon panel on the power of social marketing.
But the big take-away from the session was the dwindling power of print media.
All the more reason, Paramount senior VP of Interactive Media Amy Powell and Fandango Chief Marketing Officer Ted Hong said, for exhibitors to better exploit the Internet.
"The opportunity is there for real time communication," Flixster Co-Founder and CEO Joe Greenstein told the audience. "There's got to be a way we can drive really meaningful 20 to 30 percent growth in attendance."
It is a battle cry that resonates with exhibitors grappling with a nearly 20 percent dip in box office this year, but the panel, more than an hour long, was short on revelations. Its textbook cases such as Paramount's highly effective "Demand It" campaign for "Paranormal Activity" and use of social networking to hawk "Justin Bieber's Never Say Never" have been chronicled before.
The actual news came courtesy of Flixster (no, not that news!). According to Flixster's Greenstein, about 40 percent of moviegoers surveyed by the social movie site got information about showtimes from a mobile device. Another 40 percent got movie times from the internet.
What's shocking about that? A mere 1 percent found out about when a movie was playing from the newspapers.
Makes one wonder about the wisdom of studios taking out those expensive print ads.