Christopher Campbell discusses chain loyalty

posted by Michael Zoldessy on March 11, 2009 at 2:50 pm

In a new post, Christopher Campbell blogs on our preferences for certain chains.

Do you have any brand loyalty when it comes to movie theaters? I ask this because of the recent news that former Starbucks exec Gerald Lopez has been made head of AMC Theaters, the second-largest cinema chain in North America. Of course, Starbucks may not be a company you think of in terms of loyalty so much as addiction, since people primarily seem to go there either because the coffee chain has taken over their market or because it hooks them with higher doses of caffeine. But thinking of analogous ideas Lopez could implement at AMC, perhaps we’ll soon be eating narcotic-supplemented popcorn?

Jokes (and fears) aside, I used to think of movie theaters as having no more brand loyalty than movie studios. But at least you’ve probably always known what chain owns your favorite (or only) local cinema, whereas you might not know what studio produced or released the last film you saw (you might not even know who made your favorite film of all time). For most people outside of urban areas, there isn’t usually a choice of where they see movies. Growing up in Southern Connecticut, for instance, I basically only had Loews or National Amusements to pick from. Now there is a bit more variety there, but not a lot – not that anybody notices his or her limit, anyway. It’s not as if there are nationally broadcast TV commercials for Cinemark or Regal that have moviegoers wishing they had those chains nearby to try out.

Read the full story at First Showing.

Comments (10)

ceasar on March 11, 2009 at 4:05 pm

When u live in a town like Vicksburg Ms which has had a series of cinemas from Regel Entertaintment Group which stayed for a long time before it traded it cinema to first now closed Village Theatres; and now to a startup called Wilcox Theatres. I can tell you Wilcox is trying to get the first releases.
When the cinema closed here over three years ago,I went back to Regel Entertainment Group where I atttended thier cinemas in Clinton,Northpark but honestly I didn’t stay with one cinema brand.
Here are the cinemas chains I’ve attended:
Cinemark TineslTown Stadium cinemas
Malco17 in Madison,Maloc is out of Memphis,tn.
Regel Cinamas too.
And Rave Cinemas,Destin,Florida
I’m not tied to one brand cinema.I’ll go where that movie is playing.

HowardBHaas on March 11, 2009 at 4:33 pm

I’m in Philadelphia but also familiar with NYC & DC. Some of the best chains are gone in recent years: Cineplex Odeon, Hoyts, GCC, Loews. Some of the movie theaters they built survive. I’m especially a fan of the AMC Plymouth Meeting 12 outside Philly & the AMC Mazza Gallerie in DC, both built by GCC.

National Amuseuments has done well here in Philadelphia at the Bridge theater.

ceasar on March 11, 2009 at 4:41 pm

I like the stadium cinemas in Houston,Texas. I can’t recall the chain but I first went to one in Houston. Now that my realtives live in Tyler I’ve been to some of thier stadium cinemas and they’re cool. I’ve always wanted to go in an AMC cinema. When I was in Maryland I went to a multiplex there I want to say it was Odeon but it has been a long tome.

nritota on March 12, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Having moved recently to southern Michigan, you have to travel for a choice. Local MJR, even though it’s stadium and all digital, it looks like a non-descript 70’s cinder block house with low lobby ceilings; in other words, no character.

I travel 40 minutes to an hour to a National Amusements house for a better choice, especially when a film demands a large screen.

Having grown up in the movie business and working houses that were very special, most modern theatres don’t feel the same. No amount of digital presence can make a chain feel distinguishable anymore in my opinion.

e1337n00b on March 14, 2009 at 6:02 am

Having lived in CT all my life, it used to be only National Amusement’s Showcase Cinemas, or Hoyts as the big chains around here. (That I remember) Now you have a couple AMCs, Bow-Tie, and Regals. Personally I’ve tried the different flavors, and although I live close to the AMC (which used to be a Loews, which replaced a smaller Loews down the road which kind of sucked) and the 2 Bowties and a Hoyts, I happen to have a loyalty to NA. Growing up in Hartford the main 2 theaters in the area were Showcase Cinemas East Hartford or Berlin or Newington, and Hoyts. Hoyts owned the crappy Cinema City which had Disney, but for 90% of the time it was East Hartford. Until Berlin opened which was alot nicer, so we migrated our business there.

e1337n00b on March 14, 2009 at 6:11 am

Then moving to the suburbs in the Farmington Valley we had the Loews Bristol which was close, we hated that all the screens were tiny, so we’d still go to Berlin. Run by Showcase they always had good presentation, decent auditoriums. Then Hoyts built a stadium theater 5 min and Loews built a newer bigger 20plex to replace the crappy Bristol 8, went to those for awhile, even worked for one of them, but now I go the farther distance because I like the standards NA puts for their projection quality and clean atmosphere, the AMC/Loews was great at first but it has gotten run down really quickly, but all the Showcases stayed great and well maintained

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on March 15, 2009 at 1:23 am

Being in NYC and its immediate suburbs gives me a choice of many theaters. And since I go about once a week, how and where I spend my money is important to me.

I try to go to places with frequent moviegoer rewards. Thus, AMC is my favorite because they have good theaters with big screens, bright pictures and clear sound, but mainly because they have a lot of rewards going on — free popcorn and drinks, candy specials, reduced admission prices, etc. They have put a lot of thought into their club and I appreciate it.

Next is Regal, which has some crummy locations (the Lynbrook!) but also has some nice ones, like the 42nd Street location. They have a good rewards program, too, but not as thorough as AMC.

After that I like Clearview Cinemas, which of course runs the Ziegfeld, but also does a lovely job at the Chelsea. (When I was still with Cablevision I often used its rewards program, with free movie Tuesdays and good reductions on other days.) Now I use Clearview’s rewards programs, but it seems to take a while to earn anything. I give them a B for trying, but it seems haphazard.

If a movie isn’t playing at one of those chains, I hesitate to spend $10. or more ($12.50 at the IFC Center and Angelika! Holy cow!) without earning any rewards or customer appreciation. I am lucky that I am able to get a steady diet of art films at my local Malverne Cinema or at the Cobble Hill Cinemas in Brooklyn, which both have reduced admissions and discount days; I feel that I’m not missing anything urgent by skipping New York’s “art” circuit, and this includes the precious BAM Rose!

ceasar on March 16, 2009 at 1:28 pm

When it comes to film choices,Vicksburg with its one cinema is limited. Not all the films which open in New York and Los Angeles don’t even open here. For instance I don’t expect Slumdog Millionaire to come here at due to the high demand. Before Wilcox open thier theatres,the larger chains gave this town hard time becouse of its size and I suspect business leaders were clearly disappointed. While town went for without a cinema I had an oppertunity to experince the cinemas in Flowood,Madison,Ridgeland and Pearl. These are the growing communitiies in central mississippi I might add. And the narrow minded business locals had a hard time dealing with the change of marketplace.
I believe that Wilcox Theatres is in competition with these central miss cinemas. Now with an economic downturn some of my friends are questioning how long Wilcox is going to last.

nritota on March 16, 2009 at 11:57 pm

Theatres thrive when the economy sours…

John Fink
John Fink on March 17, 2009 at 4:17 am

I agree with the CT posters – National Amusements is my cinema of choice, I live in NJ but went to school in Hartford, even National’s older theaters were still well run (Showcase East Hartford although dated never was crappy by any means). Here in NJ we have Clearview (which has gotten better over the years), AMC (which took over Loews and General Cinema sites, they do a decent job) and soon Keratoses and Muvico.

As for CT – I’ve been to Bow Tie/Crown, they were okay, even better when they had movie madness at the Palace in Hartford (4 bucks for students!). Cinema City I avoided whenever I had a chance (I’d drive up to Springfield if the movie was playing there). The best theater in the Hartford area though was not a chain, although I wouldn’t mind if they became one – Real Art Ways. But for consistency, my chain of choice is National Amusements, all of their sites are pretty much constant in terms of quality with The Bridge in Philly being my favorite of theirs. (They and along with Reading Entertainment (Angleika Film Center/City Cinemas) also have the best popcorn).

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