The Movie Business Challenge

This is an open challenge. You come up with a solution, you get a job. Seriously.

This is the problem that consumes me more than what Free Agent we are going to sign. How to get the NBA to get their act together. Which 7-11 Im going to run by to get a sandwich. Its that important.

Only HDNet takes more time out my day than trying to solve this problem. Its the holy grail of the movie business. How do you get people out of the house to see your movie without spending a fortune. How can you convince 5 million people to give up their weekend and go to a theater to see a specific movie without spending 60mm dollars.

For those of you doing the math. You are right. Its not unusual to spend 8, 10 , 12 dollars PER PERSON that goes to a movie in the opening weekend. Shoot, its not unusual for studios to spend that much per person to get people to go to the theater through a movies entire run !

How crazy is it to spend more on marketing than the revenue recieved when they go to the movie ? Its double crazy because that revenue is split with the theater. So if a studio spends 12 bucks to get someone to go to the theater, they might only be getting 4 dollars back in return.

You would think that there has to be a better way than spending 1x, 2x, 3x or more times the initial revenue received opening weekend or week ? Right ?

For all of you thinking that there are other downstream revenues such as PPV, DVD, TV, whatever….no shit. Yes, those revenue streams will benefit from the initial spend, but they dont make the economics of getting people into theaters any less frightening.

We are looking at affiliate programs. So people with lots of myspace or other social network friends could get a buck or 2 or 3 if someone goes from their myspace page directly to fandago, moviefone, etc and buys a ticket to a film of ours prior to its release. Get 100 friends to buy tickets to a movie, get a 100 bucks from us.

We are looking at other similar ideas.

We already do movie marketing 101. We do buzz marketing. We put up videos all over the net. We set up websites, myspace accounts for the movies and its characters, we work with movie forums, we buy ads, etc, etc, etc. If its been done before, we are doing it.

So if you want a job, and have a great idea on how to market movies in a completely different way. If your idea works for any and all kinds of movies. If it changes the dynamics and the economics of promoting movies, email it or post it. If its new and unique, i want to hear about it. If its a different way of doing the same thing you have seen before,it probably wont get you a job, but feel free to try.

So go for it. Come up with a great idea that i want to use andI will come up with a job for youto make that idea happen.

for real.

1,167 thoughts on “The Movie Business Challenge

  1. Mark, did you ever get a solution for this challenge? I\’m curious to know what it was.

    Did someone get the job?


    Comment by ATH -

  2. Mark,

    As a fellow movie theater operator I believe you need to put the task in the hands of each of your individual theaters. Over 3 years I have gathered a database of over 6,000 e-mails in a market that has 60,000. I write a weekly newsletter ( See The Projectionist) and am trying to make our website more social with polls, etc. I believe that my point is the studios and film companies are trying to find that silver bullet from a 10,000 foot level. It is the local markets that need to be in control.

    For example, I lived in Chicago 3 blocks from your theater on Clark street. It would have been cool to have a weekly e-mail about the films that was more than just an announcement. There was so much more that theater could have been but it just did what we all do…waited for a hit.

    Comment by Jon Goldstein -

  3. Mark, theatres should not keep looking at higher average ticket prices, but try to increase volumes. Get more people into the theatres, to watch more movies without thinking if it\’s worth the $10-12 or not. Chances are that the minute you start thinking about the worth of the movie, you are going to decide against going to the theatre. The theatre going habit is going out, but movie watching is not waning, it\’s just moving to other cheaper, more convenient options.

    Theatre chains should start monthly subscription options, $12-15/month or whatever is the optimal price point on a 12month contract, where the viewer can watch unlimited movies in the chains theatres. The average viewer will go for more movies to theatres, and will take company along as well. For him/her the cost of the subscription will be written off with 1 movie every month.

    Comment by Rajeev -

  4. I have an idea for a business that I am in the preliminary stages of putting together that I believe will change the way the movie industry operates. This idea, if it comes to fruition, will revolutionize how the entire industry does business. Interested?

    Comment by Benjamin Harris -

  5. Mark, It infuriates me to find out what you spend to get me to the movies. You are wasting your money. Which you seem to have plenty of even though it\’s not because I am paying altogether too much to get in the theater (which I am). Stop the marketing, drop the price of admission to one-half the usual price for the opening (fri-sat-sun) and let the theater tell us about your generosity. We\’ll be standing in line to get in the door. pat

    Comment by Pat Elliott -

  6. You\’ve got to sell the theatre experience. \”we\’ve been shocked at people\’s reactions to this movie\” \”we are just not getting the responses we expected\” \”watching people interact with this movie enhances the experience\” \”This cannot be duplicated in a home theatre situation\” Remember when people were throwing up watching the Blair Witch Project and passing out. People will pay for that. It needs to be enticing. It needs to be an event. People are making sacrifices to spend time in the theatre. It needs to be worth it. Something they can talk about. My parents don\’t go to the theatre because they smoke. They don\’t like being told what to do. It needs to be something they want really bad. Something special and different. There needs to be buzz. Maybe like the secret life of this rock star with unknown facts and brilliant writing. If you want to get those older people with out computers who smoke in the theatre make it special. Giving them a momento is an excellent idea. There are a lot of packrats and collectors out there.

    Comment by Noella Fay -

  7. What is happening is that everyone is chasing the same demographic or the same dollars. Think about it, if a movie does $60million on opening weekend (that\’s a huge weekend by any measure), that means that only 5-6million people went to see the movie. There are 300MILLION PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY. THEY ARE NOT MAKING MOVIES FOR THE REST OF THE COUNTRY. Tailor movies to appeal to this other audience. There are 77 million baby boomers retiring in the next few years (they are going to need things to do, go out in the day and watch a half price movie), these people were moviegoers at one time who stop going to the movies, because the product they prefer is not being made anymore. Target audiences in the 30\’s, 40\’s, 50\’s and 60\’s. Target the places they go which may not be movie related, such as restaurants, retailers, etc… offer them discounts with the receipt from one of these places, give the restaurant, retailer, etc… $1 dollar for every receipt… and/or do co-op advertising, ie., \”come to Denny\’s and get a free movie ticket to see \”the movie.\” (if they spend $40 or more, they get a ticket)You sell Denny\’s 1,000,000 tickets for $6 and they pay for the advertising. Whichever tickets they don\’t sell, you take back… but you got free advertising and potentially close to $5million and 1 million word-of-mouth promoters. Remember is not about targeting everybody, but only the audiences who stopped going to the movies because the product that they want to watch is not being made anymore. Offer them great product and the word-of-mouth will out do any advertising that you buy.
    It\’s not necessary to spend $100million on a movie. Make character driven movies ala \”3 days of the condor,\” \”Out of Africa,\” and promote it. Studios have stopped promoting those movies that fall in those categories, incidentally nobody knows about it.

    Comment by Napoleon -

  8. Hvon Productions

    Came across this posting hope this helps someone, wish i lived in Canada. Worked with another writer in Bollywood with the producer at Hvon productions : Colin von Dohren – great guy.

    Hvon Productions is looking for a In House Script Writer, in its Vancouver satellite office. The successful candidate will work on our major motion movie pictures, have good written English and communication skills, and a work well with strict time lines.
    For examples of major videos please visit
    Starting salary will be between 70-80,000 including LOA, and a bonus plan at end of project depending upon experience. Please send CVs , in confidence to We thank all applicants, but will only contact short list candidates for interviews. Hvon Productions is proud to be an equal opportunity employer.

    Comment by Scott Mckenzie -

  9. Mark —

    There has been a huge paradigm shift in how people choose movies. Twenty years ago about 70% of the decision process was done at home. Today, about 65% of people don\’t choose the movie until they get to the theatre. This is even higher among the strongest demo — 16 to 25-year-olds.

    The simple fact is that people are so damn busy they either don\’t have time to choose in advance, or they get to the theatre at the wrong time. Since most theatres now have anywhere from 8 to 24 screens, the new movie consumer has adapted his thought process and is very willing to switch choices or simply \”go to the movies\” with 3 or 4 options in mind.

    The key is to win the business at the theatre. this can be done in a variety of ways.

    I don\’t need a job — but I\’d love to work with your marketing team.

    Our company just helped FOX bring in $7MM over expectations the first week of Silver Surfer and we believe we have some tools in our toolbox that can do even better.

    Comment by mike ableman -

  10. Create a controversy around the movie. Pick a movie that will be scandalous, or push buttons, etc. The press will be all over it and give you free advertising. Include in the whole process somewhat of a mystery as to what the movie\’s true take on the issue is so that people will have to see it to figure get the conclusion. You could even fabricate the whole thing…have certain cast members be a part of the scam and have the plot of the actual movie be about the whole thing so that when people see it, the ending will be completely shocking and give away the fact that the whole thing was set up. I know this would only work once, but what the hell.

    Comment by Patrick -

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    Comment by Rogger Mill -

  12. now I know i\’m a little late here, but i would suggest to sart putting the movies on the web. You charge a standard fee, now you\’ll probably lose money from snaks and such, but to conter that you would make a deal with coke/pepsi, where when you download a movie, you get their email address, and you send the people coupons for cases of pop, boxes of popcorn etc, then you get a percentage of the earnings if they use that coupon.Or just start putting the movies on pay per view, where people can purchase it ( again for a higher price) but what you do with this, you put all your adds attached to that movie, and you put a number on how many people can watch it on pay per view, like a firt come first serve kind of deal.

    Comment by Tyler -

  13. A Scanner Darkly implemented an interesting technique: make the first 24 minutes of the movie available freely online. I saw it and can’t wait til it comes to town! 🙂


    Comment by Piko -

  14. While the notion to make movies better has been introduced and it seems obvious and bitterly smartass, it’s a point worth examining. People are not going to the movies because television is frankly better. Television is writer driven and movies are director (and often producer) driven. All the care that goes into cinematography, production desgin, music, costumes, editing and music all dwarf what goes into a script. The problem here is the lack of a singular voice in these scripts. Every script is “polished” by script doctors which rarely, if ever, is unnoticeable or effective. I’m not suggesting that every first draft should be shot as is. But the few good scripts get homogenized by too many cooks.
    Every cineaste in the world lovingly refers to the 1970s as a golden era and you know what? It was. Look at the films that won the Academy Awards: Patton, The French Connection, The Godfather, The Sting, Godfather II, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Rocky, Annie Hall, The Deer Hunter and Kramer Vs. Kramer. All great scripts well made, variously risky and all successful at the box office. MAKE BETTER MOVIES. It’s so simple, no one has figured that out. I don’t care how much Pirates Of The Carribean has made, no one is talking about how good it is much like no one ever tlaks about a great Big Mac they had.
    I guess Jaws is the perfect prototype because it balances everything: story, spectacle, character and scope. Which brings me to my next point. Make sure the cinema is truly cinematic. Again, television is better so movies need to do what television can’t. Lawrence Of Arabia could never be a television show. I’m not pulling for more costume epics as much as big ideas that are uniquely cinematic. As good as Crash was, it would’ve been better as a television series.
    I don’t know anything about financing films but I know they’re spending too much money. Actors get too much and, I imagine that exponentially effects everything. The less you spend the more you make. Obvious? Yeah. See above.
    Finally, where to find these scripts. Holywood needs to do more of an outreach program. Screenplay competitions are a grand idea but they typically reward the writers who can regurgitate the same Hollywood movies no one is going to see. I contend the best writer in the world cannot get an agent so he/she needs helps. A movie should never go into production unless all the principals are excited about the script. It can’t be salvaged in the editing room.
    So, those are my thoughts, Mr. Cuban. I know you’re a man of taste because of you’re work with Soderbergh and a recent documentary acquistion I know you made. I hope these ideas are helpful because you’ll never find a bigger movie fan than me and I agree the biz is in trouble. MAKE BETTER MOVIES.

    Comment by Edward Klau -

  15. Don’t need a job, but what about this? How many people are going to see Pirates three – a ton. Have TV specials that give the first 30 minutes or so of the movie. It can be a stand alone. The Network promotes the show and the movie. Ads pick up the cost. You can also put the first 30 minutes on the web as a free download. It is like when Stephen King wrote the Green Mile in chapters. I couldn’t wait for each little booklet to come out.

    Comment by Duea -

  16. The easy way to get people to see more movies is to have them prepay. You probably think this guy is nuts because people wont want to pay to see four different movies all at once but if they think they are getting something for nothing they will. At 15 bucks a movie they could get 4 for 60 bucks at regular prices but if there was a movie card where you prepaid for 4 and got 1 free you would still make 12.50 a show. Have a 6 month expiry on the card, a discount card for Tuesday nights , 1 free drink or popcorn with the purchase of the card. People want stuff for free this blog is a prime example you will get hundreds of ideas for free maybe all will suck but if people think they are getting a deal they will go to a crappy movie just to use the card.

    Comment by Patrick -

  17. 1. Make sure its not an anti-social event. Offer niche viewing experiences, for example, do not mix adults with teenagers in the arena.

    2. Create theaters catered to the specific genre. Turning up the volume is not a substitute for setting the right atmosphere. Science fiction movies, comedies, and teen flicks should never share the same ambience, surroundings, or comfort. This could include something as simple as comforable seats and quiet during serious movies to motion seating during science fiction flicks.

    3. Instead of food courts, create sitting areas for movie clubs, so people linger and discuss the movie, the book its based on (if applicable), and plot lines. This is the equivalent of online discussion forms in physical form and a unique way to capture emotions and thoughts imemdiately following their viewing experience. It also gives an opportunity for theaters and studio heads to receive feedback.

    Comment by rjv -

  18. The easy way to get people to see more movies is to have them prepay. You probably think this guy is nuts because people wont want to pay to see four different movies all at once but if they think they are getting something for nothing they will. At 15 bucks a movie they could get 4 for 60 bucks at regular prices but if there was a movie card where you prepaid for 4 and got 1 free you would still make 12.50 a show. Have a 6 month expiry on the card, a discount card for Tuesday nights , 1 free drink or popcorn with the purchase of the card. People want stuff for free this blog is a prime example you will get hundreds of ideas for free maybe all will suck but if people think they are getting a deal they will go to a crappy movie just to use the card.

    Comment by Patrick -

  19. mark,
    enter into a bulk (5 movie) deal with the houses, cutting their take for a guarantee of first distribution.
    create contracted sequels, shot at the same time as your first run and sell them as a package.
    ALWAYS combine distribution. don’t offer one movie at a time. package your product by quarterly, or annual contracts with the houses.
    kickback a bonus to the more profitable houses. get them on your side.
    there can’t be more than 15 or 20 major players across the whole country with movie chains. knowing what’s important to them can be more profitable than what’s important to you! let me do a chain to chain personal survey, getting their side, and finding a way to make them happy.
    i can write a 2 year plan that covers working with the current system, all the way to developing your own subscribership and direct marketing. i’ve run my own 2 million dollar distribution system for 10 years. details available.
    i know how to pay for myself from the very first day. i know how to not cost you a dime, and make a lot of money for both of us. we can change the way movies are watched by america and around the world. no-one has done a combination of direct movie marketing by subscribership and “n theatre”distribution.
    the marriage of the 2 systems would have a symbiotic effect on the whole. the “advance code” system i have in mind for your personal subscribers is a present technology. combined with the sale of your own personal mark cuban line of dvd players for your subscribership, the downloadable movies would provide advance marketing for the in theatre’s a 2 for 1 hit.
    more to come,

    Comment by greg deibert -

  20. Movie boutiques defined by psychographics. Action theatre, childrens theatre, romance theatre, sci-fi theature. They’re branded by these themes, not by movie titles. May limit the genre of movie you distribute; that focus might help.

    Comment by Brad B. -

  21. mark,
    enter into a bulk (5 movie) deal with the houses, cutting their take for a guarantee of first distribution.
    create contracted sequels, shot at the same time as your first run and sell them as a package.
    ALWAYS combine distribution. don’t offer one movie at a time. package your product by quarterly, or annual contracts with the houses.
    kickback a bonus to the more profitable houses. get them on your side.
    there can’t be more than 15 or 20 major players across the whole country with movie chains. knowing what’s important to them can be more profitable than what’s important to you! let me do a chain to chain personal survey, getting their side, and finding a way to make them happy.
    i can write a 2 year plan that covers working with the current system, all the way to developing your own subscribership and direct marketing. i’ve run my own 2 million dollar distribution system for 10 years. details available.
    i know how to pay for myself from the very first day. i know how to not cost you a dime, and make a lot of money for both of us. we can change the way movies are watched by america and around the world. no-one has done a combination of direct movie marketing by subscribership and “n theatre”distribution.
    the marriage of the 2 systems would have a symbiotic effect on the whole. the “advance code” system i have in mind for your personal subscribers is a present technology. combined with the sale of your own personal mark cuban line of dvd players for your subscribership, the downloadable movies would provide advance marketing for the in theatre’s a 2 for 1 hit.
    more to come,

    Comment by greg deibert -

  22. How do you get people to the movies?

    Well first, why DON’T people go to the movies? They don’t go because gas is expensive, tickets are expensive ($10.75 a pop? YIKES!), the moves are subpar, they’re watching TV, they’re listening to music, they’re renting DVDs, they can’t go when the movie is playing, the experience is horrible.

    I think the key is the last one. Going to the movies just flat out isn’t fun anymore. The theaters smell, tickets cost too much, candy costs too much, and there’s 30 minutes devoted to commercials (not even previews!) after the lights dim and before the movie starts.

    More and more consumers have large TVs with nice sound systems. Who needs theaters when you can pop in a DVD and buy $0.79 M&Ms and have an eerily similar experience as paying $15.00 would?

    To get people to the movies again, you need to give them something they can’t get at home. Huge screens are nice and all, but that’s not going to cut it. Better seats are also a step in the right direction but that also won’t cut it.

    Getting rid of the ads entirely won’t work. However, why does there seem to be a standard of really crappy commercials? Commercials that are commercials belong on TV, not blown up to ridiculous sizes which results in terrible graphical quality. Set a higher standard for these pre-movie ads. Hell, maybe even require them to have a basic plot so that they’re at least engaging.

    What else can you give audiences that they can’t get at home? Back in the early days of cinema, when you went to the movies, you didn’t just get the movie, you got the movie, a newsreel, and a few short cartoons. These were replaced with previews.

    There’s an underappreciated art form out there that most Americans never really hear about. This is the short film. Pixar has had great success showing shorts before their features. Why can’t move theaters attach their own? Better yet, get some free advertising by showing good (the key here is good) shorts by people from the local area. You could recruit shorts from colleges and high schools with film classes. Their friends and family will surely go to see their loved ones’ film shown in a real theater. This will benefit everyone. The theater gets additional advertising via participants, the locals get to see things they otherwise wouldn’t have seen, and the artist gets their name out there. You could shuffle locals shorts in with not-so-local shorts, and even big budget shorts. This will also build community relations and get those that like to support local businesses more willing to enter your theater. Also, audiences will feel they are getting their moneys’ worth because they will be getting more content. It won’t just be $10.75 for a movie I could rent for $3.00 anymore.

    Lastly, give audiences a choice. The theater I patroned in high school had an auditorium reserved for independants, art house, revivals, and other non-blockbuster movies. This would attract your movie-buff crowd that doesn’t just want the mainstream. It also gives more oppertunity to see what usually isn’t accessable. It’s not all about

    Of course, there obviously needs to be a fix for the really bad movies that keep coming out. We seem to be slowly swinging up from the horribleness seen in 2005, but still. Without good content, no one will ever show up.

    Comment by Wren -

  23. Culture is changing. The entertainment supply chain is changing and theaters are too static.

    1) Exclusive content
    – Something they can’t get later on, possibly some live content, out-takes, interviews. Maybe some live content can be retaped segments. Live performances, no two are the same.

    2) Dynamic content
    – wireless voting (choose your own adventure/endings)

    3) Engage viewers in creation process
    – movie-building – developing plots/cast, etc – makes the viewer a part of the production crew and are essentially going to see their final product. Builds on recent “American Idol” reality-TV type fascination.
    – maybe a “cast-in” tied with a reality program, viewers vote on a role in cast.

    4) Real time on-demand
    – interactive movie selection based on demand (# theatres showing based on voting/buzz – “digg”ing movies – increases fill-rate) – digital “on-demand” movies of complete movie portfolio even older movies. Wouldn’t it be great to screen both PotC 1 and 2 simultaneously?

    5) Change the context.
    – it’s not just about movies anymore, it’s entertainment. Don’t shuffle people in and out, have them stick around. Have a HD lounge, expand services (dining, gaming, bookstore, internet cafe) make the movie house the department store of entertainment. People can come just to hang out. If they want to go into a movie/event they just use a scan card to get in.

    6) Exploit the medium.
    – You have a giant screen, loud speakers, and lots of people. Co-mingle different media to bring people back to the theater. Make a whole theater a club. Show sporting events (Mavericks on big screen!), NASCAR. Simulcast concerts, olympics, Oprah, whatever.

    Of course there are real problems because it changes the economics of the movie industry as well as legal concepts and creative control but that hasn’t stopped you before.

    Comment by kkwan -

  24. Multiple endings, possibly even multiple plots and subplots that differ depending on which version of the movie you’re seeing. Send one version to one theater, another version to the theater down the road (or “seed” the versions based on geography, demographics, etc)

    This actually plays to the strengths of a low budget production (less than 40 million). It doesn’t add much to the cost, while it would be impossible to do this for a 200 million plus monster like Superman Returns.

    Between extra shooting and what can be typically left on an editing room floor, it should be easy to make one movie with 4 different flavors, as similar or as different to each other as you would like.

    It might cut down on the “shared experience factor” somewhat, if you and your friends see the flick at fifferent locations, but the idea (which is half baked and hastily thought up on my part) does seem to have the glimmer of potential.

    Comment by Jason -

  25. It depends on whether you’re focused on home entertainment or the outgoing theatre experience.

    For the home viewer, how about podcast meets wikis. Find a way for the viewers themselves to interact with the movie, and possibly affect the outcome. If this is online, product placement can be taken to a whole new level. Click on a shirt, and go to the manufacturers web site to purchase one. And hey, with webTV and X-Box online technology, it won’t be long before people can watch such online shows with the whole plazma screen, surround sound experience.

    I’m not sure how to improve upon the theatre going experience. 3-D and VR only successfully work with action and horror. It wouldn’t provide a broad solution. Perhaps theatres could be made more intimate. I like the food-serving idea mentioned previously. Perhaps creating half-round coccoons, with surround sound speakers and tables in the middle. It can be an intimate dining experience and a movie. And hey, if you’re showing a movie like Jurassic Park, you can always rig the tables to shake 🙂

    Either way, it seems that immersion and interaction are the next paths of pursuit in entertainment.

    Comment by Tad -

  26. The only luxury commodity left is exclusivity. Take, say, a hot club in New York. People are willing to throw hundred dollar bills at bouncers just to get in the door – who doesn’t want to be one of the chosen few allowed past the velvet ropes? -wink wink-
    Combine that with the rising popularity of ‘rent-a-room’ karaoke joints in urban centers, and you’ve got a plan that might work.
    Build movie clubs, with limited capacity, that offer drinks, dinner, dj’s – and private screening rooms to rent by the hour, with your company’s films available to watch. You control production and distribution, and you already know more or less to what audience to market.
    Much like table service at a club, if you want to just hang out at the bar, you pay the $10 cover at the door. If you want a private room, you and your friends pay $75/hour (maximum seating of ten) or $125/hr (maximum seating of 20), arranged at the door, and then you offer waitress/cocktail service with food and drinks. Big screens, great sound systems – and you’ve got a captive audience for a whole evening.
    You even arrange private ‘screening’ events with talent Q&As, etc. – and by limiting seating availability, you can drive up the price. the problem now is a glut of empty seats waiting to be filled – make movie-going a luxury again, make it an exclusive experience, and you’ll have lines out the door.

    Comment by Kris -

  27. Mark, you’ve always been a cutting edge thinker, which is why I’m surprised you’re not looking at this differently. The challenge shouldn’t be how to market a new movie to bring people to the theatre. The challenge should be how to a new movie to the person besides going to a movie theatre. With the expansion of the internet and the ability to download digital files, why not create a new format that would allow viewers to download a new movie to their homes, thus eliminating all the overhead of a theatre, and also eliminating all the hassle/commitment of going to the theatre. The “buzz” generated from such a new format would market the movies themselves. But you could also have a central database where you sell these new movies that would have trailers available for viewing.

    Comment by Bob Radar -

  28. Mark, I believe in simple answers to simple problems. I will pay $10 to $12 to see a good movie. The answer…shockingly, is to simply make good movies. Get ahead of the curve, option the story early, cheaply and have good people do the work. You rarely go wrong with good people. And if your creative types are good enough, you can get there early and get things cheaply. Simply, you can market a good movie for FREE by making a movie people want to see. Word-of-mouth will get you hundreds of millions every time if the project is good enough.

    Comment by Joe D -

  29. I would focus on three things:

    1) Niche Groups
    2) Communities
    3) Hobbies / Organizations

    The internet has allowed for different groups to be organized around member’s passions. Every movie should appeal to these three descriptions. You need to target and recruit the members of these groups and slowly build up interest in your film. The good part it doesn’t cost much money. The bad news is it is it’s time consuming.

    I actually met you once with Reagan Silber. I would love to talk with you a little more about some of the things I have been working on. Let me know if you have any time when you’re in LA.

    Comment by Christopher -

  30. Give local filmmakers with a decent enough script in various cities a small amount of money to make a film, say $10,000 – $25,000. Have them hire 200 people to work on crew. Give them support. Then make an event of the premiere locally. Have the 200 people who worked on it invite their local family and friends to come see the end result. Get some free press up in papers and on the web. Do some research before, during, and after the screening. Sell ready-made DVDs signed by the artists and loaded with extra features at the showing(s) and online. Charge $6 a ticket. If the product is good, you’ll know, and you can take it on tour with the filmmakers. If it’s not so good, sell off the foreign rights.

    Some artists will have some success, others won’t. Drop the ones who don’t do a good job. Give more money and star access to the ones who do good work.

    Create your own stable or farm-system of talent. Don’t give into star demands. Keep everything low cost. Concentrate on initial trailers and good pitches. Keep everything on the low and cult. As things blow up, keep it real.

    We did this on my first film, and we’re already counting the days before we begin the next. A roaring river always starts with that first water drop.

    Comment by Timothy Gunn -

  31. Netflix has created an awesome movie rental community. I can add friends who are members as well, get recommendations from them and even invite myself to their house when they have a movie I’d like to see. Recently they sent me an ad about Click because they know what other movies I like and thought I’d like this one too. They even let me add it to my queue for when it comes out on DVD. If you could get into the community that already likes to watch movies and have the ability to send personal recommendations based on what they already like you could reach out to everyone who would be interested in that sort of movie. Target the audience you already have first right? You can also note the local theatre to this personal recommendation based on the memberships zip code and offer a free small popcorn or something with a print out of the recommendation. Also, I could send the recommendation with the opening date, local theatre and movie times to my “friends” (slash online community) to see if anyone is interested in checking out the 7pm show for instance and automatically add it to my Outlook or Yahoo calendar (a la Evite). Then I can still go in and rate it or comment on it or recommend it to my regular movie watching buddies. Sounds like a deal to me…
    (oh yeah, and let’s try to petition the theatres seperatly to pass a law that says children under 12 will not be admitted to any movie past their bedtime, starting at 9pm.)

    Comment by CobNat -

  32. What happens if you just spend less? No kidding, maybe the emperor really has no clothes?

    Movies already benefit from tons of free marketing. Just about every film gets reviewed in the local paper. Many get TV time, on local TV and on the national review shows. Review websites like pull reviews together.
    Not to mention the entertainment news magazines and TV shows that are all looking for the Next Big Thing.

    Good films seem to find their audiences. Bad ones can be puffed by an ad campaign, but only within limits.

    A big ad campaign will move the needle, no doubt. But has anybody tested whether it consistently moves the needle enough to justify the expense? If you’re spending the second $30 million to chase $10 million in revenue (or whatever) it makes no sense. How do you know?

    So cut the budget in half. Produce a great trailer. Make sure the movie gets to the reviewers, particularly at the major players such as NYT, LAT, Hollywood Reporter, Variety…. Have your marketing folks mine every nuggest of potential copy for People, ET, etc.

    You have an advantage, as Mark Cuban, in getting major media to answer your calls.

    Oh, and then make a good movie — or at least popular enough to make financial and artistic sense.

    For a film with a relatively modest budget, one that’s good enough that you can be fairly confident of picking up enough downstream profits to keep the lights on, a sharply reduced ad budget might be a justifiable risk.

    You’ll be betting that word of mouth will build past that first weekend, rather than demanding that the ads flood people to the theaters in the first four days.

    (And if you leak out that you’re trying it, you’ll probably get enough additional industry buzz that it will mess up the “experiment” but sell more tickets…)

    Comment by Jeffrey Weiss -

  33. Some pricing models and other ideas:

    1) Pre-paid plan. A person buys a discounted package of movie tickers and then gets to pick the particular movies later, when they arrive.
    The advantage is that the theater gets the bucks up front and the person is more likely to attend.

    2) Tie-in with other services. Have local restaurants go in with the theater to offer a movie + dinner combo ticket.

    3) One reason wait for the DVD instead of going to a theater is the chance to get the outtakes or extras. So offer a higher-priced ticket that the movie-goer gets a theater admission and then a special DVD with the bonus info.

    Comment by Bob Devine -

  34. Ok, it’s obvious that everyone wants a job, yet no one seems to have a complete clue as to how film distribution against theater exhibition works. Films are expensive because studios and distributors want to make their money back. Fine, we have that settled.

    Theatre exhibitors charge exorbitantly because they DO NOT GET AN EQUAL SHARE OF THE FILMS PROFITS! In some cases, a theatre gets a small percentage, an honorarium, if you will, to show the film, while others get nothing at all, and some theatres even pay to exhibit films in that particular theatre (usually second-run). The major source of revenue for exhibitors comes from concession sales, and that alone.

    This is the playing field, this is where you need to come up with the ideas, people. So, that being said, knowing what the playing field is, how do you get people to come in and watch your movie?

    While the idea of vertical integration sounds all innovative, while it would make sense for the studios to own the theaters, this idea was pretty much stomped out in the late 40’s because of a little thing known as monopolies. However, with the way holding corporations and major conglomerates work, that idea is going out the door, because companies are owning theatres and the film studios that show the work, as well as the magazines that are essentially promotion vehicles (See why Entertainment Weekly went boffo for Superman Returns while giving Pirates a D).

    To me, what Cuban suggests is a bit of a trick question, because there is no one way to do it that one man or woman could handle…however, there is an answer of sorts.

    The answer is simple. You cannot draw a horse to water. That’s it. Now I will explain.

    Going to movies is a cultural experience, and should be approached from that standpoint. You cannot assume that you can find a correct way to beg people to see your movie or go to your theatre. If you want a resurgance at cinemas, you need to give people a reason for them to WANT to come. That’s the key, potential filmgoers have to want to be a part of the experience without thinking of all the negative connotations that go along with it (cellphones, teenagers, food prices, etc.)

    There was once a genius of a man who worked in Hollywood in the 40’s through the 70’s. That man was William Castle. Genius, he was. This is the man who came up with smell-o-vision, buzzing seats, and fan voted alternate endings. The trailers for his films were primarily him sitting at a desk telling YOU THE VIEWER just how good his next film was going to be, and why it was that you had to be there.

    The truth is that his films were shitty at best, but what he didnt sell was the film, what he did sell was the experience. If you want to sell your films, you have to sell the experience. The experience in this matter begins with the theater.

    You can correct me on this, but in my 29 years of life, I have NEVER seen one advertisement for a theater. Theaters just exist. Sure they will do marketing when they open up a new theater, or talk about their stadium seating, but you never really get the idea that the theater is a place to go. Now I am not talking about your hybrid theaters, like Alamo Drafthouse, because those exist and exist well in specialized markets, and honestly, the experience cannot be mass produced without great cost and potential failure that is unnecessary when you think about it.

    If you want to give someone a job to make this part happen, I think your primary candidate should be you. People love what Mark Cuban has done for the Mavericks, people love (or hate but still notice) your hands on approach to your team. In that respect, you are no different than William Castle.

    But if you want to give me a job, it would be to overhaul the theatre experience while implementing an actual theatre marketing structure with incentives that go beyond discounts and actually work towards developing a cultural bond with the affected communities, giving said communities a NEED to come and spend their hard earned dollars.

    Remember, it is not about the movies…its about the experience and from there, business can grow.

    Comment by Hashim Hathaway -

  35. Lots of good comments. I like the ideas of creating memberships for theaters, selling the DVD while the movie is in it’s theater run, packaging tickets with concessions (or even with nearby restaurants, sell a package deal like Travelocity of Experian). But the question is how to market a movie better. What I suggest is a better CRM program and direct marketing techniques. WIth Netflix, Blockbuster and others you have a treasure trove of data on individual movie watching habits of specific demographics. Simply marry that data with the type of movie you are releasing, initiate a direct response campaign to those most likely to be interested and watch your cost-per-acquisition go down. I don’t see ANY of the studios doing this, and the first person to strike a deal with one of the aggregation services (it would even work with Fandango, etc.) will win. Not rocket science, just basic CRM and direct marketing. The shotgun marketing approach most movies utlize works, but it costs big bucks. Cut that budget and use the money for direct marketing and you’ll make alot more money.

    Comment by Tony Wright -

  36. mark, i’m the guy who wants you to develop your own subscribership and direct market your movies. forget the system it’s broken. they suck the money out of the deal before it ever gets distributed. but if you insist on staying traditional(i haven’t heard back from you yet), invite the movie house owners with their overinflated egos to come to you. screen it for only them. wine, dine and… etc. them at your place of opulence. THEN take the movie distribution orders right there after dinner, with all your hottie actresses and actors present. you can make a great deal cutting their action by as much as 20%. they go home fat and happy, you keep more of your money. it’s not how much you make, it’s how much you keep! details available! i can make you money.

    Comment by greg deibert -

  37. Lots of good comments. I like the ideas of creating memberships for theaters, selling the DVD while the movie is in it’s theater run, packaging tickets with concessions (or even with nearby restaurants, sell a package deal like Travelocity of Experian). But the question is how to market a movie better. What I suggest is a better CRM program and direct marketing techniques. WIth Netflix, Blockbuster and others you have a treasure trove of data on individual movie watching habits of specific demographics. Simply marry that data with the type of movie you are releasing, initiate a direct response campaign to those most likely to be interested and watch your cost-per-acquisition go down. I don’t see ANY of the studios doing this, and the first person to strike a deal with one of the aggregation services (it would even work with Fandango, etc.) will win. Not rocket science, just basic CRM and direct marketing. The shotgun marketing approach most movies utlize works, but it costs big bucks. Cut that budget and use the money for direct marketing and you’ll make alot more money.

    Comment by Tony Wright -

  38. If you look at the products that are reshaping American life, they all have one thing in common: they give us more control of our time. Americans believe time is their most precious commodity, so the ability to hold dominion over it is more important then quality, cost or service.

    DVR’s and MP3 players give us the power to control when we consume media, so the thought of looking up show times and planning our entire evening to arrive when a theater says to, is anachronistic and insulting. The sense of powerlessness is heightened by long lines at the box office or a half hour of wasted time watching slides and trailers. A $10 movie ticket is forgivable, but a wasted half hour on a Friday night will become a death knell for theaters.

    So don’t market movies and show times and cutting edge technology. Market control. Let people rent small theaters/screening rooms and pay by the hour, not the number of tickets. Let them pause the movie or rewind a scene. Let them switch movies if they decide the first one is lame. Let them choose the size of the theater and screen. Let them choose amenities like child care or full-menu food service. Let them create communities of similar interests with whom they can watch movies.

    Give the consumer the freedom to choose their experience, and they will give you their money.

    You could argue this won’t work because people can create their own experience in their home theater. Of course, by that same logic, the restaurant industry doesn’t have a chance to succeed either. Maybe they should consider posting Meal Times in the paper so we can all eat the same meal at the same time.

    Comment by Zach Boehm -

  39. Time to think outside the box, quick and to the point:

    Currently spending $60 million will get 5 million butts in theater seats to see a movie.

    Well, people love playing the lottery in this country. Take $15 million (75% Savings) and divide it into 3; $5 million for Friday, $5 million for Saturday and $5 million for Sunday. You take the star of the movie and as part of his/her promotional tour for the movie on opening weekend he/she flies to three different cities walks into a random theater playing the movie and hands a $5 million dollar check to someone watching the movie. (You would need good security obviously)

    You get look-a-likes of your movie star scattered around the country opening weekend to get rumors started as to what city he or she is in. Access Hollywood, E, local news channels, all the MySpace guys, bloggers, etc… will be all over it. “What city is she/he in?” “Someone said Russell Crow checked into the Sentai on South Beach last night.” You won’t need an affiliate program.

    Create all kinds of hype. The star’s in town. Flock to the theaters. Become rich. If I play the Florida lottery I’m looking at a 1 in 23 million chance of winning. My odds are going to be better at the movies. And I’m not throwing away money, even if I don’t win I’m getting something in return for my investment.

    Now the movie has to do the rest of the work, if it’s good all the people flocking to see it opening week trying to win a lottery will become invaluable “raving fans” of the flick. The conversations at the water cooler at work Monday morning start off with “did you see the lady that won the $5 million Sunday?” and continue with “you got to see the movie though, I don’t want to ruin it but there is a part where…”

    You are welcome for the revolutionary idea; you can thank me by casting Carmen Electra as the star of your next movie and having her hand me a $5 million dollar check. Come to think of it I’ll settle for one of the decoy look-a-likes. 🙂

    Comment by tony -

  40. Time to think outside the box, quick and to the point:

    Currently spending $60 million will get 5 million butts in theater seats to see a movie.

    Well, people love playing the lottery in this country. Take $15 million (75% Savings) and divide it into 3; $5 million for Friday, $5 million for Saturday and $5 million for Sunday. You take the star of the movie and as part of his/her promotional tour for the movie on opening weekend he/she flies to three different cities walks into a random theater playing the movie and hands a $5 million dollar check to someone watching the movie. (You would need good security obviously)

    You get look-a-likes of your movie star scattered around the country opening weekend to get rumors started as to what city he or she is in. Access Hollywood, E, local news channels, all the MySpace guys, bloggers, etc… will be all over it. “What city is she/he in?” “Someone said Russell Crow checked into the Sentai on South Beach last night.” You won’t need an affiliate program.

    Create all kinds of hype. The star’s in town. Flock to the theaters. Become rich. If I play the Florida lottery I’m looking at a 1 in 23 million chance of winning. My odds are going to be better at the movies. And I’m not throwing away money, even if I don’t win I’m getting something in return for my investment.

    Now the movie has to do the rest of the work, if it’s good all the people flocking to see it opening week trying to win a lottery will become invaluable “raving fans” of the flick. The conversations at the water cooler at work Monday morning start off with “did you see the lady that won the $5 million Sunday?” and continue with “you got to see the movie though, I don’t want to ruin it but there is a part where…”

    You are welcome for the revolutionary idea; you can thank me by casting Carmen Electra as the star of your next movie and having her hand me a $5 million dollar check. Come to think of it I’ll settle for one of the decoy look-a-likes. 🙂

    Comment by tony -

  41. I don’t think you will find the answers from random people on the internet. And I definitely don’t think you’re going to get people to buy tickets off of Fandango, regardless of your marketing strategy (buying tickets for movies on the internet is lame- no one wants to pay fees to see movies when the ticket price alone is already too high- the only reason to purchase tix in advance is if you absolutely have to see a film on opening day, which means your film has to be an “event” picture, and those types of films are a rare occasion and no marketing job can create that). The problem is two fold, part industry (i.e. studios mini/major/independent etc.) and part exibition. The industry is making far too many films these days (rendering many of them indistinguishable from each other), and a majority of them have no immediate audience appeal. If you have to explain to an audience why they should see a movie, you are in trouble. Instead of focusing on the marketing of films, you need to make films that are marketable. I’m not saying that Burt Munro was a bad film, but what audience asked for it to be made? It may seem like an intriguing story, cool concept, or the like but if it’s a niche movie, it’s a niche audience. You’re not going to fill the seats. To sum it up- unless you and everyone you know gets goosebumps while reading the script and you have a to-die-for creative team attached, DON’T MAKE THE FILM! As far as exhibition goes, you are on track with your Landmark Theatres as I actually go out of my way to see films there when they are playing films I want to see. Exhibitors have to make the movie going experience as easy and pleasurable as possible, which means comfortable seats, clean auditorium, knowledgable staff, and above all the utmost attention to the projection of the picture, picture quality and audio quality. Going to the pictures and enduring problems with seats, dirty auditoriums/lobbies, idiotic/unhelpful staff and projection issues are a huge, chronic problem with moviegoing and one that frustrates moviegoers to the point of not going out to the theater at all. And this affects all exhibitors, even if yours is impeccable, because if someone is turned off from it is across the board, not just that specific exhibitor…

    Sorry I can’t give you something constructive, but you’re trying to reinvent the wheel…

    Comment by Patrick -

  42. Start all movies on the hour and half hour. Every time I want to go to a movie I have to find the paper/call for showtimes which just passed, 7:38, or it is 2 hours and 12 minutes before it starts again. Ok, but I forgot to go after an hour, found something else to do.

    Comment by Nan Kelley -

  43. Imagine the following scenario.

    Guy A goes to your studio and sets up a personal customer-advertiser account, where he can receive credits for every person for whom he is responsible seeing the movie, and recieves rewards quarterly or whatever, WITH REWARDS INCREASING FOR EACH PERSON HE RECOMMENDS. He encourages Guy B to go see the movie. When Guy B goes to order his ticket off or whatever, he has the option of giving credit to Guy A for recommending the movie. In this way Guy A has incentive to encourage as many people as possible to see the film. This situation however might not be profitable enough to justify its establishment. But imagine if Guy A is getting a group together to see a movie. Does he invite 3 people or does he invite 10 people? If the marginal reward he gets from your studio increases per person recommended, he’ll keep going until he’s invited everyone in his phonebook. Or what if a school principal took the entire 8th grade class to see a movie, and got credit for 150 persons recommended? (a little sleazy, maybe, but it illustrates my point) People would find ways of getting large numbers of people to see your movie. The key to this system or whatever type of viral advertising you end up deciding on, marginal incentive from the studio has to keep increasing per person recommended to the movie. A flat rate of $1 per person for example would simply result in people trying to get a discount on a movie they’d see anyway. Increasing marginal incentives will motivate people to find creative ways of getting lots of people to the cinema.

    Should such a system catch on, every studio, and potential firms in any other industry will eventually have such a system. I’ve created a demand curve illustrating the optimum incentive per customer recommended to the movie, but you’ll have to respond to me to get it, because I can’t put it in the comment box. Even if you don’t like my idea, I’d like to know why it isn’t plausible for your studio.

    Comment by Robert S. -

  44. I have posted this on this blog before.

    1) If it is not a kid related movie then no babies or very young children and for god sake do not take your entire family of 7 children to see Dawn of the Dead (You know who you are). A theater is not your personal babysitter service.

    2) Special Adults only nights (or showings) and if there is a problem with someone acting out in the theater then have the balls, when I complain, to deal with them. I got tired of yelling at them in the theater further disrupting the move experience for others.

    3) Make movies half way enjoyable so I do not feel burned after paying so much. I am very easy to entertain usually but the movies just seem to be getting more dumbed down, cookiecutter operations.

    That is about it. I built my own HD Theater with PJ and screen, 7.1 THX Certifed sound and I will never go back to a theater. I have been burned too many times to waste my money anymore.

    Thanks for Listening and I before anyone with kids says anything back I have 3 of my own and I am not a grumpy old man. 😉

    Comment by John -

  45. Mark,

    Thanks for allowing the readers an opportunity such as this. My idea is pretty simple, follow the lead of Netflix by using the concept of a monthly flat fee. Remember when Disneyland ditched the ticket books and started selling day passes, then seasonal and yearly passes? Who cares if you ride Space Mountain all day, or see “My Super Ex Girlfirend” seven times in one week? So long as your ass is in the seat, and you have cash for concessions.

    Customers could go online and register their credit/debit card information, get charged a monthly fee (say 19.95), then simply show their debit/credit card at the theatre for verification and a ticket. They could also click an auto pay fetaure for monthly renewal. The deal can also be sweetened by offering a 10%-20% concession discount for members.

    Comment by Mark Venetianer -

  46. People are getting lazier and the movies are getting more and more expensive. The consumer focus is on convenience, time, and money. PPV was a hit for several years because of it’s convenience and now Netflix and Blockbuster Online are making it even more convenient, time efficient and less expensive to see movies.

    The movie industry must seriously consider teaming up with digital cable or satellite companies and allowing consumers the chance to not only visit movie theaters for that ‘experience’, but also allow the consumer a one time viewing of new releases in a pay per view type setting.

    This can be offered at a premium rate and would not only allow the consumer the convenience of being able to watch a new movie any time of day, but will also allow movies not available in all cities to be shown in certain areas where the consumer would have been unable to view from a local theater.

    For instance, my community was allowed to see advertisements for ‘Beyond The Sea’, the Bobby Darin biopic, but the closest showing was 4 hours away in Houston, TX. Had my family been allowed to purchase this film ‘PPV Style’ we certainly would have watched it on opening day.

    I don’t think that this will dissuade current movie goers from continuing to visit the theater. It is still an experience and an American institution and allows people the chance to get out of their homes and to escape from reality

    Comment by Ashley W -

  47. Use what you make fun of. Buy Every keyword and phrase for a new movie, or even an old one then point them to a landing page of your company. to ither sale them a ticket on Fandango or sell them the DVD – or to or whereever. You could probably get 20k hits for 20 cents a piece over a month. thats 4k a month. Lets say you get a 5% sell rate and a profit margin of 40% (since you own your own production and your own delivery venue and website. 5% of 20k is 1000. If you average sell was $25 them the profit margin is $10 a sell 10 x 1000 = 10k – 4k expense = 6k profit.

    Mark build Niche websites, one Domain name and one website PER MOVIE! – not Make it – of course this would be SEO’ed to show up top 10 in google and once setup it cost $50 for 5 years domain name and $200 five year hosting. Would pay for itself in 100 Dvd sales. and would then make pure profit with almost Zero work. Make one of these for every movie better yet for every Phrase people are searching for movie.

    next thing you know after a 30k investment you have 400 independent yet Wired to websites for each movie ranking well in all SE’s. making 200-300k per year profit. I know that isn’t much to you. but I just inspired myself. 🙂 Later, Richard bowles

    p.s. I am using the same strategy with my websites: all linking to the company I work for.

    Comment by richard bowles -

  48. First some healthy criticism before offering my opinion on how you can maximize your money making potential. First there are some issues with the DVD/PPV simultaneous release. At first it appears to be a great idea because it seems you can target many different individuals at the same time (the movie crowd, the DVD crowd, the PPV crowd). However, movie going is an experience. People don’t mind paying for a quality movie. In fact, when a movie is really good (or bad) individuals actually recall who they were with and the place in which they saw that movie. I can even place myself back into those great and awful experiences for instance, remember my personal feelings and the crowd reactions to 40-year-old Virgin and to Hulk. Movies are supposed to stir buzz for the DVD release. Movies should justify future ownership. People that have seen the movie and enjoyed it or those people have heard amazing things and missed the opportunity to see it in theaters are the ones the buy and rent DVD’s. No doubt the simultaneous release date was considered to curb piracy as well. But it must be accepted that piracy is here to stay. Movies, I like to liken to concerts, people will always show up if either the actors/artists, story/message, or word of mouth, compel them to do so. But the question we have to ask ourselves is why so many individuals would show up to see a re-release of Star Wars, or how did My Big Fat Greek Wedding become My Big Fat Greek Wedding? The other posts definitely tap on what is necessary to create hit movies. I have many ideas but I will share one in this forum. Individuals, especially Americans do not like to be told what to do, they like to discover. I’m sure you’ve read The Tipping Point, movies should be seen as potential epidemics. But how can we leave a trail of bread crumbs? How can we lead individuals to fill theaters without coercion? Being that movies are constrained to a time frame (between 1.5 and 3 hours) and consequently there are many holes and underdeveloped characters and stories. In your case you are making quality films at a fraction of the budget most movies are made for. But its also no secret that even though your movies are of high quality your box office sums though profitable are no where near where they should be. Likewise, your marketing efforts though groundbreaking are not having the effect on the movie going audience as they should. I think the problem is people are still being told what to do. Though I found the advertising done through Starbucks was new and creative it was still blatant advertisement. The best advertisement is the advertisement that people are anxious to share with others, such as the man-law commercials, the subservient chicken, or BMW films. All of this banter leads to my point which is – instead of the extra commentary or deleted scenes that crowds my DVDs you should hire guest directors, let them pre-screen the film, and then allow them with only suggestions of the characters’ backgrounds and slight foreshadowing to create their own 10 -20 minute films that would be shown on the web. These films should not ruin the movie but give viewers that have watched the online footage a deeper and more complete understanding of the film. It should allow conversation about the guest directors’ style and how they understood the story or even do you think that the guest directors did the film justice. The guest directors should be a mix of film students and high profiles. Having multiple directors and networks attached to a film plus all the individuals that came across this free discovery should be a fairly inexpensive yet highly effective way to cause buzz and draw larger audiences into the theater to see your films.

    Comment by Antoine -

  49. Hi Mark.

    I dont have the answer, only a suggestion for an addition to your current arsenal of marketing techniques.

    Our company can help you build an opt-in email list for a free “movie release” email newsletter or something in that vein. Ok, so you would have to produce this newsletter, but I imagine you already have the content. You offer consumers this free newsletter along with a chance to win XYZ or whatever promotion you choose. We can generate REAL opt-in names for your newsletter for about 75 cents per opt-in name. You approve on which sites the opt-ins are generated.

    It seems like a problem you run into is that you have to start from scratch every time you want to promote a movie and this could at least give you a base to start from. As you know the cost to email is minimal. You could even sell space to other studios when their movies dont conflict with your own to offset your costs.

    I encourage you or one of your marketing people to get in touch with me to discuss further.



    Comment by Joe -

  50. Comfort,human needs and wants, esential to the answer to your question. Create theatres that attract the masses places that have that feel good, warm and fuzzy about them. the average movie goer’s needs are simple. involve your major vendors in this creation. the simplest food items should be part of the experience. Popcorn and pop FREEE no charge. everything else is pay as you go. Image the adds Free Popcorn & Pop with your admission Major Vendors such as Coke and Pepsi must be involved . I will continue this have just run out of time.

    Great Blog

    Comment by Lou Panigas -


    The content user’s new paradigm is that content should be free or at least freer. Enable and embrace these users by giving them a tool to actively let them select informational\marketing content pieces that play prior to the cheaper\free movie.

    Active advertising dollars have much more value than passive advertising dollars such as when the theatres passively programs which ads an audience should view.

    Letting an advertiser know that users are making themselves a target of an ad validates the charge of a premium on an ad.

    Determining the users who are raving fans of an advertising content piece due to either the product itself or advertainment value is invaluable in using that user to bring crossover to other users.

    Regardless of whether we are talking movies, or advertising, a raving fan is worth more than the moderate fan in a succesful marking campaign.

    RFID access control to the theatre auditoriums would confirm viewership of the user selected ads.

    Ask me how.

    Comment by Mark W. -

  52. It always helps to have a movie worth seeing, but even the long time pros can’t predict if a movie will be a hit or not. So I guess the question is,are you looking for box office that reflects a hit movie , or box office that makes a nice profit?

    Back in my day certain movie houses ran late night reduced rate “sneak previews.” They would even give the patrons a card to fill out and turn in at the end of the movie. It was great for young people on date budgets, adults that wanted to have dinner at 9PM and still have plenty of time for a movie and room for popcorn and yes, let’s not forget insomniacs and people without A/C.
    I always reported to as many people as I could for quite a few days following seeing the movie,what I thought of the movie. I almost felt a responsibility to do so.
    I saw both “Little Big Man” with Dustin Hoffman and Faye Dunaway and “Soldier in the Rain” with Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen that way.

    A parnership with utility bills might be ok too. Open your phone bill get an advertisement and a buck off at the cinema.

    Comment by Paul Melonas -

  53. I think you are confusing two issues. Are you looking to market the movie itself, or are you looking to market your movie theater? Good movies (which are few and far between these days) market themselves. Now as far as the movie theater experience goes, that is an entirely different problem. I have some ideas (some of those ideas have been stated above in other posts) and would love to talk to you about it. Send me an email and I will fill you in.

    Comment by Clint Peters -

  54. FREE POPCORN! The movie going experience sucks. I would rather wait for the DVD and watch the movie on my 50″ HD plasma at home a few month later.

    Let me tie this all together. Clearly the money spent isn’t the issue since I can afford a 50″ plasma, but no one likes feeling bent over and abused by paying $10 for a popcorn and $5 for a coke. I don’t care if it is jumbo size! I don’t wan’t Jumbo size!…I want a normal size for a fair price!! We’re greeted by some surly or acne riddled ticket seller behind thick glass, our tickets are taken my a similar mumbling teenager, and incompetent and slow knuckleheads behind the concession stand. Then we have to sit through 10-20 minutes of commercials for which we paid $10 to watch…gimme a break.

    So to take the family of 4 it’s $10 a head to get in and $10+ per head to eat. All in I’m looking at $70-$90 to see a movie we’re not even sure we’ll like. That’s 5+ months of a NetFlix Account.

    Plus the theaters are smelly, noisy, dirty, run down, tempertures are too hot/too cold, and the sound is worse than the average surround-sound reciever these days. These new theater DLP projectors offer a worse picture than film even. And much worse than an LCD or Plasma at home.

    SO…IF your movie is REALLY worth watching in the theater, it better be damn good… Make it worth my while, otherwise I’ll be at home waiting on my Netfilx que to watch your movie. If you really want to save the $60, release it direct to DVD and HD on demand.

    Comment by Jeff -

  55. Like some others have suggested, I truly believe the marketing should be about the experience not the movie. The independant movie makers have no idea how to make a good trailer, so even a potentially good movie will look horrible. This makes it more important to make your theater the place to be, not the movie the one to watch.
    Price is certainly not the issue as I can currently get into movies for free, but I haven’t been to one in six months. There’s always someone on the phone, or kids messing around, or people talking the whole time ruining the entire trip. The Landmark theaters out here have very uncomfortable seats which means I’ll only watch ones that I’m really interested in.

    One suggestion to enhance the experience would be to have what I call an MST3K night. Promote one showing a week as a show that people are encouraged to talk/comment during the movie while still enforcing rough housing and inappropriate behaviour. This will help people be entertained by sub-par movies, and will give decent ones a new twist. While watching Battlefield Earth during opening weekend, I couldn’t resist doing this. Before you knew it half the crowd had joined in and we all had a much less painful experience.

    Comment by Jeremiah -

  56. Text Messaging.

    Cell phones and movies have never seemed to get along, but everybody brings them to the theatres and someone always lets their phone ring when the “Silence is Golden” message comes on the screen. So why fight it, why not use the cell phones to your advantage and kick some text messages to these people and let them know about the latest and greatest upcoming movie.

    Get the cell phone numbers of the demographic you want to be going after and send them text messages before the movie opens or on opening day promoting the show, or while the people are sitting there in the theatres waiting for another show. Offer free drinks, food, or a discount if you show your cell phone screen at the ticket window or food counter at the theatre.

    Granted this is the equivalent of spaming someone on their email and I do not believe cell phone companies can give out the info for purchase. So you have to get people to sign up for the “cuban phone service” that offers text messages to them every Thursday or Friday giving them info on the latest movies that are coming out and which theatres are having the discounts this weekend. Of course this service would be free to sign up for at the predetermined website of or something of the like.

    Everyone looks at their phone when they get a text message. Nobody looks at all their emails anymore and tv commercials are too expensive to market some movies.

    Text Messages. Cell phones and movies, together at last.

    Comment by Brendan -

  57. Mark,

    All these ideas SCREAM for the “window” between production & exhibition to be closed:)But they are just that…ideas.
    The solution is teamwork between the two….let 2929 lead the way with me.
    How many other exhibitors do you know that think they stand a chance in hell:)?

    Comment by Belinda -

  58. You should give people more than a job if they can solve this problem because there is in fact no solution. Sorry to inform you, but it’s true. You are better off cutting your losses right now. The days of big crowds going to see the latest blockbuster are over. It’s part of the past, just move on. It’s old media. It’s dying, just like FM radio, newspapers, magazines, network TV, and popular music. I could go on and on about the reasons for its death, but it’s not important. You could fix those problems, and you would still not solve this problem.

    I, The Consumer, now expect to be able to get the entertainment I want, when I want it and how I want it. I will not drive to Tower Records and spend $15 on a CD to get the song I heard on the radio (I don’t listen to radio anyways.) I will not wait around on Thursday nights in front of the TV to watch Must See TV. And I will not stand in line at Century Theaters, buy a $10 ticket, a $3 soda, and a $4 candy bar just so I can sit in the front row, with my neck tilted up 60 degrees, with somebody with body odor next to me and giggling teenagers behind me. Corporate America and Hollywood got very rich when I, The Consumer, was willing to put up with all this crap, but it’s over. Stop trying to bring those days back.

    Comment by Michael -

  59. Text Messaging.

    Cell phones and movies have never seemed to get along, but everybody brings them to the theatres and someone always lets their phone ring when the “Silence is Golden” message comes on the screen. So why fight it, why not use the cell phones to your advantage and kick some text messages to these people and let them know about the latest and greatest upcoming movie.

    Get the cell phone numbers of the demographic you want to be going after and send them text messages before the movie opens or on opening day promoting the show, or while the people are sitting there in the theatres waiting for another show. Offer free drinks, food, or a discount if you show your cell phone screen at the ticket window or food counter at the theatre.

    Granted this is the equivalent of spaming someone on their email and I do not believe cell phone companies can give out the info for purchase. So you have to get people to sign up for the “cuban phone service” that offers text messages to them every Thursday or Friday giving them info on the latest movies that are coming out and which theatres are having the discounts this weekend. Of course this service would be free to sign up for at the predetermined website of or something of the like.

    Everyone looks at their phone when they get a text message. Nobody looks at all their emails anymore and tv commercials are too expensive to market some movies.

    Text Messages. Cell phones and movies, together at last.

    Comment by Brendan -

  60. I’m not looking for a job, nor am I going to give you the answer to your problem. But I’m going to tell you why myself and most people I know don’t go to the movies.

    1) The prices are ridiculous. For two people it’s 20 bux to get in the door and another 20 bux if you want pop and popcorn.

    I really think it’s the perception of getting ripped off more than anything. Yes, I can afford $40, but I’d rather not waste it.

    2) I can enjoy a movie at home just as much, if not more, than in a theatre. Many people can afford a large TV and a good sound system these days. And let’s face it, if you can’t you probably can’t afford $40 for a trip to the movies either.

    The bonus of watching at home is I don’t have to deal with anyone else. I don’t have to wait in line. And it costs me practically nothing.

    Which leads to…

    3) Theatres have nothing to offer. Sure you can argue their sound system is superior, or the screen is much larger, but really nothing in the theatre blows me away.

    How about a little innovation here? Start making movies 3D perhaps. Disney World has numerous 3D movies so why can’t everywhere else?

    All of this shouldn’t come as any surprise. If it does, then you’re out of touch with your audience. And if it doesn’t, then why hasn’t something been done about it already?

    Comment by Dan -

  61. July 24, 2006

    Mr. Cuban:

    Look at the sheer number of comments you received here. You involved the audience. A good number of well thought out suggestions have been posted on here.

    Consumer Involvement
    1) Have the HD-DVD or UMD of the movie available for purchase as they come out of the theatre. The stub provides you the privilege of owning the movie first. Get the consumer at their point of the emotional high. For instance, the male fan either loves the movie or is being nagged by his significant other to buy the flick. The kids that just saw the movie are begging mommy to buy it.
    a. So who buys the DVD or UMD, when it’s time to be released? Everyone who missed out earlier. The dollars will still roll in because now you can sell the ones with the special features, interviews, etc.
    2) You own Landmark theaters. Place Bluetooth modules in the theatre. Unfortunately, few turn their phones off…take advantage of it. The majorities have them on silent or vibrate. As the credits roll, the Bluetooth begins. You can have fun with it. The longer they stay for credits, then the better incentives they get. Maybe co-op with Gap Inc or T-Mobile. The possibilities are endless. Not to mention the demographic data you can collect to adhere for the DVD release three months later.
    3) A previous reader commented on the Amazonian experience. This can also be done via Bluetooth. Enhance the customer experience in the same way. Reward them for sticking around your theater. Reward them when they get back to the house. They can dock their phone or PSP and a website logs their results. Emails and offers are sent out accordingly. Do the same thing for moviegoers that Apple and Nike have done for runners.
    4) Another piggyback off of a previous reader is to let the fans create the market. He suggested starting at $0, but I don’t buy that. The movie is now an IPO. Have your offering price. For instance, have a lower price point this weekend for The Ant Bully compared to Miami Vice. Obviously you have to have a ceiling for Miami Vice; but it will create value in the consumer’s mind.
    a. This has a two-pronged effect. The most important outcome of this is that it will weed out the weaker movies. Now the big boys have to listen to the consumer. It would become a microcosm of capitalism in the movie industry. Now the product is improving.

    Knowing the Problems
    1) The perception is that the movie quality is bad now so no one wants to go. This won’t change overnight but refer to #4 above for possible solution. This problem is not something that can be quickly so adapt now and lead the revolution towards change. Being dynamic is why you own the Mavericks today.
    2) Spending power has drastically increased from the seventies to the nineties to today. The same magic doesn’t exist for the consumer because they have the huge LCD and surround sound at home. The DVD is only a 3-month wait for them now…unless they can buy it right after the movie (refer to #1 above). About the only difference between the typical home theatre now and the movies is the seating. That’s not going to get them there though. Especially when MTV is showing “Cribs” every five seconds. The consumer wants that experience. You’d better find a way to get them involved.
    3) You have 3 BIG decision makers in the marketplace. Two of them are easy to advertise. First, are the parents. They have to find the ever-elusive kid friendly movie to take them to see. The second are the girls going to catch chick-flicks. The first two both involve women. Women are easy to find on television.
    a. The third group involves people traveling in pairs. Whether it’s a solo, double or triple date, there is a strong chance that the guy is picking the flick. If it’s a group of guys, obviously a guy is picking the movie. You’re not going to get us on TV. I fall into the ‘elusive’ 18-34 year old male demographic. You know this and so does every other decent media person in the world. The only reason I knew Miami Vice and The Ant Bully were opening up this weekend is because I went to Fandango. Outside of that, I could care less and would have never known. When I go on a date, it’s her telling me what is out and then she asks me what I want to see. I could care less but 99% of the time they want me to decide. Obviously, there will always be exceptions…i.e. Superman, Spiderman, Star Wars, Matrix, book following (DaVinci Code) etc. The cults will always be there.
    b. This is where the guerilla marketing EVERYONE was talking about comes into play. It would be more efficient than the $60 million campaign you were talking about.
    c. Now you can incorporate MySpace and Xanga. The click ads. The mobile media vehicles. The YouTube specific trailers.
    d. The most underutilized is live advertising during in-game environments. Half-Life, WOW, Everquest, Madden On-Line. Catch me when I’m about to have Dirk hit me a 3-pointer over D-Wade with 1 second on the clock during the NBA Finals in NBA Live 2007.

    I could go on. I live in Atlanta via New Orleans. I don’t need a job offer, so if you just want to pick my brain, you can get me on my cell at 678.862.5554. I’m certain we’d have some crazy and/or potent ideas come from it.


    Comment by Christien -

  62. A few of my ideas:

    My first idea is that movie theaters should make seats different sizes. For families, install 4 or 6 seater couches. For couples, two person love seats. Obviously, you would keep the single seats as well. In addition, the seats could be easily rearranged, snapping into a grid (think Legos). This would allow a group of three people to quickly create a three-seater couch. Families buying tickets online ahead of time would be able to reserve seats via a digital map, ensuring they could sit together.

    Auction all tickets off online eBay-style. Follow the simple principles of supply and demand. If movie attendance is low on certain weeknights, (like Monday or Tuesday), allow people to bid for tickets at a cheaper price. The theater will be open regardless and the movie playing if one person buys a ticket. So why not let people drive a fair market price and put more people in the seats. Friday and Saturday nights will obviously bring in more revenue by virtue that these are nights on the weekend.

    Make the matinee prices also effective for late-night showings. Like I said before, the theater will be open anyways, why not make it a little cheaper for those night owls out there. More of them might choose to go to the movies instead of watching endless hours of Nick at Nite.

    A few of my ideas:

    My first idea is that movie theaters should make seats different sizes. For families, install 4 or 6 seater couches. For couples, two person love seats. Obviously, you would keep the single seats as well. In addition, the seats could be easily rearranged, snapping into a grid (think Legos). This would allow a group of three people to quickly create a three-seater couch. Families buying tickets online ahead of time would be able to reserve seats via a digital map, ensuring they could sit together.

    Auction all tickets off online eBay-style. Follow the simple principles of supply and demand. If movie attendance is low on certain weeknights, (like Monday or Tuesday), allow people to bid for tickets at a cheaper price. The theater will be open regardless and the movie playing if one person buys a ticket. So why not let people drive a fair market price and put more people in the seats. Friday and Saturday nights will obviously bring in more revenue by virtue that these are nights on the weekend.

    Make the matinee prices also effective for late-night showings. Like I said before, the theater will be open anyways, why not make it a little cheaper for those night owls out there. More of them might choose to go to the movies instead of watching endless hours of Nick at Nite.

    Put a number of simplified exit polling touchscreens at all exits (this feature could also be accessed on the web, but putting these right outside the theater will get more people to use it). Allow people to have a unique username (you could even store it on a keyring card to swipe) and give a basic thumbs up or down. This NPWWM score (Normal People Who Watch Movies) would allow those people who have not seen it get a sense of how the movie was. I understand that this idea could be counter-productive to getting people to see a bad movie, but the problem is not with the machines, it is with the bad movie.

    Alright, final idea, hope you are still with me:

    Allow people to buy ownership in movies. Yes I understand they could buy stock in the parent company, but people would much rather invest in movies starring their favorite actors and actresses. Take the two sequels to Pirates of the Carribean for example. With an estimated budget of 450 million, that is a big investment for a company to make. But if instead of 1 company footing the bill, why not allow people to buy a limited amount of interest in the movie. These shareholders would then have a vested interest in promoting the movie. In addition, the director would occasionally ask for shareholder votes on certain content issues. If you made the investment process completely random, you would everyone from high school teenagers to middle-aged housewives investing their time and money into developing and promoting the movie. Because the investors would be randomly placed around the country, they would be generating nationwide word of mouth support for the movie. And nothing is better than word of mouth right?

    Let me know if you think any of my ideas are any good.


    Comment by Dan -

  63. Ok i will walk through any marcus corporation and the people who are going to the movies are 2 segments, older (over 35-80)and younger(teens to young/mid 20’s) you have to market to 2 completely different groups.

    teens (teens to young/mid20’s) we will call the 1st group. They look for action they look for gore they look to “hang out” with friends they make the movie trip an outing, look at them as the “outing”

    the 2nd group (Mom’s and Pop’s) they go to relax, they go as couples, older ladies go together i.e. my mother in-law and her female friends they go as 3 older, (shell kill me 60’ish ladies to watch chick flicks, older men want to relax with their wives they rarely go with other men together.
    2 very different groups, older folks read the paper and rarely use the net, it is all word of mouth with them, teens are the net, phones etc…they are a given but yet, word of mouth, look at it by demographic, I do and hence there is a huge divide that will not cover everyone, at least not until it is beamed directly into our heads and I’m working on it!

    Comment by christopher M. Carter -

  64. Here is one more.

    Not sure if anyone covered it. Send a DVD with the trailer\behind the scenes\making of content to targeted households (using your Frequent Watchers card info). Watching a trailer on my PC sucks but watching a DVD on my Plasma with 5.1 wsould be great.

    Send them to Netflix\BB Online memebers again using targeted data. Include them in the Netflix envelope and tell them they can keep them or pass them on.

    You could even send DVDs of multiple upcoming movies, but then you start to cross the line.

    AOL built an empire by spamming your mailbox with DVDs. Of course targeting\opt in would be best.

    Comment by MC Burns -

  65. For me, it’s not the price that keeps me away and it’s not cost of the concessions either. It’s utter lack of privacy and silence that keeps me away. If I knew I could pay $10 and watch any movie I wanted in peace and quiet, I would. I haven’t been to a movie since last year when I watched and hated King Kong. I had kids coming in and out of the isle, parents chasing kids around and in some cases talking them through the movie. Why put up with this crap when I can wait for the DVD on watch in on my JVC LCOS? My suggestion would be something like the Cone of Silence from the show Get Smart. Some kind of chamber that you could climb into and surround yourself with theatre sounds only. No cell phone rings, no children crying, just the movie screen and me. I’d even been willing to shell out a few more bucks to get this type of service. I don’t need a waiter; I’m not at a restaurant. I just want a place to go where I can have a great theatre experience with fantastic, off the wall sound and digital screen only. No kids, no phones.

    Comment by Luis E. Giner -

  66. Ok i will walk through any marcus corporation and the people who are going to the movies are 2 segments, older (over 35-80)and younger(teens to young/mid 20’s) you have to market to 2 completely different groups.

    teens (teens to young/mid20’s) we will call the 1st group. They look for action they look for gore they look to “hang out” with friends they make the movie trip an outing, look at them as the “outing”

    the 2nd group (Mom’s and Pop’s) they go to relax, they go as couples, older ladies go together i.e. my mother in-law and her female friends they go as 3 older, (shell kill me 60’ish ladies to watch chick flicks, older men want to relax with their wives they rarely go with other men together.
    2 very different groups, older folks read the paper and rarely use the net, it is all word of mouth with them, teens are the net, phones etc…they are a given but yet, word of mouth, look at it by demographic, I do and hence there is a huge divide that will not cover everyone, at least not until it is beamed directly into our heads and I’m working on it!

    Comment by christopher M. Carter -

  67. I think you can do some creative user generated marketing programs – Create an alternate ending competition – where people who see the movie can create alternate endings and host a site (do this for “major” motion pictures”)where the winner gets an opportunity to show up in the next major picture from the studio (or something that makes the person even more a part of the movie making process…create a blog for reviewers to post comments (good and bad) an make people feel a part of the movie…probably not very new but at least it will give people an “experience” with the movie and will feel a part of it and will think less about the money that they are spending to go see it.

    Comment by CL5 -

  68. Movie theater experience as it exists today is dead for most demographics. Who wants to go be crammed into the “commercial airline experience” to watch a movie. Like someone said here, produce better content, then people will want to go see it. Not true anymore. In an era where the price points for a large screen TV, surround sound, home theater are only becoming cheaper and more prevalent why would you stick to the same path of the already extinct drive in theater experience.

    You can make progress when you forget about trying to make an already bad experience a little bit better, who needs that crap. As soon as you realize people have choices, lots of them, then you will understand you need adjust your model to fit the consumer not vice versa.

    I have not been to a movie since Tivo. Who really wants to go sit with a bunch of coughing, loud, munching, talking, bad hygiene and ill-mannered folks unless they are there for a bit more than the actual movie really offers? Think about it, demographics, some content but mostly demographics so move on and stop trying to package a downhill trend and make it sound a little better. The future is in having the data required to narrowcast and deliver not the same but better content directly to the home.

    Comment by Scott Knowles -

  69. Make every potential movie viewer feel important. The movie is an event to which you are invited. Invite early! Spread the invite like a virus. I’m guessing it might work. Have fun with it and remember…its only money!

    Comment by Bob Glaza -

  70. This doesn’t answer the question of marketing movies to the masses and getting “lazy” america to the theater, but…this is an immediate revenue generating idea that keys on people’s impulse buying behavior

    Concerts have been deploying a live version of the show immediately after the concert has ended for certian artists – Dave Matthews Band, Phil Lesh and Friends or other in the jam band scene. You buy the rights to the music before the show and afterwards you get a pressing of the show. This service is done by LiveNation.

    How about deploying a similar idea with movies? I for one am a avid movie conisseur who sees and collects movies and there are many times I want to see the movie again but won’t pay to see it in a theater and will wait for the DVD. Well, offer the DVD right after the movie’s end for a discout price.

    You don’t need all the flashy marketing shwag you would need if you were selling at retail in order to grab attention. This would be a bare-bones product as you don’t need grab attention of the potential customer. Your customer just seen the movie.

    Offer it DVD format, download to PC or windows media portable player, etc.

    In addition, why do movies need to be played at theaters. If you continue to release “opportunistic” movies that are shown at Telluride movie fest which are rahter low in production cost open up the access medium – show the movie simultaneously over many mediums – theater, internet streams, P2P downloads, portable devices, etc. Flood the market all at once so there is no concern for pirating because it will be available across every medium at the same time. Use different price tiers for access methods.

    Well, Mark, hope to meet you again at some Pitt basketball games. We got a good team this year. Good luck with your potential investment in the Pirates/Pens. Way to keep in touch with your local life of Pittsburgh.

    Comment by Bob Reiter -

  71. I believe the problem with movie marketing is two-fold and must be be resolved by the theatres and the movie marketers. But before we can start a brief analysis, we must first distinguish between films that are coming soon and films that have been in theatres past opening weekend.

    Films past opening weekend
    I believe that the decision to watch a movie that has been out for more than a week is mostly based on word of mouth about the film from reviews. The reviews could be online (IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, etc.), in print (NY Times, etc.) or a combination of both. Although I have not gathered any statistics, I believe movie advertisements in this category generally are not succesaful. If a movie is getting horrible reviews, no amount of advertisement will get moviegoers to see it. So a possible solution would be to decrease the advertising budget, at most, one week after opening weekend. Of course, this suggestion varies according to how successful the movie is opening weekend. If a movie hits it big opening weekend, the budget should still be reduced somewhat because the buzz alone from news sources reporting the “Tops At The Box Office” figures would garner plenty of sales. If a movie did so-so opening weekend, decrease the budget, use the existing marketing funds at your target demograhic and hope the word of mouth reviews is good. Other than that, if the movie sucks, the movie sucks.

    Films coming soon
    The problem with movie marketing, from my experience, is the lack of a specific target demographic. It seems the primary goal of marketing a movie is to get it anywhere and everywhere. That is such a huge waste of money. Why spend precious dollars marketing Disney children movies to groups other than families and kids? I have no problem with spending a small percentage outside the demographic but the majority of marketing muscle should be directed towards the core audience. Advertisements for children’s movies should be on all the major children’s websites. Affiliate the movie with areas associated with children i.e. toy stores, cereals, cartoon cable channels, etc. Basically, advertise to a specific demographic and, not only with less dollars be spent, but the marketing will prove to be more effective.

    The other possible solution to drawing more consumers to the theatre is pre-selected seating. I believe most consumers decide between a movie and other entertainment alternatives, at most, one day before it happens. But honestly, the average is probably only a few hours before a scheduled time. There are too many factors that goes into this decision that can adversely affect the theatre and film such as availablity of parking, seat availability, etc. Parking cannot be controlled by the theatre for the most part but seat availability is. I would propose that a customer can, at the time of purchase, choose which seats he/she would like. Pre-selected seating eliminates the indecision a customer may have regarding seat availability i.e. one less factor in the decision making process. Another possible benefit for the theatre is is guaranteed revenue from pre-sales. I am sure that if I could choose which seat I could sit in, I’ll be buying those tickets as soon as I can to ensure my place. An added benefit for customers is the elimination of arduous tasks such as looking for a seat, asking strangers to move over to fit a group of friends and missing previews because of these people looking for seats. With pre-selected seats, everything would flow smoothly. Customers arrive when they wish and go to their seat. As a sidenote, I believe this idea has been implemented in Asia recently.

    I’m not sure if I was clear regarding my ideas. I am at work right now so I had to collect my thoughts on and off. To be honest, if you weren’t asking for suggestions on marketing a movie specifically, my answer would’ve been plain and simple: make better movies with substance and content rather than the typical cliches and boring stereotypes and subject matter.

    Comment by Ming -

  72. Mr. Cuban won’t be hiring anyone here because there is no one silver bullet that addresses his dilemma.

    It’s not a matter of making better movies (often time the “best” quality movies don’t do well at all at the box office). It’s not a matter of reinventing the entire distribution process of film.

    Essentially this comes down to understanding the true revenue potential of a movie. The financial success of movies will always be tied to their revenue potential minus the cost of attracting those viewers. If movie producers could realistically and truly predict their target audience, they can make the appropriate marketing decisions.

    The biggest issue probably are the delusions of grandeur where film producers believe they’ll have a blockbuster, make the huge investment to get 10 million to the seats, but the end product does not appeal and compel people to come.

    Rather than concentrating on a non-existant way to draw 10 million people for $2 a person, time would be better spent mastering the art of predicting whether a movie will draw 10 million vs. 1 million people. If you can master the art of predicting that, you can make the proper marketing decisions.

    Comment by JJ -

  73. Take every last marketing dollar you have and invest it in the movie itself. Directors, actors, the script, everything. Find someone whose cultural tastes you trust, and give him/her the ultimate power to greenlight a film. Good movies sell themselves. Look at Pixar. All Disney has to do there is say “New movie from Pixar”, then they sit back and watch the money come in.

    Good movies sell themselves.

    Comment by Mike Beyer -

  74. Mark,

    I got a home theater and I am not going back to the megaplex.

    I can easily afford to go to the movies but the experience sucks.

    I don’t go to the theater because:

    I didn’t pay to go listen to listen to the dialoge repeated by an innatentive or near deaf person.

    I didn’t pay to have some child who was obviousl too young for the content to run up and down the aisles screaming and then because he missed the shot while his back was turned he yelled at the top of his lungs, “Rewind it! I missed what happened.”

    I didn’t pay to have my seat kicked, or covered in goo. I didn’t pay to have the so-called “projectionist” forget to turn the sound on for an entire reel.

    I didn’t pay for the manager to tell me that is too bad, we got sound fixed now.

    I didn’t pay to watch 20 minutes of reformatted TV commercials on screen blurry and with poor sound.

    I didn’t pay to have some moron answer and have a conversation during the climax of the film and then have her bitch at the teenaged usher when he told her to take it outside.

    I didn’t pay to have a middle aged woman kick my seat when I asked her to speak more quietly.

    What would you do if you went to a restaurant once a week but every third week you had a bad experience? You would stop going.

    My wife and I used to go to the movies every other week and often we would go see two. We had an AMC rewards card and could get free food and tickets and we did. But we could easily afford to see the movies at regular price and would certainly do so if the experience were consistently positive. I don’t blame the theater owners for the content but they could do more for the experience.

    When we were going to the Toronto Film Festival and seeng shows so packed that you could barely move the theaters were filled with people fixed on on the film and the only noise was from natural reactions to the film.

    What I would do to change the industry is segment markets so that the masses go to one theater and the film people to others. Don’t be gimmicky about discounts and tie-ins give me a great experience that meets my needs and give teenagers the experience that meets their needs.

    Comment by Jay Gilmore -

  75. Just read the list of ideas and have a few more thoughts to share. First, idea is to localize the opening segment to the movie. Maybe, contract with the local colleges, film schools, community channel or high schools and have a contest among all the local schools, to create the best opening short film, based on some worthwhile topic. This would drive that younger demographic to the movies for sure, especially if the prize was a scholarship or monetary in nature. Other thought, offer 5% of the gross to the individual who refers the most movie goers to your movie—make it a nationally contest. have to design a a way to track it back to the original source, who tells two friends and so on and so on.

    Comment by Lisa Willard -

  76. In my opinion, the answer is to spend your marketing efforts branding HDNet. How? Think Frequent Flyer type distribution. Let me sign up as an HDNet preferred movie viewer, give me a card and track my viewing habits. Maybe I get a dollar or two off of the movie price as an incentive – the discount really isn’t that big of a deal in my opinion.

    What would be clever to deliver to users is knowledge about what HDNet is working on for the future. Tell me about upcoming projects and update me on their progress. Send me (as a preferred member) trailers, directors cut snippets, whatever to get me interested. I’d be much more likely to see a movie if I knew about it from its beginning and had an interest in its progress as it was completed. Much better way of getting my attention than watching a mass marketed trailer that may or may not catch my eye.

    As your database of users grows, you have built in demographics for your future movie ideas. Give me points for attending HDNet movies and let me redeem for DVDs, movie passes, or maybe even a walk on part in a movie. In other words, get me excited about HDNet brand movies, not just the movies themselves. I don’t buy every car Lexus makes, but I always look at a Lexus first. Create that kind of branding for HDNet, and I’d bet you can generate the same volume of audience you would get from traditional mass marketing at a much lower cost.

    Comment by Matt Balka -

  77. Well ahead of time, make it known that the first showing in each cinema location is free.

    Comment by Richard Hanley -

  78. Mark,

    We have the solution but I prefer not to disclose it in a public forum.
    Email or call me.

    Comment by Greg Martin -

  79. Well these days, most people just don’t go to the movies anymore. People have very busy lives and the last thing that most want to do after a streneous day at work is to go pay $12 to see a movie at an uncomfortable theater with crowds of people pushing and shoving. The problem is that most people just don’t want to go to the theater. A simple solution (and one that I would definately use) is to instead, offer a device such as a cable box. People will either pay a monthly fee or pay per movie. New release movies will then be sent to a person’s home. I know the technology is out there, but so far, I only see it offering movies that are already out on dvd. Why not offer new releases? People could also turn on the device and watch previews of movies so that they can choose which movie to see. Between these previews, you can also add advertising and further increase profits.

    Comment by Michael Maturlak -

  80. Take out the first 4 rows of the theatre.

    Kick out anyone on the first offense of cell phone or talking.

    Reduce price of popcorn/drinks/candy to something in the stratosphere.

    Limit amount of screeners/previews. Movie should start on the time listed, that is when the movie goes dark, no sooner no later and the previews can start 5 minutes before hand, keep the theatre lit.

    Improve seat quality, more room, recline.

    Got more once you hire me ;-).

    Comment by B. B. -

  81. I think one of the problems with innovative ideas is that once it’s out there it is no longer innovative, and its impact is lessened. I’m sure that the first movie to have its own website created a huge buzz and people said “wow that’s cool maybe i’ll check that movie out”. Nowadays every movie has a website. Same with MySpace, or billboards, or movie posters. We all expect to see these things now so seeing them isn’t a big deal. What needs to be done is pretty much something new every time.

    You could always covertly advertise for a movie the way stars like Jennifer Lopez and Tom Cruise seem to do. Remember when Jennifer Lopez seemed to be in the news with relationshp problems, or gun in club problems, around the time of her wonderful movie releases? Or how Tom Cruise jumps on a couch and dates/marries/fathers a baby about a month or so before one of his movies comes out. The trick with that is how the movie advertisement comes in so secretly. When Tom Cruise jumped on a couch on Oprah, or got into a heated dispute on Today, the news coverage was everywhere. E!, local news, CNN, Fox, etc.. It seemed like every network was covering Cruise’s outburst. And the best part for him was in either the introduction or the conclusion of the story when they said “Cruise was on to promote the upcoming release of his move ”

    I think the best example of this was 2 years ago with Spider Man 2. Recall that major league baseball had signed a deal to put spider man 2 advertisements on all their bases parkwide in order to promote. There was a huge negative response from baseball fans, sports writers, sports reporters, etc… The news was, again, covered everywhere. In the end MLB scrapped the idea, and instead of paying lots of money for a really form of advertisement, Spider Man 2 was regulalry mentioned in news reports.

    So Mark, I guess before the release of any one of your movies you could have one of the actors/actresses go crazy on a talk show. Or you could release some phony rumors that you’re going to turn the backboards in AACenter into movie billboards so that when players shoot foul shots the movie is done on tv. (Hmm…maybe instead of a phony rumor you could actually do it). Or, hell, you’re Mark Cuban, when are you not portrayed by the media as being radical. It’s time to use those NBA fines you seem famous for getting to your advantage. Wear a shirt advertising your movie, and then go one some kind of outburst. That way when it gets replayed on news stations you have an advertisement across your chest.

    Not enough to get me a job, but then again, I rather like the one I have now.

    Comment by Brian -

  82. Addition to my previous comment re the lottery: Get another company to subsidize the lottery and put their name all over it. Publicity for them, less cash out of your pocket.

    Comment by Zack Blum -

  83. Here’s a simple solution that will definitely work and provide a scaffold for future initiatives. Create a national hysteria by making the movie ticket a lottery ticket as well and ONE PERSON wins the jackpot. Basically, you’re not chasing the people who would go to movie anyhow, but trying to get the ambivalent crowd to appear in droves. Seriously, who could resist getting the chance to star in one of your next movies, reality shows, getting a job with the Mavericks, a monetary sum, etc. The vast majority of people have Internet access and you could set up a website where they punch in their movie ticket number to see if they won…the site itself would gather monumentous “buzz”, self generate money from advertisers as traffic builds (i.e., it helps pays for the promotion), could have upsells, continuation programs, and whatever else you decide to tie into the promotion. IMO this is better than a lottery ticket, because people want both fame and fortune and you’re uniquely qualified to provide both…

    Best of luck!


    Comment by Todd Langer -

  84. Sell season tickets – either to the studio’s productions or to the movie theater. It works for sports teams.

    Comment by SPMax -

  85. Set-up a lottery where someone who goes to see your movie will win $1,000,000. Randomly select a theater and ticket number and when that person sees the movie, they win. The cost of promoting the lottery would be mitigated by the intense buzz-factor surrounding it, especially if you’re the first person to do this.

    Comment by Zack Blum -

  86. Stop trying. Save the cash, invest it in a decent day & date release distribution network that respects the investment individuals have made in their home theater. I know this is a small segment of the population, but it isn’t the point.

    The point is, and you’ve said it a million times, people want to go to the movies as an experience: a date for teens, a night away from kids, etc. When we want to go, we pull advertising by looking on line or at the paper to see what is out and when/where it is playing. We don’t go seeking a specific movie, we seek the movie experience. Push all the marketing you want, and it doesn’t drive ppl to the theater, it just is more mass marketing noise.

    If I had a decent day and date “pull” distribution method to bring the specific films I really want to see in my home to watch on my own time on my own theater, this would cover my need for films. In fact, you’d look at the theaters as a “free” outlet to advertise your studio so people got more interested in pulling movies from YOU. The theater is their own experience, let them differentiate themselves on th experience and make their revenue from that. The film is just a bonus thrown in and some nice background for holding hands in a dark, quiet room. If I REALLY want to appreciate a film, the theater is the last place I want to do that. If I want a sitter, and to get away from the kids, my home is the last place to do that. Acknowledge the experience, and you can channel your marketing spend much more efficiently and make the theater owners really OWN their part of the experience.

    Comment by Joe -

  87. Mark,

    Here is the solution.

    It costs too much to build a chain of theaters across the country to attempt to “control” the costs or experience.

    Making better movies always helps. Paying less for movies helps. Improving the movie going experience helps. But you don’t fully control of all those moving parts in the process.

    I believe you are part way there with the same-day DVD/PPV release strategy.

    Take that idea to the next level.

    Increase the revenue for each marketing dollar. Avoid duplicating any efforts in marketing whatsoever and UPSELL!

    The movie goer expects more for wading through the crowds on opening weekend.

    Opening weekend showings MUST be proceeded by a personal introduction by the director and/or stars. 30-90 seconds will suffice. An introduction and thank you for taking time to come out and support their latest work.

    A very-limited edition director’s cut on DVD must be on sale in the theater at a discount. Present your ticket stub and get a discount on the director’s cut of the DVD. More importantly, this version MIGHT never be available in stores.

    Viewers seeing other movies that day might purchase the DVD. Increasing your revenue on another company’s marketing dollar.

    Theater chains would welcome this additional revenue and you capitalize on the consumers attention while you have it.

    Do the same with PPV on opening weekend. Purchase pay-per-view opening weekend and see the same personal intro and and get a voucher (toll-free number, code, text message, etc.) possibly drop by the local theater or designated distribution partner to purchase the limited edition DVD.

    As a movie goer I expect more for my dollar, but the fact I showed up at the theater means I am willing to part with my dollars to be entertained. Better yet, take home that entertainment or a memento of that evening.

    There are more angles and revenue opportunities. Films with kick ass sounds tracks should have those soundtracks on CD available opening day also. A free iTunes single with the purchase of the album online perhaps.

    Kevin Smith’s idea of a podcast of the directors commentary being available opening day for viewers to see the film a second time with their ipod is brilliant.

    Marketing will always be expensive and risky. Viral tactics and new marketing approaches may help but are rare. Increasing the revenue per marketing dollar is where the real action is.

    Prince did it a few years ago when everyone attending his concert “purchased” his CD as part of the ticket price. There is no reason it wouldn’t work with movies and PPV.

    Automate the process. When you use an online service like Fandango for example, clicking a check box adds the DVD/CD purchase to the cost of the tickets and automatically ships them to the purchasers billing address.

    There’s my idea. Where’s the job? 😉

    Comment by Lon Baker -

  88. Marc,

    I’ve been thinking. No solution yet. Just wanted to publicize my discontent at the basic level of English with pervades these entries. Let’s say someone posts the best idea you’ve heard of, but starts the blog with, “Marc, your awesome. . . .” Is this someone you want working for you? Someone who doesn’t know that you’re is correct and your is not? Good luck if you end up hiring one of these ignorants.

    Comment by Lance Cain -

  89. Something that would draw me to the movie theater is making the overall experience and cost more valuable to me. My thought on doing this is to give out the movie on DVD to everyone going to the theater. Give me something to take home and watch a couple of more times with my family after experiencing (enjoying) it on the big screen.

    I’m just talking about the movie itself as played, no directors cuts, commentaries, special bonuses etc. Just transfer the film as shot to DVD and stamp out a few hundred thousand (at what, 30 cents or less for a copy). The packaging doesn’t have to be too fancy either and add trailers and ads to support upfront costs and marginalize the future cannibalized DVD sales. Research on how many people watch a movie and then buy it on DVD versus how many wait until it comes out on DVD to buy it would be needed but from my experience will will chose to either go see a movie or wait to rent/buy it. Only on certain “must have / must see on the big screen” movies will we do both.

    Comment by Craig Tatham -

  90. Mark,
    It’s easy…better films, lower prices, and a social reason to go. Why do craft fairs, film festivals, concerts, farmer’s markets etc work? If I’m going to commit time and spend money, I want to get my money’s worth. So here’s my idea….every weekend a film opens should be tied in to something in the community. When Wordplay opened, they should have had crossword puzzle contests at the theaters. When “Who Killed the Electric Car” opened recently I heard that the local electric car club came to a showing. If I’d known, I would have attended that day just to see all the cars. Offer an art contest around films and display the results in the theater from each community and then show online from the various locations. This would bring me to the theater. Have a food tasting night combined with a related movie from local restaurants etc. The key theme is targeting local communities. Create a social network online around this and post images from the local locations and you’re set. I’d love to visit and see what happened around films at different locations. This would build word-of-mouth and work for any film. So, when am I hired?! 🙂 Alexa
    (sorry if this double-posted as my first one didn’t seem to go through)

    Comment by Alexa Smith -

  91. Create a bunch of Home Theatre Centers with 2 25 seat rooms and give the managers giant discretion to market the seats. See what works throughout the system and then adjust.

    This is not just a marketing problem, it is a facilities/real estate problem.

    The theatre experience is not special enough any more to pull viewers to invest $10 + a drive + the experience of getting screwed by paying $5 for a coke + the possibility of some moron’s cellphone ringing in a show they can see on cable or on demand at home in a few months.

    A large percentage of the population cannot afford to have a $12k Home theatre put in their apartments or homes but they can/will spend on entertainment experiences.

    That soccer movie that came out a couple months ago? An enterprising manager could have filled up multiple special showings dozens of times to the 100s of soccer teams in their area. Almost every movie has a twist and/or niche to hit this way – except the blockbuster (which should stay at the big plexes anyway).

    The Enron movie could have been shown to Business classes or as a corporate outing as an HR thing.

    The investment = rent(there is always retail space turning over everywhere) + buildout costs + salary for the manager

    Revenues = ticket sales + DVDs + soundtrack sales + Food (self-serve to reduce Salary load).

    Comment by CV Gilkeson -

  92. Interesting problem. Here are some things to consider:

    1) Change the fee structure that the studio charges local theatres in a way that provides incentives to promote at a local level rather than a national level. Construct it in such a way that gives them a larger share of profits over the initial weekend.

    2) Provide theatre owners with ideas for ways to promote the movies by tying them in with local merchants and advertisers. You could provide something akin to door prizes on opening weekend which should help them generate more revenue than those week slide show pre-movie ads.

    For example, consider some current movies. (These can apply both to opening weekend or longer terms)

    CLICK: The local Best Buy, Circuit City or local electronics store could offer a plasma big screen TV with a universal remote to one lucky attendee. They would probably do in-store promotion for you as well.

    CARS: Car dealers,car washes, oil change places could offer all sorts of incentives. (i.e. everything 20th person gets a free oil change)

    PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: Huge potential with all sorts travel and resort marketing

    THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA: Win a personal assistant for a week; Give away a Prada handbag

    You could also provide additional incentives in the form of community contributions. A movie such as REMEMBER THE TITANS could offer one dollar of every ticket sold during the opening weekend as a contribution to the local high school football team. (You make more money and build goodwill too!) Offer an incentive such as this and the high school will do the marketing for you.

    The right movie and multiple promotional items could actually result in the moviegoer receiving more value than the cost of the ticket.

    In general these ideas really change the dynamic from movie theatres being only the retail distribution channel for movies and transforms them into marketing partners who share both reward and risk.

    It also occurs to me that you could reduce the price of tickets on the opening weekend and still come out ahead. This is really no different that the matinee pricing structure that is designed to increase attendance during certain hours.

    Perhaps the most effective way of all is to change the success metric. Hollywood uses gross sales as a marketing mechanism. They rank “highest grossing movie for the weekend” and use it to entice people to come on the premise that people will think it is good and pay their money to see it. This is what seems to actually cause the high promotional spending you describe. Gross revenues are meaningless and only encourages the studios to spend as you describe. Its much like a candidate spending $5M of their own money to get a job that pays $60K a year (not a formula for successful money management!). It should be just as easy to measure and report highest attendance. Then the effort could shift to effective local grassroots marketing.

    Done right the studios, theatres, and moviegoers all win. You most likely would also see increased audience sizes (even more revenue). Local merchants could tap into a whole new marketing channel and organizations would also benefit.

    Everybody wins and it would be ALOT more fun!

    Comment by Walter White -

  93. IMHO, Here is the problem with the movie business.
    It is not that people don’t want to go to a movie, it is inconvinient.

    The problem needs to be addressed on a demographic by demographic basis
    1) Two wage earning family with young kids
    What is the issue here. Guilt where the parents feel that they are not spending time with the kids. So make it convinient for the family to have a family outing with the parents getting some time for themselves to WATCH A MOVIE OF THEIR CHOOSING. The following can be offered a) Onsite Child Care Services b) Miniature Golf/Interactive Gaming (Think Blockbuster) that parents can go to after the movie, c) restaurants/fastfood that they can take the kids to. Just going to a movie might not be worth the time it takes to pack the kids and go out (An hour prep for a hour and a half movie is just not worth it) but a half day outing with the kids might be
    2) Older/Retired
    Same idea but targeted for that demographic. Make it a bigger experience than the movie i.e wine tasting, Book Clubs, Bingo etc…
    3) Core Movie Go-er
    Discounted merchandise, frequent viewer cards etc..
    4) Single People
    Same idea again. Make it an experience with a bar area etc…

    In short, with suburbia spreading driving anywhere for a 1-2 hour movie doesn’t seem to incent people to get out, especially when the same is available, albeit with a slight delay, on cable/dvd. Also, cutting the ads before the movie definitely helps. I took my 2yr old son to the movie CARS and they had ads/previews for a good 20 minutes+. By the time my son was restless and wanted to leave… Such an experience would definitely limit interest…

    Comment by KK -

  94. Very simple. Offer rebates, in the form of cash or free movie passes, if someone didn’t like the movie. People will go see movies they were on the fence about, confident in the fact that if the movie sucks, they won’t be out $20. If, at the end of a movie, someone hated it, they can fill out a short form maybe with the manager, maybe at a kiosk, giving their name, address, why they hated the movie, etc. and they get handed back the price of their tickets or free movie passes. You’re collecting ID data, so you can ban someone if they abuse the system. You’re also collecting feedback about why people hate the movies they hate. That data is valuable and is a potential revenue stream in and of itself. It wouldn’t even be that expensive. Think about the numbers of things that offer money back guarantees, very very few people ever take advantage of this, just because you have to fill out a form.

    Comment by Laura Jacob -

  95. Mark –

    Well, obviously the Internet is only one avenue, but since it’s the only one I “should” be commenting on, I’ll limit my focus to the Internet.

    There’s a reason why “viral marketing” is the new buzz word – it works. Creating viral marketing within the numerous social circles of the Internet requires a topic and interest that can transcend the boundaries and subject matter of each individual site.

    My general idea for getting ANY idea out there on the Internet would be:

    1) Identify the main players in the news/blogging world either through page rank and/or popularity. Make sure that these circles overlap somewhat, but make sure you hit all the social circles that exist out there. Those social circles are things such as Slashdot vs Digg vs Reddit vs. Fark vs The Onion vs Generic Tech sites vs Entertainment sites, etc.

    2) Offer these people an inside, secured, online pre-theater showing of your movie. Why? Blogs and other sites are always looking for new, unique content. Since you’re very familiar with online video delivery, this shouldn’t take you very far away from what your industry knowledge is. Online pre theater showings would allow you to hit the bloggers from all over the world and allow you to not discriminate based on geographic location. All sites have to link back to your movie site otherwise they lose their status for the next movie which should build page rank for all of your individual movie sites. If you’re worried about pirating of the movie, its been pirated already, stop worrying.

    3) Let the word of mouth carry the actual marketing campaign on the Internet. Obviously, if your movie is subpar, your reviews will express those feelings so you still have to produce quality movies. If this is an exercise in creating revenue for terrible movies, well, this doesn’t really work and the only real world example I can think of is The Blair Witch Project where although the movie wasn’t terrific, its uniqueness caused enough public stir to drive revenues.

    At this point, you can incorporate your affiliate program if you wanted (although I doubt that would be much of a success), but I think you should can that idea.

    Comment by Hagrin -

  96. I have read most of the responses and nobody has addressed the solution. I do not have the solution, but I am reading the same sh t over and over. Only a few responses have even addressed the problem:

    How do you get people out of the house to see your movie without spending a fortune?

    Most people do not understand technology and do not have the expertise or pocketbook to afford the advances necessary to deliver media directly to the consumer. The production house needs to make money, the theaters have to make money, and the consumer has to be given an experience worth spending their time on. All this at the expense of getting the word out to the consumer and convincing them to go to see your movie instead of spending the time to do something else.

    How do we tap new mediums of advertising in order to get to the average movie watcher?? I guess if we already knew that this question would have never been asked.

    I do not believe it is a matter of changing or reinventing the system, but instead, we need to focus on how to get people motivated to see a movie. The system will change as technology becomes more readily available and accepted by the industry and by the average consumer. In the mean time, the industry must produce better movies in order to keep people motivated to see them.

    Comment by Alex Arteaga -

  97. It’s not that tough.

    1. Lower ticket prices after the 1st week or two. 400 people @ $10 = 4000, 1000 people @ $5 = 5000. plus a much higher snack bar take. Cost ????
    2. Pay actors & actresses less. People get annoyed spending their “hard earned $” to support someone making $10 Million for a movie. (It seems a lot of people have taken pay cuts lately, why can’t they?)Cost…a savings not a cost. If Hollywood hanna doesn’t want to make a movie for $5 Mil instead of 10, find someone else. I could care less who is in a movie, unless I don’t like them.(see below)
    3. We go to escape the world. Tell the actors & actresses to SHUT UP. I don’t want to know there world views. I couldn’t drag my wife to a Tom Cruise movie anymore. He makes it way to hard to see his acting through his ignorance. Cost $0.00
    4. When I go to the neighborhood bar. Most of the time they know me by name. It’s called caring about your customer. I used to work in resturants. Do you know how good it makes someone feel when they walk in & say Hi “Jeff” or whatever their name is? Treat people like a customer instead of a number. Cost $0.00
    5. People are all on time budgets now. If a movie is suppose to start @ 8pm, start it at 8pm. It irritates people to think they pay $10 to go to a movie & then have to sit through commercials. That would be like having commercials on XM radio. (maybe they do, I don’t have it)

    Comment by Jeff Mol -

  98. I worked in the movie theater business for 4 years and what I learned is that every theater has their regulars…just like restaurants do. These regulars know all the managers and they know all the employees and they are at every premier. They are loyal disciples of the theater and would never cheat on their preferred theater by going to another.

    If you gave me the task of developing a marketing strategy for your theaters, I would create a Theater Ambassador program and target these regulars that I know exist. There would be various levels of Ambassadorship and with each level achieved, there would be additional and exclusive privileges and various gifts.

    For instance, by brining in X number of new guests to the theater and getting them to enroll in the theater’s frequent watcher program, the ambassador would reach level 1. At level 1 the ambassador would receive a special pin and X number of free passes and special advanced seating privileges.

    Now, skipping to level 5, the ambassador would receive something much greater for his unpaid efforts…like private screenings with the critics, a visit to the theater’s corporate offices, or even lunch with the stars of his favorite movie plus an all expense paid trip to Hollywood. He might also be able to hold an unlimited movie pass for one year and have the ability to add X number of friends and family to a preferred guest list.

    I think this strategy would work like a charm, make stars out of your most loyal theater guests, and give them an incredible sense of ownership and purpose, thus causing them to drive immense traffic to the theater and recruit and train other Ambassadors to do what they do. You could even provide marketing materials and training to your legion of Ambassadors.

    If your looking for comparison models here, take a look at the direct marketing industry and the nightclub business which uses independent promoters to sell for them.

    Comment by Adam Dudley -

  99. actually the answer is in your friends… i would go to a movie that was recommended by my friends rather than one i heard about on PTI. so i suggest somehow use the same strategy as a network marketer? i think you are already doing that so keep doing it.

    Comment by Jesse -

  100. Mark-

    In regards to your movie business challenge, I pose an idea for a brand new company in an innovative and fairly new market. Why are we trying to bring the people to the movies? Why don’t we bring the movies to the people. Laziness has overcome our American population and with the influx of HDTV’s, widescreens, and beautiful resolution, I believe a company comparable to NETFLIX or BlOCKBUSTER ONLINE for brand new movies would be an instant success. Forget releasing the movie to the public via Tinseltown or AMC where a portion of the revenue is devoted to the theatre.
    Create a brand new company who releases new movies directly to DVD available for pleasureable at-home viewing. The new age of technology has allowed the businessman to service the public without having the public get off their couch. That is the beauty of today’s technology. Why not allow people to refrain from waiting at line, buying over-priced pop-corn and soda which does not positively affect the studio’s revenue. In fact, it only negatively affects revenue as people are turned away from the whole movie -going experience. Contrary to most beliefs, the movie a-going experience is not desireable with its smell, high prices, lines, etc.
    In conclusion, I propose an idea of a studio who is willing to forego the theatre and ship their brand new movies directly to the public via DVD. Once received and viewed, they can return and receive another.

    Comment by Daniel -

  101. idea #1: what about offline affiliate marketing? sign up with a theater chain and make a $1 for each person you get to buy a ticket. when the person buys a ticket, they get $1 off when they use your code.

    idea #2: dynamic movie prices. prices change by how full the theater is, time of day, and how close it is until the movie is starting.

    The people that are going to go to the movies during the sweet spot of 7 – 10 pm are still going to go the movies. But many other people don’t go because of cost, crowds, and having to wait 45 minutes to get a good seat.

    So if a standard ticket is $12, maybe you can price like:

    $6 if movie already started
    $8 if nowhere near full and movie is starting in 10.
    $14 if movie almost sold out with over 2 hrs.

    Then if this was real time updated to a webpage, people could decide last minute to see an $8 instead of watching their netflix.

    This has loads of potential problems, like someone at a theater about to buy a $12 ticket, and deciding to spend $6 on a movie instead, but there are some positives.

    Comment by Scott Elkin -

  102. Get out of the movie business, it is an outdated distribution system. Your question will be answered when you look back in 10 years.

    Comment by J Duclow -

  103. You can’t make movies less sucky. But you can stop the practices that ADD to the suckage. Start a crusade for MOVIE DEMOCRACY.

    1) Get noticed with a core distinguishing idea — NO ADS BEFORE MOVIES. Then advertise the hell out of this with in the marketplace with a catchy tagline. (Follow up with cellphone blocking, strict ushers, correct projection, and cleanliness.)

    2) Let moviegoers VOTE on each movie — good or bad? — at kiosks as they leave the theater. Display their ratings beside each movie title for ticket buyers to see. Pull the plug / hold movie over in response, and thank your customers each time. (If you can’t have variable ticket pricing, then let this be a substitute.)

    3) Follow up on with with a MEMBERSHIP PROGRAM that grants privileges for more activity — sort of a “Movie Miles” plan. Partner with retailers so that moviegoers can earn points everywhere and get free tickets/concessions.

    4) Discounts on advance DVD pre-orders (subject to whatever conditions you feel necessary).

    5) MOVIE DEMOCRACY. Let your customers, not studio prodution execs, pick future movies to be made. On your Web site, you could let users post requests and have members vote with their Movie points and even buy advance tix. Then let prodution companies fulfill the more popular requests (or shop the requests directly to the studios). You’re at the point of sale — people are used to buying advance tickets. How about REALLY ADVANCE tickets?

    Comment by Tim -

  104. You know this.

    1) Have a good product. By that I mean a good story, good actors, good production values and don’t do it by committee. 2)Brevity is the soul of wit. Long movies are fine if they have something to say. But, many times less is more. 3) There is no free lunch. If people don’t know your product is out there it doesn’t exist. You have to promote it. What’s best? Lots of things work. It depends, but good trailers are a must. They are the most watched ads on TV. 4) Work hard, nothing worthwhile comes without it.

    See, you knew that.

    Comment by Jim Norton -

  105. 1.)Make the theaters fit specific age groups needs.

    Have the typical teenager friendly theater, but market it as such.
    Include a gaming area, a rock climbing wall, etc. Maybe have a dance club in the theater. Put some frosting on your sell to make the teenagers feel at home.

    Have an adult theater with the same idea. You need to make it as it was when there was a social connection of sophistication to the theater and make the audience feel like they are not on the DART bus for 2 hours. I’m not talking Movie Tavern, I’m talking Bass Hall. Make the venue the attraction with a $18 ticket price and you’ve got something there.

    2.)Make time for the audience.
    More often than not I’ve gotten something to eat before a movie and the socializing ends up pushing us past our movie. Have an “unscheduled” theater available to show a popular movie between the other theater showtimes. That way there’s always a good movie available to the public. You could also set up a service with restaurants to have waiters notify the table served when they need to leave to get to their showing and perhaps market your movies at dessert and let them know what is available and where. Waiters would be a great marketing opportunity for you.

    Comment by Aaron -

  106. I have a solution for your marketeting problem. I work in advertising and understand the high price of advertising and the difficulty of achieving a respectable ROI. I have been working on the model for about 2 years and believe that it would work in both movies and music. I won’t post it on your blog. I think anyone with the sense and discipline to formulate an innovative model has the sense not to post it on a blog page. Many of the ideas I see on this page are similar to people playing the lottery – minimal investment for the hope of a large reward. Or large ideas without addressing the details or gaps of the plan. My idea is innovative but sticks to common sense. It does not involve you trying to re-invent the wheel. It is simply an effective, low cost, innovative way of drastically increasing word of mouth advertising. I would be more than happy to tellyou a little more about it if you are interested. Either way I hope you find a solution to your problem. GO MAVS!

    Comment by Haydon -

  107. This is a “long tail” situation.

    Wired editor Chris Anderson explains it in his new book, but if you google “long tail” you’ll find the Wikipedia entry and the original Wired article that started this line of thinking.

    We are no longer in a culture that supports the traditional “blockbuster”. Choice is *everything* now, which is why it’ll continue to be more and more expensive to motivate people to choose one of ten movies on any particular night. This is a long-term trend and our ability to communicate is only going to accelerate it.

    The good news is that the theatre system can support more choices. My local plex has 24 rooms. Each room can run 6 films a day. Each week has 7 days. Therefore my local plex has the ability to show 1008 different films in a week.

    They show 17.

    17, and all of them are aimed at the same demographic, which is “everybody”.

    You can easily understand this if you consider what’s happening to FM Radio. (And please: everything that’s happening to the music industry is going to happen to the film industry in five years.)

    FM radio is very much like the local 17-film-showing multiplex. Each city can support about 20-30 FM stations. When our culture was more common, more centered, 20 channels was enough. Now that our interests are more narrow, not one of those 20 channels is acceptable. They are all trying to get “everybody” to listen. But in an era of non-scarcity, in a culture that worships individuality and choice, anything aimed at “everybody” is going to hit nobody.

    The other problem: in a choice culture, everything requires word of mouth. Consider the film “Serenity”. It is still being watched by new enthusiasts (“highly motivated consumers”) due to word of mouth. It will approach “blockbuster” status over the course of years, not weeks. But its initial box office was a disappointment. Well sure; how can word of mouth operate in two weeks?

    What if, instead, “Serenity” was shown at the local plex for a year, in the Tuesday afternoon slot? Now we’re addressing the true needs of that word-of-mouth group WHOSE MARKETING COSTS ARE ZERO.


    The film will of course be available for home consumption during most of its theater run. (But that has to be addressed anyway!) The theater experience is improving, and is still a better way to consume a film for 99% of people, and provides an outlet and unique semi-social experience out of the house. I don’t think the theater experience is the root problem. I think it’s still choice.

    Of course, the other side of the equation is film production. Remember that everything that happened in the music industry is going to happen in the film industry. Independent musicians are in an interesting place today. It costs about $5000 to record an album as sonically good, or better, than albums costing $1M to make 25 years ago. That means that, right now, there are tens of thousands of acts with CDs sounding as good as LPs did 25 years ago. Wow!

    You can go and kind of browse them on Garageband or Myspace. Only 1 in 20 don’t utterly suck, but that 1 in 20 are kind of amazing (and 1 in 100 are really great)! The numbers get remarkable when you pause to consider them.

    This same sort of revolution is starting with the YouTubers, but that’s a whole different media.

    Cheap production is going to enable more long-tail thinking; cheap distribution will force it to happen no matter what. This cultural tidal wave is inevitable and you MUST not try to fight it by paddling harder upstream.

    Thanks for reading, good luck!

    Comment by Undertoad -

  108. Post #87 is the answer. And yeah, I’m kinda biased….

    Comment by Craig -

  109. When someone attends your movie you instantly–without asking a single question–have a pretty good guess at how to create another movie that will draw them to the theater. This is why cross-promotion is so important for movies.

    The goal is to lead the attendee of movie A to attend movie B in the future. Why stop at previews? Quiznos punches my card every time I buy a sandwich. When I eventually have enough punches for a free sandwich, you can bet I’m motivated to go to Quiznos. But the irony is that sandwich shops are not the ideal place to implement this type of promotion, because sandwiches have a per-sale cost which you are cutting into when you lower the price, whereas movies cost the same to show regardless of how many people are in the seats.

    Technology gives us a great way to do punch cards for movies: The ticket stub for movie A contains a unique code, just a sequence of characters (like you see under bottle caps). When the attendee gets home they login to their account and enter the code to instantly receive $1-5 in credit toward the purchase of a ticket to movie B, which opens in a month.

    In this way you have not only brought the viewer back to the theater, but you have brought them to *your* movie. If the attendees save an average of 10% (including the people who did not participate in the promotion) but your attendance goes up by 25%, you’ve made a lot of money.

    You can also use participation data to argue your case to theaters to show the upcoming movie on opening weekend.

    Implementation would be tricky, since the theater chain is holding most of the cards here. They are not likely to provide such a service if it leads to sales at other chains and not theirs specifically.

    Comment by Jason -

  110. One other thought – redesign the theatre experience to provide an immersive experience, the sort of experience that absolutely can not be had at home and MUST be experienced. Then DO NOT release the video to the home markets. If they want to see it, they must come to your immersive theatres where it can not only be seen but experienced. Like a 90-minute e-ticket ride.

    Comment by monte -

  111. Mr. Cuban,

    The problem with movie marketing is that there is too much of it. Movies are overhyped months and sometime years in advance. When you go to see the movie, you’ve heard so much about it that it can’t possibly live up to the hype and the cost of going.

    Either make the marketing campaign part of the movie experience or tone down the messaging. Done right, the first option should entice people enough through the “free” (advertising/marketing) part of the experience that they then find it worth while to pay for the conclusion (movie).

    Hollywood continues to follow the same formula. To succeed, a new formula has to be written and the best place to start is by changing how people experience movies. The movie shouldn’t start when you sit down in your seat. It should have started much sooner when the marketing was rolled out to the public.

    Thank you for your time.


    Comment by Chris -

  112. sorry for the multiple postings…the blog system keeps emailing me to confirm my message…may be a bug in the software

    Comment by JMedeiros -

  113. To the whole group…

    I’ve read all of the posts here and 90% are marketing 101 related. Most of the suggestions here involve price, place, timing, or product enhancements / or edits….

    I think Mark and the crew are looking for crazy creative ideas that no one has thought about. I’m sure they’ve considered changing the price of movies, or ofering different distribution ideas, etc…

    Let’s try to come up with some far out ideas, that with some tweaking could become winners…we can work as a team here…


    Comment by JMedeiros -

  114. To the whole group…

    I’ve read all of the posts here and 90% are marketing 101 related. Most of the suggestions here involve price, place, timing, or product enhancements / or edits….

    I think Mark and the crew are looking for crazy creative ideas that no one has thought about. I’m sure they’ve considered changing the price of movies, or ofering different distribution ideas, etc…

    Let’s try to come up with some far out ideas, that with some tweaking could become winners…we can work as a team here…


    Comment by JMedeiros -

  115. To the whole group…

    I’ve read all of the posts here and 90% are marketing 101 related. Most of the suggestions here involve price, place, timing, or product enhancements / or edits….

    I think Mark and the crew are looking for crazy creative ideas that no one has thought about. I’m sure they’ve considered changing the price of movies, or ofering different distribution ideas, etc…

    Let’s try to come up with some far out ideas, that with some tweaking could become winners…we can work as a team here…


    Comment by JMedeiros -

  116. To the whole group…

    I’ve read all of the posts here and 90% are marketing 101 related. Most of the suggestions here involve price, place, timing, or product enhancements / or edits….

    I think Mark and the crew are looking for crazy creative ideas that no one has thought about. I’m sure they’ve considered changing the price of movies, or ofering different distribution ideas, etc…

    Let’s try to come up with some far out ideas, that with some tweaking could become winners…we can work as a team here…


    Comment by JMedeiros -

  117. Do parents want to see the same movie as their 10 year old kid?

    Do 18 year olds want to see the same movies as the older adults or be in the same room with those adults?

    Do 10 year olds want to be in the same environment as their parents when watching a movie with their friends?

    Do the 21-30 year olds want to sit a movie for 2 hours, unless they were on a date or married?

    I think a very targeted approach may turn around the movie theatre business.

    How about providing a room that looks like a room for kids 10-13 instead of a boring room for adults? How about having “proctors/baby sitters” in the room to keep an eye on the 10-13 year olds while they’re watching the movies with their friends…away from their parents. How about letting the kids in for a highly discounted rate?

    Currently, tickets for 4 with popcorn and sodas cost the same as a babysitter and a nice dinner for 2. I’m not a parent but if I had kids, I would prefer to latter.

    For the 21-30 year olds, how about a room that serves alcohol? Have waiters/waitresses. Have small tables (low cost Moulin Rouge/Vegas show setup). Have a call button at the seat similar to the call buttons at hospitals.

    For the parents, how about keeping the traditional rooms with an additional touch of service…

    For those that enjoy the traditional methods of watching movies, then they can go to the traditional theatres. I think the traditional theatres can not compete with the low cost and convenience of home entertainment systems. If you’re going traditional, then you need to go low cost. The only downside, is waiting for the DVD release. However, in China, DVDs are being released the same time as the movie release date to prevent “pirating.”

    Its kind of like grocery stores…you either are a low end bargain shopper (WalMarts) or a high end shopper (Wegmans, Wholefoods, etc). The middle market is dying.

    As my graduate professor used to say,,,”When you walk in the middle of the road, you’ll get hit on both sides.”

    Comment by Bill -

  118. If you partner with local non profits they will work tirelessly to sell tickets for you. By offering a percentage of the ticket and concession receipts you will have an army of non profit volunteers arm twisting their friends and family to come out to the movies “for a good cause”. You will get great PR out of the deal and you will be able to introduce the idea of a night at the movies to a large group of people that might never have gone if it were not for charitable aspect of the evening.

    Comment by Rob D. -

  119. re 4) If you encouraged People to Bring Their Own snacks:

    Here’s the thing. Look at magazines and radio advertising sales, their based on listenerbase and readership.

    Yes, allowing people to bring their own snacks decreases concession sales a bit (They bring their own snacks anyhow…I’m sure everyone on this thread has), but the amount you can make on advertising, based on the additional eyes would make it worthit…but beyond that, the general idea should be how do we rethink the theatre experience…allowing people to bring food in…would make people feel more at home and it would certainly create a new “feeling” among folks when they think about theaters.

    Image is a huge part of success, I truely think people think of the movie industry in the same shade as used car salesmen. The don’t trust the high prices, rigid format, etc…we need to create a sense of trust and comfort.

    Comment by JMedeiros -

  120. One follow up comment:

    The solution is to allow people to feel like they taking part in something bigger than themselves.

    Movie theaters are in a position to make an impact on the community. They are big, lots of unused space and a huge pre-built infrastructure. Plus everyone knows where it is at.

    Build that customer relationship by getting involved in thier daily existance. Bring them to you, by allowing groups to use the facilities. Encourage that. Once people feel comfortable there, they will return.

    People are creatures of habit. If they go there to a Boy Scouts meeting, or church service, chamber of commerce meeting, etc. They will see what you have to offer, and when the time for them to go out…

    I hate hollywood, most actors and think that they are out of touch with my daily life. Breaking down the wall of the theater getting involved would break down that image also.

    Comment by Mike -

  121. It’s easy – quit marketing movies to theatres. If theatres were your business you’d take a look and say it’s time to get out of this business. And frankly, it is. Why should I waste an entire night to go to the theatre just to watch the same movie that I can watch in a few months at home for far less than it will cost me for a night out. Perhaps those with more spendable income can afford it but I assure you that a family with 3 or 4 kids can’t. They, as I, are looking for the most bang for their hard-earned buck and a night at the movies pales in price to an evening at home with a few DVD’s and a big bowl or two of popcorn. Do the math…

    Comment by monte -

  122. Mr. Cuban,

    It has been said before that network marketing is the best way to market anything. The producer could run a contest to take a group of individuals that have won a ticket online or through a contest, to view the movie a month before it comes out in theaters. The movie producer could have one showing in each big city in the U.S and abroad. By letting a couple thousand individuals see it for free, you would have started a huge word of mouth advertisement that could reach millions. Also one could hire a couple of people to go into chat rooms and just talk about the movie. That will be discreet and people will never know they are talking to an individual hired to tell them how good the movie is.


    Comment by Anthony -

  123. It’s all about buzz, and the follow through. Buzz is what got the product into existence, follow through is what kept the product selling. Napoleon Dynamite, Wedding Crashers, old School, Break-up, are great examples. I don’t believe free showings are going to BLOW profits threw the roof; only a good product will do that. Plus you have to have a movie that speaks to all demographics not just a certain group. Like nickelback they play on pop and rock and 80’s 90’s and today formats. A blockbuster movie is one that hits home with 15-50 age groups. how you get that is you create a buzz around each movie and you make a good movie its simple but hard you need a good team, why was sinefield so successful, because jerry’s a genius writer, and what happens when you get that plus talent boom the most successful show on TV.

    Comment by alex -

  124. Change the entire structure of how the consumer purchases their movie items.
    Release everything on the same day. DVD, Sountrack, PPV, etc. reduce ticket prices to see it in the theater and offer serious discounts for dvd’s, songs, and the soundtracks when people leave the theater. For Instance, price to see the movie $5, Price for soundrack after the movie $5, Price for DVD after the movie $5.
    This only works if you make better movies that people want to own.

    Comment by Austin D -

  125. I’m too busy to read all 459 comments before mine, so these may have been suggested before:

    I’m a huge netflix fan… I pay one price per month and get (virtually) all the movies I can watch. Why not offer memberships to a movie theatre where you pay a monthly subscription and can then see as many movies as you like for that month (or season passes like at the amusement parks)? Theatres would love it because people would probably spend more pocket money at concessions since they don’t have to spend at the door. Couple this concept with the one you already have worked on where you offer the DVD on the same release date and you could sell the DVDs of the current running films at the concession stand. Playing in a touring band, we always sell more merch when there isn’t a cover charge.

    A second thought, why aren’t there loge or box seats for theatres… smaller rooms that are soundproof where you can spend time with your friends or family without disturbing others. Clever engineers or architects could probably even find a way to set them up apartment style all facing one giant screen… each loge could then have its own surround system.

    A third idea… If you are currently paying $8/head for marketing… consider diverting that money to regional employees. You can hire college students for minimal cash, plus they can probably get college credit. They can then run regional street teams using techniques that have proven to be effective for that particular part of the country. Again, from my experience with the band, NOTHING beats word of mouth. Major Record labels have been using student representatives for years (not that you really want to emulate their industry, but the idea of having memebers of your target audience promoting to their peers could be a low cost/high result tactic.

    Comment by Brent Gummow -

  126. Prayer. You want to know how to spend less money and get more people? Cut back on spending and pray everything works out. Sure, it’s a risky solution and, let’s face it, not even a solution at all, but it’s just as good of an idea as anything else. You see, there is no solution. Some people love movies. Some people don’t. You can’t change that. But why would I even be here if I wasn’t going to offer up a suggestion anyway? So here goes.

    Take away the hand of big business. Even if you don’t want to actually do that, make it look like a home grown affair. Sure, you will be pulling the strings behind the scenes, but nobody wants to see that. Make more of a push for the film to promote itself. Society loves the underdog so show the underdog actually doing the work. Nothing makes people sicker than poorly done product placement and “the man”. Minimize your efforts. Embrace the “little people”. Show the world what goes in to making a movie a success. Make us want your little filmmakers to succeed. Don’t end the story with the movie. Go deeper than that. It’s all about people wanting to share a story with other people. That’s what movies are for. And that’s what we want.

    You may have noticed a little bit of a trend in your blog comments. There’s been a couple posts mentioning the indie film “Four Eyed Monsters”. We’re marketing, Mr. Cuban. Cheap, cheap marketing. Now I’ve got a little bit of a story to tell, and please bear with me because I’m telling it.

    It’s really odd how the internet can seem like an endless wasteland of scariness and a nice little community all at the same time. Sparing you the boring details, one day luck shined upon me, and I managed to find Arin and Susan and their brainchild “Four Eyed Monsters”. In a world where sequels are planned before a movie even hits the box office and genuine ideas are hard to come by, I found the whole idea of “Four Eyed Monsters” to be refreshing. Exciting, even. Now I’m telling you upfront: I’ve never the seen the movie. Unfortunately, I haven’t been quite that lucky, but I will attest to the fact that everything I have seen from the people behind the film—previews, trailers, and podcasts—have made me feel more than any full-length film I’ve seen in a long time. The passion, the raw emotion I’ve seen from these two people is enough to make me come here and write to you in support of a work of art I’ve never seen.

    I know I can’t make you show their film in your theaters, but as a movie lover and a human being, I beg of you to give this film a chance. You want new ways of marketing? Talk to Arin and Susan. You want success at your theaters? Make people really care. The industry markets movies that they don’t really care about. If they can’t muster up the feelings of support, then how do you suppose that they’ll convince others to support a movie? That’s where the people of “Four Eyed Monsters” have it right. They care. They refuse to degrade their masterpiece with crap marketing. The marketing of a work of art should also be art. Don’t feed people garbage as marketing because then they’ll expect garbage as the product.

    But, really, who am I to talk? I’m just an idealistic college student. The world hasn’t ruined me yet. So check out the “Four Eyed Monsters” podcast. You’ll see what I’m talking about.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this. I really appreciate it.

    Comment by Aimee Graugnard -

  127. Let consumers purchase bulk movie tickets for the year. For example, at the beginning of the year I want to go to 25 movies and I can buy them at a 20% discount because I bought them in bulk. I would go to more movies, but some people wouldn’t use all 25, like the gift card.

    Comment by Matt Bretz -

  128. I guess the question is do you want more people to come to your theatres (exhibitor hat)or more people to watch your movies (producer/distribuor hats). BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING. Infact they have opposite goals in more ways they have in common.

    Just as you have said you don’t sell basketball, you sell sore throats to your maverick games Marcus Loew, founder of Loews Theatres once said, “I sell tickets to theatres, not movies”. And everyone knows that theatres are really big concession stands. Bums in seats makes more money both the exhibitor and less for the distributor. More bums in seats = more concession$$. Distribution and production make more by using the theatres as advertising for the DVD release. While Pirates of the Carabbean made a ton of money over the weekend, it will make even more on pay-per-view, DVD, PSP, etc…

    If you want attendance at the theatres to go up, you have to limit where the product is available. ie Shrinking release windows, Dvd in only 3 months, day and date releases etc.. it’s all connected. Of course product has a lot to do with it, but people can be tricked into seeing a crummy movie. People aren’t/can’t buy your soda and popcorn when they are watching your movie online or at home 3 months after theatrical release.

    Distributions goals are just that distributting the getting the movie out as many places as possible as soon as possible to focus your marketing over a short amount of time.

    Preserve the theatrical window and theatre attendance will rise.

    Comment by Blake Zaugg -

  129. I think that you’re asking the wrong question. Now that video games and interactive media on the ‘net are booming, movies are starting to head the way that radio headed when TV became popular.

    That is to say that movies will never go away. But I believe that they have reached their terminal velocity in terms of technology (sound, special FX, etc.) and viewership (you will never see movie sales as high as they used to be no matter what you do).

    So if you want to make money and secure your future in the entertainment business, I would recommend getting into games. If you want to get people to come out of their houses to gather and be social (like they do when they visit the movies), you need to organize video game tournaments with lavish prizes and FIND A WAY TO MAKE WATCHING (people play) VIDEO GAMES AS FUN AS WATCHING MOVIES.

    If you want to cling on to the leveling-off movie industry, look into getting involved with the abundance of (game-like) computer-animated movies (Over the Hedge, Monster House, etc.). They seem to be the swan’s song of the movie industry.

    Another key would to be to move the direction of the video game business in the direction of the movie development model (which it already is to some extent). That is, create “stars” of games (and game playing) and get people really excited about them like is already happening in Korea and Japan. Speaking of which, those two areas of the world are already far ahead of the US in this. If you found a way to bring the craze to the US you would be unstoppable.

    Comment by Charlie Hoyt -

  130. You need to develop a rewards system for movie patrons. Something that doesn’t leave them unfulfilled if they a.) didn’t enjoy the movie and or b.) wish they hadn’t just dropped the money on the ticket.

    I know I would personally want a card that can be swiped at the theatre in which I accrue points that could be redeemed online for tickets, DVDs, etc.

    There is nothing stopping other theatres and movie production companies from using the same idea. That’s fine. Let them. You control the points given for your particular movie, and what rewards those specific points can be used for.

    For example, let’s say I go to Cinemark tomorrow to see Superman. I pay my eight bucks. I’ve gotten to the theatre early because of the lines and I am sitting there, waiting for the movie to start for an extra 30 minutes. All of a sudden, an advertisement pops on, explaining how I can get a form in the lobby and fill out my personal information and receive a card in the mail in which I will begin to receive points (much like frequent flyer miles) that can be used at later dates for anything from tickets to merchandise. I get this for free and all it takes is me swiping the card at the ticket window.

    After a few months, you would have defined lists of who your customers are, how many kids they have, what type of movies they like, how many tickets were bought at once, what other movies they were seeing, etc., which would allow a much more personal marketing experience to be had.

    If you had a kid’s movie coming out, you could market directly through email and the mail, and offer extra points rewards to the parents for going to the theatre.

    You could tie this in with your advance copies of the DVD. If they liked the movie, they could go to a website and redeem the points right then and there for a discount and/or receive a DVD right then and there. This would especially be important for family oriented movies, which kids want to watch over and over.

    Over time, developing a personalized marketing strategy, you could build a loyal fan base that would be more willing to go to the theatre, knowing they would be getting something in return.

    Comment by Brad -

  131. My grandmother tells stories about going to the movies. For her it was an event, it was something they looked forward to and was the highlight of their week.

    Today movies are just something we do when we are leaving the mall, it is a fallback date, and form of back-up entertainment that people do when there is nothing better on TV.

    My suggestion is turn movies into an event… again. Tell familiar stories in longer and different ways.

    For instance if you were making the next Harry Potter Movie, make the real movie. Make it 5 hours long and with every ticket include a voucher for a drink and a hot dog. Put in an old fashioned intermission where people can go to the bathroom, walk around or visit the concession stand. Use the intermission time to show trailers for upcoming event movies.

    This scenario would work for just about any movie. Imagine doing it with a new Meryl Streep drama. That’s the kind of thing my mother would go see. You could tap into a different market. Baby boomers would show-up; or if it were a kids movie you could get families to attend. Think of it like a day at the fair. Maybe for the kids movies instead of just trailers you could do interactive games or something to help the kids burn off some energy.

    I’m not suggesting that all movies should be like this. There is still a huge market for the 90 minute action or comedy film. But the ones you make like this would be exciting. These event style films would make people want to leave the house, they would once again make people excitied about films.

    I know I would go.

    Comment by Amy Williamson -

  132. Charge no studio fees for blockbuster movies. Imagine if you could go see a blockbuster summer movie for half the price of a normal movie. The movie would set records in no time – creating a national buzz and its revenue from merchandising and licensing would make up for the lost ticket revenue in no time.

    If the studio could publicize the movie at even a minor level, people all across America would hear in no time. The sheer novelty of a movie at half price would make the news, and if the studio could have posters placed in the movie theatres advertising the low price– everyone would know, and that is half the battle. Furthermore, once the movie is released, it would surely set records – perpetuating its popularity.

    Know that everyone knows about a half price movie, it is easy to get him or her to go (especially if they would have considered seeing the movie at full price).

    This strategy would be best employed for a sequel to an already established franchise, such as Spider-man or X-men.

    Venues would be likely to cut their costs too – on the sheer basis of the foot traffic it will bring in for concessions etc.

    Comment by Vincent Marron -

  133. WAKE UP MARK!

    I don’t mean that in a bad way, but come on most people here are complaining about the same thing over and over. It’s not the theatre’s that have the problem it’s the industry as a whole.

    Here’s the issue, the Movie industry is still living with the same economic model it was living with 20 years ago. $80 million budgets another $20 million in marketing and the “HOPE” that they make it all back or most of it in the 1st weekend. Modern world to the movie industry, that doesn’t work anymore. We the consumer have far more choices now, we have theatres in every room in the house, and most of us have 100’s of channels of original content. According to the Motion Picture Association something like 194 Movies were released last year. The average budget of said movies was $48 million. Oprah, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Heck countless DIY and HGTV programs will do 194 productions in a season. All this is done with Millions watching, what are the millions paying to watch? Nothing, virtually nothing. Sure some may pay cable companies or satellite companies, but in reality what I pay the cable company monthly my wife and I could only go to the movies 2-3 times tops. The sad thing is I rarely even watch movies on the 100’s of channels that I have, I even have some 20 “movie” channels which all of 2 (2!!!!!!!!) are available in HD. I still rarely will watch what’s on there, the reason is a lack of original content. I’m more likely to watch HBO for their shows than I am for the movies, most of which I’ve already seen on DVD. Why? Simple, I know that they’ll play that same movie 80 times in the next 3 months and my DVR will catch it for me at 2am if I really want to watch it again. I rarely do that though because I rent from for all of $17 a month and get to watch 15-25 DVD quality relevant movies or TV shows a month.

    So how is it that I the consumer would rather watch the latest episode of Lost than the movie that’s already been on the market for the past 6 months? Simple, for one it’s free, another, the quality of the production rivals that of the movie, and finally its original programming. How is it that the broadcast industry, which 20 years ago was much like the movie industry, is able to provide me with far more quality content than the movie industry? 20 years ago when I watched television I had some 8 channels to watch, with some original programming, we got cable and then we had all of 30 channels to watch with more original programming. We’d still get bored with it, the way it was presented to us, the quality was sub-par, and we couldn’t get it when we wanted it. So when we wanted the best entertainment possible we went to the movies! The Movies were in surround sound not just stereo, they were on 40’ screens, the quality of the films blew anything else we’d see on TV out of the water! At home we all had 25” CRT sets with at best stereo sound and at best we could watch the movie on the overwhelming quality of VHS. Now I have hundreds of channels to watch, all of my local broadcast (FREE) affiliates offer really good programming absolutely free in stunning High Definition with 5.1 surround sound. We’re talking 720p digital broadcasts that run DVD’s out of the water. Not only do they offer me this for free, but they offer me hundreds of these near masterpieces for free, they only ask that I watch the commercials, which I don’t even have to do that because of the wonders of science that provided us with the “DVR”. So with all those choices you want me and my wife to hunk down $20-30 after concessions to go see a feature film. Sorry it’s not going to happen, you want to make money making movies you need to do what the Television industry did in the last 20 years. They changed the way they did business in order to catch up with the technology. They quit paying actors ridiculous sums to make shows, through digital means they took production costs and reduced them on a massive scale, they created more programming based on reality to both heighten interest and reduce overall costs and in the end to create more content that technology now allowed them to broadcast. Yet here is the movie industry, still paying people like Tom Cruise $20million to do a film, Steven Speilberg $15 million, still producing some 200 movies per year at ridiculous costs. The Motion Picture Association hasn’t caught up with Television, they are far behind, and soon with Television producing more and sometimes better content than that of the movies they may not even be relevant to the discussion anymore. If you want to make money making original films than you need to change the antiquated business model, the competition is far too fierce and is eating you alive. Here is a quick list of 5 things I’d change immediately regarding the Industry and the Theatre.

    1. Reduce the price of admission drastically, this can be done by reducing the amount of costs involved with making and distributing films, we don’t need people selling us tickets at a booth that can be automated thanks. (online, or kiosks at the theater)
    2. Make it easier for the typical American Family to see the movie, how about an area for small children to be watched while mom and dad go see the movie. I’d gladly pay $10 so that my child could be watched during the movie.
    3. Change the way concessions are handled, popcorn and drinks could easily be sold via a machine, offer some quality food at the non-self serve areas and maybe areas in the theatre where a dinner could be eaten, maybe a small bar in front of some rows so that drinks and food could placed. If I’m going to pay an outrageous amount for food I’d rather pay $7-8 on a quality burger or sandwich than $4 on a mediocre hot dog.
    4. As many have already stated give the consumer more choice, offer the movie at a Kiosk at the theater on DVD, or via mail on the internet. Make the DVD one track fully uncompressed, no features no nothing, make the previews part of said track. One 10 gig track is not an easy feat to compress and viably pirate, especially if it’s already at 720p in Mpeg4 format. Besides why pirate it if you can buy it online or head to a kiosk and get your own copy for $9.99. Cost of selling it that way? Not much, that $9.99 equal damn near pure profit.
    5. Change the business model of the theater itself, where as you may drastically reduce the cost of seeing one movie, offer the consumer more choice in the theater as a whole. Offer season passes where people can buy an allotment of movies, we’ll say 10 because it’s easy and that pass last for 6 months and cost around $45. You can sell that by advertising movies that will be coming out in the next 6 months to hit your demography. You can offer discounts on concessions with said pass, and you can finally give control to parents on what their kids are seeing. If the parents don’t want their kids to see anything worse than PG-13 their season pass is restricted as such. The technology is here, get with the broadcast industry and use it.

    There’s a few other things you could change right now that would help. Bring back Ushers, and make them actually shut people up, or at least offer everyone a headphone jack in the seats. If I’m going to pay $8 to watch a movie in your theater vs my own than give me an incentive and at least get rid of the previews and advertisements. Oh and if you want me to get there and see that show then let all these changes be known. Give us that we apologize speech that Bill Ford gave, the one that goes we’re sorry for royally screwing you for the last 40 years, come back and see what all we’ve changed.

    Comment by The fan formerly known as Mavtek -


    Let me give you my individual profile. I am not going to spend $10.00 to see Brokeback Mountain; $3.00 sounds reasonable (especially considering how much it cost the studio to make it). However, I will spend $10.00 to see a movie like “A Scanner Darkly” or “An Inconvenient Truth.”


    Not all people are alike, but each movie should have its own individual price. MARKET THAT! If seats are unsold…LOWER THE PRICE! Get them filled. It’s not such a complex concept. Brokeback Mountain: $3.00, A Scanner Darkly: $10.00—my profile anyway.

    The idiocy that surrounds pricing in the movie business is astounding. Why don’t we set up a hypothetical where a bar charges $20.00 a drink. Are you asking me how you’re going to get people into the bar? I don’t think God could help you with that solution except to recommend LOWERING YOUR PRICE. Charge a different amount for each drink! Otherwise you’re going to need a miracle—just like the movie business.

    Comment by Nick -

    1. The movie business is having issues because it is going by the way of the music business– lacking originality and depth. Far too many remakes are being made. Movies considered classics were made prior to the mid-1990’s decline. Mr Cuban, studio executives are like radio executives; they are seeking “a smash at the box office” or “a hit on the charts”. Call me a movie purist, but films like “The Godfather” were about S-T-O-R-Y and Characters not hype, fluff and discounts off the tickets. It was about the human drama that made the film great! “Million Dollar Baby”,”Crash, “Mystic River” and “Ray” are three relatively small budget films (2 by Clint Eastwood) that made an impact in spite of their relatively small promotions budgets.
    2. POLITICS gets in the way of Progress. Getting great actors for movies that suck is like putting perfume on a pig. POLITICS with the large studios keeps great screenplays in limbo or out of the game because writers don’t have ACCESS to reach the great actor who may be willing to sign onto the film. What GREAT roles have been written for Pacino or Deniro since the 1996 with Michael Mann’s “Heat”? Only screenwriters with names in Hollywood get that good read and opportunity. Agents keep their actors in check with new rules about accepting scripts & unsolicited materials policies. Europe and Asia don’t have the staunch rules that exist in the states because of the guilds and unions. Look at Robert Rodriguez, he sometimes leaves the states to produce his “hit” movies like “Sin City”, “Dusk to Dawn”, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” etc. He deletes the politics and produces a GREAT product! Not to mention the “spagetti westerns” shot by Sergio Leone in the 1960’s in Italy. Classic films few politics.
    3. People rely too heavily on the internet for promotions and marketing. Like music videos, the songs that were considered “classics” were great because it was perceived by the listener as a great song and not because some deejay or marketing wiz said so. Please don’t misunderstand me, the internet is a great means of promotions, but real world promotions NEEDS to be utilized and not forgotten. NOTHING beats the personal touch. Music videos like internet ads have gotten the potential supporters away from caring about the film and the song. In store visits and one-on-one dialogue is almost non-existant in promoting films any longer. My #1 reason to see a film is word of mouth recommendation (if it was not on my to be seen list.) More theatres are being built every year, people want to see something good when they go, and don’t want to feel disappointed at the end of the night like they should have stayed home on the net.
    4. Redefine success in budgets. Mel Gibson spent circa $30M to make more money at the box office and control his own movie with “The Passion of the Christ”. Sure, for the average independent filmmaker that’s NOT independent money. However, look at smart horror films like “The Evil Dead” that Sam Raimi produced in the 80’s. Low budget, still a great story. Tarantino did the same with “Reservoir Dogs”, small budget, great story, great characters. “Sideways”, “12 Angry Men” (both versions), “Rear Window”, (I can go on & on), but it was not about inflated budgets and marketing money, crazy locations, CGI. Does it really take $50M to make “Gigli”??? I SWEAR to you, I could have done that movie in the hood with some actors I know and made it a comedy & made it sell. I don’t know where the money went on this flick. Please tell me. GREAT films, Mr. Cuban, classics like “Scarface” (Pacino), about STORY and the Characters these actors portray that made the small budgeted films successful. CGI did not make “The Hulk” a good film!

    Mr. Cuban, thank you for reading my suggestions and observations. I’m a writer who has read many scripts that NEED to see the light of day, but we’re FRUSTRATED at the level of attention that films get without having funding behind them. Talented actors lose gigs because of marketing from a rap artist. People are more apathetic and numb. Let’s give them something to give a darned about again.
    I’d love to work for you in making this dream a reality.

    Comment by Ros Mickens -

  136. See comment numero uno. That is the best idea anyone can come up with. Take all the money you might spend on marketing a movie, and make another movie. Don’t market! Just make great quality movies. People will find them.

    Spend time and money selecting quality scripts and talent. Then, don’t screw with the script and don’t screw with the talent. Let them make great films! Not films some research firms or movie executives think will make money, but a great piece of art.

    I don’t want a job. I do want to see great movies. Believe me, there aren’t many.

    Here’s a bonus tip. Jerry Bruckheimer + tons of money = shitty movie. Please don’t be like that guy. You wanna make your mark in movies? Make movies. You wanna make your mark in business? Make money.

    Comment by Paul Pate -

  137. I don’t want to go to the movies. I want the movies to come to me. I have an A+ quality media room. I don’t have to listen to someone’s kids, the old guy blowing his nose, cell phones going off (you get the idea) I would pay a pretty penny to download the movie and put it on a DVD. Onetime use is fine with me, how about I must register with the website. So that I wont make 1k copies. I would be willing to pay somewhere around $35. I know this is not a New idea, why not work out the details and do it.

    Comment by Kyle -

  138. Mark,

    I’m Greg. You can jump to the end of this thing for my qualifications, but I want to get to the point here: I know you’re for collapsing the artificial barrier between a film’s theatrical release and its subsequent releases to DVD, pay-per-view, et cetera, and that makes sense. The moviegoing experience isn’t what it used to be. Most people would rather stay home and watch a film than trek out to the nearest googleplex to shell out eight bucks a ticket and the ungodly prices for concessions. Why should those people be forced to wait to catch the film? That artificial window also gives black markets a chance to pirate the film.

    I live in a college town with a vibrant live music scene. Most acts these days–if they’ve got the funds to do so–bring equipment to the venues that allow them to record that night’s show, then sell CDs to people who attended for as much as $20 a disc. It’s great. Any act can peddle its studio albums–but to offer live discs to people who attended the show? I’d personally much rather spend $20 on a disc for a show I attended.

    Movies obviously differ in that, unlike great lives muics performances, every showing’s the same. But still: why not offer discounted copies of the film’s DVD to moviegoers leaving the theater?

    – Bob goes to see “Ocean’s 17”, pays his eight bucks to get in the door
    – Bob likes the film so much, he pays another eight bucks for the DVD as he’s leaving the theater
    – Perhaps to sweeten the deal, the theatrical DVD (the issue sold at theaters during the film’s run) contains a discount for that studio’s other films. Make it so that when Bob plugs his DVD into computer , he gains “special access” to Studio X’s film vault where he can purchas X number of DVDs for such-and-such discounted price.
    – ALSO: Bob takes his copy of “Ocean’s 17” home where a few of his friends watch it and decide they either a) wanna go catch it at the theater; or b) go to the nearest store and purchase their own copy.

    I served for more than a year as Director of Publicity & Marketing for a small, independent film distributor. (We released Barry Tubb’s “Grand Champion” and Tony and Ridley Scott’s “American Fighter Pilot” documentary, among others.) I’ve since gone freelance, currently working as the publicist for “Sugar Creek”, a noir western filmed here in Arkansas. Nearly all of our films were straight-to-DVD, though I did help launch Billy Bob Thornton’s “Chrsytal” locally (and set a record for an independent film release in Northwest Arkansas) and a film titled “Christmas in the Clouds”. I also maintain and edit a Web site dedicated primarily to local news. I’m currently in the middle of redesigning it, but if you feel like checking it out, visit

    I’ll also add–at the extreme risk of sounding like an ass-kisser–that you’re pretty much the sole reason I came back to the NBA. We don’t have a team here in Northwest Arkansas, so I adopted the Mavericks soon after you bought them. Please keep it up.

    Greg Leding

    Comment by Greg Leding -

  139. There are a number of things which need to change. First and foremost open tools are needed to promote a more equal opportunity to produce and distribute movies. There are many aspiring filmmakers which may make movies better than the big studios. They may not be the same quality but its the content and story that counts.

    That being said, the way a movie would be promoted in this world would be that it is given away. More and more artists must give first in order to get something back. A model where both the movie is released at the same time as in theatres could be valuable in this regard. This model requires, however, that the theatres add value to the experience by providing a social element in addition to the better facilities.

    To find out more check out my project at and an independent movie, Cactuses ( Thanks.

    Comment by Scott Shawcroft -

  140. Give an “extras-only” DVD to the people at the movie. They take it home and watch outtakes, deleted scences, etc. Keeps interest in the movie – can generate word of mouth. Evens the calculus between seeing the movie and getting the DVD.

    Comment by Ed -

  141. stop making movies that are crap

    Comment by Johnny Cakes -

  142. Heres my idea, why not create a site that shows previews from different movies your promoting, and then has a detail oriented quiz at the end over the previews shown. Offer a $5,000-$20,000 cash prize for the winner selected at random from the quizzes with 100% correct answers. Make it one try per email adress or something so once they take it you also have tons of email addys to market directly too with times the next quiz opportunity is available. The media will have a field day with this because “Mark Cuban is just giving away money for watching afew minutes worth of previews” so they will advertise the site for free and people will continually come to it on a monthly basis because its opportunity for free cash just for sitting through afew minutes of previews. This would potentially cause other companies wanting to advertise on your site which means less cost for you, an increase in prize money per month or quarter however you want to do it, and in turn increased traffic on the site. Maintence of the site would be easy and fairly inexpensive and even with giving away money your only spending less than $300,000 for giving away 20 thousand and you would affect much more people who would actually be paying attention to the marketing.

    Comment by Michael Brady -

  143. Heres my idea, why not create a site that shows previews from different movies your promoting, and then has a detail oriented quiz at the end over the previews shown. Offer a $5,000-$20,000 cash prize for the winner selected at random from the quizzes with 100% correct answers. Make it one try per email adress or something so once they take it you also have tons of email addys to market directly too with times the next quiz opportunity is available. The media will have a field day with this because “Mark Cuban is just giving away money for watching afew minutes worth of previews” so they will advertise the site for free and people will continually come to it on a monthly basis because its opportunity for free cash just for sitting through afew minutes of previews. This would potentially cause other companies wanting to advertise on your site which means less cost for you, an increase in prize money per month or quarter however you want to do it, and in turn increased traffic on the site. Maintence of the site would be easy and fairly inexpensive and even with giving away money your only spending less than $300,000 for giving away 20 thousand and you would affect much more people who would actually be paying attention to the marketing.

    Comment by Michael Brady -

  144. Perhaps the whole method of releasing films needs to be altered. Why do films have to be judged on their first week’s gross (which results in nationwide openings and heavy front end marketing), with the release done as an inverted pyramid–big at first and then less as the weeks go on? If the film is good (a big if), then start in a few theaters (or just one or two major markets like LA or NY) the first few weeks and then build the momentum. Small films like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” followed this plan and the movie buzz markets itself at a much lower cost.

    Comment by Brian -

  145. Make a 15 to 25 minute short that introduces some of the characters and tells a previous or subsequent story. NOT A TRAILER! A real pilot that tells a story, has meat, and establishes a franchise or brand for the big movie coming later. Give the short away. Show it on TV. Post it to all the movie clip sites. Put it on iTunes for free with no DRM. Most important: “Leave them wanting more!”

    Comment by Joe H -

  146. Don’t make them leave their house.

    I hate going to the movies because if I have to go to the bathroom, answer the phone, etc., I miss at least 5 minutes. At home, I can pause the TIVO.

    Make movies available through the user’s television satellite system – like they do now for Pay Per View – and the cost is the same as it would be in the theater, or more, depending upon time of day, ask them how many viewers there are to calculate appropriate ticket price, etc.

    If bandwidth is an issue, only show movies released in the past month, for example. I’d totally watch more new releases if I could do it from home (and pause the TIVO to grab a snack)

    Eventually, I think it would be awesome if there were a satellite Blockbuster. I want to browse my DirecTV for any movie I want to see – anything – and be able to order it up right then and there and watch – and skip the store or theater. Which would require ridiculous bandwitdth, right? Got to be a way to do that.

    Comment by JNS -

  147. I think it’s a consumability issue, make the movie easier to chew. For example I would really like two see a 2h version of the LOTR trilogy, then maybe I could consumer it.

    I think theater movies would beinifit greatly from subscriptions, sell people a 52 movie membership, they watch more, get a better deal, and in my experiance theaters are rarely at capacity (and if they are overcapacity/sellouts you’ve kind of spent too much or marketing, well only kind of) so this would get more people in seats and better fill theaters.

    I donno maybe that’s all crap, just thinking out loud.


    Comment by Steve -

  148. Theaters have a bad habit of acting like stadiums — where people put up with a lot of teh suck because they love the team– us folk don’t have the same loyalty to movies.

    So, what to do:
    Buy a movie chain. OR set up conditions for people viewing your movie that will be substantially different from the current movie-viewing experience.
    For example, let people know in advance that there will be xx number of previews and commercials and exactly how long they will last. Provide coloring books and crayons at family flicks. Train staff to be helpful — let them wear cool outfits and give them incentives to help out. In between shows they could roam the mall and handout advertising, for example

    And if my idea isn’t good enough for a job offer — deep sigh of regret — you can hire me to go read through the thousands of comments you’re going to receive…

    Comment by pat lewis -

  149. Dear Mark Cuban,

    I have a whole new way of making money for tv & movie studios. It actually changes the whole landscape of the business. I’m not blowing smoke up my butt either. I’m well qualified (MIT, Sloan, Northwestern Law) so please pay attention and read.

    The way tv and movie studios now make money is by long term contracts. For TV studios they make money from advertisements locked in / bought during sweep weeks. They sit around with lawyers from both sides hacking out a deal. This is crap. What happens when a tv studio has a “promising hit new series” and racks up a fortune in advertisements and it flops? Someone is a sucker. On the flip side, what about a tv show like Lost or Survivor that came out of nowhere and took TV audience by storm. I’m sure the TV studios are annoyed that they sold their first season far short of what they could have got. A lot of money is also lost to the lawyers. $300 per hour to negotiate an advertisement contract. Doesnt this sound messed up? Now here is my great idea. I call it the global media exchange (GME).

    Here is how it would work. Its sort of like the Hollywood Stock Exchange, except its with real money. TV studios would hedge their advertisment contracts by purchasing one side of a financial instrument. Advertisers would purchase the other side. The financial instrument would be pegged off nielson ratings or something of that sort. If the TV show is a flop, advertisers would make money off the derivative. If the TV show is an unexpected winner, the advertisers would be losers in the financial instrument and the TV studio would be the winner.

    The advertisers are still “winners” when they lose money on the financial instrument since sincethey got more viewers seeing their advertisements. If the show is a flop, the advertisers would win in the financial derivative. Thus getting their money back. Visa versa for the studios.

    What this boil downs to is creating a market place and price for old school media / advertisements – both sides getting what they deserve with no surprises.

    Speculators, gamblers, tv watchers, etc. could fill in the rest of the market to provide some liquidity. The movie studios and the advertisers would serve as market makers.

    Online ads are rather market efficient (click rates). Why hasnt old school media change with the times? We have the infrastructure to do it. The CME makes crap loads a day trading different financial instruments. The GME can do the same trading different forms of media.

    The concept can even work for movies.

    Right now, movies are financed by “big money”. Millions are dumped into it. Studios hedge by having a diverse portfolio of movies in the pipeline. They dont make all comedies or all actions. They need to diversify to create a efficient portfolio. (You’re a smart guy Mark and I know you know all about finance 101) Why not lock in profits by hedging out? Buy the opposite side of the derivative. Show the movie to theatres. Have them buy the other side of it. Put the pressure onto them. If they want to make a lot, as part owners of the movies, they have a stake in the movies through the financial hedge. You want to create buzz. How about having all the Batman and Superman junkies buy a steak in the movie through the financial instrument. They’ll be sure to watch it 10-20 times and get their friends to watch it if they own a part of the movie through the financial instrument. If I watched a good movie, I’ll bid up the value of the movie. If I own it, I’ll be sure to make others go see it.

    Farmers trade weather and rain on the exchanges. Why arent we trading media to hedge and lock in profits?

    Hire me and we’ll make the GME happen. Once it gets going, its bank with the commission costs.

    Comment by Hai Nhu Nguyen -

  150. I think people want more for their money. In Japan they give out movie memorablila during the first week of the movie release. This can include movie posters or a mini-magazine containing behind the scenes footage and actor interviews. I know I still have my magazine from Indiana Jones and Footloose, which I received in the 80s. Its a great draw for movie buffs, children, and people interested in getting something back. I would defintately go more often to try to get these products… thinking that some day these may be worth money or that you can trade with others.

    Comment by Christine -

  151. Like many businesses movie theaters have their standard busy days, Friday Saturday Sunday, upon which the theater is full, and typical slow days, say, Monday and Tuesday. On these days they should offer incentives, movie goers should have the ability to suggest movie times that fit their schedule.

    Create a website with the theater where people can log on and suggest a time that they would like to see Movie “X” on any “Slow Day”. Ideally this would allow the movie theater the opportunity to accomodate for the prevailing majority who want to see Movie “X” at the most customer popular time. If users suggested times ranging from 6:15 to 9:30 a median time would be determined by the website or if there was enough interest there would be a early and a late. This might also allow them to decide whether or not to show some movies on slow days if nobody shows interest or move those less popular movies to smaller theaters when demand is low, and open more screens for popular movies. It would also be interesting to offer discounts on soda/popcorn and even tickets once ticket sales reach 1/2 sold or 3/4 sold, based on website based ticket sales.

    Today so many businesses are about service and catering to the customer’s specifc needs and time contstraints. On a day when a theater might do very little business people might enjoy having the power to set the time of a showing, or at least feel like they have some control in effecting change.

    Comment by Bill Carlson -

  152. Let the theaters die. A few will remain as nostalgic relics. New types may emmerge as in some of the above suggestions, like night clubs, supper-theater, up-scale night out, posh and comfortable with imaginative extra services. But, the movie theater era is gone. Do not throw good money after bad trying to prop it up. Don’t make mass-market movies any more. Make only niche movies for online delivery. Allow the public to make and watch their movies using social networks to promote to prominence any the public likes. Put your movie industry investments into online massive multi-player gaming environments like SecondLife or World of WarCraft.

    Comment by p0ps -

  153. I’ll not read through the prior comments so this thought may have been mentioned.

    Although a bit unconventional, and definitely not elegant, tap into the stickiness element of greed and compulsiveness. I suggest that you throw in a freebee, a big one, to your films. Each time you attend the theater, you have the chance to win a prize.

    Add a LOTTERY element to your films. For each new film, randomly select a single MILLION DOLLAR winner, as in a LOTTO, from any worldwide theater attendees of your films. Attend the film several times increases your chance of winning the LOTTO. The LOTTO hook will increase theater attendance and keep them coming back for more.

    Or use another angle and make the big monetary prize winnable after an extensive treasure hunt (make the treasure hunt activity theme related to the film). Periodically, put worldwide treasure hunt clues into successive film showings until “the treasure” in found. As was depicted in the film “IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD”, it would be quite a story and self-advertising.

    Omit all traditional advertizing expenses and let it self advertize, very cost effective. Many ways to do this. Also, if the “big prize” is exciting enough then people will come regardless of any film criticisms or critics, which negates the “film critic obstical/effect”…. there you go, thinking outside the box!!!

    Comment by -

  154. I first have to look at what keeps me from going to the movies and branch out from there. There are some great movies that come out and the advertising is thrown into our faces everywhere we turn our heads. I believe the main cause of people not going to the theaters is due to the theaters themselves.

    The theaters are over crowded with teenagers hanging out and its something I dont want to deal with when taking my wife. I am 30 yrs old (not too far from those teenage days), but it annoys me having to deal with TONS of kids hanging out at the theaters on the weekends. I could only imagine if I had small children with me. It would be a nightmare.

    Also.. nothing ruins my movie watching experience more than someone talking during the show. How about someone kicking the back of your seat constantly? Yea it pisses me off to and from that point on I never care to go back to the theaters.

    If there was a way to deal with those issues. Then im sure adults would get out more to see a movie. The teenage circus/youth gone wild atmosphere kills it for me.

    Thats why most adults rather watch a movie in the privacy in their own home.

    * Now, You could possibly solve this by giving 1 or 2 days of the week strictly adult themed movies. Now by adult I dont mean porn ;). I mean possibly all the Rated R movies on seperate nights than from the Rated G and PG13. This would seperate the crowd and bit and possibly let older adults and familys with young ones not feel so threatened with the crazy teeny bopper crowds.

    my 2 cents… =)

    Comment by t-mag -

  155. I’ve thought about this for awhile, and I think I have come up with a good reason why movie attendance is declining.

    As home theaters become closer to the experience in a movie theater, individuals will only be strongly driven to a theater to see Blockbusters. Watching Jurassic Park on a big screen is an experience. Watching Napolean Dynamite isn’t; I could just as easily watch it in my house and obtain the same benefit.

    Unfortunately, the best way to make ROI in the movies is to create the Napolean Dynamites. Low budget, no special effects; the power is in the script.

    So because you are not really looking to make expensive blockbuster films, the real issue at stake is how to you make the theater experience invariably better than home.

    Here are some ideas, all involve the extension of the EXPERIENCE:

    1) Because low-budget films often have fresh stars, it shouldn’t be very hard to get these stars to attend movie openings. You could send all the actors to the major cities, or you could make it known that they will show up at random theaters, creating an element of suspense.

    2) All openings for childrens films should have live characters/cartoons in costumes after the film to entertain them. This makes it an experience.

    3)Have the entire theater set up like a coffee shop. When the film is over, the audience can discuss the film, and buy expensive starbucks products, increasing revenue. This is particularly suited to the low budget/indyish films that spur conversation. Many people go to a coffeeshop after anyways; why lose that revenue?

    4) Intertwine movie tickets with a myspace-like website. When i rent something on Netflix it shows up in my “movies watched list”. When I watch a movie, it should automatically show up on my myspace, and I should be able to write a review. Films with the most amount of recent reviews pop up on the main screen. Buzz could be generated very fast for lower budget films. Myspace has opened up the world to obscure, regional musical artists. It hasn’t yet for film. If all tickets purchased through this new social website are 1$ less than the theater, it shold not take very long to reach a critical mass.

    Comment by RyanG -

  156. Depends on the movie – there’s no catch all. For romantic comedies and blockbusters, do a tie-in with For teen targeted movies it would have to be myspace/text message oriented – possibly make the movie itself interactive w/cell phones…

    Comment by christine -

  157. I’ve enjoyed movies (even the bad ones) at the cinema and on TV all my life. Keeping in mind the expense of movie tickets, I tend to pass up quite a few blockbusters, waiting to rent them later – or if they turn out to be that bad – forget them entirely. I pass them up because it seems like I’ve seen the film before, in one form or another. Sigh, so jaded.

    Are we talking marketing here or product? Both? You can’t revolutionize marketing without jump-starting the product and the medium. Years ago, Douglas Trumbull, the director of “Brainstorm” dreamt of releasing the film in 70 mm and projecting at more than 24 FPS, giving it a crisper, real look. That didn’t happen, for whatever reason.

    I remember that all these years later, because that’s what excites my imagination – the spectacle, the latest visual sensation. In the 50’s they used technicolor, Cinerama, 3-D, stereo sound in the 60’s. Most movies produced look like they’ve been scraped out of the camera and hurled on screen. So 20th century. Make the new tech film vibrant, crisp and innovative. And digital.

    Product. Cut costs on production at the outset. Industry heavies will defer salary if the product/production team are that good. Pay them in profits. A union, non-Canadian picture can be made for a reasonable amount in any state. Shoot digital – no more film, negatives, print costs.

    Change production hierarchy. Fewer cooks. One Producer, one Director, one Line Producer will keep costs down and result in a fresher product, not muddled or over-cut.

    Lower production costs can result in more films being made. More choices for the consumer.

    Marketing? Everyone is tired and wary of marketing – viral or mainstream. Spend less, and spend it more effectively. If we see a preview for two months, we’re already feel we’ve seen the movie. I also think, “You guys need two more months to tweak this fiasco?”

    Tighten up the release schedule (see below) to maximize ad dollars.

    Motion Picture Delivery. Pump up the quality of theatre projection systems. No one will want to lay out money, but hey, do they want customers?

    One or two weeks later, the film should be released via download. This may cut back on box office, but only slightly. It will generate profit in another market sector – and you have the buzz from the film fresh in people’s minds. The laziest among us will download. The collectors will buy the DVD – they want the case, the graphics, the commercial quality. This should be released 2-3 months after the film’s initial release. Buzz is dead after 9 months. I’ve forgotten even why I liked films I saw last winter – and I’m less likely to buy. And advertising for a DVD release – 9 months after the initial release? Oy, do the math.

    This tightened schedule will please more people – the theatre-crats, the lazy, the technologically savvy. It may take a few people out of the theatres, but this would free up more seats for the potential increase in titles. Fewer multiplexes with 12 screens of Spiderman.

    Mark, you’re a smart guy. People have written you with some good advice – you don’t need to hire anyone – we need some visionary with cojones to make entertainment…entertaining again.

    Comment by Ben Martin -

  158. I believe that one of the major flaws in movie marketing is the lack of Brand awareness. Films are released and advertised on an individually basis, this would be equivalent to the GAP advertising a blue sweater in a commercial that never mentions the GAP. You don’t see blue sweater commercials, you see GAP commercials, that may feature blue sweaters. Movie companies should follow the same philosophy. Instead of spending 40 million to advertise movie A and 40 million to advertise movie B, 2929 Entertainment could invest money on building 2929 Entertainment as an entertainment Brand. Then when advertising movie A, (there will always be some advertisement) the perspective audience will already have a positive impression of movie A do to its Branding as a 2929 Entertainment production.

    A lot of the previous responses say “Why spend money to go to a theater when I can rent or own the movie later for less?” I respond with why do people spend $50 dollars for a blue sweater from the GAP when I can get one for $12 dollars from Wal-Mart. They do it because it is a GAP sweater. That should be the goal of the production company, to build that Brand loyalty and awareness so that when someone says why go see that movie when I can rent it in 6 months, you can respond because it is a 2929 Entertainment movie.

    Comment by John -

  159. The quality and quantity of movies have lowered and rose respectively. The last thing I want to see if another advertisement for the likes of crappy movies such as “Little Man,” “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” or “The Devil Wears Prada;” people actually spend money on this junk.

    Also, please do not give me another “shoppers club card” to carry around in my wallet that I must present upon purchasing, I already have a Costanza wallet and don’t need anything else. If you want my information ask for it and guarantee me that you won’t spam with all sorts of crappy films.

    You want to use marketing dollars, find a star worth marketing. There are no Bogart’s, Bergman, Brando’s, Grant, Stewart’s, Welles’, and certainly no Hitchcock’s or Coppola’s.

    On top of that, why would I even want to go to a movie theatre filled with hooligans and cell phone users when 6 weeks after the movie is released, I can rent it or buy it. The time table for release of a movie on DVD has become too close to the theatre release date. Plus you are saturating the public with more than they can handle.

    Comment by Slim Pickens -

  160. Control what you can control and keep the main thing the main thing.

    Best advice I can give you.

    Comment by Josh -

  161. I believe that one of the major flaws in movie marketing is the lack of Brand awareness. Films are released and advertised on an individually basis, this would be equivalent to the GAP advertising a blue sweater in a commercial that never mentions the GAP. You don’t see blue sweater commercials, you see GAP commercials, that may feature blue sweaters. Movie companies should follow the same philosophy. Instead of spending 40 million to advertise movie A and 40 million to advertise movie B, 2929 Entertainment could invest money on building 2929 Entertainment as an entertainment Brand. Then when advertising movie A, (there will always be some advertisement) the perspective audience will already have a positive impression of movie A do to its Branding as a 2929 Entertainment production.

    A lot of the previous responses say “Why spend money to go to a theater when I can rent or own the movie later for less?” I respond with why do people spend $50 dollars for a blue sweater from the GAP when I can get one for $12 dollars from Wal-Mart. They do it because it is a GAP sweater. That should be the goal of the production company, to build that Brand loyalty and awareness so that when someone says why go see that movie when I can rent it in 6 months, you can respond because it is a 2929 Entertainment movie.

    Comment by John -

  162. You want to make the movie industry better? Make better movies.

    Let’s pretend for a moment that the american public isn’t as dumb as the current major media distributors would suggest. Stop making movies that are just setting up a sequel or showing off the latest technology. Get back to good, honest storytelling. Give more support to independent film-makers. Let the people who really have something to say, who truly have an artistic vision, have an avenue through which to access the public. People who are reverent and relevent and can make a real connection with their audiences.

    Take, for instance, Arin Crumley and Susan Buice, the creators of Four-Eyed Monsters ( With no major distribution they have amassed a loyal following of thousands across the country, using only home made podcasts and a myspace profile. Can you imagine what they could do with the help of a major distributor?

    The American public doesn’t just want better; we DESERVE better from the entertainment industry. Show some integrity, and please stop treating us like mindless idiots. Put some real art out there, we can handle it. More than that, we NEED it. Don’t let us down.


    Rose V. Blakelock

    Comment by Rose Blakelock -

  163. How about we start by producing movies with fresh ideas? The biggest problem (in my humble opinion) with movies is that they are largely remakes or sequels. Not very original huh?

    Next movie studios need to entirely revamp their marketing strategy. By the time a movie comes out in this day and age we (especially us Americans) have seen like ten trailers for that movie, and heard the lead actor/actress on thousands of TV talk shows. The point of marketing a movie is not to saturate your audience, rather it is to generate interest. Adopt the Apple method. Give clues to the movie, not two minute long trailers. Generate buzz through MySpace, blogs, discussion boards, etc. Generally the way to go about marketing something is to generate just enough curiosity; the way movie studios do it now, people know too much about a movie that they aren’t going to go see one based on a hunch or buzz, they know (at least a lot of the time) whether they will like it before they even go into the theater.

    Comment by Andrew -

  164. Personally, I don’t understand why they decide how big a success a movie is based on the total gross for the weekend. (Hear me out on this one) For example, Pirates of the Caribbean set “All time” records for amounts of money it brought in. But the question is, how many tickets did they sell?? Movies from 10-20 years ago might have sold just as many tickets, but can’t match the cash amount because back then, a ticket to the movies was in the $5 range. So first and foremost, eliminate the $$$$ occasion to movies and base it on tickets sold.

    And I agree with most of you, make better movies and people will come.

    Comment by Jon -

  165. Personally, I don’t understand why they decide how big a success a movie is based on the total gross for the weekend. (Hear me out on this one) For example, Pirates of the Caribbean set “All time” records for amounts of money it brought in. But the question is, how many tickets did they sell?? Movies from 10-20 years ago might have sold just as many tickets, but can’t match the cash amount because back then, a ticket to the movies was in the $5 range. So first and foremost, eliminate the $$$$ occasion to movies and base it on tickets sold.

    And I agree with most of you, make better movies and people will come.

    Comment by Jon -

  166. three ideas…

    one, release a movie in 6 sections, 20 minutes each. Each 20 minute section in it of itself is a short film, but part of the bigger story. Works real well with mystery, spy or horror movies. Charge $2-$3 per section, which is perfect for the consumer because they can go catch the mini movie, not spend a fortune, but if the customer base just goes and sees half the movies on average, the movie company nets more $$.

    two – release a movie without an ending…and then release a one hour ending on dvd 6 months later. the six months inbetween will create its own buzz by having the public try to figure out what the ending is, and will rush to buy the dvd to find out what the ending is.

    three – do a combo of the two above…short 20 minute sections, but leave out one critical section that only appears in the dvd 6 months later.

    Comment by craig antonucci -


    Pick some theaters in key regions, provide them a promotion/advertising budget and allow them to manage their own business locally instead of corporately. Give them the freedom to make the most of it and be responsible if it flops. See what shakes out and what doesn’t.

    Comment by kkwan -

  168. Mark,

    Why do I go to movies at the theater? I have a daughter in a wheelchair. One of the theater chains in our town gives her free admission and one companion free admission. So when she is home from college, she, her Mom, her brother and I all go to a lot of movies – 2 or 3 a week. We always buy lots of concessions plus the two extra tickets.

    Does it really matter what the movie is? Yes, to a point. It doesn’t have to be a blockbuster but it can’t be high negatives. What we are after is the time out together experience. We have a giant flat screen and digital cable and surround sound at home – so it is less the film than the actual movie theater experience.

    I run an online business and almost all of my customers come from folks that signed up for free services and then upgraded. They would never show up on my site if it didn’t offer a free, limited version of the service they want.

    So why not get the mulitplex to set aside one or or two screens and let folks in for free – with good access to concessions for the theater owner.

    Show more than previews – get them involed in the story. Then do the same with another film. Leave them hanging – avoid giving away all the good stuff the way too many TV ads for movies do.

    Then if they want to go and pay to see the entire film, let them.

    Timing of Film starts would matter. Would they have to watch the beginning again? Could a Screen be available for starting at just that point? Could the screen showing the lead in be where they could pay to stay and see the rest after an intermission to pay? I remember when intermissions were a time to buy more concessions and go to the bathroom?

    Would I go more? Don’t know.

    Would kids show up for a cheap date? Most likely.

    Could I test this in Dallas at one multiplex and assume they results would translate? Yep.

    Comment by Duke Williams -

  169. In case you didn’t catch this article, there’s a lot of answers here.

    Comment by John Dodds -

  170. I don’t believe that there’s a single magic bullet for marketing new movies. Technology has scattered the mass market. It has allowed people to group together in smaller more specialized groups. I believe the key to reducing the marketing budget for a movie release is to employ the same technology’s that scattered the mass market. You need to increase the efficiency of each marketing dollar by targeting your market better. I believe that the biggest reason that so much money is spent on the marketing of these movies is that the industry is carpet bombing the largest audiences they can find. You need to build a data base of where people are (obscure cable shows, chat rooms, blogs, watching the Mavs game, MySpace, video games, park bench ads, billboards…etc.) and what demographics they fit into. You can then develop an application that will automate the process of finding your target demographic in both physical as well as cyber geography. After all, the electoral map shows us the large geographic differences in lifestyle and entertainment choice in this country alone. The Left Behind books didn’t do very well in San Francisco and New York but they did a pretty good business in the center of the country. I believe that the industry does this today but only with larger groups (big TV buys) and manually. You need to exponentially increase the depth and breadth of this idea. Automated, mass customization of target marketing will increase your hit rate which will decrease your cost of acquiring each customer. With the stuff that Google is doing in NYC, your automation can reach into the physical world too with print ad and eventually even smaller, cheaper targeted TV commercial buys.
    This is an iterative process. Your efficiency should increase as the accuracy of the database you build is refined movie after movie (of course you can collect this data from all movies, not just your own). You can start by doing exit polling at movies and follow the leads from there. “Where do the people that like this kind of movie hang out?” is the first question that you need to answer. Brings to mind the scene in Gung Ho where Stevenson tells Kazihiro about how they play softball for beers and then afterwards they piss for distance. Kazihiro responds that they do too but “for us, it’s accuracy”. Let the jerk offs in Hollywood keep pissing for distance, you need to piss for accuracy Mark.

    Comment by Tom Stewart -

  171. show 30mins of extra footage ONLY at the cinema or whereever you get punters to pay full price for it, dont even include it in the dvd until about a year after the original release date.

    Comment by Rachel -

  172. All the marketing ideas in the world will not change a fundamentally broken marketplace.

    So, let the market operate.
    –> offer bidding opportunities to see your movies. The good movies will command a higher ticket price, the weaker moveies will sell out at a lower price point. But for the most part, you should get a higher viewer penetration. Its realy not that hard either conceprually or technically. Offer a “buy now” price as well as a marketplace price.

    Comment by jonathan -

  173. All the marketing ideas in the world will not change a fundamentally broken marketplace.

    So, let the market operate.
    –> offer bidding opportunities to see your movies. The good movies will command a higher ticket price, the weaker moveies will sell out at a lower price point. But for the most part, you should get a higher viewer penetration. Its realy not that hard either conceprually or technically. Offer a “buy now” price as well as a marketplace price.

    Comment by jonathan -

  174. I would consider Direct Sales. Create a Multi-Level Marketing plan that is very lucrative for the Independent Agents. Share the risk as well as the benefit. And let each of those Independent Agents use the tactics that work best for them to succeed in the sale of your movie tickets.

    When you give direct sales people a viable opportunity to make a lot of money, they will live, breathe, and die by your product.

    Independent Agents for Warner Independent Pictures or 2929 Entertainment would buy the tickets at a discounted price to sell to their friends, family and co-workers. They would earn commissions on the tickets that they buy, and commissions on the tickets that are sold by the people that they’ve recruited to sell under them. They could promote your movie simply by sharing the movie trailers that they are emailed when they sign up as an Independent Agent for a small fee. You could also have a website that previews all of your movie trailers, and where people could purchase tickets by putting in the code to their Independent Agent so the agent gets the credit.

    When you sell your tickets in bulk to an Independent Agent, say 100 tickets at a time, you’ve got all your money upfront. Those agents WILL sell those tickets, if they don’t they are out their initial investment. Your not leaving it up to chance that someone may go to someone’s MySpace page and possibly view the movie trailer and then maybe click on the link to purchase a ticket. You have an individual with a vested interest, to ensure that the people they know are viewing the trailer, being told what a great movie it is, and actually asking the in person to buy a ticket.

    You could have thousands of people in all corners of the world selling your movie tickets.

    Multi-level Marketing would work great for what you are trying to accomplish. Not just get the word out about your movie inexpensively, but enthuiastically. Selling tickets not just talking about the movie.

    Comment by Leigh-Ann -

  175. Let’s just steal an idea from a lot of other successful industries…a membership.

    (Monthly Service): I’m stealing this idea from everyone…from tanning salons, to movie rentals. If you can do something without pulling out cash each time, you notice the $ less. What if say Magnolia offered a monthly pass (like DART) in which you can see any number of movies. You can add levels of membership…like a lower level pass only allows viewing of movies older than 2 weeks, etc. And for premium level membership (that allow first run viewings), they still have to call in and reserve a spot for that movie…so you don’t overload a showing. Of course the trick to all this is ringing up the financial scheme to make sure you’re making money. But it’s the perfect solution for movie theaters. They are going to show the movie at every posted time regardless of the audience size. So if an average moviegoer sees 2 movies per month (at $8.50 x 2 = $17), charge $20 for a low level monthly movie pass (you could even allow a low level pass to see one first run a month). If they go see 5 movies, it doesn’t cost the theather anything, because they were going to show the movie anyways and rarely do movies sell out (unless they are in their first weekend). The theater doesn’t change anything it normally would do, but now it gets $20 per average moviegoer instead of $17. For someone who is willing to pay more (say $30) for a premium pass, they can see any move at anytime. They pay more because they are potentially taking a seat from sold out first run showings. The movie pass must of course be backed up with a photo ID to keep people from sharing their membership, but it cuts down on lines at the box office and it makes you think less about how much you’re spending on that movie (because it comes off your credit card once a month).

    Comment by Jon -

  176. Let’s just steal an idea from a lot of other successful industries…a membership.

    (Monthly Service): I’m stealing this idea from everyone…from tanning salons, to movie rentals. If you can do something without pulling out cash each time, you notice the $ less. What if say Magnolia offered a monthly pass (like DART) in which you can see any number of movies. You can add levels of membership…like a lower level pass only allows viewing of movies older than 2 weeks, etc. And for premium level membership (that allow first run viewings), they still have to call in and reserve a spot for that movie…so you don’t overload a showing. Of course the trick to all this is ringing up the financial scheme to make sure you’re making money. But it’s the perfect solution for movie theaters. They are going to show the movie at every posted time regardless of the audience size. So if an average moviegoer sees 2 movies per month (at $8.50 x 2 = $17), charge $20 for a low level monthly movie pass (you could even allow a low level pass to see one first run a month). If they go see 5 movies, it doesn’t cost the theather anything, because they were going to show the movie anyways and rarely do movies sell out (unless they are in their first weekend). The theater doesn’t change anything it normally would do, but now it gets $20 per average moviegoer instead of $17. For someone who is willing to pay more (say $30) for a premium pass, they can see any move at anytime. They pay more because they are potentially taking a seat from sold out first run showings. The movie pass must of course be backed up with a photo ID to keep people from sharing their membership, but it cuts down on lines at the box office and it makes you think less about how much you’re spending on that movie (because it comes off your credit card once a month).

    Comment by Jon -

  177. One problem is getting movie information out to the people. Without a good preview distribution system, how do we know what is out there? I see the previews on TV but I tune them out. I see them on the web but I close them. Why? They don’t pertain to what I am doing at the time. I surf and get an annoying ad popping up to tell me there’s another Pirate movie out there. Big deal. I watch TV and a commercial for the same movie shows up while I am up doing something during the commercials. I missed the point.

    How do we better get the point without being more obtrusive? One could be a quarterly DVD put in movie rental stores with previews of upcoming movies to watch. DVDs are cheap to produce and duplicate. Make them free based on rental rate. Rent one movie and it cost a dollar to buy the preview DVD. Rent 5 and it’s free. You could enhance it with web content so updated trailers and info would be available but only to those who have the preview DVD. Make the people who have the preview DVD feel special like they are “in the know”. Make the DVD sleeve have discounts for concessions and such. Make it look like a good deal to come to the movie.

    Another idea would be to have a preview cable channel. By funnelling the cost of marketing for many movies into one location, you could make a preview channel with previews, making of documentaries, music videos, or whatever pertains to a new release. I found that the Tinseltowns and AMCs I visit have a preview program prior to the start of a movie with these characteristics. I like that. I like it better than a plain vanilla preview. SHOW me why I should go see your movie. Now I can sit in my own home, tune to a cable channel, and see previews of movies for the next couple of months. You could even give discounts to watchers. Give a code for a theater chain and those people would get $2.00 off a concession purchase or something like that. You’ve enticed me with the info on the channel, entice me with a small monetary incentive.

    OK. Now I have more information on what I can go see. How do you keep me coming back? Many before me have stated that it should be a movie night experience. We spend about $40 for myself, my wife, and child to see a movie. Make a family night where the child gets a discount ticket price with the purchase of two adult tickets. Bring in something fun for the younger kids like a wandering princess or a clown. My daughter would LOVE that and it would bring us back as a family more often. Make a couples night for romantic comedies where you get something special. Action night for the guys where the more guys you get in your group, the better the discount. Nostalgia night where you show a popular old movie and a new movie for a special price(Clerks and Clerks 2 would have been brilliant marketed this way) and bring back the Double Feature.

    Others have stated that better movies would help as well. Absolutely! Hollywood spends more money on bad ideas than anyone, bar none. Do we need 5 American Pie movies? Probably not. After 2 or 3 we start rehashing the same ideas and bad jokes without adding any value to the overall series. When I was younger, there were nowhere near as many movies during the summer. You’d get 2 or 3 blockbusters and and a dozen or so smaller films. What happened? Quantity does NOT make Quality. Scale back a bit and put better effort into the good ideas and leave the worse ideas to cable or network TV where it should be cheaper. What ideas are good? ASK US!! More panel and street interviews might help.

    Well, there’s my 2 cents.

    Comment by Jay -

  178. I have a simple solution for your movie industry woes. Simply put movies that have been hyped over this world wide obsessed web. The greatest example I can think of right now is the film Four Eyed Monsters. Two filmakers, Arin and Susan, have created a gigantic following for their work by broadcasting episodes on iTunes’s podcast system and on MySpace displaying their whole process in making their film. The moment I saw their first podcast I was hooked. Now I am absolutely dying to see their film, as well as millions of others worldwide. I say if you put out movies that have build up sed following in this manner, you are guranteed to have packed audiences in your theaters. Not only are you getting true filmlovers and fans of the movie you would be showing, but you would also be spending almost zero money on advertising on your customers and clients. So all I ask is this: take a look at the Four Eyed Monsters website ( Please, give this strategy a try by perhaps screening their film in your theaters. I know my friends and I would all be there!

    Comment by Laura -

  179. I’m with all the folks who have mentioned Four Eyed Monsters. They’ve been brilliant with the marketing of their film. It’s all very accessible but at the same time utlizing new technology. They’ve created a whole underground following through their podcast, in fact I found out about their video podcast through a friends rock podcast, and there are thousands of people just waiting to see their film. I for one would love to see the film in the Landmark Theater on Main St in Royal Oak, MI, and I’d pay about what you’re talking to see it.. I know many other people would, as well.

    Comment by Becki -

  180. GIVE PEOPLE REAL LIVE 3D STUFF instead of spending the money on ADVERTISERS!!!!!! Hell I would go myself for the right stuff!!!!!!!

    For example:

    1. Lottery. Give away one car (or other tie-in big-ticket item) per theater, every theater, opening weekend. Of course this assumes a big-budget release.

    2. Give away tickets. Online ticket orders, every third (or fourth or fifth) ticket is free randomly, opening weekend.

    3. Give away food. Free $5 or $10 per ticket of whatever you want from the concessions stand, opening weekend.

    Or do you want asophisticated plan that will tickle your intermediaries who do not want to get completely cut out with direct swag to consumers? How about this (it has it all: visual advertising space, internet hip application, MySpace type community-building appeal, AND give-aways!): Build an internet site where the movie lives. Give away a certain number of GOOD cameras that are of course computer ready at the openings across the country. Include in their give-away baggie the url for the site. Tell the winners that all they need to do is take pictures of themselves with their friends at the opening night, and send them in to the site with only the date and the name of the city. Bwalla. Community, advertising and give-away all in one. Guess what? They are doing this in Europe with enormous success, but they do it as just a social site, with a magazine or something as the sponsor that gives away the cameras. Check it out. This idea is truly a winner.

    Good luck.

    Comment by lori todd -

  181. I can’t remember the last time I went out to see a movie. Why not? Let’s see:

    I’m not interested in fantasy movies based on comic books and superheroes.

    Star Wars was great 30 years ago. It was stupid even then, but it was the right time.

    I don’t care about special effects. Give me a compelling story, Hollywood. (Forrest Gump is the best special effects movie ever made because you don’t even notice the effects and they actually have a purpose.)

    What I think it really comes down to is that most regular, everyday people (including myself) don’t get paid enough to stay alive. How can you expect them to go out to the movies when they can’t even pay their rent, when they can’t afford to see a doctor?

    Your market can’t afford you.

    I’m going to think about this for a while, and I’ll probably come up with a brilliant idea. I may choose to share my idea with you whenever it comes to me, but I probably won’t unless you have something real to offer me first. Or I might just post it on my own blog without ever telling you about it. How’s that for a counter-incentive?

    This post was brilliant, Mark. It shows that you obviously recognize the common person’s potential to come up with a multi-million-dollar idea. But I don’t know if your incentive is strong enough. I mean, I’ve never had a job that paid me even half of what I’m worth, so why should I expect anything more from you? For all I know, you might be a really fair and honest guy. But I don’t trust anyone in your position anymore, thanks to Sonic Automotive, Donatos Pizza, and every other employer that has failed to recognize how valuable I was to their operation.

    I’ll give you something real good when I know I’ll receive something of equal value in return.

    Ryan M. Powell

    Comment by Ryan M. Powell -

  182. If you think like I do, that there is an objective definition of art, then you will have no problem seeing why people aren’t coming to movies.

    Art is a reproduction of the way things could and should be. Movies today are not uplifting. They do not provide heroic characters that people want to see and be like. Characters who when they are in a problem they would say what would John have done in this situation.

    I could expand alot more on this, but the point I am trying to make is that nothing you can do will make people pay for a movie that is not valuable to them.

    That being said I have alot ideas on how to make a great movie. I am not just talking about plot or a cool story line I mean how to make a movie be inspiring and objectively entertaining. I just haven’t followed up with any of it because I have been too busy with my business which is going really well.

    Comment by Josh -

  183. In reality, the challenge is getting people to buy tickets for opening weekend, because you don’t really care if they show up. Why not sell a subscription to a movie theater(s)?
    Let people pay a flat recurring fee for X number of seats to Y number of movies during a certain time period. Subscribers have more motivation to show-up because they want to get their money’s worth.
    The idea leverages the investment you’ve made in specialized theaters, because you can set different subscription fees depending on the theater chosen. Additionally, some subscribers may be more apt to purchase concessions or other add-ons at the theater because they won’t have had to shell out money for the tickets at the same time, so being “ripped-off” won’t be in the foreground of their minds. Further, since word of mouth seems to be so important, you can offer discounted subscriptions to those people that are valuable for spreading the word.
    To more specifically address the issues concerning opening weekends, subscriptions offer some added avenues of promotion. First, you can sell a type of subscription geared towards opening weekends. It could allow the subscriber to attend only opening weekends. The opening weekends subscription could be discounted in price from a normal subscription or it could offer special add-ons for opening weekend shows (e.g. – discounted concessions, meeting with cast/crew, memorabilia, pre-screenings, etc.).
    Subscriptions would bring their own sets of costs like deterring re-selling, but overall they would provide the motivation to show-up. Further, if people don’t show-up you’ve already got the revenue that you can assign to the opening weekend if you so desire. As far as assigning it accurately, that’s just a matter of being detailed in how subscriptions are set-up.

    Comment by Jonathan Hearn -

  184. I don’t know if there will be a way to reduce marketing cost and increase “butts in seats.”
    With our proliferation of media outlets today there is no way to reach the majority of people in one fell swoop.
    One thing I’ve noticed is that movie trailers on the whole are not good. They are not creating a “man I gotta see this movie” reaction in audiences. Another marketing mistake – on many film websites you can read a synopsis of the entire film….if I read that why go see it. Often these synposis give away the entire plot. These trailers and websites need to generate mystery, a real feeling of “I am going to be missing something big if I don’t see this movie.” Many of the ideas submitted are going to be cost prohibitive to the theatre chain which most likely means they won’t happen or will require the film industry to make major changes in the way they operate which certainly won’t happen overnight. While working on the possibility of these ideas that will take time and industry change try putting a fresh face on the methods you already have. Instead of using the same old tried and true methods bring in people from outside the industry to shake up the marketing system. Quit relying on old formulas that were successful in the past – they aren’t working as well now.

    Comment by Cheryl -

  185. The winning solution was submitted to the big guy.
    From the fields of battle.
    I’ll take the win.
    It is a complicated truth of a solution.

    No Brag
    Just Fact
    Walter Brennan

    Comment by Brian Theriot -

  186. Make it lottery based! Each ticket sold enhances a chance of winning a (small) lottery jackpot. Ching, Ching$$

    Comment by Martha Edgerton -

  187. Make it lottery based. Each ticket sold enhances a chance of winning a (small) lottery jackpot. Ching, Ching$$

    Comment by Martha Edgerton -

  188. Make the movie going experience just that an experience. It is so generic these days. Granted, the theaters have a lot to do with this but aside from that, the studios should do their best to make the entire process an experience. There should be special merchandise tied to the film that I can only buy if I go the movie such as a book (special edition in some way vs. the mass market edition) of the movie if it exists, movie programs, DVD’s of related content, etc. Also give out a gimmick or two with admission or charge a premium ticket that includes some sort of hook, some sort of gimmick. I think the studios also have to invest more in this experience at the theaters besides fancy lobby posters. People love when they feel like they are a part of something.

    Comment by Charles -

  189. Back when I was in college at UCSC, people would rent a lecture hall and charge $2 to see a Marx Brothers double feature that cost them $15 to rent.

    A few of us decided that it was a rip-off, so we started the Thursday Night Movies; people who were in our college got in for 25c and everyone else had to pay 50c — for the same Marx Brothers double feature. We had some films that had just finished their first run six months earlier, and packed them in.

    So if you’re an exec, then here’s the way to make money:

    1. As noted above, make good movies. There are thousands of good actors out there, most of whom never get a chance… You don’t need a well-known cast to make, say, The Big Chill — you just need people who make the characters believable.

    2. The money is in reruns. You don’t need a film that everyone is going to see once — you need one they want to watch again and again. So you don’t need to spend a fortune on gimmicks. Pirates of the Caribbean is nice, but I’m not going to see it in the theater again, and I’m not likely to buy or rent it either. But something like Remember The Titans… good story, good actors, good director. I’ll watch it on TNT, even though I have it on DVD as well.

    3. To hell with big ad campaigns. The Mavs and the Kings draw because they have a great product — not because they have the hype and glitz of the Lakers. People like Billy Crystal; they could care less about Dyan Cannon. Speaking of which, remember the talk show hosts. They’d love to have you on talking about your next movie.

    4. Volume. Get a list of theaters, and RENT THE BUILDING for a couple of weeks, and forget the normal distribution channels. A guarantee from you is a hell of a lot better for the theater owners than risking the chance that Paramount’s next big huge offering is going to play to five people. Their margins for the first few days are solely on how much popcorn they sell; if you make it attractive enough, they’ll do your promotion for you.

    5. Ignore critics — just make sure they say SOMETHING. You had Donn Nelson as a coach, and just like he did at Golden State, his teams were entertaining, but didn’t win. So what? He put butts in the seats, which is all you want to do. If you want to win at Sundance, fine… but have you seen Quinceañera yet?

    That ought to keep you busy if Dan Rather isn’t… *grin*

    Comment by Eric -

  190. Mark,
    As you commented in your reply to this post, a lot of people are avoiding the theater due to their perception of the Theater Experience. Ie. Long lines, Noisy kids, Cell phones, etc.

    You also have indicated that your theaters are attempting to change the one size fits all approach. An idea in that direction is to create a portion of the Theater where rather than large cineplex style rooms, you offer 120 inch Home Theater style screens, with maybe 8-12 seats per room. These rooms show the movies on a schedule based on room reservations rather than set times. The patrons pay an increased fee for private viewing of “In Theaters” movies with their friends, family etc. This allows people to avoid other people’s noisy kids, or see a film with their own noisy kids without having to be concerned about interrupting someone else’s enjoyment.

    I am not certain on if a theater has to pay the studio per screen, etc so that could put a damper on this approach. Also if the theater still used film rather than digital projection it wouldnt work.

    This might have been said before, or very likely could already be part of your plans, I have not read all 1000+ replies.

    Comment by Stephen Goldberg -

  191. The simplest way to reach your goal? Stop making the crap that we see. Its all the same repackaged recycled crap. So few movies are worth the ticket price to see.

    The other thing is ad’s. We go to the movies and what do we see before the movie ever starts? Ad’s. When did we start paying to watch Ad’s before the f’n movie starts?

    I guess what I am saying is this.
    1. Make movies that don’t suck.
    2. Make us want to come to the movies again.

    Comment by Lance -

  192. Mark here is something that might work. Promotional thanks. Get students or local residents to promote the next movie you have coming out. In return they get their pictures or names appear at the end of the movie. The promotional thanks could also vary depending on what region, state or county you reside in. Everybody wants to see their names or picture on the big screen. Best of all the cost to do this is minimal.

    Comment by Joseph Keshi -

  193. The Movie Business Challenge.
    The movie theater in my town closed recently, leading to lots of ideas on my part on how to open a successful theater in a small town. So, here are the brainstorms I feel are unique:
    1. Make the movie tickets like lottery tickets. One person who goes to the specific movie at your theater wins the DVD or a free ticket. I know contests make me more willing to buy something.
    2. Play old favorites during the week. Have a voting box/machine where you can vote on the weekday matinee while you walk the mall. Who wouldn’t love to see Rocky Horror or the classic Star Wars in theater again?
    3. Day care center for while you are in the movie. Have to show your ticket and someone watches the kids while the parents have a date.
    4. Have more than popcorn at the concession stand. Even a few Hot Pockets could make it ‘dinner and a movie’ without too much more cleanup.

    Comment by Jennifer Leary -

  194. This doesn’t address the question directly but I’ve always wanted the chance to invest in a movie or product upfront. Basically an online marketplace to invest in green lighted productions. The investment wouldn’t be significant or assign any rights but if the film is a success then the investor gets a payout. Some information is provided to potential investors upfront (script, actors, director, etc) however it may not be necessary to have all. If the investment was tradable people could get in early and take a larger risk before finding out who is starring or directing. The idea isn’t for the investor to make money but rather prove that you have an eye for a hit. The first movie you ran this for would probably create enough publicity to pay for the setup costs. The long term hope is that “investors” would work to publicize and support the film in order to prove themselves correct. I don’t think this is the “killer” change that will pull an extra 5 million people however I think it is unlikely that any single action will cause this result. Rather a series of good moves (and movies) would do it.

    Comment by Will -

  195. Mark,

    You should consider using opt-in permission-based voice messaging – have the star of your new movie actually call and deliver a personalized message to potential viewers.

    Viewers opt-in for a call from say Matt Damon. Matt calls them and tells about the movie, using dynamic message building technology — why he made it, what he likes about it, etc, etc. You use the inspiring power of the actor’s voice to talk directly to the audience 1-on-1.

    Permission-based voice messaging is so much more personal than email marketing and much, much cheaper than direct mail or a huge ad budget.

    The Mavericks should use the same technology for the players to call the fans and deliver timely, tailored permission-based voice messages. Voice is a VERY powerful medium.

    Comment by Bob Compton -

  196. I sent you a email, check it out. I didn’t know how to report it so I went to Contact Mark Cuban and I send it from there.
    Here is something aditional:
    Also, how about revolutionizing the movie theater by taking out some seats and offer full dining? A restaurant (alcohol, good food) with a nice big screen that shows brand new movies. It’s a new kind of multiplex envioronment that will combine dinner and a movie into one venue.

    Comment by Sylvester S -

  197. Nothing can stir the public like a stunt. There’s a reason why 20,000 people pay to watch the Mavs, and none pay to watch people play video games. Action. Plenty of people will see a movie if they like the trailer, but if they feel like they are part of an event, more will show up. Tell people that throughout the country, the stars of the movie will be showing up to view it with them at various times. Then, send the stars to different theaters around the country for the first week, and plant them in the audience.

    Also, instead of just putting the trailer online, maybe put the first 15 minutes of the film online so that people can see that it’s great and want to rush out and see the rest of the movie. People will be like, “Man I need to see how this plays out.” Plus I think a lot of hard-working people would enjoy the feeling of wanting to see a movie they know is quality, as opposed to getting railroaded by a misleading trailer.

    Comment by Mike C -

  198. Nothing can stir the public like a stunt. There’s a reason why 20,000 people pay to watch the Mavs, and none pay to watch people play video games. Action. Plenty of people will see a movie if they like the trailer, but if they feel like they are part of an event, more will show up. Tell people that throughout the country, the stars of the movie will be showing up to view it with them at various times. Then, send the stars to different theaters around the country for the first week, and plant them in the audience.

    Also, instead of just putting the trailer online, maybe put the first 15 minutes of the film online so that people can see that it’s great and want to rush out and see the rest of the movie. People will be like, “Man I need to see how this plays out.” Plus I think a lot of hard-working people would enjoy the feeling of wanting to see a movie they know is quality, as opposed to getting railroaded by a misleading trailer.

    Comment by Mike C -

  199. Mark here is what you do:
    You plan for the next big blockbuster and get your fixed or 90/10 rate in place. Then you lower your ticket prices for those that park in a special area of your parking lot. For parking in this area, you add a service charge. Even with this service charge your ticket prices are still cheaper than average cost. With this service charge the distributor is not allowed to touch this fee as it is not associated to ticket price and addmission. Then anyone who presents a special ticket stub at concessions receives a discounted rate on concessions. End result: You make 3 dollars a head on admissions, $2 service fee and 10% of ticket price. Distributor now gets 90% of a $4 ticket. Your per cap cost just skyrocketed. In addition to that you use some of the money from service fees and purchase a prize for giveaway. You know give patrons one entry to the drawing for every dollar spent at concessions. You do this chain wide and you should not only increase customer spend but also create alot of buzz in the industry for Landmark and your 56 sites. You already have pull with the distributors anyway with your size, now its time to give your patrons abit of a discount and still increase your per cap.

    Comment by steve Bell -

  200. Most existing marketing plans target only a portion of the potential audience, and many require or encourage proactive work on the ‘users’ behalf long before they ever go to the movie. This includes visiting website, blogs, emailing, chat rooms, etc

    We need to target the demographic whose only information about an upcoming movie comes from the trailers on TV or the movie critic in the local newspaper. The problem with most movie critics is that they seem to be intent on rating a movie based on its potential to win academy awards, and not on its overall entertainment value. An interesting stat is to compare the list of top grossing movies to the list of best picture winners and notice how few are on both lists.

    The answer is a free movie magazine that can be place at supermarkets and gas stations (next to the real estate magazines), mailed to every office with a waiting room and a captive audience, (doctors, dentists, mechanics, etc.) and the list of possibilities is endless.

    There is obviously a cost to this, but since the goal is not to create a direct revenue stream, the amount of advertising dollars or studio funding needed to make this cost effective appears to be relatively low. That is, however, an assumption at this point.

    The key is to give enough information about upcoming movies that can be trusted so as to reduce the risk factor in attending a movie. The question everyone answers (albeit subconsciously) is this: Will I enjoy this movie enough to cover the costs? (Costs in this case include real financial costs as well as indirect costs such as time spent, etc.)

    The less information you have about a movie, the greater your risk for disappointment. For people with time and the desire to surf a little, there is plenty of information to be had on the web. There are millions of people without that time or willingness that need to know if a movie will be worth their investment, and this will help to convince them.

    Comment by Tony -

  201. This has probably already been said, but i’ll take a crack at it.

    You’re asking the wrong question.

    The question is not, “How do we get people to go to the movies?” The question is, “How do we get people to go to the theater?”

    The folks love movies and they love big screens and great sound. They also love watching movies with great sound on a big screen with other people. The theater has all of this.

    Also, i would challenge the idea that the folks aren’t going to the movies because of the expense. Heck, after spending thousands on video and sound at home, only to wait months for a new flick to come out… well, i’d rather go to the movies. The problem with movies at the theater is the theater itself. The experience is caustic. It’s inconvienent. It’s an obvious rip off (popcorn for $5?). It’s not the fact that popcorn costs $5, it’s the fact that it’s an obvious ripoff… and the experience doesn’t pay for it.

    I’d settle for a lesser experience with less corrosion, which i can get at home.

    Here’s an idea for you, Mark. Give one of your theaters away for one month. You’re super-smart so you can think of somebody to give it to. Whoever you give it to, let them use it any way they want, and see if they drive revenue up.

    If you can’t think of somebody, give it away in a contest for the best idea. Oh, and whoever you give it to, let them have the money they make off of the experience they create.

    Comment by Curtis Gray -

  202. I am not completely sure how it would work, but I think that “interactive” movies would be a cool concept. I like the idea of the different movie theatres for the different demographics. I think what keeps people coming back or repeat business is giving them something they do not normally expect…thus increasing their value for their time and money. A really easy one would be peanut vendors and what not roaming the isles during a sports movie. Make a movie a full entertainment night. Like NBA games, you do not just go for the basketball itself, you go for a whole night of entertainment. A few other modifications for movie theatres would be things like a restroom in each theatre with one sided mirrors so you can use the restroom while still watching the movie? Just some thoughts…

    Comment by Chris -

  203. I know I’m a little late to the game but I do have a radical idea that will get people into theaters. Hopefully this hasn’t been mentioned yet.

    Give each ticket buyer a DVD containing cut scenes, a trailer, maybe even a making of documentary. You could provide special features that will not be made available on the DVD release, they will only be avaialable by going to the theater.

    Basically, you are not only eliminating the reason some people wait for the DVD before seeing a movie but you are also, similar to how music CDs now come with videos, giving a reason for people to go see the movie instead of downloading it or waiting for the DVD.

    Comment by David -

  204. okay…I didn’t read through the 1000s of previous comments…didn’t have to. Right now there are thousands of people who are trying to get go to work for Mark Cuban!! Not get a free million bucks …just trying to secure the right to punch the big Mark Cuban time clock.

    This tells me that there are at least a thousand people who would be happy to invest along with Mark in their own theater. I’m talking about a community theater model. Have multiple levels of membership a la Bass Hall. So “Gold Members” get first night privileges, free valet, etc.

    Best of all…give your subscribers dividends. Now you’ve given them a vested interest in shilling your flick to the average joe. You don’t have to create a MySpace…you’ve got 1,000 subscribers creating 1000 myspace pages. This is multiplied by 100 theaters across the country.

    Come on Mark…save me from the next 3 years of law school…hire me now…dean

    Comment by dean -

  205. How can you get someone like me to go to the movies?
    First I’d like to book my favorite seating place in the theater; why not offer a discount for booking a set seat for a set period like a time share.

    Second: show double features(like the old days, I’m dating myself)

    Third: Section off parts of the theater for those who have children, special needs etc.

    Fourth: give me some space between those seats(for me to put my personal belongings on:scarves, umbrellas, coat etc)

    Fifth: stop showing those darn previews and start the movies on time. Or at least build in my personal little screen where I can see the movie like it is on the airplane, or I can have choice for what movie I want to see.

    Sixth: since I already have cable at home; give me a reduction if I show up at the movie on the weekend. (a reduction in my cable bill)

    Seventh: stop those darn matinees at 10:30 am(who gets up that early to go eat popcorn..that sucks..give me a matinee to any movie before 4:00pm)

    Usually on movie day, I don’t feel like cooking so make that movie day pay off by the theater working out special arrangements with the diners.(perhaps a deep discount for dinner if you attend the movie theater that day)

    Of course, keep serving unlimited popcorn.

    Comment by sandra -

  206. Hi Mark,

    I have a crazy solution to your movie marketing problems that will definitely get your seats full in the first few weeks of the movie.

    You see, no matter what the movie is, people want to win.

    That’s what our society has turned into.

    I think you should turn every movie you’re involved with to a big game with a huge payout.

    Instead of putting millions into marketing, give it to that one person who answers a few questions about the movie during the first week.

    Make a million dollars.

    The great “million dollar movie give away”

    Hey, you don’t have to watch the movie to win, but it would be crazy not too.

    Have them log onto a website during the first week to answer questions and the person that first person to get all the answers right, wins.

    Now, the key is to make it challenging.

    You give away a million through a contest.

    It spreads virally, and you’ll sell more movie tickets than ever, despite the quality of the movie.

    Why not do it Mark, you are already spending this type of money in the movie business.

    Good Success!


    P.S. I saw you in Charlotte a while back at a game in Charlotte. I tried to speak, but I think you were screaming to hard for the Mavs!

    P.S.S. You can give me a call at 803-361-5035 with more information on my new position.

    Comment by Vondre' Whaley -

  207. Someone may have said this, but how about using the GPS devices like tom-tom or cell phones to link to information. I envision that I’m driving around, and get a ping that I’m close to a theater and in 30 minutes a movie matching my profile (recognized from previous inquiries maybe)is going to start. It could give me directions, even save me seats.

    I like the idea of those theaters that have movie with dinner also. And I really loved the drive-ins, but I guess with people’s paranoia that is out.

    Thanks. You’re so cool. 🙂

    Comment by Leigh Bedrich -

  208. How to market movies in a completely different way? Take a lesson from Jessica Stover. She is using the Eventful site to promote her screenplay by her fans “demanding” a screening of her movie in their hometowns. This grass-roots effort through Eventful is a world-wide campaign by bloggers and readers to indicate a level of interest in her screenplay sufficient to garner the attention of the large studios. I do not believe blogs or the Internet have been used in this way before – to demand that a movie be made without any book, comic, or other property already in existence. It is certainly the first use of Eventful for something like this effort.

    More information is here:

    Comment by Curtis Sawyer -

  209. I apologize both for the lateness of this entry and the possibility that it’s redundant. A new but not so innovative idea for promoting movies might be to release the EPK you give the media to the general public. After NBC released the pilots for a couple of their new shows to the general public through Netflicks, I thought maybe this could work. Unlike a TV show, however, releasing the whole movie wouldn’t work because there’s no second episode or sequal the next week. But perhaps releasing the EPK through Netflicks could get people who have either a huge interest or maybe a passing curiosity with your film’s subject to get excited and tell their friends about it, increasing word of mouth promotion. The backlashes are if your film is bad and the EPK shows that, and maybe the media journalists won’t like it because they no longer have an exclusive first look at the film and won’t feel like the cool kids anymore.

    Comment by Bob Oei -

  210. Two concepts:
    1) Buy some established television shows, something big. Sopranos, whatever kids are watching, etc. Revive an old favorite that is off the air, whatever, any show that has a built in following in the demographic of interest. Now, only offer those shows in front of whatever movies you have opening that week. Divide it up if you want, certain shows would attract certain audience, match it up to the target demographic of the movie. Sounds familiar, right? Just the revival of the serials that used to be shown in front of movies in the old days. Couple this with a strong branding of the films, something like the official title of the movie is “So and so presents: [title of movie]” so people going to the movies know which ones will include the continuing story of whatever show they like.

    2) Keep product quality high, and include name of distributor in title, as above (so and so presents: ) If company x consistently put out quality, people will be waiting for the company x movie, and not be so concerned with the stars, the topic, etc, then a consistent low level of generic advertising that does not have to be so customized each weekend can do the trick. This takes discipline, normally you know when the movie is not so good, but you put it out because it might at least make some money. That movie would have to be canned. Maybe have a secondary “B movie” brand for those inevitable stinkers? This notion struck me after thinking about how I buy music nowadays. Radio? Awful. But once you go outside of radio, how do you get to hear new music? It is a flat pyramid, you have easy to get to stuff (radio), then the next level down is everything in the world on the internet. A mess that defies categorization and considered consumption. I have learned that there are a few labels out there (Rounder, Lost Highway, Bloodshot Records, etc.) that consistently put out great music, they just get it (or at least me). So, I do not necessarily wait for the next Bottle Rockets record, I look for the latest releases of Bloodshot records and just pick a few, knowing that they will be good.

    Comment by Scott -

  211. The Movie Challenge

    The way to reduce the amount of money that is spent on promoting new movie releases is to develop ONE common website/portal where everyone will go for information on any movie that is coming out. This needs to be a MySpace-popular website with millions of visitors everyday. The website needs to be thought of as a community, similar to MySpace. Maybe call it “”

    So how do you get the people to your website? Offer Cash $$$. Every day give away $5k to $10k to certain random visitors. Giving away a few million $$ a year in order to promote all movies increases your economies of scale. This will have to be done when the website is first brought on line, so most of the $$ giveaways will be done early.

    Will also need to advertise in other mediums, such as radio and local TV spots promoting the website in it’s first few months until word-of-mouth takes off.

    What will be on the website:
    Tickets – Users will be able to pay for and print their movie tickets on line. Not only that, during the movie’s run, there will be daily drawings for cash prizes for anyone who purchased a ticket via the website.

    Local Reviewers – In each major movie market, you will hire 10 – 20 people (Should not cost much) who get to go to private sneak previews of the films. They will then create movie reviews – both video and print. Anyone who goes to the website will be able to watch a video of the movie reviewers, discussing their thoughts about the film. A variety of people would be used, who all like various genres of movies. We won’t have a Sci-Fi geek reviewing a chick-flick

    National Reviewers – The website will hire several national movie reviewers to have in-depth interviews with the stars of the films, which will all be recorded and the videos posted on the website to watch

    Movie Trailers – Trailers for all of the movies will be available, as well as behind-the-scenes video’s, interviews with the stars, etc. This would have to be content only available on the website.

    Discounts – Working with the major movie chains, people will be able to obtain discounts on food and beverage. Maybe even offer discounts to local restaurants in each city.

    DVD Priority – Anyone who purchases a ticket through the website will have priority access to the DVD when it comes out, at a discounted price. Maybe even only offer special DVD’s with extra features to those people who purchased a ticket to the movie through the website.

    Download Priority – Similar to the above, all users to download the films after they come out on DVD. This would only be available on the website

    Music Downloads – Users would also be able to download the music from each film

    Music Videos – Provide music videos of songs from the movies, or possibly have a band that did a lot of the must for a film have a live concert on-line only.

    Attend Premieres -Have other promotions where certain lucky website users will get to fly to and attend the premiere with the films stars. Could also send them to Emmy awards.

    On-Line Chat – Prior to a movie release, have a live on-line chat with one or more stars from the film, where everyone gets to post questions for them to answer. Even do it as a video-link

    Blogs – Provide Film blogs, for everyone to discuss the films

    Sponsorships – When website activity gets large enough, sell “sponsorships” to corporations to sponsor the movie trailers for certain films, to help bring in some extra income to offset expenses of the site.

    Community Events – Coordinate/Organize community screenings for the website users. In each town or city, organize “watching parties” where some opening night screenings are reserved for users of the website. Possibly work with local radio stations.

    Rewards for most local sales – Whichever market has the highest amount of on-line sales, throw a party in that city where one of the stars from the film flies in and attends a party with a few hundred of the people who purchased tickets on line (There would be a drawing to select who gets to attend the party)

    Direct Marketing – Every person who purchases tickets through the website will create a profile. We can then direct marketing activities to each person based on their profile (ie. If they are science fiction buffs, then send them emails with special promotions when a science fiction movie comes out)

    Script Sales – Allow users to purchase the actual movie script after a film has been released

    Comment by Mike Wood -

  212. One more idea…
    When people leave the theater after watching your current movie, give out DVDs and other promotional material of your upcoming movies. I see this type of thing at Angelika but the area (table) is cluttered with theater promotions and community event stuff. Maybe theaters could dedicate space for the upcoming release information. It could even be sold like grocery stores and their shelf space positioning. I just needs to be something more than TVs in the concessions area playing previews – though I do like what you do at Magnolia. It’s good to watch when you’re waiting to go into the theater or waiting on your girlfriend – I mean fiancee (I keep doing that) – to get out of the restroom… It needs to be something I can stick in my pocket, take home with me, and motivate me to visit the promo website… Basically begin to get me to take the next step towards the ultimate goal of going to the theater to watch. Or its a DVD with clips from the making of the movie (kinda like the King Kong pre-movie DVD). You could even repurpose the same material that you post to the website, run on HDNet specials, and give to TV shows like Extra.

    Comment by Matt Griffin -

  213. The way to make the Movie industry more efficient and profitable is to start from the beginning, at the pre prodution stage. My partner and I have a website which will be up soon that will revolutionize the movie industry. If given the proper credentials our site can strengthen the interest in the movie industry. That is where you come in. While our site has many more dynamics that this one feature, I believe the information we can provide you will no doubt increase profitability substantially. We are not looking for investors, we are looking to sell information which we will be gathering. This information will be able to predict how a movie will preform in the box office from the preproduction stages. The site will let people have a say in which movies are made and thus stimulate their interest in the final product. I cannot divulge anymore information that that due to the fact that our site is still under construction. We are based out of Dallas and the site is Thank you for your time.

    Comment by Matthew Lewis -

  214. Text message during movie previews to add that particular film to your “Private Screening Room”. Example; you and your wife are at the theater watching the previews and you both look at each other and say “that looks pretty good”. In the corner of the screen is a number to text to that will add this particular movie to your PSR. We will then begin communicating with you about the movies you have selected.

    Its really a simple idea that will allow you to build a website and database to not only remind people about the movies they’ve already shown interest in but also show movie times and possibly allow you to purchase tickets.

    Lemme know what you think.

    Jim Cooksey

    Comment by Jim Cooksey -

  215. We know that overall, people are less and less enticed by the theatre experience, and with good reason that I need not go into. But, I also see that another problem is a similar problem to whta is happening with DVDs — Double-Dipping. Many DVDs are coming out a year ot two later with special editions, directors cuts, remastered, ultimate, etc. As a DVD collector, it is both exciting and frustrating. Likewise, why spend $20 at the theatre to see the movie, when I can own it 4 months later for the same price? The whole problem is a situation where like many commodity products, Hollywood has introduced line-extensions into their brands. And what we know from commodity line-extensions (say, Tylenol or Miller), they do not grow your marketshare, they simply erode your primary brands. Meaning, Miller drinkers will drink Miller Lite, not Bud Lite. This is what has happened with the Theatre vs. DVD phenomena. And now, because DVDs are where the money is being made, companies are releasing them ealier and earlier, perpetuating the problem.

    Comment by Robby Garfinkel -

  216. Hey Mark,

    This was weird I popped on and just sent you via the contact interface, information about a project becuase I was intersted in using Landmark for the feature presentation. Then I find this challenge.

    I already started solving some of the challenges you list in 2004. That is when it went online, and it is working.

    I created a whole new genre of film. A bit mind blowing, nothing like it was possible before.

    Check it out

    Waiting for your call.

    Comment by Richard Gerber -

  217. …Oh and I forgot to mention but you wil get to text messaging – or SMS, as it’s more commonly known overseas!
    read the full story

    Comment by eezie -

  218. Perception is emotion. People pay for the movie in the theatre for the perception. The big screen and the immense sound stimulate a large part of that perception.

    Do you want to obtain more from that perception? Here are a couple recommendations.

    Give people extra possibilities.

    1 – Discount on the film music while people are at the theater. Give people the possibility to obtain music from the movie i.e. ringtone/mp3.
    How? The visitor who wants a music fragment buys an unique number. The visitor must make a call to buy the ringtone. Every time that they buy a music fragment with an unique number gives bonus points. XXX numbers of bonus points gives a free music fragment. Other download possibilities for mp3’s are hotspot in the theatre or infra-red.

    2 – DVDs have extra possibilities. Facilitate language choices in theaters etc.

    3 – Let the visitors at the theater sms how they enjoyed the movie and link a reward.


    Comment by eezie -

  219. Movie Business Challenge

    First my thoughts on the subject, then I’ll give you actually ideas on how to market movies cheaply like you asked. Feel free to skip the first section.


    How do you get people to the movies without spending money? I think you mean, how can you do it better, as the money needs to be spent, just in better ways. Pretty much how the government can’t seem to spend our tax dollars on the right things.

    I’m a film nerd, so I’m hyper aware what movies are coming out, when and where. I make my decision whether to see a movie months if not a year in advance. I’m part of the generation. If there’s another Rocky movie (there is) count me in. Transformers, you had me right away. I don’t remember the last movie that I went to see because of overexposure. Usually for me, I see the trailer and its an immediate response. Yes or No. That simple. That easy. And in this world, I think people make decisions that quickly.

    Well personally I hate that I can go into a video store (NetFlix really) and have 20,000 movies to see, but I go to the movies and there’s only 10 choices (at best). At any given time, there might be 25 movies that are playing, with the art house films only playing in a small theater. I live in NYC and even for me it’s hard to get to see movies like Strangers with Candy because it’s not playing at the theaters I want to see the movie at.

    A big problem is people want to see the movie they want to see when they want to see it and where they want to see it. In other words, control. People enjoy that they can rent a movie on Friday, watch it on Saturday at 1:33 pm if they so choose and do it sitting on their friend’s couch. It’s on their schedule. When they want. Where they want. How they want it.

    I think movie theaters need to focus on the movies themselves, not putting gourmet coffee at the concessions stand. That’s what the cell phone companies do. They have phones with cameras in them that are better than most digital cameras, but they can’t get the phones to do their primary jobs of making and receiving phones calls. I’d rather my phone work on the subway or in an elevator, than be able to take 3 mega pixel pictures of the subway or said elevator. My point, it’s about the movie themselves, not the fancy bells and whistles.

    I’ve been waiting to see Clerks II for over a year. I love Kevin Smith. It came out July 21st. I love M. Knight. Lady in the Water was released the same weekend. But, on vacation the week before, I didn’t want to see any of the movies playing. Lucky for me, I found a sneak preview of Monster House that was being shown a week early. If not for that, I wouldn’t have gone to the movies at all because I didn’t want to see the movies that were out. If the movie is done, why do I have to wait? I hate that. Just give me the movie. Now. Release the movies by the month, not weekly. That way, I can see the movie I want to see when I want to see it. That way, when I want to see a movie on weekend B, I won’t have to settle for something I don’t want to see or more likely not go to the theater at all. That’s what happens a lot to me and others. For three weeks no movie will come out that we want to see than the next weekend, five movies will be released at the same time that I want to see. And you know what, I end up missing a few of them because before I get around to seeing them, they are gone. Replaced. As soon as the first weekend goes by, they are old news. Marketing creates this buzz and almost 48 hours later, the thrill is gone. I remember the days when movies would be in theaters for a month, maybe two if people went to see it a lot. Now it has to make two hundred million just to last the whole month. It’s crazy. Always give the consumer more choices.

    Do we really need 4 screens showing Spiderman 3 or would you rather have 4 different choices? I would rather have 20 movies to choose from when I go to the theater, rather than 20 screens playing 5 movies. I hate that there’s one comedy movie, one action movie. People hate waiting. That’s what piracy is really all about for most people. It’s not getting shit for free, it’s about getting it now. Seeing it before anyone else does. Watching it on their time. If the movie is done, please put it out so I can see it. Why make us wait? Why hype a movie for months and months. Just let us see it. Please. No one can pirate a movie if you put it out right when it’s done. Make movies more like blogs. Instead of making us wait for a certain date in the summer set years in advance for big movies, how cool would it be if I could look in the paper and see a movie that I didn’t expect to see. What if Spiderman 3 showed up in March 2007 and not May 2007. Would it really make less money. No. It just might not make $120 in 3 days. But overall, it would make the same, if not more, money overall. People will see it.

    Make the movies as close as you can to TIVO/On Demand technology as you can. If the iPod has taught as anything when people want to hear “Stairway to Heaven” they want to hear it. They don’t want to wait until the radio plays it. Movies should be the same way. Let the customer feel that they have more choices and are more of an individual rather than a sheep.


    I think you’re My Space idea you brought up was the best idea I’ve read so far ( I read about 100 posts out of the 1100). Get 100 friends to buy tickets, get 100 bucks. Good idea. Problem is friend A will tell friend B to get the money, but friend B will try to do the same to A. Most people have like 20 real friends, so they will all be trying to convince the same 3 people to see the movie. Nice gimmick, but it’s not going to work because of the money. It will just get scumbags to start spam you via My Space, e-mail trying to get you to click via their website so they get the money.

    I think you need to do some sort of presale incentive program. I would literally buy tickets to Transformers that doesn’t come out until 7.4.7. I would spend 100 bucks right now if I could see it tomorrow. And I’m not alone. However, I suggest reward fans like me by letting us buy tickets for cheaper if we buy say a month before the movie comes out. What would marketing be like, if you didn’t just have estimates for how much a movie will make, but know how many tickets you are going to sell because you already sold 50% of them in a pre-sale.

    Seriously, does marketing really work? I still think Pepsi and Coke should both keep they advertising money and agree not to advertise and I can’t see why they wouldn’t sell the same amount of soda and be able to pocket the extra cash by not advertising. That’s what I would do in the movie industry. Why spend 150 making a movie, and 100 million marketing it, to make, if lucky, 200 million at the box office. What’s the point? Does that 100 million make it’s profit back? My guess is it bring in best 50 million dollars in ticket sales. Like you said, there has to be a better way. Maybe the easiest way is not to spend a dime and like the trailers speak for itself. A few movie posters. Why do they spend so much money marketing Spiderman 3. I’m seeing it. Who are they convincing to see it that wasn’t going to see it anyway? It’s like the political talk shows where people whose minds are already made up either watch the show to nod in agreement or slam their fist in anger. Do you really think people that haven’t made up their minds, listen to Rush Limbaugh or Al Franken. Hell no. They listen to hear their POV confirmed or to hear the other side.

    Give the public more credit. Tell us the movie exists and I assure you we will see the movie or not.

    So let us tell you how we feel. Make a website that will become the next My Space, google, Friendster, cyworld. A place where the public can be the Siskel and Ebert. People love to express themselves especially about movies. Let them do all the work.


    Comment by Matthew Evan Kaplan -

  220. My suggestion is to make the event into a must-see private red carpet special event where groups can get access to the entire theater (think high schools or other large groups). Add some freebie benefits (posters, CDs of the soundtrack). Provide access to email where attendees can post or send a quick review and comment to 3 friends immediately upon leaving the show.

    Comment by Saralyn Bass -

  221. I can’t believe the number of comments you have received on thiis. I have an idea for you that may or may not have gotten already. I didn’t read through all of them and I can’t imagine having the patience to do so. Anyway, have you ever seen a 4D show? I was at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago yesterday and they have a short Spongebob one and it made think of your blog. If someone were to make real, full length movies like this, I would certainly want to go. I know it would take some initial investment in theatres for the equipment but I think the draw would be great. I saw one at a dairy farm a few month ago and there were people in there from babies to senior citizens and it looked like they all enjoyed it. There was one part where a cow farts and you are hit with the smell and a blast of mist and I looked over at the 70 something woman sitting next to me figuring she would be offended, she was laughing so hard I started hoping she was wearing her depends. I haven’t really looking into any of the details of this to guage feasability but if it can be done, you are looking at a huge market potential. Just thought I’d add to your pile of reading and would be interested in your opinion.

    Comment by Mike Quillin -

  222. Sell the Sneak Preview!

    Everyone loves the chance to see or do something before anyone else. The problem today with sneak previews is they are typically handed out as promotions from the media (radio, tv, etc) where you have to *win* tickets. Setup a concert-like ticket sales model where blocks of tickets are released for sneak preview. For big movies you could sell more tickets. The key would be to release enough tickets where anybody could get one if they purchase it between date A and date B.

    Sell out your sneak previews and use it as marketing ammo for the official release. That combined with the word of mouth created by the sneak previewers (which is guaranteed because early adopters love to talk!) will create huge opening weekends.

    This doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be setup for an elite few but rather designed for the masses. As the sneak preview program grows, you add more sneak preview show times. It could grow to the point where your sneak preview brings in as much as opening weekend.

    Comment by Aaron Lewcock -

  223. alot of the reason people don’t come to movies is a) the price b) dvd’s so cheap c) improved home theatre systems. you have to make people want to come to the theatre and spend there money, and i posted a few solutions to that above. here are so some ways to try to get people to see your movie without adjusting anything.

    the cheapest form of advertisement is word of mouth, it’s common sense. but you need a product that’s worthy to be talked about. to do this, set up a few free screenings. afterwards, do surveys. find out which people liked it the most, age, sex, race, etc. market the movie accordingly. tv, radio, magazines, newspaper etc. if the movie is a flop, hault all marketing, no one is going to see a bad movie, because no one will give positive buzz.

    what alot of people have been doing is showing “the first 6 minutes” etc. of the film. show more. show 10-15 minutes. let the people start to form opinions on characters. you can’t get that good of an observation of a movie.

    any product placement you have in your movie, get with them and see if you can put discount tickets in the product. an example, if you buy “wonderbread” you get $2 off your ticket when you go see Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. (his sponsor)

    when someone goes to see a movie, give them a “game card” with the chance to meet that movies star. game card can only be given when a ticket is purchased.

    if i think of anymore, i will post them.

    Comment by Jose Castaneda -

  224. This may stray away from your original idea and my exclude a large portion of your demographic but I’ll throw it out there. Scrap movies, bring in video games. Imagine the response you would get from advertising the ability to play an X-Box 360 game on a movie size screen with movie quality sound. It’s free to watch but costs to play. Games would have to be focused on short turn times. The key is the opportunity for interaction, the opportunity to show off. Tournaments could be created. The possibility for the customer to by more than one ticket to play. Essentially a neo-arcade. My Dad always talks about how much money he wasted as a kid playing pong and dishing out coin after coin. If this became a franchise, online tournaments could form and cities could face off. Imagine the same scenario except we are talking bill after bill. You wouldn’t have problems getting people to the theatre, you would have problems keeping them out. Instead of ticket sales, memberships would have to be formed. As a pose to certain movies playing at certain times it would be certain games at certain times. IMAGINE being responsible for having the video game industry release games to theatres before becoming available to the public. It reduces the concern for piracy because every game is different and it is the interaction people are coming for not the material or plot. Mr. Cuban I would love to fully-assist in the fabrication of this idea. I am 21 and I am the General Manager of a Fastenal branch in Toronto, Ontario. I love my job but I would love this opportunity more. Thanks for reading.

    Comment by Martin Hauck -

  225. check out the i-comm product of

    great communication platform that provides marketers with the ability to deliver rich content ( ie Movie Trailers) at any time to targeted consumers or user groups.

    Comment by Paul -

  226. I haven’t read all 58 comments before this, so I’m sorry if this was said already…

    I think you should only market new movies on really, really hot days. I just went to see a movie today, for no other reason that it was 95 degrees in Seattle. Yeah, I know it’s hotter other places, but we’re used to the 70’s, and have no A/C… so it’ freekin’ hot!

    I spent money on the movie, ice cream and even went in early just to stay cool for even longer. Maybe you could invest in global warming so that your movies would sell better! 😉

    And, I’m lookin’ for a job!

    Comment by Toby Getsch -

  227. Stop paying for attention. Attention itself is the new currency. As attention is getting scarcer you have to pay more and more to get the people to the movies.
    But you can have their attention for free all you have to pay is attention and that doesn’t mean you have to do promotion or advertising. There are other ways think of links as the perfect example of exchanging attention. The more you link to others the more they link to you.

    Comment by Bertram -

  228. Yes, we have a similiar thing here in Arizona during the summer months. You can buy a summer movie pass for the kids, with seven preselected movies and days for a very cheap price. Something like that for adults might work too or how about a referral fee for every friend I get to go see a movie?

    Comment by Lisa Willard -

  229. Use binary option trading sites like to hedge against losses. Sell movie tickets in advance using an auction based system like

    Comment by Eddie -

  230. Just want to add a small idea that works overseas. In Denmark there’s something known as Biografklub Danmark (Cinema Club Denmark). Last year 3.5% of the Danish population joined the club. Every year you can sign up for $12 which will give you a rebate card that gives you a 50% discount on seven pre-selected big films. In the 2005-06 season it covered four Danish films, Mrs Henderson Presents, Memoir of a Gaisha and Match Point i.e. mainstream films for grown ups. The normal ticket price in Denmark is around $10 a piece. The club has been open for 11 years and cover most cinemas in Denmark. In Denmark, this is how you get people like my 58 year old parents to go to the movies 6-7 times a year every year.

    This is hardly the answer to your marketing cost problem, but I just wanted to add this and encourage others to post ideas that has worked elsewhere.

    Comment by Michael M -

  231. Free babysitting within the theater would get me there! Here in Arizona, one of the theater chains offers babysitting, for $6 an hour, but if that was free, my husband and I would be there every Friday or Saturday night, especially if the facility offered some real engaging activities for the kids while the adults are watching an adult movie.

    Comment by Lisa Willard -

  232. hey marky!
    first of all,great job getting the DMs’ to the finals so soon,never expected that.
    too bad they lost,they kinda deserved to win.(KINDA)
    ok now to the movies:
    what the hell r you complaining about?the system right now is pretty good,if the studios don’t spend money how the hell are people going to know about the movie?
    every body is an aspirational idiot these days!!!nobody cares how effing good or great the movie is!!!!it’s just that HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MOVIE?and why,because the damned flick is so heavily promoted!!!!c’mon don’t tell me that u don’t know that hollywood movies(pardon my french)are CRAP!!!they cater to the LCD!!!Exceptions of course prove the rule!!!C’mon man ,Viva America,keep the system running,u’ve got a great thing going,not only does hollywood make barfastic movies but does one hell of a job selling them.
    i should know,because i watch so many of them.
    saludos amigo,keep up the good work with the mavs’.

    Comment by kvb -

  233. hey marky!
    first of all,great job getting the DMs’ to the finals so soon,never expected that.
    too bad they lost,they kinda deserved to win.(KINDA)
    ok now to the movies:
    what the hell r you complaining about?the system right now is pretty good,if the studios don’t spend money how the hell are people going to know about the movie?
    every body is an aspirational idiot these days!!!nobody cares how effing good or great the movie is!!!!it’s just that HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MOVIE?and why,because the damned flick is so heavily promoted!!!!c’mon don’t tell me that u don’t know that hollywood movies(pardon my french)are CRAP!!!they cater to the LCD!!!Exceptions of course prove the rule!!!C’mon man ,Viva America,keep the system running,u’ve got a great thing going,not only does hollywood make barfastic movies but does one hell of a job selling them.
    i should know,because i watch so many of them.
    saludos amigo,keep up the good work with the mavs’.

    Comment by kvb -

  234. The first guy who posted had the best idea. Make movies worth seeing and they will sell themselves.

    As for THE EXPERIENCE; make palces that ENFORCE certain rules and wil kick people out (IE bratty little punk kids) who don’t follow them. So perhaps open a chain of theatres that require you to be a certain age to attend. That would get more adults out for a date night.

    But you can have all those wonderful things and still not have a great product. If movies aren’t worth seeing then it doesn’t matter how you market them. No one wants to go on a bad date. And going to a bad movie can make for a bad date.

    Comment by Todd Johnston -

  235. That’s great that you claim you do “buzz marketing” but you’re (or your ad agency) not doing it right. Look at “Snakes on a Plane”, they’ve done a fantastic job with it.

    I know you say that if it’s been done before you’re doing it, but that’s not good enough, you need to do it RIGHT.

    And.. Don’t go with the MySpace affiliate program, that’s just lame bro and it will not work.

    Comment by cameron -

  236. One of the problems theaters have is there is no compelling reason to see the movie TODAY. There is always tomorrow then PPV then HBO and then the preferred way to see a movie, NetFlix. Combined with the worry that today will be over crowded / unpleasant fellow attendees.

    So have a night to see the movie for the “film club”; that showing is members only; hopefully at most 50% of capacity. It would require the cooperation of the theater owners; but they could get local tie-ins; perhaps more advertising revenue due to demo of crowd. Lexus night where Lexus owners get valet parking since Lexus does things at opera/ballparks. You would test market it in a few markets until you proved it worked. (My outsider opinion is that Movie makers and theater owners prefer to whine and fund MPAA lawyers rather than innovate but perhaps #s/experience would sway them. ) if It would not be about cheaper movie experience ( a theater it night will never be my cheapest way to see a movie.) rather a better experience and a reason to see the movie at the showing or two.

    This is not a general solution to movie attendance. If you have read Gladwell’s Tipping Point, the goal is to incent the “influencers” in that town to see your movie and preferablely early when they can influence more people. If you and/or affiliated movie distributors (you may not have pipeline to justify club) could do a “season pass”; I find that when I do a season at theater/opera/Mavs 🙂 I see performances that I would never have purchased individually, but afterwards say that was pretty good. Thus, you get these “mavens” i think Gladwell called them – people who other people ask about movies – to see your movie even if it is not in their favorite actors/genre.

    So the one sentence pitch would be “using exclusivity and enhanced movie experience to seed the viral marketing.” or perhaps “do you want to spend your promotion dollars on a commercial I Tivo through or on getting the alpha movie watchers in the town to see your movie.”

    N.B.: the caveat is this requires good movies; as my marketing prof used to say “nothing will kill a bad product faster than good advertising.” The last thing you want to do is to have the movie mavens see your bad movie.

    The showings might be useful for surveys. You could even provide a web site (or a way for local theater owner to have a site) so the film club members could use their member number to vote on the movie. And the site gets some local PR (what does the Reno/Austin/Atlanta… film club think about this movie…) Which increases knowledge/exclusivity which drive people to club which gets more movie influencers to see your movie.
    Lee Davis
    P.S. Reno has U of Nevada and is growing rapidly due to refugees from CA; when can you justify putting a Landmark theater here? Please?

    Comment by lee -

  237. It might not be the cheapest but it will be the most effective!!!! NASCAR is the answer!
    as the “new” world’s biggest sport, me included a fan, have seen many a movie on a car going in circles for hours thats continues advertising all the 200,000 in person and millions watching on t.v. and the di-cast replicas and t-shirts verry effective!

    Comment by Nathan Knebel -


    This is the most popular video site for the major 18-34 demographic. People go here to see videos and movie clips. Period. If the video preview is featured, hundreds of thousands of views per day is common. The more people that see it, the perpetual nature of the video’s presence and marketability will flourish.

    See, that didn’t take a million words like some of these other posers and BSers trying to “land a job.”


    Comment by Michael -

  239. This one is a little ‘out there’ so I don’t mind sharing it publicly..

    There are hundreds of thousands of people (actors, directors, editors, etc) who aspire to get on that big screen. Most just wait tables or sit around with their thumbs in undesirable locations waiting for that ‘big break’.

    Why not begin an independent ‘studio’ that utilizes that worthless screentime before a flick (usually static local ads for dealerships or restaurants) for shorts under 5 minutes? These will play 10-15 minutes before the start of the big production.

    1. Anyone who participates in one of these shorts will become your ‘street team’ spreading word of mouth in person and on the ‘net. Their mothers, fathers, sisters, and grandparents will all get into the act as well. You could probably even make a well-publicized competition out of it.

    2. We might get some pretty interesting and creative ideas showing up, possibly raising the quality of films altogether.

    3. It’ll be very cheap (well, it won’t even be close to 60M per) and the labor costs are virtually nill. As a bonus, movie-goers might also feel that they’re getting more bang for their buck.

    4. Concessions will go up as people will start showing up earlier and will have some time in between. Ok, I might be grasping at straws now..

    Basically it’s an independent film fest and viral video in one that utilizes ‘dead air’ (while driving people to the theaters).

    Comment by Chris -

  240. 1 – Make the whole movie experience more enjoyable. Noisy people ruin movies because you miss things that are said, right? Eliminate that by putting tiny speakers in the back of each seat. The sound will be directed at the person and they won’t miss what is said just because the rude jackass next to them is talking on their cell phone.

    2 – Make adult only, say 25 an over, theaters that show movies aimed at the same demographic. Make the seats a little more plush, further apart so you don’t have to bump elbows, maybe a tiny table between each instead of those stupid cup holders that you hit with your knee nearly flipping your drink out on your neighbor. Make reclining seats with a headrest and an actual foot rest on the back of the seat ahead of you. Even at 35, I still have to fight the urge to put my feet on the seat infront of me. Instead of putting an age limit on the theater, you could just put an age limit on times/nights. Another idea is to create a lounge-type area with extra comfortable seating, it’s own surround sound and a waiter/waitress and sell the tickets for those seats at a higher price. Make it a sunken area that can be surrounded by a partition to separate it from the general audience.

    3 – Make something worth watching. Rarely do I see a movie I would watch more than once.

    4 – Buying advanced tickets online at a discount is a great idea. Selling a complete package such as tickets and concessions together or maybe a family package is another idea.

    Comment by Jackie -

  241. The Idea:

    Here is a unique but potentially profitable solution.

    What is the worst part of going to the movies? Besides sometimes having to sit through awful movies? It’s the concessions. Two sodas, a popcorn and some candy costs $20 – $25! Ouch, that hurts! I hate having to pay that much. Everyone does. Even though we like the grub, we still have a the sick feeling that we are definitely being ripped off!

    I know that theaters make most of their money from concessions. I also know that the cost of soda and popcorn is almost zero. The stuff is dirt cheap.

    Here is where it gets interesting. We will setup a membership club called the “Back Stage Club”. Similar to a gym membership. When members join they get 1 free soda and 1 large popcorn when they come to see any movie during it’s opening week. People will love it. I know it might seem like it will cut down on concession sales, but we’ll talk about that in a minutue. What it will definitely do is get a ton of people back in the theaters. Specifically our theaters.

    Consider this: As a member in the “Back Stage” club, am I going to go to the theater down the street where I am not a member? A theater that offers me no immediate benefit beyond the movie itself? Heck no. Even if it is closer, I will drive right past it to pay my $10 to watch it at your theater.

    The Details:

    Putting a price on something helps to create value. So the membership would not be free. Maybe something like $19.95 or $24.95 per year.

    To become a member one would be required to give their email and address. This is where it gets really interesting…..more on this in a minute.

    Once you have paid for a membership you would get one of those key tags or plastic card with a barcode that is attached to your account/membership. Whenever you purchase a movie at the box office (or online) your barcode is swiped (or entered) into the “system”.

    Once you have your tickets you head inside to get your goods. When you arrive at the concession counter your card or key tag is again swiped which tells the staff that your account is valid and you have just purchased a movie ticket(s).

    Once you are “approved” you are welcome to indulge in your free soda as well as one jumbo popcorn. All 100% free.

    The Benefits:

    1. More tickets sold! Knowing that free bonuses await, we will have more people come to our movies. And by putting a requirement of “opening week” we not only create a sense of urgency, but we ensure that they will come during the first week or weekend (statistically important for movie ticket sales).

    2. Less money spent on promoting the movie. Every Friday morning we send an email/RSS Feed to every member which contains upcoming movies, reviews, behind the scenes footage and links to trailers. This gets our message out for pennies…to the exact people who are most likely to act on it….on the day they are most likely to act on it.

    But for best results, we need to take it a bit further. Over time we will know exactly which movies members go to. We scan their membership card each time they buy their ticket. We see the trends. We know if they come to chic flicks or action movies or a mix of both. Maybe they only see Harrison Ford movies or maybe they love horror movies. Whatever it might be, we will know. We then tailor the weekly email to their tastes. Don’t show my wife “Star Wars” content and don’t bother telling me about “She’s The Man”. No thanks. The idea is that the content is now relevant and personal and as a member not only will I appreciate that, I will come to more movies!

    3. Virtually zero cost. Of course we still need to promote the movies on the net and even limited runs on TV, billboards and radio. But the key is limited. Instead of spending 60mm dollars we will spend less than 15mm.

    The cost to implement the membership program is very low. We need software and computer and servers to scan tickets, analyze trends and send email, but the technology for that is very affordable.

    What about the cost of all that popcorn and soda we are giving away? I don’t have the exact numbers, but the annual membership fee of 20 or so bucks would almost cover this in full.

    What about the lost revenue from all those free concessions? Well, lets do some math.

    Current Scenario:
    Lets say I go to the theater 2 times per month.

    I buy two full price $10 tickets on each visit. That is a total of $40 per month spent on tickets.

    I might but popcorn and soda and candy on one of those visits (maybe). Total paid for concessions: $20.

    Total Monthly Revenue: $60. Total Annual Revenue: $720

    Membership Scenario:
    Knowing about current movies that I have an interest in (from the email) and knowing that I have free popcorn and soda waiting for me, I now go to the movies at least 4 times per month.

    I buy two full price $10 tickets on each visit. That is a total of $80 per month spent on tickets.

    I get free popcorn and soda but I still might buy candy or nachos on 2 of those visits. Heck, the $6 I now pay for candy seems like a deal! Total paid for concessions: $12.

    Total Monthly Revenue: $92. Total Annual Revenue: $1,104

    The proof is in the pudding! The membership plan increases ticket revenues by over 50% while reducing promotional costs substansially. We are getting more people by spending much less money.

    There are a ton more things we could do to polish and enhance the club. For instance give members some type of incentive to get their friends and family to become members.

    The main thing to keep in mind is people only care about themselves. They don’t care about our theater, our industry or our troubles. They only what to know, “What’s In It For Me?”

    Let’s give them a reason to come back to the theater. As you mentioned in your foreword for “Marketing Outrageously”; Being conservative when it comes to marketing is really the dangerous path.

    Mark, I am brave enough to help you implement this if you are brave enough to give it a shot!

    Thanks for this awesome opportunity,

    Sean Alsobrooks

    Comment by Sean Alsobrooks -

  242. why not try to motivate potential viewers in a given area by giving them something in return after they see a movie, for example you are going to donate something to a community if they can hit a certain target points, this way the whole community will look at it as a fund raiser activity and a fun way to help the community…

    Comment by dindo -

  243. A) Forget the theatres, you’re on the right track, sell Landmark.

    B) Bring the content into the home, and once again, cue it for display after downloading, in Hi-def, or standard, for more volume.

    C)Charge the same price as the theatre(standard broadcast), more for hi-def, for the convienince of home, and the quality of the theatre.

    D) Produce something WORTH WATCHING.

    Comment by jh dfgd -

  244. You’re Mark Cuban?? Can’t you promote it on Charlie Rose, David Letterman, The Tonight Show, etc? If you did some lame publicity stunt like base jump, or climb a skyscraper, it’d make the news in a big way.

    I don’t understand the dileman, you’re like E.F. Hutton of the 70’s. I own a copy of Enron TSMITR, because of your blog. You’re a hero to many an entrepreneur, and the media loves to put your mug on TV, newspaper, etc.

    Comment by Kirk -

  245. Just had another idea. There are alot more people out there with awesome home theatres. These people are usually passionate about film, and are the “Mavens” and “Early Adopters” or people you want spreading word of mouth about your movie. These people also usually follow the films they want to see for months, if not years, before the movie comes out. Entire weekends are planned around movies. But, most of these people would rather watch the movie in their home theatres, if they had a choice, and they would pay for it. Why not provide some sort of pre-order for the movie industry. People could pre-order a one-time/one-weekend use dvd that would be delivered to their door the day the movie opens. This happens with books and amazon all the time. It also gives you a clue as to whether the movie will be popular or not. If the movie is good, the film fan who bought the pre-order for opening weekend will tell his co-workers and others about the movie who then might see it the next weekend. OK, its late, and I just took some nyquil *sp. Night.

    Comment by Eric Allam -

  246. Mark,

    When you started MicroSolutions, you made sure your customer reps went the extra mile – which drew business to your door that other dealers couldn’t service.

    When you created AudioNet, you made sure you delivered a quality product which the common person understood, wanted and could use easily – which drew huge amounts of traffic to the site.

    When you took over ownership of the Mavericks, one of the first things you did was create an atmosphere where both players and fans WANTED to come to the arena – which drew both fans (many of which had deserted the team) and top players (many of which *never* would have otherwise considered joining the team).

    You already know how to make this happen — create an atmosphere where people WANT to attend your movie by offering a reason for them to do so.

    How? Use the same tools and techniques you’ve been using successfully for the last twenty years.

    Apply the promotional ideas you use with the Mavs — say, by co-sponsoring free (or very inexpensive) outdoor viewings of a movie on a spring night at Starplex in Fair Park with up-front passes given away on 103.3 for the week previous to the showing. This would make an EVENT out of the first few showings, and would raise interest from those who saw it among their acquaintances and those who listen to the station, for instance. Other companies would certainly join you in the sponsorship of this — making it inexpensive, but very effective.

    This may sound equally crazy, but how about showing a specially-made preview (about 5 minutes, sort of like an extended music video) on the Jumbotron right before Rangers games? The previous idea of screenings at the AAC fits in here as well, although IMHO you’ll need to have another reason than just the movie for folks to attend.

    These are just some immediate “quick hit” thoughts. I’ll provide more ideas upon your contact with further interest.

    Comment by E.R. -

  247. Develop a channel.

    Provide price breaks on tickets. Develop an infrastructure so that people can become retailers of your tickets. Provide a 20c price break for 10 tickets, 50c for 100 tickets etc. Then let the free market and competition work its magic. Suddenly all the folks with desirable properties can buy tickets from you and sell them at a profit. You will have hundreds of folks marketing your product in hundreds of different ways, all with a profit motive.

    Develop a way to sell the tickets electronically and support electronic transfers of tickets. Once you have this infrastructure in place you can even do innovative things like auctioning tickets for opening night to really popular movies and then allowing the reselling of such tickets on eBay etc.

    I realize that you don’t really own the tickets, the theatre does but I’m still sure you could make this work.

    Comment by Neil Golding -

  248. The problem you face is one of marketing and advertising in the digital age. With so many options the value of a theater experience has a lot to compete with. Be happy, more people go to movies than vote.

    Politics. Empower people through how they spend their money. Make it work like a vote. The movie going experience is horrible these days despite all the technological benefits like reserved seating. I only tend to go when I really want to support a film, artist or genre, and I show my support with my dollars because I know that’s the only thing Hollywood can effectively measure as a meter of success. I also only buy DVDs for the same reason. I’ll buy crappy movies because they are part of a genre I’d like to see nurtured or expanded until content in that category IS of higher quality. Look at the comic book movie – they were laughable until Hollywood jumped on the bandwagon and started throwing money at it. Then they took it seriously.

    The converse is also true – I won’t give money to a project that involves people I don’t like or whose products I don’t like.

    If I can control whose pockets my money goes into, I will. Think about that statement as it relates to tracking information and purchases and profits and commissions in the digital age.
    The more control I am given, the happier I am about it and more likely I am to exercise that control.

    If my presence in the theater gave me something else, such as a vote in how the company that made that movies spends their money to make future films, awesome, I’ll be loyal to that company. The best it does now is get us a sequel when the take is over 100M.

    Otherwise I am simply just a good little consumer being fed what’s handed to me by people who make a lot more money and who’s opinions apparently mean less than mine. If these high paid marketing people are worth the six figures you pay them, what do you need my opinion for? Get rid of them, slash marketing budgets and lower the movie prices, or better yet, make your business about empowering the consumer. Make their theater ticket count for something more.

    Comment by Jake Lockley -

  249. I think there should be one site, like a portal, and with a subscription fee per month, you can choose your viewing option. You can check new movies trailers out, see reviews, order the movie to watch online (once), download the movie, buy the movie and have it shipped to you, or print tickets to watch it at a local theater.
    The subscriptions could be tier-level based. For example, it’s cheaper to watch one movie a month than once or twice a week.
    I know many people, like myself, who don’t go to the movies simply because of the experience. People ruin the movie experience. It’s great to hear other people’s reactions to the movies sometimes, sure, but sometimes it gets annoying.
    One of the problems I have is seeing a movie trailer before the movie is released, thinking you’ll wait to see it on DVD, and then you hardly see any advertisements about it coming out on DVD, so I never rent it.
    I think you’d get a lot more people willing to watch your movies if they could do it whatever way they want. If they like seeing it at their home, they can do that, if they like the theater experience, they can order tickets online without waiting online. Everything, all in one place for convenience.

    Comment by Matt -

  250. Mark, not to be modest or anything but your better than any other NBA Owner for 1 reason. That is you react with the fans, the people of this country. Most owners try to stay away from the crowd while you make it your main stay to go with them. You and the ex-76RS Owner Pat Croce to me are considered the greatest owners in sports. I dont know of any owner that reacts with the people as much as you do. It may not always be for the right reasons, but your doing your job. Pretty much because people are always talking about you etc..Like if you were to sell something people would buy it just because they know its from you and they can either praise you or hate you for it. This may sound weird coming from me to, seeing as I am no die-hard Mavs fan what so ever. I like the team you have put together, Avery Johnson is by far one of the best coaches in the league, and you have made all the right moves. I live in michigan, born and raised so yea im a Pistons Fan, by head and heart. But opposing fans have to like what you have done, because you open the door for fans like me, to like more than 1 team. To be intrested in a marketing place other than the one you live. I just wanted to say I have appreciated what you have done, and Pistons fan or not, I enjoy watching your shows, your team, and your business.

    Comment by Brandon -

  251. One thing that I’ve always found annoying is having to get to the theater early to try to get a good seat. This problem is compounded on Friday or Saturday nights, or if I’m going with a group of friends. Not only do I have to set aside 2-3 hours for the movie, I need to set aside another 30 minutes-2 hours to get there early enough to get a decent seat. Hard to plan dates, etc, around that. My solution is to do what they do with sporting events, concerts, and theater: have assigned seats. First, this will drive online ticket purchases WAY UP Second, it saves everyone time. Now you just need to arrive 20 minutes ahead of time to go find your seat. To help make my point, just imagine if they didn’t do assigned seating for sporting events, concerts, and theater.

    Comment by Patrick Lee -

  252. The more I think of it, the more I’m convinced that giving away the first 15 minutes is the best way to go.

    Trailers, video clips, myspace accounts for characters, etc is advertising. Advertising puts the onus on you to figure out how to reach people and get them to do something that results in your getting paid. Why bother with this if your business is content? Play to your strengths. A one minute trailer culled from a movie is advertising. The first 15 minutes of a movie is content.

    There are experts who make their living figuring out how to buy, hype, and spread content. Let network or cable TV run the beginning of your movie as a special. They know the business of reaching people. Dump all that hassle on their door. The TV network makes money by running ads on top of your clip, you make money by getting people so hooked on your movie that they go to the theater to see the rest of it. After this, the clip will make it onto the Internet where it will reach even more people without your having to do anything at all. Youtube, google video, pirates, bloggers, etc also already know how to reach people and distribute content.

    Comment by Ed -

  253. I’m single, so spending $10 for a movie and another $10 on food doesn’t bother me, I don’t care. I will go to the movies regardless.

    So while thousands of eager job seekers will be trying to dazzle the “mark-ster” with new fangled marketing gimmicks, revenue sharing, co-branded ad ideas, web things “oh-so-done” to many times, I harken back to a little flick I once saw called “Mr. Mom”.

    Parents “Mothers and Fathers” but moms specifically don’t care how cool or awesome a movie is. Sure, they want their kids to see good movies, but what really matters to them is the bottom line; that’s dollars and cents to us simple folk.

    If the goal is specifically to get more “families” out to the cinema, then make it monetarily benefical for them to do so.

    Movies are movies, and tuna is tuna (“schooner Tuna” to explain my “Mr. Mom reference above).

    To get to the point, a lot of companies make movies, and a lot of companies make Tuna, so if you wanna sell more tuna, lower the price of tuna, but for movies offer a special admission rate for families. Shit, there exists special pricing for everything else in the world based on demographics and other specialized affiliations.

    If both mom and dad go to the show with one child anywhere under the age of 18, the kid gets in free.

    If a family of 5 or more go to the show they get in for $35 total spend.

    Basically, the more volume you move, the cheaper the price. If you’re single, whatever. If you’re a family, no gimmicks, its cheaper because you are a family, not overly expensive because you are one.

    If the average family of 5 get out to the movies 2 more times a year, the money will more than be made up all things considered; admission, eating, merchandise, etc.

    Comment by Brandon Piddington -

  254. Making the “experience” better is great, but wont solve the problem of getting people to see crappy movies. As a theater owner, you can market all you want but you still have no control over what films the studios make. And unless you live in a college town or a city, showing independent movies over Hollywood fare is very simply unlikely to make you any money.

    If you are looking just for revenue, why not have a subscription membership for a theater chain? Pay a monthly fee for a certain number/unlimited movies… exactly like netflix. A theater owner will certainly make much moolah on this since if the cost of the movie is just automatically charged each month from your credit card, you are much more likely to make purchases on concessions at the theater. People will be more likely to risk going to more independent fare, making them more viable and more likely to see a crappy movie… which is still good for the industry.

    This would clearly require creative contracts with the distributers and that would be the main problem. I still think theater owners could somehow manage this, but I’ve never heard of such a system. In such a system, this will certainly mean less money for the blockbusters even if more people actually see the movies.

    A related question is why does the industry focus so much on the money on Monday morning? I know there is obviously a strong correlation between eyeballs and dollars, but its seems very strange that movies are measured by box office reciepts instead of actual numbers like every other form of entertainment. As a theater owner looking to screen a new movie that is, say, in limited release in LA and NY, I think I’d much rather know per screen viewership than per screen take which is dependent on the cost of the going to see a movie in those cities.

    Comment by Nick -

  255. When I watch a movie at my house, I can control everything. If I go out to see a movie I am never comfortable, I always hear all the teen’s talking and the volume is never set right. If you want my money then make it worth my time to go there.

    Comment by Rick -

  256. I’m single, so spending $10 for a movie and another $10 on food doesn’t bother me, I don’t care. I will go to the movies regardless.

    So while thousands of eager job seekers will be trying to dazzle the “mark-ster” with new fangled marketing gimmicks, revenue sharing, co-branded ad ideas, web things “oh-so-done” to many times, I harken back to a little flick I once saw called “Mr. Mom”.

    Parents “Mothers and Fathers” but moms specifically don’t care how cool or awesome a movie is. Sure, they want their kids to see good movies, but what really matters to them is the bottom line; that’s dollars and cents to us simple folk.

    If the goal is specifically to get more “families” out to the cinema, then make it monetarily benefical for them to do so.

    Movies are movies, and tuna is tuna (“schooner Tuna” to explain my “Mr. Mom reference above).

    To get to the point, a lot of companies make movies, and a lot of companies make Tuna, so if you wanna sell more tuna, lower the price of tuna, but for movies offer a special admission rate for families. Shit, there exists special pricing for everything else in the world based on demographics and other specialized affiliations.

    If both mom and dad go to the show with one child anywhere under the age of 18, the kid gets in free.

    If a family of 5 or more go to the show they get in for $35 total spend.

    Basically, the more volume you move, the cheaper the price. If you’re single, whatever. If you’re a family, no gimmicks, its cheaper because you are a family, not overly expensive because you are one.

    If the average family of 5 get out to the movies 2 more times a year, the money will more than be made up all things considered; admission, eating, merchandise, etc.

    Comment by Brandon Piddington -

  257. Growing up in Pittsburgh, my fondest movie memories occurred at drive in movie theaters. Of course, with land values so high nowadays, drive in theaters have vanished. I can’t help but notice huge parking lots at darkened stores everywhere–all that empty space when Walmart, Target, Tom Thumb are closed. If the locations are near nightclubs or heavily trafficked night spots, they are charging 5 bucks for folks to park there. Why not create a Drive In movie night at some of these huge parking lots? Portable screens, close circuit radio broadcasts for audio, have a sponsorship area for food, beverages, and booze. You can affiliate with a large nationwide sponsor..Target Presents…Independent Film Drive In Movie Night at select Target stores across the country..

    Comment by John Smith -

  258. Here’s what I do at a high level. I’ll try and keep it short on your blog.

    1) Build a brand new community site or purchase HSX and upgrade it. This new site will allow people to comment on movies, post ratings, rank their favorite movies and post a profile. You can even give them their own page to link to some crappy myspace page. (SOCIAL)

    2) As part of the site, give them sneak previews, movie trinkets, behind the scenes, etc to generate buzz and word of mouth. Hopefully, they’ll send to friends and family to view the stuff and build their community. (VIRAL)

    3)Use their profile, movie ratings, dislikes, demos, friends etc to data mine and predict which movies they’ll like. Basically pull an Amazon on them for predicting movies (SEGMENTATION)

    4) Create a new movie ranking system that is based on a simple 1-10 rating, number of comments, posts, and community size – could use the old HSX price if you bought it back in step 1. This brings in an eBay feel to it and allows people to drill down. This creates more buzz and confidence for people to purchase the upcoming movie (PEOPLE LIKE ME, LIKE THIS MOVIE)

    Then you market to the people using ads, emails, promotions etc but now you can use the built in predictive model and rating system to improve your ROI.



    Comment by eric frenchman -

  259. There are small movie marketing insights, and then there are the truly BIG PICTURE ideas…

    There are a litany of quick-fix, buzz generating gimmicks, and then there is the one single strategy capable of REVOLUTIONIZING an entire industry…

    Your resume includes having done exactly that in at least three major industries/business sectors that I know of? Question is, are you ready to take on another?

    I have this feeling you are.

    Mark, you issued this incredible challenge tonight, and my Answer to you (via email, ASAP)just might much send an even larger challenge right back at you with the most important question of all: HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT?

    We’ll see. I’ll get my thoughts together for ya, and will be in touch soon.

    Gotta love the HYPE, though! Right? 🙂

    Stay tuned,

    Comment by DStarz -

  260. An easy short term fix is to add value to the ticket and you don’t have to change the price. Offer it as a meal deal, popcorn and pop with a ticket stub. It isn’t just the $8 a ticket, it is $6 for a tub of popcorn and $5 for a coke which turns people off.

    Another thought is to turn theaters into a membership opportunity. You could charge a membership fee on a yearly basis and offer first run movies at a discount price. The benefit for the theaters is repeat business, rather than here and there. I went to 3 movies last year in the theater. I would be attracted to a membership plan where I paid $50 and had a year of $4.00 movie admissions. I would feel obligated to use my membership and the theater would have me there for 20 movies a year rather than 3.

    Cross promote with drop-in day cares and restaurants to make it a “Night Out” for couples and older family members who normally wait for DVD because of young children.

    Some of the marketing should be left to the theaters. Not too often where you have a business when your distributor does almost all the advertising for the product. Some of the responsibility lies with the theaters to get people in the door. There needs to be training of theater management to promote.

    Lastly, continue to add technology to make the theater going experience exponentially greater than waiting for the DVD. I have a big screen, great sound, and a very confortable couch. Many times there is the feeling I am not missing much waiting to watch a movie at home. I can rent for $1.99, have a microwave popcorn for $.25, and a coke for $.50 with no need to put on my shoes and I can pause the flick for a bathroom break. There has yet to be any draw to the theater for a mind blowing experience which can only be produced there.

    Comment by Tim D. -

  261. If only the movie industry could take advantage of the x-number of product placements in any given movie. Producers and theaters should make this a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your” kind of thing.
    I know we always see McDonalds promoting the latest Disney movie with their Happy meals, but think about all of the name brand items that can be found in any one film alone; producers should use every one of these brands to their advantage and advertise the movies through the different channels of advertising for each product that is placed in the film – be cautious though because too much promotion and the target audience’s mind will go numb to the film being advertised.

    Comment by Wendi -

  262. First off I think its pretty cool your humble enough to ask the general public for ideas. On to the topic, here are some of my thoughts:

    1) I don’t think the affiliate marketing will take off. Affiliate marketing can bring a “dishonest” stigma to recommendations. Imagine if your viewing someones myspace profile and checking out their favorite movies. If you find out half their “favorite” movies are affiliates, then they will no longer be trusted for recommendations.

    2) Correct me if I am wrong but most movies now are promoted nationwide, without discrimination of the local demand. Since movies are distributed in large film reels, that are expensive, flexibility in showtimes/locations/entire cities and or regions is basically nonexistent. So if your promoting to regions or areas where the potential demand is low, then it seems like a waste of money. The way to change this is digital distribution, which I know is happening right now. By dramatically lowering the costs and increasing the speeds of distribution, showtimes are much more flexible. Entire regions where money would be wasted in promotion and distribution would be effectivly reduced, as well as costs, and those savings can be used to market in the areas with latent demand. Before a movie is even released, do market research and reduce eliminate the regions that aren’t cost productive.

    3) There is a very large spanish demographic in the US. Telemundo is extremely successful. Why not create spanish specific movies. Thats just a little footnote of a point.

    Good Luck Mark.

    Comment by Eric Allam -

  263. Have movies on opening weekend be an extremely cut rate (let’s say a ‘usual’ price is $12/ticket, this cut price will be $1/ticket), nearly anyone will pay a dollar for a new movie (and also attract people to new movies they may not have exactly wanted to see otherwise). Word of mouth will quickly spread of venues with low prices for the newest movies- if all seats are sold out, then please come back next week when the price is doubled to two dollars. The price could double weekly (on Friday of course) until the fifth week where tickets could be “full” price for the movie in question- the same price all other venues were charging all along.

    I don’t know if this helps, but hopefully it might (I’ve entered my email address in this form). It would create more goodwill and word of mouth, most likely, and maybe shift some eyeballs to more than just the “blockbuster” releases.

    Comment by Doug Stewart -

  264. Market the filmmaker(s) as you would a star athlete. Or better yet, a rock star.

    When Radiohead releases a new album, do you give me a long summary of the lyrical content of each song? No, you say, “Radiohead has released a new album.” And then I buy it. (Or insert whatever artist turns you on.)

    When I went to a movie last year and saw the teaser for Lady in the Water, I didn’t say to myself, “what will you give me to show up for it?” No way. I said: “A new Shyamalan movie? Here’s my $7.50.”

    Most ideas I hear about how to improve movie revenue come down to persuading people to do something they weren’t excited enough to do without some extra enticement (points, free food, fun atmosphere, etc.). But this isn’t what you need. You need people to be excited about seeing the movie.

    We’re all so relational now. We respond to personal connections, real or imagined. The movie business needs to concentrate on playing up the people who create the movies—the storytellers—and making us feel we know them and their work.

    One of the things that gave me confidence in Superman Returns was the fact that Bryan Singer was doing it. I already knew his work was solid, so I felt pretty good about going to see whatever he did next. How much better still would it have been if the studio had marketed him to me as a person, someone I could connect with, and whose vision and creativity resonated with me?

    Identify the people who are creatively driving movies these days, and market the hell out of them as people. Give the consumer someone he can put his moviegoing faith in.

    Comment by Ryan Stauffer -

  265. Mark,
    I don’t know any significant CEO, who would pose a challenge like that. You rock!

    Your main problem today, as I see it, is that I can go to the same theatre every day of the year and they will have no clue I was there, what I saw, whom I saw it with and what I bought. If they had just a tiny bit of info on me they could build a database and predict that I will see anything business related, anything with Al Pacino, anything Italian, nothing scary or girly or blockbusterish etc. They will know that 95% of the time I go with my girlfriend, 80% if the times I go on Fridays and Saturdays, 95% of the time I buy a medium popcorn/coke combo, 75% of the time I go within two weeks of release but rarely on opening night.

    What ought to happen was that, without spamming me daily, every time there was say a movie with Al Pacino I would receive an email or message to my cell phone a few days before the weekend, including a few reviews, a trailer and perhaps a discount for a upsized combo. And since I sometimes go on weekdays they could try and entice me (as oppose to someone who only do Fridays) to go midweek (perhaps at a lower price) rather than on a full house Friday. Obviously, with a higher investment you can build more intelligence into the system, segmenting customers and predict their preferences and increase their satisfaction.

    So what is needed is something that identifies you every time you buy a ticket. A loyalty card may work but has its limitations. I would suggest payment via cell phones – that way you have instant contact info. And the customer could book right away when they are on the go. You could even allow customers to review by cell phone after the movie for a chance to win a prize and increase knowledge of their preferences.

    The studio needs to build the system and offer it for free to the theatres. The studio would get higher ticket sales revenue and have additional upside by being able to more effectively sell other products directly to the customer.

    I know little about the industry. Will I get a chance to learn?

    Michael M

    Comment by Michael M -

  266. As you know, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD have support for network capabilities that can be used to authorize playback. This would typically be used to try and limit the damage from firmware fudges or crypto hacks, but it could be put to more creative uses.

    This Friday, Miami Vice will open nationwide in theaters. I should be able to walk in to Blockbuster on Friday and pick it up on high-def disc. Or I should be able to pick it up tomorrow. Or I should have already bought it.

    But the deal with new-release discs is that you have to network authorize them. So no matter when I got it, I can’t watch the movie until Friday. My wife and I invite another couple over to watch on Friday night and bam, great entertainment experience.

    The disc costs $40. Even after packaging, distribution, and the retailer’s cut, the studios are seeing a higher percentage of this than what they get from the theater chains. And I’m not blowing a lot of my entertainment money on parking, popcorn, and stuff the studios aren’t going to see anyway.

    How does this help cut costs? The discs can be sold days or weeks in advance of the release date. Marketing dollars are extremely inefficient right now because the bulk of it is spent trying to build an instant audience for your film in the Monday-Thursday period before it opens. If you have a larger window to market and sell ‘tickets’ to your film, then your MySpace pages and your viral e-mails with YouTube links, and your other less expensive promotional tools are going to be more effective.

    More importantly, you are going to significantly increase your ‘box office receipts’. I won’t go near a movie theater after having TV ads in an unbearably high volume blasted at me for 20 straight minutes before a screening of Syriana. But I would definitely buy these new-release discs to have movie parties, or just a date with the wife.

    Comment by Corby -

  267. Make the theatre know who I am and what I like. I have yet to see a theatre company make an interactive website where I can log in and see trailers, reviews (aggregated from other websites, don’t try to setup your own – no one will review) or see the movies I have seen in the past. Amazon-ify the movie experience. Then, when that movie finally hits dvd – the website can tell me about it and I get a discount on it (hello Wedding Crashers).

    I would also like to be able to invite my friends; punch in their email addresses and have it send an invitation to them to see it with me (maybe put in entry in my online calendar).

    The kiosks at Keystone Arts Cinema (Indianapolis) are a good start, I don’t have to deal with some highschool kid trying to figure out which buttons to press. What’s the percentage of movie goers who use the Ticket ATM vs use the people? There’s no intelligence behind those kiosks though, they don’t know which movies I have seen.

    The problem with movie theatres is their miniscule level of caring about me as a customer ends at the ticket booth. Is $9 a lot to see a movie? Hell yeah, especially if that movie sucked. Mitigate the suckedness by increasing the overall experience.

    I could write all the software for this, btw. I’m a pretty good software engineer and I’m one of your key demographics (i.e. I use MySpace daily, saw A Scanner Darkly, love the bar attached to the theatre). Hit me up. These are just some ideas I thought of the in the last 10 minutes (hence the spewedness of it). I would love to tell you more. This is my real email address.

    Comment by Josh J -

  268. to Antonio Howell:

    Mark already owns a chain of movie theatres (called Landmark Theatres). He has not yet lowered prices for any of his films. Nor is he likely to.

    Comment by futureoffilm -

  269. Give the movie away…

    and have advertisers pay for the cost.

    people could go to the site and download their vouchers to watch the movie. On the voucher there will be the sponsored advertiser. word would spread so fast and people would come to watch just for the hell of it.. and think about the movie houses who are going to make a butt load of money because now the customer has more money to spend on junk food. it is a win win situation for everyone. and when people download vouchers you are also capturing important demgraphic information for advertisers. i think they do this with TV.

    Just give the movie away… and if it is really good then sell the dvd in 6 months at walmart and people will buy it.

    when do i start Mark…

    Comment by Michael Lopez -

  270. Do you really want us to post the “secret sauce” that will get us a job from you here? Who should I email?

    Comment by Joey -

  271. Offer the first 10-15 minutes of the movie for free online or on TV. If the viewer likes what he sees, he’ll go to the theater to watch the rest. Maybe he’ll even drag his friends along. A nice solid chunk of story is more compelling than the random jumble of scenes in a trailer. It also gives the potential customer an accurate sampling of the movie’s plot, characters, dialogue, etc. This method takes advantage of a good movie’s inherent ability to capture someone’s interest and hook them in.

    Comment by Ed -

  272. Considering summer is the time period when most folks enjoy going out to the movies, it is also a time when most large sports venues are dark and have sporadic activity. For instance, the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Why not host a large movie night at an indoor sports arena on an off night? Volume will bring the costs down for folks to enter the door. Say 5 bucks. Bring on pre-movie entertainment appropriate to the movie, music, have giveways: movie soundtracks, movie passes, etc. Create a fun atmosphere where folks are sharing the experience of a great movie. Most importantly, if the movie is that good, you could potentially have thousands of folks who witnessed the movie first hand, and experienced all of the surrounding hype, they will spread the good news to others..The Mavs had a lot of success showing the away playoff games on the Jumbotron. Why did people leave the comforts of their own homes to head down to the arena to pay 5 bucks to attend?

    Comment by John Smith -

  273. People don’t go to the theater as much because of ticket cost, the price of concessions, etc. People still watch movies though.

    Who says that first-run movies have to be shown in theaters? Why can’t they be shown in businesses, in parks, downtown, anywhere where a mass of people can gather together to watch a movie.

    Charge the same $7 or whatever it would be at the gate or at the door. The thesis here is: Bring the movie to the mass of people instead of getting the mass of people to come to the theaters.

    For example, sell a showing of Superman Returns to a company for an employees-night-out package, where the workers bring their families out for a night of camaraderie.

    Market a showing of a movie to a major retailer, allowing them to play the movie in or outside their stores. They can turn around and market it however they’d like.

    All your efforts would be spent on marketing toward a handful of companies instead of to the masses. Let them worry about how to get these films to individuals.


    Comment by Ryan -

  274. Mark,
    How about if you owned the theater where the movie was showing. As well as being the producer of the movie. You could control the cost of the ticket better. You would be making a bigger percentage of each dollar so you could charge less to the public. That would attract people since they could still get entertainment and not have to pay as much.
    You could develop a movie club system where you get feedback from your community and tailor they movies to their taste.
    A type of movie to be shown in New York or Dallas would be different than Iowa or Idaho.
    If you built or bought these theaters around they country you could eventually have people seeing Mark Cuban Movies. It would be like a Sam’s Club idea. People paying less for good quality movies and you still make money.
    It would require some capital initially but in the long run it would pay off.

    Comment by Antonio Howell -

  275. Offer food and drink with waiters(ushers) ,compimentary popcorn ,coffee and soft drinks for a reasonable proce in a cozy setting

    Comment by Matt -

  276. You may wish to look at Arthur De Vany’s recent work on financing films – he’s also a serious athlete.

    Comment by Claiborne Booker -

  277. Here’s the general problem with what I think you’re asking, though. All the advertising in the world won’t account for what’s fundamentally a “broken” product. As far as I’m concerned, the product needs to be changed in such a way as to make it more viable. This is technically “marketing”, but not quite in the way I think you’re asking.

    Comment by Kurt Mackey -

  278. Good luck getting people to theaters in this day and age where the younger generation has no respect for other people, and if you end up in a showing with the little brats it ruins the whole thing.

    As the other commentor mentioned you make films for a demographic that doesn’t go on myspace etc, so that’s kind of a waste of effort to push things in that direction, the older generations (which seems to be your demographic the movies made are aimed at) will need theaters that are basically audits only, how about a free baby sitting service?

    That kills 2 birds right there, no kids in the room, and no hassles for people looking for sitters, and it would be cheaper to pay for a few sitters for a room full of parents then you could even charge a premium for the service and make even more money out of it…

    Comment by Duane -

  279. Why not make the movies cheaper and then have the movies just sell by simple word of mouth advertising.
    “Napoleon Dynamite” was the example I was thinking about.

    Comment by Antonio Howell -

  280. It’s very simple – make better movies. Great movies sell themselves.

    Comment by Cranky Greg -

  281. The “simple” answer to your movie business challenge is this: take the focus off the movie, put it back on the “night out”. If I were to venture a guess, I’d say that the hardest people to attract to a movie theater are the older than high school dating crowd (including married people on date nights, etc). What attracts those people?

    I know what attracts me and my wife, and there’s a theater in the Chicago area that does it ( They don’t have the best projectors, the sound is pretty mediocre, and we’re still almost guaranteed to go there on any free night we have. What they *do* have is atmosphere, full food and drink service, and a policy to only allow people over the age of 18 into most shows. We’ll rarely go see a movie that they aren’t offering, and we’ll regularly go see movies we couldn’t give two shits about simply because that’s what they’re showing.

    Ripping off Hollywood Boulevard’s entire experience would be a good start, although I firmly believe what they’re doing is only the beginning. The product they offer is enough to get me (a self admitted dirty pirate) to evangelize it to all of my friends, drag my family there when they visit, etc.

    I could go into an entire dissertation on what should be done, but the first sentence pretty well covers it.

    I’d highly, highly recommend checking that place out next time you’re in the Chicago area to beat up on my poor Bulls.

    Comment by Kurt Mackey -

  282. the system is broken. the system is outdated. people don’t want to go “to the movies”. they want the movies to come to them. develop a distribution system that sends the movies directly to the subscribership of your own movie audience. downloadable by advance code only, or to personal dvd players manufactured and marketed by mark cuban. it is the future. it needs to start somewhere. it should start with you. i have details…

    Comment by greg w deibert -

  283. Give people a 20% off voucher for buying the movie’s DVD when it comes out if they go see it at the theater. And, use some of my music in one of your movies… 🙂

    Comment by Thomas Parker -

  284. Why are you so worried that people will have to pay $8-$12 to come and see your movies? What audience are you targeting anyway? From my viewpoint, you seem to produce movies aimed at a higher income, higher educated marketplace to begin with. The Smartest Guys In The Room, Goodnight Goodluck, Akeeleh and the Bee; These don’t seem like productions appealing to a mass audience. So why are you worried so much about the price? I think marketing is purely a function of paying attention to others and other marketing campaigns and people and seeing and observing intently what they appreciate and what they bite on. Myspace is a great nontraditional marketing thing, but it would be a waste of time even for someone making $10 an hour to put up a myspace page for Goodnight, Goodluck. However, taking that movie across University campuses and sponsoring post film discussions with cast members or experts might really make sense. Or let’s take another arty film that did pretty well that in an industry I’m familiar with, music…….Some Kind of Monster. By contracting with VH1 to show that documentary, I be they made as much money if not more than the theater. Why not take it a step further and do guerrilla marketing for it at music clubs and concerts. Take Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room. Why not advertise it by showing testimonials from actual employees affected by Enron and their emotional reactions to the movie and how that event impacted their lives? Why not advertise in The Wall Street Journal? Why not market through a socially conscious investment house, like Calvert mutual funds? They are huge, have alot of individual and institutional investors and that movie ties in with what they stand for.

    Please don’t take any of this as a disrespectful challenge of your business acumen. I have great respect for what you do and I don’t want a job. I just thought this posting was too sincere and too interesting not to respond to. I only stumbled across your blog because I read the Sports Economist some and find the business of sports fascinating. They have a link to this blog.
    I just think you ask the wrong question when it comes to getting people to pay money to see your movies. It’s now how, but who is going to come. There’s where you focus your energies. On the who. The how then should easily present itself to a creative marketing team.
    Unless of course your producing Spiderman 3. Then you just throw up a couple of tv commercials and posters and everyone shows up.

    Comment by Jayson Bales -

  285. OK, how about movie credit points of some range to qualify for a free season pass or single tickets to the Mavs games or other sporting events or valuable discounts to local businesses in the neighborhood? Also, allowing local business to lease a section of the lobby area to sell their products with huge discounts to the movie watchers?

    Comment by Mitchell -

  286. I wont comment for everyone else but I only go to a limited amount of movies at the theatre because of the price. Thats the only reason. I love movies. I watch a ridiculous amount and I buy a good amount of DVD’s also. Its not uncommon for my wife and I to go see a few movies in one evening. The only reason we dont do it more is the money. we are going to spend $20 just to get in the door for one movie and then even more for some drinks. If it didnt cost so damn much we would be going to see alot more. As it is we only go to see what we really cant wait to see.

    Comment by Justin -

  287. This is too easy.

    1) Make great movies (not the mediocre and awful ones that currently saturate America’s theatres).

    2) Marketing? Even easier. Provide free advanced screenings for these great movies to your target demographic group in each city in which the movie is showing, and then wait for the power of Word of Mouth to work its magic.

    THE PROBLEM IS THE MOVIES! They suck. Give people something really worth going to, something worth telling their friends about after they see it, and that’s all the marketing you’ll ever need.

    So my novel concept can be summed up as follows: Invest your marketing dollars in making films worth seeing.

    When do I start?

    Comment by Karma614 -

  288. Why not do what the automobile business has done for years. Sell the product (the movie, or cars, whatever) directly to the theaters at a pre-determined price, then have the studios reimburse the theaters on a per ticket sold basis, in the form of a “rebate.” Give the product away to the consumer. Make your money from the “dealer” i.e. the theater. The theater should be your customer, and the theaters customer should be the consumer.

    Comment by tom jonker -

  289. This is a problem for which there simply is not a one size fits all approach. People in different demographics have stopped going to the movies for a variety of different reasons, so I’ll attempt to address a few.

    I’m going to focus on most of the reasons that my wife and I don’t go to the movies all that often, followed by a few detailing why our parents don’t go as well. BTW, this hasn’t just started – we haven’t gone to the movies as frequently since we were in our mid 20’s (we’re both now 33), and it has tapered off as time has gone on. What’s interesting is that we used to go quite a bit (when we were between 15 and 24), but our movie-going excursions have slowed to a crawl over the past 9 years, though some of the reasons for this semi-boycott have changed with our age. I’ll attempt address a few of those in this space. I’m also pretty sure that the reasons are different across the USA and some of them are seasonal as well. So, think of this as a northeastern US tirade about what’s wrong with going to the movies today.

    1. Movie theater experience is wildly inconsistent. This is true from the size of the screen (i.e. 35 to 70mm) to the sound quality and excessive volume of the theater you are sitting in. You name it, it’s inconsistent. And this is true across franchises (i.e., two AMC theaters in my town are vastly different) as well as the theaters within the complex itself! Not to mention the cleanliness of the theater itself. Why should I pay $20 (plus the high price of concessions) to see a movie with my wife if I’m going to step on a sticky floor on the way in? Would you eat in a restaurant with a dirty floor? And when that happens, and you complain to someone about it, what’s your recourse? Not much, really, other than an apology; in other words, it’s almost expected of the audience to deal with these types of conditions. There is probably more than one way to fix this (see next paragraph for one idea). What if theaters offered optional noise-cancelling headphones (with volume control) for rent for an additional fee? This is just one example of an amenity to offer.

    I think one of the biggest causes of all of this is that most theaters seem to be large chains that have employee #45635 managing “the store”, and he/she just doesn’t care because they’re there to collect a paycheck. The interest/incentive is largely gone. So, what if AMC franchised their brand? In other words, I could franchise with AMC, and I would have a vested interest in making sure that the customers in my location are satisfied because it’s now my business. I want to make sure that my employees are happy, my theaters are clean, they’re packed, and I’m making money.

    The point of this is that I can watch a new release DVD, PPV event/movie, or movie on HBO on my 60″ HDTV with kick-ass home theater sound in a familiar (and consistent) environment, and not pay $20 (plus the candy tax) for the privilege. Going to the movies should be better than that, but it’s just currently not, at least not in the minds of many people.

    2. Babysitting issues. When my in-laws are around, they’re always offering to baby-sit so my wife and I can go out. My parents rarely do this, and finding babysitting is an issue for many, many people. What if theaters offer a 2.5 hour daycare/playground/”romper room” type of program. Even the gym we belong to offers this luxury. You could buy the “deluxe” ticket for the movie and maybe pay an additional $5 per ticket for this, per child. Of course, some of the cost of this would probably have to be subsidized by the concession sales, but that would be one way to get more adults with children out to the movies. You could also offer more showings for marquee movies during the middle of the day to early evening (i.e., 4:30, 4:45, 5:00, 5:15, 5:30, etc.). Parents would get a pager (like they give out in restaurants when you’re waiting for your table) in case there’s a problem and the staff can easily notify you. But, really, this can happen when you have a babysitter at home as well, so there’s not a whole lot different.

    3. The motion-picture advertising is annoying and bordering on pointless. Every time I go to a movie these days, I see commercials for what? Moviefone and Coca-Cola (while I sip my Sprite). I don’t need to see this! I’m already at the movies (and didn’t get shut out at the box office) and I’ve already bought my Coca-Cola product. This is just annoying and I’m wasting 5 minutes. But what if the ads were a bit of a sweepstakes. You know, like “here’s a code, enter it online when you go home, and enter to win [INSERT PRIZE HERE].” Not a bad way to advertise, and it would create brand recognition much faster. Of course, this is only one idea, but you get the picture (no pun intended).

    4. Amenities such as cup holders in the seats, stadium seating, and reclining chairs should be the norm, not the exception. Make the theater a special place to go again. This is somewhat along the lines of #1, but this one is more about the ambience of the theater itself. Again, we need theater managers (or better, owners) who care about their business.

    5. Cut the cost of concessions just a little bit. $4 for a bottle of water is out of control. $5 for popcorn is even crazier. I’m not opposed to the theaters making money at all, but if I were to go to the movies (non-matinee) with my family of 4, I’m paying $35 to $40 just to get in. By the time I get the concessions, I’m out another $20 or $30, easily. This is just absurd, the profit margin is huge, and it’s driving customers away. So, if I can rent a movie for $5 at Hollywood video, watch it on my state of the art home theater, I’ve just saved anywhere from $50 to $65. Fortunately, I make a good living and I can afford going to the movies. But even for me, I think about this cost. If it makes me think, I wonder about all of those who work at an hourly wage and would rather save money by going to the park instead of the matinee. This brings me to #6…..

    6. My parents and in-laws don’t go to the movies primarily because of cost. They’re not quite senior citizens, so they don’t get a discount. They can’t make it to the early matinees because they’re both working (at their own small business). So, they’d pay full price for a ticket, and pay high prices for concessions. Now, they realize that prices have inflated since the 1950’s and 1960’s, but movie theater pricing has soared out of control. I frequently hear my dad refer to the 5 cent slice of pizza. Of course pizza has inflated too, but you can still grab a slice of pizza for $1 or $1.25 in some places. Movie tickets and concessions are just too high, and many people have a hard time justifying this cost.

    Comment by RB -

  290. When looking at the problem of movie marketing there is no one-shot silver bullet that will change the industry overall. Sorry, but if anyone would promise that you’d be one hell of a sucker offering them a job.

    Now let’s look at why I believe is the chain of events. It starts with the product. Most movies coming to the market stink. Ok, we all know that bear with me. What makes this worse is that through their strangehold on the distribution pipe studios who bring out the big sure-fire winners also stuff their loser projects into the distribution, which pushes out a more balanced selection, which in turn drives away lots of people.

    1. In order for the industry to change overall, the distribution system would need to be made a more level playing field. Ok, not a marketing idea per se, but certainly a big shifter if pulled off.

    For a more convcentional, marketing approach I would offer the following.

    When people go out to see a movie, it is a conscious choice to forego other, competing offers of entertainment for several hours of their life. It’s not just two hours of one film, there is a whole chain of things you need to go through (or endure for some people) to pull it off. For some people, it seems, this has become to much of a threshold in invested time and money compared to the competing forms of entertainment (veging out with a DVD say).

    So, the marketing of the theatre experience needs to focus on the whole experience, not just the individual movie.

    First, like you mentioned in your latest post, I’d segment. Make venues for teens, adults, and probably blockbuster entertainment and the more cinematic crowd.

    Then that whole experience needs to be promoted as a complete night out, that stands out as an affordable package overall. I’d include those activities with the movie ticket, so discounts on restaurants or bars, which can’t be just generic places for everyone but would need to cater to the forementioned segement. So, fast foody, cheap places for families with kids, and more exclusive places for the art house crowd.

    This could create a whole set of different movie-night brands for their specific audiences. Not just one bland multiplex.

    You could also make these places like clubs. So, I join the Art House club, and that will give me discounts or early screenings, prize draws for signed DVDs or scripts or whatever excites me at my specific theatre brand.

    So, my advice would be two-fold, lobby with whatever peer organisation exists to see what can be done about distribution for a long-run approach.

    Create theatre brands around their audience with participating secondary venues (like bars, restaurants or arcades) in the immediate area. For the cheapers brands probably right in the venue itself, for the more upscale or artsy brands not in the venue to preserve the atmosphere of individual and exclusive service.

    Comment by Axel Toelke -

  291. Don’t waste your time. Going to the movies sucks. Too much hassle. No amount of gimmicks will reduce this suckage.

    Once theatres ruled. Now they compete with too many alternative sources for entertainment. Its a lost cause.

    Comment by Mark Turner -

  292. Why are people attracted to the movies over other forms of entertainment? You can also ask why do people go to a night spot and spend $6 on a Budlight they can get at a dive bar for $2 or buy a 6 pack to take home for $10?

    People go to the movies and spend the money for the same reasons they go to those nicer nightspots.

    1. Makes you feel special.
    2. Everything tastes, looks, and sounds better when you are in a better environment.
    3. Makes you feel special.

    Bars for the most part do not spend millions of dollars to make themselves attractive to highend customers. They focus on presentation, customer service, and making the customer feel special. A customer spends $250 for a bottle of vodka worth $25 dollars because of all the little things that go with it not just to get a bottle of vodka.

    Movie theatres do not need to spend the vast dollars required to make themselves as grand as theatres in the past. They need to realize they are competing with putt putt golf, comedy clubs, and Dave and Busters as much as DVDs.

    There needs to be a cultural change in the management and presentation of the theatres. Attention to detail is vital and really not expensive.

    1. Make sure the place is clean and everything works. Improved cleanliness and maintenance is huge.
    2. Much better customer service.
    3. Consider VIP options for higher prices like box seats, special customer service in regular theatres.
    4. Special first class theatres and accommodations including the best of the best A/V technology, seating, service, etc. For a higher price or through earned points.
    5. Make an actual members club special that will attract your largest demographics.
    6. External and internal design and decor improvements that are more attractive but are superficial and easily upgradable and changeable with the times.
    7. Local marketing campaigns that pull all of the changes into a brandable effort to make the movies an experience worth having.

    Comment by Michael Lee -

  293. Going off the currency idea, Customers can use the ticket stub to purchase the DVD version of the movie at a discounted price. Rather than paying twice for the same movie you just watched, customers can use the price of admission to pay for a portion of the cost of owning the DVD.

    Comment by Edward Chan -

  294. First up, don’t want a job (have a pretty good one already, I run slingshot studios – an Arts Alliance backed company and the UK equivalent to HDNet Movies + Magnolia).

    But am grateful for your challenge as it crystalises the problems we have been grappling with as we gear up to release our first movies next year.

    Here’s how we think about it:

    FIRSTLY: that going forward the marketing of niche films is going to have to be a lot LESS about undifferentiated media buying and a lot MORE about a long term, direct mutually consensual two way relationship between creative talent and their core audience.

    SECONDLY: that at the key of this two way relationship is a recognition that a successful film’s function is to fulfil profound psychological needs for its audience, and it is only through an understanding of the specific emotional needs that the communication can be meaningful.

    THIRDLY: that Web 2.0, analytically driven CRM and associated technologies enable this direct relationship between producer/film-maker and audience more effectively across a wide number of people, then has previously been possible.

    OK, now let me anticipate some objections and critiques.

    First, yes, our focus is on niche films, not block-busters. But I think that is the more interesting place to start this thinking.

    Marquee marketing, by very definition, is going to be expensive. The expensive bit of marketing is when you can’t target because you don’t know who your audience is so you have to let them self-select.

    The challenge therefore is effective targeting of an audience group that cares about what you have to sell.

    With effective targeting, you don’t need huge spend because (a) you know Now that’s easy (as you admit) for the 10% of movies with a clear special interest group large enough to matter and congregated enough to be easy to reach through focvused media and grass-roots activities. (e.g. christians for THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST).

    But how does one effectively target for movies that don’t have such a specific niche to serve?

    I think that’s where the second leg of my hypothesis comes in. That the core motivation for seeing movies is an emotional one.

    Everyone knows this is true, from their personal experience, but despite that knowledge, most movie campaigns target demographic groups rather than socio-psychological ones.

    Why? Because psychological segmentation and targeting is hard. And messy. And heavily analytical. And the people who like hard, heavily analystical, messy work tend not to live in the marketing departments of movie companies.

    Where do they live? We’re finding them in the pollsters who work for political groups; in the folk who shift high end consumer goods (automobile) and in the people who do the fan base management work for sports teams and other long-run fan groups.

    Once you can target socio-psychollogically, then the size of niche is no longer limited by the size of the lifestyle group (bird watchers, skateboarders) but instead by the size of the niche for whom the emotional need that the movie fulfils is an important one (generally much larger).

    And that’s where the final leg of our hypothesis comes in. Its not enough to be able to identify these people, you need to be able to manage a releationship with them over a long period of time. Not just the 12 weeks before your film opens, but the 12 months from the day it goes into pre-production, till the day it comes out. And you have to do that cost-effectively, which was impossible pre the internet, but it beginning to become more possible now.

    That’s not the whole of it, of course, one still needs decent movies and good venues to see them in (and I like a lot of what I have read about theatrical experience here) but its a start.

    Lets see. Our first film shoots in 3 weeks. Its marketing starts in 2 weeks. Watch our blog for how we do in reducing that cost per audience acquisition…

    best, Arvind

    Comment by Arvind Ethan David -

  295. Mark,

    Why spend your money and time on trying to drive or pull 5 million people to theaters, push your content to the medium where those 5 million people can access the content with little effort. Then you are working to meet their needs versus them being pulled to meet your needs.

    Currently, your approach is tied to the hopes of changing peoples behavior or habits, very difficult and expensive to do my friend on a mass market scale (ask John Kerry). Find out how people are currently consuming entertainment content and create a economic model for that medium and people will come to you.

    Comment by Keith White -

  296. How about giving a DVD of the movie away with every ticket from the first weekend showing?

    Or an on-going contest to win a free movie pass good for a year with the purchase of a ticket? Or a contest to show a private screening of the movie of the winner’s choice?

    Bottom line, I think theatres, yellow pages, and printed TV Guide will eventually go the way of the dodo (although I’ve been saying this for years now…and it hasn’t happened yet). I really want to watch movies at home…I don’t care to mess with annoying people, expensive food, crummy seat selection, and waiting 30 minutes for the damn film to actually commence.

    Comment by Jeff Hunsaker -

  297. Four Eyed Monsters was the best indie movie i saw this year. these two film makers are incredibaly talented, and have built an audience that would rival some bands, with just myspace alone. i would defentaly recomend you bringing there film to your theaters. i would be a breath of fresh air that is sorely needed.

    Comment by peter -

  298. Set up a stock market to finance movies.

    Rather then having to make an extremely risky bet on 1 movie, investors could diversify away that risk by investing in an entire portfolio of movies. This would bring liquidity into the movie investment market, allow studios to hedge their bets, and provide the industry with information on which movies the market thinks will be profitable.

    Comment by Alex -

  299. In-theater pre-movie versions of “American Idol” type contests, using YouTube-style content: music, video shorts, etc. Could have several tracks or themes. Theater audience votes by cell phone. Might actually become a more compelling reason to go to the theater than the movie.

    Comment by Steve Hargadon -

  300. Make them think! Movies in the past offered an experience that could be had no where else. Now people are accustomed to interactivity and their comfy home theatres. So the question becomes how to make the experience unique again?
    Put a deciferable code or riddle in the movie that leads one to a prize of substantive value. Michael Stadther did this with his children’s book “A Treasure Trove” with great success. It took several months for people to find the objects, and the book became a bestseller.
    This would create the things you are looking for in a movie opening: a buzz, an urgency to see the film, and a reason to see multiple times.
    You would be talking about it after the film more than the “yeah, it was good” usual after movie chat. People respond to unresolved questions. They can’t get stop thinking about it until their mind resolves it in some way. I believe people want to think, not be given random prizes. DON’T MAKE IT EASY! This engages them in the expeience even deeper than just a emotional connection to the film. Movies like Da Vinci Code and Pirates of the Caribbean were taylor made for this kind of promotion – but their success also shows how close people relate to these ideas. Go Mavs!

    Comment by eirkt19 -

  301. There are major factors for me not going to the movies as much:

    1) Rude people. Theaters need to invest in a few “secret viewers” that are bouncers. Talking on a cellphone should be an immediate expulsion, whereas ringing and turning it off is excusable–people forget. Disruptive talkers should be warned once in a normal way, like “Shhhh.” That way, everyone could do it when you don’t know if they’ll bounce you.
    2) Too many movies. I remember when there were less movies to choose from, they were more likely to make money due to “held over by popular demand!” Plus, they throw all of the contenders together in the same week. That forces people to choose.
    3) Bad theater locations. I live on the East Coast. 90% of theaters are in (or quickly become) crime-ridden locations. There has to be a correlation.

    Comment by Robb -

  302. Cost seems to be the biggest issue with going to the movies. AMC and Dickenson seem to make a killing everytime i go. I’m not sure what kind of cut AMC gets from the movie maker but I think they make most of their money on concessions. Pop, Candy, and Popcorn have gotten out of control you almost have to get a loan just to have a snack at the movies. It has forced me to get my snacks at the store and sneak them in. Maybe the big stars of the movies like. Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks you know the big stars could pool their money and make a smaller chain of theaters that don’t rely on Popcorn to pay the rent. I mean really do ya need 24 screens? I think not. Price is the issue. Until someone comes up with a place that doesn’t charge $15.00 for a tub of popcorn the size of a compact car people will continue to avoid the theaters and just wait for the DVD or HBO to show it. Also how fancy does the theater need to be, it’s dark in there. Sure make it comfortable but do ya need 1000 reclineing chairs. We need to make a different and fun atmosphere. Allow people to bring in McDonalds and sit at a table and eat while they watch the movie. I don’t know all this has probably already been said i didn’t read the other bazillon comments. Thank you for your time.

    Comment by Matthew Eplee -

  303. well… i recently heard about what you were asking and decided to follow up on this. these are my thoughts

    first off… i know certain companies will pay big big money to get their products or items into movies or tv, why not in their request of the movies or tv stations using their products make them promote the movie or tv show in turn of them getting their pizza, or drink, or furniture on the movie… for example, ikea says ok i will donate and give you an x amount to put these room furnishings into your room, so that people when they see it will want it…. so in return (along w/ them already giving you the products to furnish the movie set, and giving you money to promote their products) it is their responsibility to also promote the movie. it will benefit them too. lets get more specific. ok lets take a random general teen movie. the teen character in it has a razor cell phone by cinuglar, a house furnished by ikea, a car donated from honda, and clothes by american eagle. all of these items will be showed in the movie, trailer, or posters maybe… but they will most likly give you money to put these into the movies or they will ask or offer for them to be used w/in the movies so that their products get exposure. your most likly getting money to put these into the movies, or you are getting things donated so that is less money having to spend on the set of the movie. so you say.. in return of us using your cell phone in the movie you send out a national text message to those that except advertisements to go see the movie or adveritse it in some way, for the house in the movie furnished by ikea, you say ok, put up posters in your store to advertise the movie or give a flyer to each customer that checks out that they can get the stuff seen in that movie @ their store, you tell the car company honda that their car can be used in the movie if they will promote in some way, like tickets to the movie if they come in for a test drive or to the premire or something. for the clothes donated by american eagle, advertisements that expose the movie on their catalogs, window displays or any other type of marketing means that they use. all companies already advertise their products why not have them promote the movie while promoting their products also. (i did not use any of these products for a reason, just for example)

    i see it as, you need to use the outlets available to you. if they want you to use their products, then make them do some of the leg work of promoting or get something else in return…. basically thats what the movies are doing for them, its getting their products exposure and on the market. if there are people wanting to give you products or wanting to pay you to use their products then incorporate them marketing the movie also.

    on a further note…

    we all know actors and actresses are well compensated for their time well spent on and off set in filming a movie. the movie company should make them, in their contract, promote the movie. like radio show tours, late night and early morning shows, the entertainment shows, and various other media outlets. i know most actors and actresses already do this because i hear it and see it all the time on radio and tv, but make it necessary or offer a bonus for them to promote. celebrities are a great marketing ploy which i know you already know. it happens all the time and im not quite sure how all that works but i just wanted to bring that up also.

    best of luck!

    Comment by Kelli Townsend -

  304. Could I suggest that you take a look at the practices of the Utopia cinema group here in Luxembourg ( According to their annual report, in 2005 they sold 3,480,517 tickets, and this in a country with about 350,000 inhabitants.

    Everyone here goes to the cinema – you always bump into half a dozen people that you know. It’s a fairly civilised experience, with several good restaurants, either in the big multiplex or just along the road from the smaller cinema which shows the less mainstream films.

    The big multiplex was built about ten years ago, and has 10 screens with between 120 and 500 seats each. They all have THX sound systems.

    The cost of an evening at the cinema is probably not a big issue here – Luxembourg has the highest per capita income of any country in the world – but people are fussy about the quality of the experience: food, projection equipment, sound and the general sense of a pleasant evening out are what keep people going to the cinema here.

    I think it’s fair to offer this as an example of what can be done.

    Comment by John Allen -

  305. .
    Give each person who buys a movie ticket a scratch off lottery ticket when they leave the theatre.


    Comment by tiptoe -

  306. Open Challenge:

    How to market movies in a completely different way, without spending 1,2, or 3 times the initial revenue received opening weekend?

    With every good idea comes incentives.

    Spending any amount of money to see a movie is unavoidable. The movie chains will charge what they think is a reasonable price. Reasonable prices to then depends on the market they are in, and how much they think is reasonable to charge a guest to get them to go to a theater Speaking from some experience I work at a movie theater in North Dallas. A ticket to ranges from $5.50 to $7.75 depending on the day and time you see a movie. We also have an IMAX theater where a ticket ranges from $9 to $11 dollars. Not speaking for the movie company I work for but i think that is reasonable. We have a few issues on getting people to come see a movie. We do some things different to try to promote movies than some of the other competing movie theater chains in the area. Some theaters will simply just put up a poster to say that a particular movie is playing or going to play at that theater Some add on with movie standees to promote the movie. Other things include give-aways (ie: key chain, mini posters, hats, shirts among others). At our theater we also receive t-shirts for the employees to wear while working. Now I know that some if not all of the cost of producing the shirts come from the production company itself. But what I like is that the movie theater chain that I work for challenges every theater to come up with any ways that they can promote certain movies. In fact I feal that we are encouraged to try to come up with ways to promote every movie. And as you know with every good idea comes incentives. There are also certain movie chains that give incentives for a good original ideas on promoting their movies.

    Here are some ideas on what we do to promote a movie:
    Lobby displays (The bigger the better. An eye-catcher)
    Mini posters tiled on the walls in parts of the theater
    Paint the entrance glass windows
    Paint over old standees to make original new ones to tie into the movie we are promoting
    Decorate hallways (Even if they are not seeing your movie then it catches their eye to see your movie)
    On some occasions we have dressed in costumes to promote a movie.

    My basic idea is that let the movie theaters promote your movie for you. Because it is their goal to get people to come to the movies. You would have to spend less money on any other costly promotion. You can cut down on advertising on television, newspaper, and any other costly advertising. You can still use less costly advertising such as Myspace and Company websites. Now that we in the digital ages, when you make a movie trailer get movie theater chains to play it on there own web pages. At the least get them to put a flash or non-flash banner on their home pages. Let the theaters do the promoting for you it will cost you less money and worries. They want the business as much as you. And they will spend there own money to do it. Get in good relationships with the theater chains and you will get come free advertising. There also may be away to get some money up front before the movie comes out, if you can charge the movie guest directly with a pass to see the movie. The movie theaters may like that since they get most of there money in concessions anyway, and not on the ticket sales.

    Just a few ideas

    Comment by Jonathan Jenkins -

  307. Why did so many people respond to THIS challenge? It’s interesting, it might make a small difference in the world, and we get to compare our thoughts v others. But that’s not it. The real reason is the chance to learn from Mark Cuban and the project, not just in a one day meet and greet, but over an extended time, through a job. How can this concept be applied to your movie business challenge? Just like there is a wall between billionaires like Mark and us, there is too a wall between movie stars and their audience. Give the audience a real chance to break down that wall, to meet the stars of their dreams. They make millions from us, certainly they could spare some of their time and attention to interact with their adoring audience. Want to learn how to act from your favorite star? How about just a phone call? How about a date with a movie star?

    Well, if you sell tickets through a unique link, then the top 5 people will get the chance to fulfill their dreams.


    Comment by Nick Thorsch -

  308. Well, I was waiting to be response #1000 – not too often you see comments run into those sort of numbers. I’d love to read everyone’s comments here, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Maybe before I die…

    … I already commented about this earlier on my blog and I think you might find the comments useful in your efforts (see my article “A Few Free Ideas for Movie Theater Owners” at .

    However, after reading some of the comments here, I like the idea of social networking to push a film. A code could be printed out on the movie ticket for participating theaters which would allow the ticket holder to congregate “invites” (similar to Gmail’s limited invites) which they could, in turn, email out to folks who would received heavily discounted ticket purchases (like half-price). Caveats would be they that they have to be purchased online (keeping theater costs down by not encouraging dealing with people at the ticket counter) and that they would be “delayed” in that they couldn’t be used the same day (at the least) – or more perhaps like a week or two in the future. It might help give movies a bit of staying power, and the more frequent movie goer who collects his ticket stubs could also earn points toward purchases of the DVD when released. In fact, better would be that if he earned enough points through a particular studio (20th Century Fox, for example), he could go online and have a DVD of his choice sent to him – for free. He’d have to see like 20 movies from this studio – plus send invites that were actually used.

    Comment by Lawrence Salberg -

  309. You and I both know that this is a bull shit challenge. I have spent most of my entire career in the exhibition industry and if the movie is right the audience shows up no matter how much was spent on advertising and if it sucks they don’t show up or you have a 60% or 70% drop in attendance after the first week, because you suckered the sheep in on good marketing and word of mouth killed it.

    Price doesn’t matter either the same people that bitch about the cost of tickets and concessions are also spending $50 or $60 bucks a month on cable TV and even more on DVD purchases or rentals each month not to mention the cost of their home theater and the food they had to buy to create their large couch potato asses.

    What it comes down to is this; most people are sheep. They will and want to do whatever the other sheep that look and act like them want to do.
    Your idea on having venues to attract specific demographics is not bad except the cost of constructing those venues and getting existing exhibition companies to follow suit. Right now it costs about $800k per screen to build a decent theater. Are you going to build those theaters? If so, in which markets that are underserved? Right now all markets are overserved there are more screens than needed already out there!

    Landmark theaters barely drives enough attendance to even make a blip on Hollywood’s radar and the same goes for the so called dinner theaters.

    Mega-plexes drive the industry and always have since thier inception. The problem is and always will be that in todays society no one respects themselves or one another to allow everyone to enjoy the show. And that is why home theater has become a booming business, but has that hurt exhibition… hell no!
    Most exhibition companies continue to see increased attendance at their locations unless hollywood has a bad year like last year or another theater chain builds right on top of another and so on. But even with the bad year look how much money was made! For exhibition companies it is all about location and quality of the product. Maybe quality is not the best word… making movies that the average joe wants to see.

    The whole idea of this challenge is stupid and really kind of whiny on your part. “I don’t want to spend money promoting my movie” why is that? Probably becuase it sucks. Movies are not sandwiches they are art; they change peoples perceptions of the world they entertain and they are not one of lifes necessities.
    Different types of movies attract different audiences that need different types of marketing to reach and cost different amounts of money to make or promote properly; there is no magic bullet.

    I don’t necessarily want the job but I am interested in finding solutions to the problems that are hurting this industry. I have been a part of the digital sound revolution which took forever. I am currently experiencing the digital content revolution which is also taking forever; and also by the way the average movie goer is oblivious too and does not seem to care about at all. Unless of course it is some star wars geek or lord of the rings loser, then it matters.

    Think about this… when the release window from first run to dollar house and dollar house to video was longer the movies made more at the box office and the excitement of the video release was even greater because people had to wait. It is human nature, if you have to wait for it you think it is better. But no one has the patience, the studios want the money now, they are not interested in building a movie franchise anymore. Just throw it against the wall and see if it sticks! And apparently now we want to distribute crap without having to pay as much to advertise it.

    If you want to change the industry in which you are barely a player in; then you are going to have to think about all of its needs not just marketing. And stop whining about the cost of marketing! If you make a decent movie the cost becomes a lot less important.

    Hope you find your miracle cure to sell crap to people without costing you as much. Since I am in the crap business I am sure I will benefit someway as well.


    Full time Theatre Manager

    Comment by Theatre Manager -

  310. I’d agree with those that suggest giving away the first ten minutes of the movie as a “teaser” of sorts. Get people involved with the characters and they’ll inevitably want to know how the story progresses.

    But I’d suggest going further than that; Make those ten minutes the central part of an advertising campaign. Take those first ten minutes and;
    – Post DVDs in direct-mail style advertising to people’s houses. Pick up your mail and, instead of just throwing out all the junk, find the first part of a new release movie. Contrary to popular belief, most people don’t watch video on their computers, they watch it on their TV. Bring the experience to their TV.
    – Allow people to download and redistribute it. I know this may seem like a copyright-induced headache, but there’s nothing more frustrating that “…buffering…”, followed by a stuttery ten minute clip with scratchy audio. Let them download it, then share it with friends. Don’t try and control their conversations, if they’re fans then all will go well (and if they’re not fans then they’ll just ignore you.).
    – Buy ten minute TV spots, before or after prime time shows.
    – Have the clip played immediately after a related movie in the cinema – and I mean immediately. Have the cinema split screen the credits of the previous movie, if they must.
    – Loop the clip on big screens in public places, bars, etc.

    These are just a few ideas. Remember; a good movie is your greatest asset, and you can leverage the movie itself to build an interest in your audience. As soon as people become connected to your story and the characters, they’re one step closer to being paying customers.

    Oh, and public perception of your movies may actually improve, since everyone seeing the movie will have some idea of what it’s like beforehand. No more mismarketed movies means no more scathing backlash.

    Good luck!

    Comment by Sean Cohen -

  311. Tell me again why you want the cinema step? For the price of going to the movie for my wife and I we can PURCHASE the dvd. One off cost, watch when we want. If big ticket movies went direct to DVD I would be picking them up on release day. Have movie rental places handing out free preview disks and keep the marketing going. Do not fill up dvds with anti piracy or ads or any of the junk. All it does it makes a pirated version look like a better option.
    Some cinemas would survive based on the “cinema” experience. Most wouldn’t because people dont WANT the cinema experience (ie loud annoying people, sticky floors and a poor quality scraty picture).

    Comment by Trav -

  312. Its simple Mark. You create gangs across the country/world for certain types of movies (action, drama, bios). Those gangs become popular, people want to become part of them b/c its the cool thing to do. (they do everything from critisism to marketing the merchandsise) Just think Harry Potter, there was a “gang” thing goin on. Then when the movie comes out the “whole” crew goes and sees it. (millions of people) Very hard to explain, but your a smart guy, figure it out. Now whats my salary going to be?

    Comment by Steve -

  313. geez, mark. i don’t know.

    how about a reward card system?

    case in point,
    awhile back, ferre’s in uptown sent me a package that included two tickets to magnolia
    and a meal. it worked. my girlfriend
    and i had a nice meal and saw
    the peacefull warrior.

    how about expanding upon that concept?

    i would reimburse the customer,
    not the refer. men’s warehouse has such
    a reward card.

    basically, you want me going to the reward
    card web site before friday night festivities.
    currently, is my only choice
    for specifics about dallas, which i read

    i see is for sale.


    Comment by John Scott -

  314. Subsidize movie hopping.
    Sure this won’t revolutionize the movie industry, but bored college students are perfectly willing to spend an entire day in a theatre, and often do. We would be willing to pay a reduced cost for subsequent tickets.
    Or perhaps an “all-day” ticketing system. Ask hoppers to pay $18-20 for a ticket (preferably about $.50 less than the cost of 2 tickets) and go to as many movies as they want, all day (no in-out privileges). The longer the hoppers, the more we spend on concessions. You can mark the tickets on the way into the theatre to keep track of who sees what and thus disseminate money to the right people.
    This can also solve the dilemma of moviegoers who want to see two different great movies, but can’t decide which to see.

    Comment by Dean -

  315. Why don’t you offer a free ringtone or music download with each movie ticket purchased.

    Comment by Julie Burkhart -

  316. You need to change the way you think about the problem. If your goal is to “get people in the theater,” good luck! Consumers have far too many entertainment choices today – including being entertained by in-home, DVD-equipped, TIVO’d HD TVs. The theater experience isn’t nearly as unique as it once was. Throw in the overly-busy-with-work-and-kid soccer-game parents, and it’s not a far stretch to understand why attendance is declining.

    If I were in the movie-making business, my ultimate goal would be to make great movies and profit by distributing to the public using efficient strategies. If I could not determine how to get customers to theaters to view my product (which a lot of smart people can’t figure out), then I’d work on strategies to get my product to customers.

    Stop thinking under the foundational assumption that movie marketing is the problem. The problem is the necessity for customers to go to movie theaters to consume the product.

    Comment by Fast Follower -

  317. Advertising does work to get people to the theatre, but where can you place ads that get seen and are cost effective? I spend a lot of time on airplanes and so did 660 million passengers last year in the U.S. A lot of these planes have no entertainment, so there’s a lot of time spent looking at the back of the seat in front of you. Why not put movie ads on the back of the tray tables and on the front. When the trays are up, there’s an ad in front of the 660 million passengers’ face, and when they put their tray down there’s another ad they have to look at. And every passenger spends a lot of time standing in the jetway waiting to board with only the back of the person in front of him to look at. How about ads in the jetways? The airlines certainly are looking to increase their revenue in any way possible, so it might be a cost effective way to reach about 2 million people every day.

    Comment by steve walter -

  318. You have it backwards.

    Give me something in the theater that I can’t get at home.

    I’m not talking abut the “movie theater experience.” (I can rent a DVD via NetFlix for about 75 cents when all is said and done…the “moveigoing experience” is not worth the extra $49.25 to me.) I’m speaking LITERALLY.

    You (the movie industry) has it backwards.

    How many times have you heard somebody say, after watching a kick-ass full-length trailer in the theater, “WOW! That looks GREAT! I’ma hafta rent that!”

    Why? Because they are out ONLY the “movie theater experience” by waiting for a couple of months. With the shrinking window between movie theater release and DVD release, combined with the insane amount of “extra” material that the DVD releases now contain, the tendancy toward “I’ma hafta rent that” is even greater. Think about it…if you WAIT and DON’T buy a ticket to see the movie in the theater, the movie gets MORE appealing, content-wise!

    Make it so that they DO miss something by waiting. (NOT just the eperience…I repeat…the “experience” is NOT worth $49.25!) Make so that the theater-released version of the film holds more value than the DVD release. That is, make it a sense of urgency that one MUST see this in the theater, because that’s the ONLY place they’ll see it. This will require some creative packaging / content management, etc. But think about it…as-is, the process is backwards. If it’s full-price movie tickets that you want to sell, why do you practically GIVE AWAY all of your premium content via extremely low-priced DVD’s 2 months later…?

    I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’…

    Comment by Tim Borbely -

  319. I guess this will be short and sweet….

    1. During the previews, let the audience vote (on slips of paper) which movies they want at their local multiplexes (ditto for voting on any suggestions you garner from this blog).

    2. Have headphone jacks available to those that want to hear the movie, without the intrusive, interactions from other patrons. This would be especially handy with children’s movies.

    3. Get Kevin Garnett (ooops, sorry that last one was for me)

    Hope this helps…


    Comment by Shane -

  320. Dear Mark Cuban,
    My idea is on opening Wk-end Movie Tickets become Raffle Tickets.Fri-Sun
    The possibilities are surmountable.I would love to have the job of making the masses of peoples trip to the Theater worth it.

    Comment by Linda Ellis -

  321. If you look at the core moviegoers, who regulary see one to two movies a month, and then break them down into 3 groups; under 14, 15 to 25, and then 26 and above. The first group – under 14 – will go see the same movie multiple times because they will attend with different sets of friends. My 11 year old has seen Monster House three times with three different friends because the social interaction was more important than the movie chosen. The second group – 15 to 25 – spends an inordinate amount of time coordinating with their friends to gather up a group to attend whichever movie the group chose, and usually will change the movie because by the time they get the group together, they have missed the start time. The last group – 26 and above- will attend a movie that might not be their first choice if in fact they were invited by a friend or couple to attend a movie with them. Once again, the need for social interaction supercedes the desire to see a specific movie. With all this in mind, if a website was created where people can register and as their friends register they would be linked together in a group list, so that if my wife and I wanted to see a movie either later on that day or in the future, I would choose the theater, movie and time and then I could choose to open it up to my group list with an open invitation for however many people would like to join me, either just another couple or if I wanted to get a group together. I can then choose if it is an open invitation to my group or just specific people. They in turn would receive a text message or an email notification that there is an invite waiting for them. The same with the second group -15 to 25- in that they can have open invitations or just a select group, this of course could be tied in with their myspace, facebook, etc. With the younger group, they can be tied with the parents if the parents are wanting to see a movie and are willing to take their children with their friends or with another couple with children they can coordinate the movies by the invitations. People can also just leave an open invite to a list of movies that they want to see and when someone else in their group wants to see it they would link up. There are many times where the husband wants to see a different movie then the wife and instead of having to compromise every time they can find other couples who want to do the same thing. Added incentives can be done if they purchase their tickets as a group via a Fandago web site, in that if they have a group of 4 or more they get $.50 off per ticket, 6 or more $.75 off etc. Also, as people register and answer specific questions about their movie tastes, specific incentives can be sent to them encouraging attendance. So if a new horror movie is coming out, a person may receive an incentive that if they can get 4 or more people together from their list, then they will each get $1.00 off. Once critical mass is reached on the web site the variations are infinite, as well as, indicators can be correlated by how many members set up invites for opening day movies to how well the movie will do. This can especially help if smaller independent films are what some people desire but are unaware when they are released and how far away the theater is that is playing it. Because we are in the suburbs, and do not have the boutique theaters, we missed the run of Thank you for smoking and Brick, to name a couple of movies we wanted to see in the theater but missed it. The website could have easily informed us of the time, the theater and who on our list wanted to see it as well.

    Comment by Scott B -

  322. dearsir, i am a 40year old actor in the dallas area my idea to promote upcomming films is to prooduce a making of dvd with 3 different prospectives actor,director, writer,ect. produce 50,000 silkscreened with autographs along with a promo t-shirt “my friend Scott Lloyd’s idea ” 10,000 to each state while film is still in production. as far as a job , my dream is to have a speaking role in one of your feature films. best wishes and go mavericks.

    Comment by david kalmin -

  323. Demographic: married white male in his late 50s.

    I’ve gone to movies all my life but the last three years has seen a sharp decline in spite of enjoying watching a shared experience in the theatre.

    Why? Because of the endless marketing that happens before the film starts. Setting aside maybe 10-15 minutes of trailers there’s the awful 20-30 minutes of video pushed up on the screen that precludes any sort of conversation with the people I’m with. It DEMANDS to be watched and it’s impossible to escape.

    Amongst people my age that I know this is the most intense turn-off of the movie experience. I can afford popcorn and a soft drink even though I know I’m being ripped off. But having my TIME ripped off by the theatre so they can bombard me with commercials and features aimed at teens – that’s inexcuseable.

    Making better films would help. Something with depth maybe? Good writing. Good characters? Not controlled by the FX crowd. (Remember Fowler’s Law: When anything is possible, nothing is interesting.)

    You have to make a product I want to see, in an environment I want to experience, at a price i want to pay. Few films are worth $10, fewer are worth the hassle of sitting in the auditorium before the film.

    Of course the incredibly rude patrons who insist on using their cell phones during the film detract even further from this experience.

    Comment by Adam Bridge -

  324. Mark, you’re right the theater experience is lacking. Today it is so much easier to buy a DVD, make your own popcorn, crank up the surround sound and watch the movie knowing you are going to have an enjoyable experience.
    What theaters are lacking today is the experience. It kind of reminds me of taking an airplane ride. At one time it was an experience but now it’s just a mode of transportation. So what am I getting to?

    I’m thinking of the “theater experience”. It doesn’t matter what the movie is, because by the most part your stuck with hollywood sends you. I’m envisioning a theater with a restaurant with a movie theme (of course) that’s affordable. This way the customer doesn’t have to worry about getting to the theater on time. You could offer discounts to patrons on movie tickets and concession stand items. They could even get their popcorn and other movie snacks in the resturaunt as they leave to see their movie. I haven’t gotten into the details but I know how I would run it.

    Another thing that I would do to create a better experience is starting the movie on time. Isn’t it frustrating to look up the movie times, get there and sit through 20 minutes of trailers that started at the movie start time. What a pain!

    I would also redo a few things in how the actual theater was set up. First the seating needs to be more comfortable. I would also rework the access to the seating by creating additional aisles. (You ever have to leave during the movie and you’re sitting in the middle of the theater?)

    Also to enhance the theater experience I would create a small store that sells movie merchandise of the movies that are playing.

    I have a few other ideas but I’ll leave you with this.

    Comment by Keith C -

  325. The biggest single motivator to get me out of the house to go see a movie in a theater is IMAX.

    Movie theaters don’t offer an experience worthy of the cost and hassle anymore. If you build it, they will come.

    Invest in IMAX, incent studios to create more films suited for IMAX, build more IMAX theaters.

    Comment by Chris DeNovellis -

  326. This is my take. Make a movie theater a good experience. No noise, no cellphones, good professional illumination.

    I think people could pay some extra bugs (ala Imax) for a theater with sound properly calibrated (not too loud), lighting properly set ( so you do not get the light coming from the cabin in the middle of the screen), extra confortable chairs.

    Has anybody considered adult-only theaters for decent movies?

    Consider it as the business class of movie theathers.

    Comment by Marc Solsona -

  327. I originally emailed this to you in December 2005….never heard back. Forgive me if you still don’t get inspired by it. I’ve expanded my thinking since emailing this to you, but for now will post it exactly in its orginal form. I hope it advances the discussion here…or brings a glimmer to your eye there. CHEERS! David

    Greetings, Mr. Cuban (aw, heck…MARK!!)

    I hope this email eventually finds you…and finds you doing well.

    Regarding your Landmark Theatres and the USER EXPERIENCE with digital movie exhibitions…below is a 10-point few bullet format list of my suggested concept that I humbly submit to you for your consideration. I’m happy (and eager) to discuss or expand upon all of this anytime.

    1. Your target audience is likely a more discerning one, almost by definition (no pun intended) willing to invest more dollars per movie showing for a better “USER EXPERIENCE”.

    2. There is a limit to how much a person will spend on a “movie”….but that limit is MUCH HIGHER if the movie is part of a larger “movie experience”.

    3. Many moviegoers…especially those who attend a movie in groups….combine some sort of activity before or after the movie where they are spending MONEY…and discussing the movie that they have (or are about to) see.

    4. An impactful movie (and one shown in high definition would help make it so!) lingers in the thoughts and discussions of the moviegoer for HOURS after it ends…and for some, it’s days, weeks, even years. But for now…I’ll focus on the “hours”.

    5. I remember when I was of the “night club going age”…the TOP nightclubs made use of something you might find intriguing. The DJ’s interspersed clips of emotionally impactful movies into the music mix. To be clear, they actually stopped the music mid-song and simultaneously on several large screens that had been displaying random images….they cut to a clip from, say, “Top Gun”. The clip would play with full sound…at the same almost ear shattering volume that the music mix had played. The clip would play in its entirety…..with everyone on the dance floor actually STOPPING their dancing and usually SHOUTING the movie lines in sync with the movie. It was a blast. Truly. Then, after a clip played….the DJ transitioned right back to music. K…’nuff about that for a moment.

    5. Food service is NOT a good business to be in. That said, many moviegoers want to eat before or after a movie. And, you already have some facility at each Landmark theatre to provide “snackable, finger food-ish type food fare”.

    6. Your “users” will pay more if the EXPERIENCE IS AWESOME!! So, maximizing the number of seats in any one theatre…or even maximizing the number of showtimes per day… is not necessary. It’s “RPAC” (Revenue Per Ass in the Chair….lol!!) that counts.

    7. “Dinner theatres”…those at which a moviegoer eats dinner, then watches a movie…..are missing the boat as far as creating an AWESOME USER EXPERIENCE. Why? Because they are “releasing” the moviegoer from their revenue stream at precisely the time when the moviegoer is at their emotional peak….which is IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE MOVIE.

    8. People want to TALK ABOUT THE MOVIE THEY JUST WATCHED. Heck, how many times have you made a comment or received a comment from a complete stranger while walking out of a theatre after watching a highly impactful movie? Lots of times, I’ll bet.

    9. People want to hear OTHER people’s opinions about the movie they just watched….and that extends beyond just their immediate “group”.

    10. Mark, give your moviegoer an AWESOME “user experience”….and keep them in your revenue stream grip while they are at their “peak emotional state” (also the PEAK BUYING STATE!). Do this by modifying the seating, lighting, etc…so that after a movie the moviegoers stay in the same “room” that has the movie screen. For the next 60 minutes (90 minutes, whatever…as long as it is predetermined by management so daily showtimes in that room are still predictable for both YOU and the MOVIEGOERS)….but for that time that they stay in the theatre. They will be served simple to prepare but upscale or favorably branded (i.e. Starbucks…Baskin Robbins….Cheesecake Factory….etc.) light finger food and drinks (alcoholic or not; depending on your ambition to deal with regulators). Just the very basics of what “to do” next…..we could do a LOT MORE THAN THIS: There would be a moderator (real or virtual) who would be posing thought provoking questions about the movie and moviegoers would answer using interactive “gadgets” at their table, such that the responses were tallied and displayed on the screen. Clips from the movie would be replayed throughout that time (easy to do in digital format) with an emphasis on the “highly emotion provoking” segments. The sense of “community” would be so strong in the room….one word, AWESOME! And the potential is HUGE for YOU to “capture” the moviegoers in their peak emotional state and while they are in that state and in that room to presell DVD’s (or eventually with the blessing of the studios to sell them on the spot!)…to sell soundtracks…to sell posters and t-shirts…to presell future “events”….etc.

    That’s the 10-point short list. What do you think?

    Comment by David -

  328. Could it be as simple as demographics?

    I am convinced that if we offer Spanish language films in our urban centers then studios are going to make more money.

    I know of two closed multiplexes in Atlanta and one in Savannah that could be showing peliculas tommorow.

    A] I have no dinero.
    B] I speak very little Spanish. Ordering at Taco Bell is even a struggle.

    But the studios are making these films in Spanish anyway for Latin American distribution. If a North American distribuion system were established, then everyone could make money.

    Just a thought

    Comment by William W. Powell -

  329. how about a reverse auction? So say u have a theater with 500 seats. Start a reverse auction to sell a seat for the movie @ $500 a seat. A second person bids on it and the price moves down to $499, and so on – so potentially every seat is filled for $1 a seat. u can apply the reverse auction for tickets to the 1st showing in every city it’s debuting in. imagine the publicity with the potential to watch a hot new movie on opening night in the hottest cities for $1. u “may” not make money on these first initial tickets, but then again – think about it:

    • Generates publicity
    • Listings are cheap and maybe even cheaper if u can partner with ebay or someone. Say u draw x amount of visitors to the auction – clicks for them, clicks for you – maybe they should even pay u
    • Potentially sell out every seat in every theater
    • Since it’s pre-paid, earn some interest on the money beforehand
    • Tack on movie information (links, short preview clip, actor info, etc) onto the auction listing
    • Sell and tack on Advertisements onto the auction listing
    • Add-on Sales at the end of auction/when the pay – drinks, popcorn, etc and maybe even high-end sales (i.e. limo rides, other show tickets, airline tickets for out of town travelers – attractions around the town, etc)

    ur new business partner =)

    Comment by Dennis -

  330. My read is tie in the popcorn/soda with the myspace etc promo’s.
    The biggest cost is not the movie, it’s the extras, make a medium coke + popcorn free for people who follow your net advertising ( perhaps on the condition that they provide feedback on the movie ) & you’ll go ok.
    DVD vouchers, why can’t I for an extra $5 get the DVD with extras posted to me when it’s released if I go to the movie, or buy earlier movies by the lead actors/directors at the theatre, there is no movie merchandise ( caps etc ), this is all part of making the night out an event, it’s something sports marketing does so well.
    Pre movie ( lobby ) promotions, frankly they are aweful, a single poster is hopeless, where’s the reviews, where’s the trailer’s in the theatre windows ( PC monitors are cheap ).
    The key I think is that the movie experience is so isolated, walk in get popcorn etc, watch the movie. There’s minimal effort to increase the experience ( & revenue ), you get the eyeballs aka BestBuy/Sports but it’s just not a good experience.

    Comment by Nigel -

  331. The answer couldn’t be simpler.

    You want to save money on marketing? Be more selective. Now I understand that you need to put a commercial out there a certain number of times to make sure it reaches a wide enough audience, but too many (read: nearly all) go overboard. I know there are new viewers every minute for any particular TV show, but we have all watched a program or a few on the same network and been overwhelmed by the exact same commercial being repeatedly played. And this goes on for months before it is released.

    Most people decide if they are going to be interested in a movie after the first commercial they see. And many people actually are turned off when something is over-hyped. I will use as an example something you shouldn’t have first hand knowledge of: during the NBA western conference finals TNT constantly, and I relentlessly advertised for their show “The Closer”. Once a commercial break, every commercial break for six straight games, they shoved this same commercial down our throats. After the first time I saw the commercial I knew I had zero interest in the show, yet I was forced to endure the thing 80 more times. Now I know I started out not desiring to watch it, but the point remains there is no need to advertise something that much to one audience. 2-3 times a game to make sure most viewers see it, yeah thats resonable, trying to hypnotize people by beating them over the head with something is never going to work.

    You really don’t need 100% coverage with the advertising, if it’s good it will catch on, if its not it won’t. It doesn’t matter whether you prop it with money like its a cold war arms race, or a political campaign. If its good, or bad, it will get the appropriate word of mouth publicity starting the next monday, when newspapers and radio shows and that sci-fi geek at work review it. Make sure there are strategically placed ads to get the name out there, give free tickets to radio stations (or whatever it takes to fill the seats for premeirs with happy customers), and let the movies stand on their own. Movies don’t need to compete with other movies based on volume of ads. People know what movies they are intersted in. If I want to see a particular one, it doesn’t matter if a I see a million commercials for a different movie. Average people go to theatres infrequently enough that we can assume they go to see specific movies.

    I have a lot of ideas about how to improve the actual theatre experience, but that really wasn’t the question. It’s nice you’ve upped the ante on the presentation value of Mavs games, but most people like them becuase the main product is a good one. Over-hyping something though can backfire, while also hurting the bottom line in a very easy-to-see kind of sense. The first time I saw the ad for Clerks II, I was thinking OMG! yes!, 2 weeks and 112 instances of the commercial later, all I can say is:

    Did you know Jesus was a Jew?

    Comment by bluwizard -

  332. While there is some truth in the fact if the movies were better, more people would see them, that is not the total truth. People have different taste and what you like, I may hate. I make movies myself, small and independent, and for the right audience they are OK, but Hollywood spends so much money on each movie that it has to appeal to everyone. That is the hard thing, trying to please everyone. The first problem is the cost of your product is the problem and trying to please.

    Since you guys have set up the machine where each movie “has” to cost over $100 million, now you have to make everyone like that movie so you can make more money.

    How about trying to lower the cost by giving a star a percentage in the gross and a reduced salary. That way if the movie is successful like “Forest Gump” was then the studio, star and directors all make out OK. And also people would be more prone to doing good work if they know their future earnings increase if the movie is successful.

    The movies may not “suck” completely as someone said, but it is hard to please everyone. So make the huge blockbuster, but also make a series of smaller and cheaper movies to offset the cost and let those spread by “word of mouth” marketing.

    Go after a target audience! Trying to please everyone with a blockbuster works at times but for every “Pirates,” we have movies like “Batman & Robin” which destroyed a francshise for years with a built in audience (until it was ressurrected by “Batman Begin”). And there is Superman IV which destroyed that francise for about 20 years.

    So in short,
    1. Do profit sharing with stars and directors and make the movies for less money
    2. Put as much time into the story as you do with the marketing
    3. Make smaller movies along with the blockbuster. In fact you could take a tip from Roger Croman and what the did with “Little Shop of Horrors” which was made in a weekend.
    4. Finance pet projects of actors in exchange for doing a big movie. People are more passionate about their “pet projects”
    5. TAKE A RISK!!!!
    The stories try to appeal to everyone and are usually “safe” stories while the indies take risk. Be bold.
    6. There are a lot of great story sources (comics, novels, etc.) with built in audiences. Go after the smaller ones and try not to upset the fans of that work by making the movie too “Hollywood”

    In short, if as much time and creativity was spent on the story as you guys do on marketing the movie, you might have something.

    Comment by Alex Michaels -

  333. You need to beat the “waiting game.” Basically, if I can wait out the movie’s 2-month run in the cinema, I can see it at home, at half the price, with whatever food I want, in a comfy room.

    If the schedules were brought back to the old style days, when it would take a year or more before the VHS tape of a movie came out, there’s more impetus to come out.

    I could also see defeating the “wait for the DVD” crowd by offering extra cinema-only content. Specifically, I’m thinking showing a serial along with the main movie. If it becomes popular, people will plan to visit the cinema on a regular basis just to keep up with the serial stories, even if they haven’t noticed really compelling new films.

    Comment by Hak Foo -

  334. To do something that would change the way things work now you’d have to, obviously, change things pretty drastically. I’d think that you’d have to make it some sort of event, and to do that, you’d have to have a theater with limited showings and high quality showings, maybe owned by a particular studio or something. The showings would have to be limited so you could make going to the movie an event. I know there are movie theaters with restaurants and drinks and such, but this would have this and more, with special promotions, kinda like they have at sporting events from time to time. But basically the point of this would be to make going to the movies a special outing that would entice people to go. Offer a couple Friday and Saturday Night showings, with a matinee or something. A place where people would want to go on an outing. The frills can be expanded upon. As it is now, there is somewhat tepid enthusiasm for going to the movies. It’s on par with mini golfing or bowling. If these theaters were operated by a particular movie studio or company, then it would create more awareness of the connections between studio and movie and name recognition which would create profit for that company.

    Comment by Mark -

  335. To do something that would change the way things work now you’d have to, obviously, change things pretty drastically. I’d think that you’d have to make it some sort of event, and to do that, you’d have to have a theater with limited showings and high quality showings, maybe owned by a particular studio or something. The showings would have to be limited so you could make going to the movie an event. I know there are movie theaters with restaurants and drinks and such, but this would have this and more, with special promotions, kinda like they have at sporting events from time to time. But basically the point of this would be to make going to the movies a special outing that would entice people to go. Offer a couple Friday and Saturday Night showings, with a matinee or something. A place where people would want to go on an outing. The frills can be expanded upon. As it is now, there is somewhat tepid enthusiasm for going to the movies. It’s on par with mini golfing or bowling. If these theaters were operated by a particular movie studio or company, then it would create more awareness of the connections between studio and movie and name recognition which would create profit for that company.

    Comment by Mark -

  336. I suspect that a lot of the buzz marketing approaches fail by targeting the median consumer (colloquially) for a given demo. You don’t need the median consumer to market — you want the linchpin: the person who will tell his or her four most influential friends to see that movie. Reputation matters (e.g. you don’t want me because I love movies enough to like even categorically bad ones and thus people tend to assume that I only like bad movies), and matters relative to demo and movie type. And you don’t need one of these people, you need a few hundred or a few thousand (maybe more, but I’d guess not more than a few thousand per demo/genre combination*).

    This is data mining, social network analysis, and buzz marketing in one. Finding these people may be impossible (especially when consider that it needs to be mapped against taste), but would pay off fantastically if it did. If this problem can be solved, the person doing it is probably working towards a Ph.D. in statistics or economics. That’s the person you need to find and hire.

    * Strawman: I’d guess 20 people per million in a city (the 20 number is pulled out of thin air) if it’s the right 20 people. Off the top of my head that’s around 5,000 people nationwide, per genre/demo combination (and, obviously, you don’t need to get everyone interested in every movie — just the ones that match their profile). This may seem like a lot but if you can reduce the cost to find these people enough then the cost of getting these 5,000 people interested should be far less than other potential plans.

    Comment by Faisal N. Jawdat -

  337. There are so many comments and great ideas.
    Create a discussible topic and atmosphere for each movie. In fact, it is a general solution but it is also a direction for people watch movies in threatre but not in home.
    This topic is discussible, therefore there are so many comments.

    Comment by Scoton -

  338. I stopped going to the movie theatres about 3 years ago for 2 main reasons: Atmosphere of the threatres, and the fact that I have a home theatre that blows away (In my opinion of course) the sound and picture quality of the theatre.

    The theatres around me are over-run with rude people talking on cell phones, making so much noise with their candy wrappers, and trying to put their feet up on the back of your seat. The last time I was there, I was ready to throw down against the group of 20-somethings behind me. So, I vowed to stop going, and I haven’t been back since.

    So I spent some cash on a 1080p DLP tv and a 5.1 component system.

    Now, I can watch movies when ever I want, and the crowd is always people I want- my friends and family.

    There are a lot of people like me out there. If you want to get me back into the theatre, fix the problem with the theatres themselves, not the film.

    Comment by Briansol -

  339. I think you could register people, online and off, by offering them the opportunity to receive movies on DVD in the mail with no obligation to ever pay for them unless they feel compelled to do so because they liked the movie or believe the experience was of value.

    When they sign up they understand that they are agreeing to be part of this movie network and if they don’t pay for movies they enjoy the entire network will fail. The entire operation would be based on the honor system and the belief that the majority of people are basically good.

    Targeting movies to the people most likely to enjoy it would be fairly easy once you had data on movies they liked and did not like. Maybe a company like Netflix or Amazon already has enough data to get started.

    I really don’t know if it’s even feasible based on the cost to burn, pack and mail a DVD, but the money spent marketing a movie would print, pack and mail a lot of DVDs. From personal experience, I know that when I walk out of a really good movie, I almost feel really good, almost like an endorphin rush. After watching the movie, I’d definitely pay at this moment. Paying for the movie after the experience in a movie theater might also be an interesting experiment. If you packed a theater by promoting a free movie and showed a great film, I’m sure more than half the audience would pay on the way out the door.

    Kind of a half baked rambling post, but maybe there is something here that might be of interest to you.

    Comment by Tim Batchelor -

  340. I think there are a lot of valid points regarding product/service here but i think most are missing the objective(granted i did not read every post). There is no one answer; buzz marketing and the such are all pieces of the puzzle. I think a missing link is how to apply pull marketing techniques to the industry. As we do with sales and marketing automation techniques we need to apply to a film. I dont believe Superman, for example, needed such a huge marketing budget. It needed smarter marketing which happens at a fraction of the cost. Whats the idea i have? Well, i think about using hte tools we are using to profile any sale and applying it this market. Like real estate, working with a high end developer we created a Marketing Automation system which, for example, took every contacts address and queried it with the various tools to determine there current property value as part of a way to rate them as a prospect for a million+ second/retirement home. Not a new concept(and one of mant factors to try and rate a prospect), but the real time marketing tool would then create a custom home page for that prospect based on all of these things. We could do the same concept for a movie, to make it that event.

    There are enough user profiles exisiting that if a fraction of matches came to see the film it would be a successful campaign. We cant rely on the internet though as most movie goers, i believe, arent actively using online tools to do there movie research. So you have to tie this system into tradional marketing methods that may not be used for film, such as postcards.

    Regardless, that is the simplified version. There are many other ideas that stem from this more foundational concept for the next generation of movie marketing.

    Comment by eric -

  341. You go to a movie theater. Sit down. And begin watching. Suddenly some moron’s cell phone goes off, or maybe someone talks and you miss a line or a bit of the action on screen. How can you get the piece you lost back? Pay 12$ again?

    Pfffffft… maybe if you have kids with you and your kids missed the line and they ask to see it again, you don’t want to disappoint them. But if YOU had the choice you probably wouldn’t want to wait and pay to see what you missed.

    However you may also have seen a very good scene, a scene you did not miss, and you’d like to see it again. What to do?? Pay to see the movie again for that one or two parts?? Maybe if you have the money to spend, but most likely not.

    Sure the movie theater gives surround sound and a large picture but everything else… you can buy popcorn on discount at a food store and soda 2liter for .99 cent at the store. You can also buy home surround sound systems and have a large screen tv.

    Basically the movie theater can be replicated at home to an extent and thus the only thing going for the theater is that new movies are only available there initially and the massive screen.

    Plus gas money.

    Maybe you guys need the Walmart of movie theaters, with lower pricing.

    Walmart sells things cheaply since they are mainly made in China through cheap labor. How about make a theater with stuff from China and thus charge less.

    Though even 5$ movies probably won’t make people come back. The theater needs an advancement, a new technology/feature that’s special.

    Wouldn’t it be cool if YOU had a theater all to yourself? The large room you go into to be all yours. You would be able to go all the way in the back and sit in the middle of a row and see the movie how YOU wanted to see it.

    It would allow DVD like functionality so that you could rewind(a certain amount of time) and even pause for a max (total time) of 10mins or even 15mins(maybe you want to go to bathroom and to buy some soda/popcorn).

    The problem then becomes, how do you allow a person/group access to an entire theater(while having the other seats empty) and STILL make a profit??????

    That’s what YOU big wigs need to figure out. Make it happen.

    Maybe through glasses which play video. Though the units would need to be used over and over and germs and stuff like that. The invention would need to be clean.

    You won’t be able to find a solution I think.

    The closest solution is a person’s home with use of a DVD player.

    The theater needs to merge the large screen and sound with home DVD functionality. To make it a home away from home, but better.

    Though one thing that makes a theater what it is is that it doesn’t rewind. I don’t know honestly what you could do.

    The movie theater must be reinvented. I don’t know if following the DVD functionality way will work.

    Maybe the minimum wage should be increased and wages in general should be raised. Or maybe the theater price comes down and is more affordable.

    Maybe Walmart theaters could be it.

    Comment by T -

  342. I bet by harnessing the collective intelligence of the audience to make the movie -you could halve your marketing costs from $60 million to $30 million and double the chance of getting a hit movie

    so less risk and much more money to the bottom line

    Also you could do a tv / cable documentary series on the making of the movie using this approach and get lots of people invovled this way

    Comment by Murray Robinson -

  343. I agree with most of your points about the movie industry – but I have some comments. As a mother of 2 boys, ages 8 & 9, why would I take them to a theatre for “children only” with merchandising there? I don’t buy them something every time we leave the house, so why would I set myself up to be “mean Mom” by saying no to extra purchases when I can take them 2 miles down the road to a traditional theatre and not be faced with that? I take my kids to EVERY kids movie that comes out and a few of the PG 13 ones. Will there be free or cheap things for the kids to do or play so parents can say “yes” to something? Otherwise, I would bring my kids to your theatre only when I know I’m going to purchase them a gift. All the other movies I’d go traditional. The concept is great for older theatregoers – to remove children, but it had better have something to make the parents want to take them there.
    On a separate note – I LOVE going to the movies. It’s the atmosphere- the large screen, the loud sound, the awesome popcorn – I don’t care what the advertisers say, you can’t microwave a popcorn that tastes like that! – it is NOT the same as viewing at home. I Netflix also, but there is nothing like being in the theatre! Why isn’t that experience advertised? I’d rather see a mediocre movie in a theatre than a good one at home. I go to the movies with my husband, friends, kids and by myself. I just love it! Put an ad on with a home theatre side by side with a movie theatre – nuked popcorn side by side with movie popcorn. SELL THE EXPERIENCE! You get addicted to it.

    Comment by Julie -

  344. Mark,

    In response to your follow up post I think you might be onto something with looking at the movies from a demographic standpoint. The main problem is that play scripts are becoming repetitive and tired and the movie product itsef isnt what it used to be. I myself am 23, live in NYC and havent been to a movie in over a year despite the fact that the nearest theatre is only 10 blocks away.

    To reach out to my demographic i propose having one movie per night in a theatre that resembles a bar.(one problem i forsee is overhead in downtime…so perhaps would be a regular theatre during other showings). If nothing else, the alcohol will make comedies that much more funny and slow points in an action/drama that much less slow. It is definitely a good way to mix things up compared to the usual bar experience. Can even make drinks slightly cheaper than the average bar and it can seem as a budget experience to our genre.

    I like the separate kiddy theatre but i think this sounds extreme and you would get killed on overhead. Instead why not make it just one separate section of a multi-plex theatre. You could also look to have a daycare like service for young couples looking to drop their kids off at the kiddy section while the couple is able to enjoy an adult film without having to worry about their child interupting the movie going experience for the rest of the theatre.

    To cut back on long lines and the age gap i propose to cut back on the number of movies that a theatre shows. With the quality of movies these days declining do you really need to show 8 terrible movies at the same time. Cut that number down to 4. And have two showings of the same movie. I also propose two methodologies for seaparating the crowds at these movies. You can have one of them be a regular/discunted show aimed at attracting kids and families and another “premium showing” at a slightly higher cost with ushers at the theatre aimed to enforce rules and remind patrons of their surroundings.

    That’s about it for my ideas. Even if just one of these niche markets are captured im sure the increased profits and enhanced movie going experience could justify the capital expenditures.

    Comment by Chris Bottiglieri -

  345. I think you should get the audience to write the movie.

    Here’s how it would work.

    You buy the rights to make the movie for a book or comic book or sequel to a popular movie or movie rights of an old TV show. Something that has a fan base.

    You put up a moviescript wiki with a couple of experienced scriptwriters as moderators. You tell the fans and invite them to write the movie with the script writers. You’d probably start by discussing and agreeing the main characters and main themes of the movie with the fans. Then you’d discuss and agree the scene structure and then dialogue etc. All the while getting fans to write, comment on and rewrite the material. Probably the script writers write and rewrite some of it as well. But they can get overwritten by the fans.

    You offer the best contributors a fee per line that ends up in the final script, or roles on the movie as semi pro bloggers and extra’s.

    Once the script is getting to a pretty decent stage you get the fans to work out who they would like most to play the various parts, where it should be shot, who should be the director etc.

    Then you move through the production process, get fans who have contributed the most to come along to the set and blog about the making of the movie, get them extra positions and get them to blog about that. The director should also post problems they are having with realising the script and get the fans to help rewrite it.

    Then during editing you get your key contributors along to very early screening sessions to provide feedback on the way the movie is coming together.

    You can even get the fans to design movie ad posters and you can have a YouTube competition to get people to design tv ads (and then reshoot them professionaly with the winner as adviser).

    At the end of production you store all the props and sets away and auction them off on ebay after the movie is released.

    This way by the time the movie is released it already has an audience, it gives the audience what they want, it has lots of fan sites (created by contributors) and it has a huge buzz.

    Best of all the cost of all of this would be probably be around a million dollars which has to be very cheap.

    There is so much crap coming out of hollywood these days that this has to give you a much better chance of getting a much better quality movie than we currently get. (I am using quality as = fit for purpose = meeting the needs of the audience).

    This is what I would call Movies 2.0. harnessing the collective intelligence of the audience to make the movie

    Comment by Murray Robinson -

  346. I think it would be interesting to have a movie where the public votes on different parts of the plot before hand. Say you have the director shoot maybe 10-15 scenes that creates 3 or 4 different plots/endings. You have a website where people can see a “preview” of those different plots and vote on which they like best. The results are not told/shown until the movie hits theaters, and then people will go to see which plot/ending won.

    Obviously this would not work with all genres of movies, but I think the best fit would be a horror/slasher type movie. Imagine everyone voting “who gets to live” so to speak, and then having to go to the movie to find out if your vote won!

    You could take this even farther, and localize it by region/city/state, so if one area votes one way they get to see their ending and another area gets to see a different ending. If you could localize this to say the city level, you might be able to get multiple viewings if people don’t have to drive too far to see the other ending.

    Comment by Andrew Pleasant -

  347. Hello Mark,
    All issues relating to the movie experience are perrefial. The real issue is the quality of the movie.When good films are produced the people will come. The majority of films shown today are remakes of older classics. It’s hard to continue getting excited for Superman,Batman,Mission Impossible, Spiderman, and on and on. Raiders of the Lost Ark, ET,Independence Day,Titanic, The first Star Wars, Finding Nemo, The Toy Story and Harry Potter, these are but a few examples of original new movies that incurred no problems getting people in the theaters to enjoy the movie experience.
    Here’s my idea to get people in the theaters while reducing your marketing cost.
    I call this project “The Screen Writer”
    Number 1. Form an alliance between the movie studios and the movie theaters. This consortium will share the costs to operate this program by using a small amount of their advertising budget to fund the project.
    Number 2. Build an internet portal for each genre of participating movie studios. Example, a portal for Pixar for kids movies, a portal for Dream Works with their genre, and a portal for Harpo focusing on the types of movies Opra likes.
    Number 3. Hire / solicit a combination of 25 to 50 professional film and book critics. Aspiring amature writers will email their work into one of the specific portals for review.
    Number 4. The critics will be paid to read a certain number of books. They must read the entire book, because the writers are amatures, and it’s the new story that we’re actually looking for. The critics will have 90 or 120 days to eliminate all manuscripts received during a certain time frame, and end up with 3 winners. One winner for each portal.
    Number 5. This contest will be advertised periodically along the way. News, late night talk shows, day time talk shows, half time or time outs on the score board of sporting events,etc,etc,..
    Number 6. The winners receive the following: A cash award amount. The corsortum, headed up by Mark will immediately have the book published and marketed. The winner will receive a standard book royalty.
    Number 7. All entrants agree up front to give the movie rights to Mark Cuban, and receive a standard royalty from ticket sales, video rentals, licensed downloads, et,etc..
    Number 8. Mark Cuban’s movie studio will partner with the studio of the winning genre to produce the movie. Again,this will be advertised. Example. If it’s a Harpo genre, the movie could obviouly be advertised on Oprah’s show, as well as her book club.
    Result: You’ve generated interest and excitement in both a good book and a movie. Word of mouth and interest in the contest will generate interest in the entire process. You’ve shared the costs of developing,marketing, discovering new writing talent for better movies, and getting people back to the theaters.
    I believe this is your goal..
    Hopefully this helps…

    Comment by Sherlock Pippins -

  348. or video screens on the backs of cars or buses!
    sign me up to have one right away!

    Comment by dean adams -

  349. On the back of 18 Wheelers. They are in every part of the country and plentiful. Think about how many people look at the back of one semi during one day. It may not change the dynamics of marketing movies…but it’s a good way to get alot of people to see your ads for a cheap price!
    And the back doors are usually two panelled….perfect poster size!

    Comment by Jessica C -

  350. Here’s your answer, Mark:

    Comment by K.L. -

  351. I think that there is a lesson to be learned from the 10th and 24th all time grossing films in the US — The Passion of the Christ and Chronicles of Narnia. No, I am not just talking about marketing to Christians. To sum it up in one word, it’s about “community.” Movie makers today need to better exploit one of the most basic human needs (i.e., affiliation; a sense of belonging). Everyone has a belief system and a desire to seek out others who share their values. Everyday we assign ourselves to groups (e.g., faith-based, political, educational, vocational, etc.). Think about this… it’s been almost two years since the last presidential election and comedians are still getting good mileage from “red state / blue state” jokes. Using very little marketing dollars, movie makers can tap into these groups and create a grass roots movement to get viewers back into the theaters. Well, it’s almost that simple. I guess first the film industry has to start making more products that appeal to these groups. The industry needs to understand that people choose to see movies as a community to make a statement, and community viewership means more box office sales. Therefore, films with mass appeal will continue to experience less than stellar performance while “bumper sticker” movies will draw the crowds. Low-budget movies can afford to choose a side. Sure, there’s the risk of alienating some viewers, but if the product takes a stand, like Fahrenheit 911 or An Inconvenient Truth, you can pretty much count on the portion of the public who shares those views to show their support by purchasing a ticket and seeing the movie. Plus, they’re more likely to talk about what they saw and how they felt about the film, at dinner parties, around the water cooler, etc. You can even generate revenue from people who protest the film with their attendance ala the Da Vinci Code. When you top that off with the free PR in the media due to the “controversial” nature of the film, you’ve hit the marketing jackpot all for a low, low price. As I sit here watching “unbiased” media coverage of world events, it’s all too apparent that it’s in vogue to choose sides, but I believe that the true capitalists in our society will see it for what it truly is – an opportunity for affiliation marketing.

    Comment by Jeff Towne -

  352. I understand the pragmatic reality to my suggestions have many roadblocks, however, here goes some suggestions:

    1. Simple Approach: Do NOT spend the marketing dollars at all. Good stories, good movies, will be sought after, and the viral word of mouth marketing will far exceed over blitzed marketing campaigns.
    2. Release the movie for one week, with ALL FREE showings, then only sell through DVD distribution, no pay per view, no HDNet, again it creates an angst to get a hold of the movie.
    3. Give the movie away FREE. Embed all ads in the film. I specifically mean, not the typical product placement with over exaggerated placements. But cleverly used products, subtle actor/actress discussed “written” in ads.
    4. Never release theatrically, purely rent the movie through a wholly owned (you) company.
    5. Present ONLY blockbusters. What I mean is: Every movie is great in its own right, which includes MAKES GREAT money – high ROI. This requires a lengthy discussion of destroying the current studio corporations. I will post another one to explain this one.
    6. All of these ASSUME that the normal buzz, viral, PR stunts, and press pushes via relationships is necessary.

    I have more and I realize you are asking HOW to get folks to the theatre. However, I strongly believe that the movie industry is up against the same slimming of the tease and reveal profits that the music industry has suffered. The days of selling an entire music compilation by teasing with a hit song is gone. The days are almost over for selling a movie ticket based on a trailer tease (that many times is a better story/sell than the movie itself.)

    The reality is that it is so comfortable to watch a movie at home, a hotel, a friend’s home, or acquaintance’s home. Even though the threatre is a number one date spot, it is a hold over that will fade. The interactive experince elsewhere is compelling.

    Nothing is going to overcome the impact and negative word of mouth for poor stories, poor quality.

    Thanks for asking your customers!
    David Jemeyson
    Cell: 210.771.7893

    Comment by David C Jemeyson -

  353. Buck the trends that are killing the industry. For one, people bitch about how over priced the concessions are. So make them cheaper. Offset the lost revenue by eliminating costs. And there’s no need to WalMart-ize the industry. A better comparison would be Target. Cheaper, but classier. And where to cut costs? Start here-

    People are sick of the bigbox-ization of America. So stop shoving all current releases inside a single biodome. Seriously- do we need megaplexes? Has kind of a long tail feel to it.

    Downsizing the size of theaters would reduce the overall costs to maintain and manage the property.

    Comment by Jameson Penn -

  354. The only way to get someone to see a movie is if they know what it is about, so the movie trailer is important.
    One solution might be that to begin, you select a number of large high schools and offer to set up the large viewing screen in the lunch rooms, basketball arena, football stadium. You have a satellite feed that allows you to show trailers, star interviews, DVD sales, etc. in short time frames during specific times such as lunch, half time. The donation of the equipment to the school is tax deductable. The school can also use the system for announcements, PSA’s, etc. They may even have some advertisers during certain times that would pay for time slots that could be partly donated to the school as well. You have a captured audience and both you and the schools win. The advertisers may even be willing to use film/theatre students (or any student/teacher) as part of the advertisement.

    Comment by Theresa -

  355. There are a lot of good ideas here. I think you should experiment with a few, and here’s how. Make films as appealing as Pirates, Superman, Cars at 1/4th of the budget. It’s possible. Take all that money you saved and put it into different theater going experiences that appeal to different target audiences. I can go to a theater with chic couches, waiters and alcohol. Kids can go to the theater next door with moving seats, live performance mixed in with the film, and something like smell-o-vision. My grandparents can go to the theater next door that is reminiscent of an old vaudeville stage with a quick live performance before the film. Make it like Disneyland!! If you build it, people will come!! Ohh man, that’d be sweet. Oh, and back to saving money on the films…have a University at your theater theme park. And unlike every film school out there actually teach people how to make good films on a budget using methods that are not 10 years out of date. Create true auteurs who end up showing their beautiful films at your filmparks.
    You can call it Land-Mark-Land.

    Comment by Christopher Lozinski -

  356. Ravi Rajagopal hit the nail on the head… good on ya, mate! It comes down to what my wife and I WANT versus OBSTACLES we have to overcome. Once the obstacles are out of the way… we’re off to the movies!

    Two basic obstacles are:
    – A place to keep the kids, because we don’t have a reliable babysitter.
    – A chill place to eat and relax after the movie, because we don’t have the time or interest in driving around too much.

    These have fairly obvious solutions, and I hope any new type of theater takes them into account.

    But the biggest issue is single theaters trying to serve wildly different types of people.


    – Older couples, in general, are going out to be together outside the house, as a pair. They want an intimate setting, alcohol, good food, and a quiet atmosphere.

    – Young kids tend to go in large groups, and want fast food, caffeine, arcade games, and big spaces to hang out.

    Why do you think so many kids go see movies at the mall? They’re doing something right!

    Once you have different theaters, be -selective- about films to show.

    – Young kids want to see big, fast, and loud on opening night. It will show for a few weeks, and then it’s on to the next big ticket. Loyalty is fickle at best, so monetize them while they’re there.

    – Older couples typically want a) comedy b) romance c) action or d) offbeat. If you had, say, four separate viewing rooms, and could GUARANTEE that each one would have a WIDELY ACCLAIMED film from DIFFERENT GENRES, then you could change “Let’s go see movie X. Where’s it playing at?” to “Let’s go see a romance. Theater X always has a good one showing.” Many older couples enjoy routine and prestige, both of which can be taken advantage of easily with “reward card” style benefits.

    I could go on, but this tiny editing window cramps my thinking. =) Ah well!



    Comment by Ted Brown -

  357. Update: I forgot an important detail in my previous post. Yes, my suggestions are for theatre owners, not movie studios – okay. But I think that movie distribution is the main issue. Movie studios need to regain control over distribution and launch their own theater chains if they want to overcome their distributors’ failing strategies – the same way Apple has regained control over its destiny by creating the Apple Stores.

    Obviously, this is not an easy idea to implement, but I was not looking for a job anyway 🙂

    Comment by Insights 2.0 -

  358. Already 789 posts… Congratulations, and good luck reading/coding the suggestions.

    My two cents now:

    1. launch a subscription-based model: most posts here mention the Netflix model, but to make your life easier you should look at the model of UGC in France (UGC is the largest chain of movie theaters in France) and their “UGC Illimite” membership.

    2. get a better understanding of user preferences: by systematically collecting ratings for movies (see Netflix or Amazon). Everytime a member go es to see a movie, he receives an email alert the next day to rate the movie. 5 weeks prior to each release, local theatres present future movie releases (trailer) to regular movie goers and try to gauge the consumer’s interest to watch the movie: that way, theater managers will be able to better match the consumers’ preferences and order the right number of prints for each potential release. With digital distribution, it should be even easier to implement

    3. diversify revenues with targeted direct marketing: some members may express the interest to watch a few movies but only have the time to see one – in that case, the club will still be able to send targeted recommendations to rent/buy/download the DVD when it is released (additional revenues)

    4. give a few freebies for your loyal members: discounted prices for drinks/popcorn, exclusive screenings with the film’s cast(see UGC again), posters… It is free marketing!

    5. diversify, offer more than just movies: treat the movie goers as a community and use auditoriums for music concerts, sporting events, American Idol finales…

    6. provide a richer experience on screen: by showing exclusive material (short movies, best user-generated movies from the community…)

    7. provide a richer experience off-screen: am I the only person who would like more/better/healthier food?

    Comment by Insights 2.0 -

  359. ***************************Experience Driven***************************

    We need to make a fundamental change in the way we show movies.

    Currently a movie-goer’s experience is very much what he can get at home. A chair, a screen, and maybe a drink or snack. All a customer has to do is wait for the movie he wants to see goes to DVD and he can sit in his own chair, with his own screen, and his own snacks. And it will be way cheaper. The only thing currently that a theatre can provide is the customer can see it sooner than if he waits.

    Sadly, most custoemr are willing to wait. Why take a crap shoot on your experience that can easily be ruined by a cell phone or loud conversation. If they wait they can control their experience and save a couple bucks.

    So what we need is a truly fundamental change in how we show movies. The new way of showing movies seeks to emmerse the custoemr in a full experience. As soon as he walks into the door of the theatre to see Pirates of the Carribean, the entire lobby, staff, and theatre is a pirate ship!

    There would be specialty food items at the snack bar, like pineapple spears and “carribean punch”. There would be a peg-legged greeter that greets the family with a loud, “Arrrrgh! Welcome mateys!” Instead of velet ropes sectioning off lines, we’d have rickety ol’ hemp rope, et cetra, et cetra.

    And this could be done for classics. Turn the lobby into Rick’s bar for a showing of Casablanca. The Tatooine sallon for Star Wars. The hair saloon for Steel Magnolias. Whateve famous sence our customers what to visit we can provide.

    The idea is to give the customer something that he can’t get at home. now we would have to do an “about face” on some current movie practices. Like we would have to scale down theatres, only a handful of selections in order to go deeply with themed lobby areas and staff. In this plan we could have a multiplex with twenty screens because we couldn’t very well have twenty lobby areas and staff.

    And we would have to increase ticket prices, but with the extra services I beleive customers would pay the extra money for a better experience.

    These changes would be drastic, but I beleive they are needed. Movies cannot out price TV or movie rentals. So if we cannot beat them on price we may as well go the other route and go for a premium pricing plan nad offer more “bang for the buck”.

    I would say look at Disney World. They have themed staff on each ride at the Magic Kingdom. From the moment you step in line for the ride, you are emmersed in the world of whichever particular ride you are on. This is the direciton that movies need to go in.

    Movies are at a crossroads. They are a mature product that is quickly becoming antiquated in a digital world. Soon, people will be able to instantly access every movie in the world through the internet. Theatres cannot compete with custoemrs homes buying getting more comfortable chairs or better/healthier food selection. To me, this is just rearranging the the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    We cannot make a better movie theatre than our own living rooms!

    But, I’m willing to bet we can make a better pirate ship, Daily Planet newsroom, or Mooby’s burger joint. And I’m willing to bet customers are willing to pay to see it.

    Comment by James Leon Bocks -

  360. Hey Mark,

    Here’s how to add two new revenue streams to further reduce marketing costs.

    Instead of showing ads during the preshow let the audience play a communal game. They can vote via text messaging into what square a logoed piece should go and play against another theater audience many time zones away.

    To reimburse players for text messaging costs, local merchants bid for the right to send a text message to all players as compensation. You would control this part to prevent unauthorized messaging. A meal discount for night crowds, an ice cream cone for afternoon audiences and coffee for morning consumers allows you to auction individual preshows while providing entertainment to your audience and sending foot traffic to merchants local to your participating theaters.

    With permission, the database of player phone numbers can be auctioned to advertisers according to the unique redemptive behavior of each phone number user and the date, showtime and movie genre of the voting event.

    Combined, this should exceed standard preshow revenue packages since it allows the winning bid to rise and fall according to the advertising needs of a larger pool of local merchants and the anticipated draw of the feature presentation.

    Comment by HighAnkleSprain -

  361. I have an answer to your question, and a good one at that. But I really just want you to pass this on to Bill Simmons for me.
    THE Andrew Meyer

    Dear Bill Simmons,

    That’s right, two can play this game. After spotting this story

    on at 3:36am, Gainesville time, on Tuesday, July 25, 2006 (a now historic date due to this correspondence) I constructed a rough outline of what Team USA’s roster will look like.

    dwight howard
    chris bosh
    brad miller
    lebron james elton brand
    carmelo anthony amare stoudemire
    bruce bowen antawn jamison

    dwyane wade chris paul
    gilbert arenas kirk hinrich
    shane battier joe johnson
    Coach K!!! CUT

    And now, I will completely dissect it, Bill Simmons style. You see Bill, it’s not that I can write exactly like you. It’s that you write EXACTLY like me. Well, with way more movie references. I don’t always feel like injecting a pop culture phrase that any jabroni can recognize. Do you smeeeeeeellllllllll what The Andrew Meyer is cooking?

    (Heheheheh. Yeah, I laugh at my own jokes. And you know what else, “When this baby hits eighty-eight miles per hour … you’re gonna see some serious shit.”

    Anyway, when your column finally appeared in ESPN the Magazine, I ended my subscription to Sports Illustrated forever. I had finally found a writer with MY voice, and I was amazed. Let me put it to you this way:

    When I was a kid, I read the Miami Herald sports section daily, so the first voice of reason I discovered in sports journalism was Dan Le Batard, and as I’m sure you’ve seen for yourself on PTI, he can’t quite fill Kornheiser or Wilbon’s shoes. Kornheiser and Wilbon are the best. LeBatard, as much as I like him, just doesn’t cut the mustard. The LeBatard corollary (as you would call it) definitely applies to Steve Rushin and Rick Reilly. Cut the mustard? Shit, they aren’t fit to clean the dust mites in your keyboard with their tongues. Anyway, this is The Andrew Meyer’s take on Team USA’s current roster.

    (And bear in mind, in the past year, I have called A) the Heat winning the championship BEFORE THE SEASON STARTED, both B) the Gator basketball team’s early success and C) their successive romp through the tournament, including D) an exact 15 point margin of victory over ‘Nova. Andrew knows basketball. But more than that, I know MY teams. And the Heat and the Gators are definitely MY teams. Speaking of which, I also knew that Nick Saban would turn the Dolphins around, and that the Marlins would be sick this year.

    {Wow, Andrew, you sure know a lot.}

    Damn straight. Ask me what else I know.

    {What else do you know Andrew?}

    I know that the Marlins are the smartest team in baseball, and that Red Sox fans don’t know shit. Trust me, I’ve met enough of the filthy bastards.)


    As you’ve said before, Chris Paul is indeed the point guard of the future. But in my opinion, he is also the point guard of the present; the best in the world – right now. He simultaneously took a miserable Hornets team to the brink of the playoffs – in the West, no less – and opened up legendary miser George Shinn’s legendarily miserly pocketbook. Coincidence? I think not. The kid is good, real good. Who around can tell him he’s second best? (I’m with you Bill, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd are white and can’t play defense).

    Besides, there are two other white point guards out there better suited [read: Americans who don’t kiss anything during free throws] for Team USA than both of them. No, not Jason Williams a.k.a. White Chocolate a.k.a. the man who started 10-10 from the field during the Heat’s series-clinching Game 6 victory over that team from Detroit which was recently dismantled. (I may be a Heat fan, but I’m not a Heat fanatic. You see, real Heat fans – not those Johnny-come-lately bandwagon whores you saw in the arena – are pragmatists [read: mostly Jewish]. We knew from the start how special Dwyane Wade was…but we also know that J-Will can’t cut the mustard on this squad.) No, the two white point guards of which I speak are Mike Bibby and Kirk Hinrich.

    Hinrich, who’s Bulls are now unquestionably the #2 team in the East, is a perfect, perfect, PERFECT fit for Team USA. He distributes the ball, attacks the basket, and PLAYS DEFENSE. And he can shoot! And he’s white! Did I mention he fits this team perfectly?

    Gilbert Arenas does not fit this team perfectly…until you change his position. Arenas is a shoot-first point guard, so Team USA will probably change his position and let him do what he does best: shoot first. To this end, Joe Johnson becomes the #3 point guard, and Arenas drops down into the next category.


    And what an excellent category it is. But not because of Gilbert Arenas. He’s only the second best at this spot. Do you know why? I’m sure you do, but let me clue you in anyway.

    Before the 2003 NBA Draft, I remember reading a few blurbs about Dwyane Wade in the Herald, among other places. And do you know what I kept hearing? “He plays like a young MJ.” What? A young Michael Jordan? Impossible. Why would a player like that not go in the top 3? I couldn’t understand it then, but I do now. Dwyane Wade slipped to the Heat because most NBA general managers are fools, just like most MLB general managers, and most NFL general managers, and most Pizza Hut general managers, and most general managers in general.

    It’s simple when you think about it. The reason most GMs are bad at their jobs, despite being in such important public positions, is that they are human. And most humans, for the most part, are pretty stupid. We are not logical creatures and, for the most part, we don’t make logical decisions. So, if most humans are illogical creatures making illogical decisions, does it come as any surprise that most sports teams are run illogically? Of course not! I would be shocked as hell if sports entering the equation actually DID make people smarter. The people who excel at sports are typically LESS intelligent than the average man, not more. So we have stupid athletes who eventually become stupid coaches who, if they work hard enough, can become stupid GMs. And you’re surprised Isiah Thomas is an idiot? I’m surprised there aren’t many more like him.

    Fortunately, the man who makes decisions for my team is Pat Riley. And Pat Riley is no fool. Let me give you a quick history lesson: Pat Riley built the Miami Heat. He took our infant franchise, which had done exactly NOTHING before he got here, and made us into winners. He brought us Tim Hardaway, Alonzo Mourning, and FOUR STRAIGHT DIVISION TITLES. I repeat: Pat Riley MADE this franchise. If anything, he was screwed by Zo’s kidney and Michael Jordan. Isn’t it fitting then, for this man, who developed our infant franchise, to have a young MJ and a rejuvenated Zo dropped right in his lap? Isn’t it fitting, that the franchise he previously coached to four NBA titles gave him the player he needed to win a championship with his new team? Yes, yes it is. So fitting, in fact, that I saw it coming a year away.

    So why couldn’t you, Bill? Too caught up in Riley’s “bad karma,” were you? No worries. You’re still a great writer, and one of the few hard-core NBA fans left, right? So, I’m glad then, that you were here to tell everyone about how Dirk was the unstoppable player in the playoffs before his “choke-job”, and how David Stern paid off the refs, or whatever it is you need to tell yourself to avoid acknowledging that you COMPLETELY OVERLOOKED THE BEST TEAM IN THE NBA. You and Marc Stein. (Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d be writing.)

    Oh, and Shane Battier is an excellent defensive backup.


    Carmelo Anthony is easily one of the top 20 players in the NBA. On this team, that makes h

    Comment by THE Andrew Meyer -

  362. Already 789 posts… Congratulations, and good luck reading/coding the suggestions.

    My two cents now:

    1. launch a subscription-based model: most posts here mention the Netflix model, but to make your life easier you should look at the model of UGC in France (UGC is the largest chain of movie theaters in France) and their “UGC Illimite” membership.

    2. get a better understanding of user preferences: by systematically collecting ratings for movies (see Netflix or Amazon). Everytime a member go es to see a movie, he receives an email alert the next day to rate the movie. 5 weeks prior to each release, local theatres present future movie releases (trailer) to regular movie goers and try to gauge the consumer’s interest to watch the movie: that way, theater managers will be able to better match the consumers’ preferences and order the right number of prints for each potential release. With digital distribution, it should be even easier to implement

    3. diversify revenues with targeted direct marketing: some members may express the interest to watch a few movies but only have the time to see one – in that case, the club will still be able to send targeted recommendations to rent/buy/download the DVD when it is released (additional revenues)

    4. give a few freebies for your loyal members: discounted prices for drinks/popcorn, exclusive screenings with the film’s cast(see UGC again), posters… It is free marketing!

    5. diversify, offer more than just movies: treat the movie goers as a community and use auditoriums for music concerts, sporting events, American Idol finales…

    6. provide a richer experience on screen: by showing exclusive material (short movies, best user-generated movies from the community…)

    7. provide a richer experience off-screen: am I the only person who would like more/better/healthier food?

    Comment by Insights 2.0 -

  363. Give attendees the chance to be in the movies.

    Put a number (40? 50?) of people who attend a movie in the “next” movie and point them out in the credits. Then “let it roll” by selecting attendees of that movie to be in the next movie, make it hallmark of your films that someone who attended a previous movie is in the movie. The people who appear in the movie will bring friends and family, who in turn may be selected (and she told two friends, and she told two friends…. Social networking meets the movies.) The selection process would need to be worked out whether it’s a random drawing or some kind of audition or combination of both.

    a second way to involve the audience is to let the audience determine the flow of the movie. let the audience vote on decisions the characters must make at critical points in the film. The movie could be different each time you attend.

    eventually technology will get to the point where the movie is nothing more than a framework and the movie goer provides the voice-over or the character in the movie takes on the movie goer’s appearance via graphical mapping. This would probably be more popular as a “movie kit” you download and create at parties. Or is this just a LAN video game with Avatars?

    the idea is to involve the movie goers in the making of the movies.

    Comment by Rob -

  364. All of the suggestions regarding improvements to the theaters themselves and/or rewards etc., aren’t direct marketing of the movies themselves. Though some have well thought ideas in collecting information for future marketing via email. However, like everyone else, I have my junk email account which is what I give out when I know I will be getting unsolicited emails. In general people get so many, I would suspect that they are more annoying then effective.

    The best marketing is word of mouth, so how do you get the movie out and the word going. Here are my thoughts:

    A captive audience, for example, like passengers on an airline (having good connections w/ AA can’t hurt, right?). Then provide them with one time use DVD’s for viewing on flights before they are released. The airline can market the flight with the benefit of an in flight movie that has “yet to be released”. So when the flight is in your search in expedia or travelocity or even on the AA website, it would show the benefit of the movie and include a link to it. Even if a passenger doesn’t choose that flight, they may be curious enough to go to the link and see what its about, or at least see what the whole program is about. Maybe the airline can get away w/ charging a little extra ($5 or so) for the flight, which they could “split” with you. But ultimately it would be easiest for the airline to pay up front for the benefit of the movie. Either way, you would get some reimbursement for people seeing the movie and therefore you are not “giving it away”. The airline could also serve popcorn instead of peanuts or pretzels, it would make everyone feel like they were in a theater instead of a plane (and I think we all agree we prefer a theater to a plane – except of course for some private plane).

    Then you would target the movies to certain flights – for example, a flight back from Cancun has better demographics for an Owen Wilson type movie, a flight back from Orlando would have better demographics for a family film, a flight back from NYC would have a better demographic for some historical flick like Capote. When the traveler gets off his/her flight they are often put in an immediate social situation (some friend picking them up) in which they are likely, because it was their last experience of their trip, to mention the film and how it was cool to see before everyone else – and so the word of mouth begins. The airlines could assist in providing demographics to help identify the best movies for certain flights as well as help the airlines promote themselves as having something else to offer. It helps the airline too if people have a more positive experience. It’s a win-win – that’s of course so long as the movie doesn’t suck.

    It may not be the mass marketing effort that you get from mega marketing emails and/or theater memberships, but its effective, inexpensive (possibly even profitable in and of itself), has good word of mouth potential and even good opportunity for free promotion through people searching for flights online.

    Good luck – and freakin’ brilliant getting all this free marketing advice.

    Comment by Lisa -

  365. Is it enough of an enticement to just hand a gift bag to a consumer after he/she watches a movie? No, not likely. The gifts or giveaways will not be valuable to everyone and the corporations who would be willing to give away products couldn’t do so on a large scale (across the country).

    Therefore, in order to get more people to go to the movies more frequently, you have to be able to give something to the consumer that they actually want. Consumers will not go to the theater unless they derive some benefit or gratification by going. Up until now, that gratification was derived soley from the movie itself. Perhaps to some extent the atmosphere and services of the theater played a role as well. As you’ve said, that’s not enough:

    The Solution
    Capitalize on the whole loyalty/rewards system, but make the consumers give you more than just their money. There is untapped value in each movie house. I’m not just talking about the value to the theater owners to entice the customer to buy overpriced soda or candy. We live in an information age. Who craves information the most? Big businesses do. The P&Gs of the world thrive on great market research. Why not leverage the 2 hours or more that consumers spend captive in the theater? Each of those arses in the seats contain valuable information. Pick their brains. Conduct market research. Partner with the companies who need it to ask the right questions.

    How it Works
    The more market research surveys the consumer participates in, the more “MoviePoints” (for lack of a better term) they accrue. Those points can be used to purchase rewards (e.g., flights, vacations, computers, books, Starbucks coffee, etc.) from a Website (set up by your company).

    Businesses interested in market research data pay your company money for the rights to that data. You give the theaters a percentage for allowing you to set this up on their properites. With the money businesses will pay, you set up the rewards sites to track how many surveys a user has completed let them redeem for their rewards.

    The Result
    By allowing viewers to opt in to perform marketing research surveys, your company can collect large amounts of data and sell it to both local and national businesses. Corporations and even savvy local companies would love to learn more about the customers that live in their area. Surveys could be conducted theater-wide on the screen and viewers can use theater-provided handhelds or use their cell phones to respond to questions.

    I can even envision product sampling on-site (candy, pizza, soda, whatever) and the company would get real time feedback on the products.

    I submit that consumers would be more eager to see movies because it could actually pay to go. By simply taking part in the market research surveys before watching each movie, the consumer earns points and gets to choose something they covet. That would motivate me to go to the movies, and I never go!

    Comment by M. Eykman -

  366. Mark – here is the solution:

    1. Eliminate admission prices. All movies are free.
    2. Move the concessions right into the theatre and eliminate the lobby. They don’t have to be elaborate, just adequate.
    3. Get corporate America to pony up to make up for the admission costs. The movie will have an actual starting time like plays, etc., after a point when no one else is admitted. This will ensure that people don’t time their entry after the commercials. At this time the commercials start, at whatever length and style they desire. In addition to this marketing, there will be corporate sponsorship, digital reader boards, etc. around the theatre.
    4. Get rid of the archaic system of sharing the profits with theatre owners. Get your own houses and keep it all.
    5. Marketing expense will be greatly reduced because you won’t have to try so hard to get people out – just plant the concept and they are more likely to take a chance if it’s free.
    6. The advertising costs to the sponsors will be charged “Nielsen-like”, with reductions offered for lighter viewed films and a provision to raise rates on the successes, even after the fact. A film that was priced to advertisers for a $50M estimate gate surges to $100M – the sponsors pony up – they have had that many more “looks”.
    7. Create viewing rooms around the theatre – an adult section with drinks, a family section, a teen section – where all can view the movie but are sound proof from the other rooms. Re-invent the concessions to fit the room.
    8. Depending on the type of film, there may be an intermission. Wedding Crashers – yes; Lady in the Water – no. This is another opportunity for more advertising, bathroom breaks, concessions, etc.

    The reason we go to the theatre is for the ambience/sound/experience/big screen effects. We will sit through numerous commercial/marketing ploys if the movie is free. When cable came out, we lauded it for it’s lack of commercials;now, it is just like network TV and we still watch.

    The current revenue generated after the split w/theatre owners will be replaced by using self-owned houses and corporate sponsorship. The savings from reduced marketing costs will also help ease the pain of free admission. If you own the houses yourself, you can negotiate your own sponsorship, local and national. All this is doing is taking television to the theatre. I have additional details if this sounds feasible.

    Comment by Jim mcloughlin -

  367. Why not just give away the DVD with the movie, so it’s included in the ticket price. Say for every two tickets sold, you get a voucher for a free DVD, or give it away right then? There are a lot of different combinations of this that are old-style marketing, and could work on a trial basis.

    I think a lot of people are overthinking this.

    Comment by Patrick -

  368. (a) A web site that lists all previews of all films in release as listed in the Hollywood Reporter would be great. (Follow-on, have all previews available forever on the site so that it can be easily accessed by anyone; also can be featured for all new “Tuesday releases” of the DVDs.)

    (b) Let anyone link to each preview separately and provide the specific link, same format as the links, for example.

    (c) Only have previews. There can be ads on the page but make sure the preview plays without any pre- or post- commercials. The site can be the “go to” place for all previews. Period.

    (d) Don’t clutter the site with user reviews. Most users provide little insight and the comments tend to be negative to very negative (as witnessed by the comments on this blog, for example).

    (e) Get a “Ebert and Roeper” on the web. They would review movies – as in a critical sense. Neither a shill for the movies nor a ‘negative nanny’ of the movies. In fact, there could be several reviewers since there are 100s of movies in release simultaneously. Keep the reviewers that get a huge following and can the reviewers that have a small following.

    (Follow-on: Have an “American Idol” style competition of the reviewers. This will generate all kinds of ‘free’ advertisement for the web site and the web site will be permanently etched into the minds of the public, as in: “What movie do you want to go to? … I don’t know… How about let’s go to www. and take a look at the current features? Follow-on: list all theatres and times – other sites do this but this is a one stop shop.

    (f) Independent films are in vogue; include all independent films in release to art houses.

    (g) I have a major killer on an idea but I am not about to post that on the net. Please contact me if you are interested. The site provided above is my new production company. My ‘business’ site is

    Thank you,


    Comment by Rick Roszko -

  369. Conduct giveaways to movie-goers. Instead of spending and exorbitant amount of money on marketing the film, put some of that into a ridiculous prize package. Then, rather than requiring people to enter the codes online, announce the winners right there in the theater. Have that gigantic movie screen throw up the winning “code”. Instant gratification. Not only is the winner totally stoked, but there’s an overall elevated level of excitement in the theater.

    You get more people to the theaters because they want to win the Macbook, or the car, or the trip to Europe. Then, you possibly even improve the movie-going experience in general through mood elevation. Everyone will be so exciting about the prize giveaway, they may experience the movie with a more positive attitude toward it (and all the word-of-mouth that follows is gold).

    Comment by Matt Kernan -

  370. A few things
    1. Always be on the lookout to take advantage of new technologies. The MySpace idea is a good one. I thought Clerks II was brillant by podcasting the iTunes all kinds of information about the movie prior to the initial run. They just used their DVD extras in advance. CARS did that as well.
    2. It always amazed me that movie theaters don’t do things like double features, or give a discount if you buy the second movie that day.When people are already at the movie theaters, encourage them to see a second movie that day!
    3. What about adding promotional DVD’s to Netflix users mailings, encourage them to see the movie by offering more than just trailers. (See Clerks II above)

    Good Luck-This industry needs help

    Comment by Michael Miller -

  371. Its funny, but you have already come up with an idea that made a big buzz around the nation. I if can remember correctly sometime earlier this year you gave away some 20,000 American Airlines vouchers to the fans present @ the Mavs vs. Clippers “Fan Appreciation Night” game.

    I don’t know about everyone else but I’m not missing another “Fan Appreciation Night”.

    Everyone was talking about it the next day. The local news, the newspapers, the local and national media was all over it.

    People like to feel appreciated, and people like giveaways. I have never herd of any opening night or opening weekend giveaways. I’m not talking about expensive prizes like American Airlines vouchers, no; I’m talking about simple small things that everyone in the theatre want to win (I’m not sure what this “Prize” will be yet, still a working idea). Or you can randomly pick a random theatre and a random time and give away a prize to everyone present, for that particular movie. I guarantee that if this happens on opening nigh, the buzz around the local and national news will be enough to drive people to come watch that movie, and only if there is a chance this will happen again.

    On another note, I can remember back when I was dating my wife, about 7 or 8 years ago we use to go to the movies a lot. I can remember one time, when we were attending opening weekend for a movie, the theatre manager walked in the theatre, jam packed with people, just before the movie started and gave away several prizes, to whoever could answer simple movie trivia.
    I cannot remember that happening since. I’m not sure that this will bring people to watch a certain movie or if this will be a great marketing tool, but it make the theater going experience a little better.

    Just my two cents!

    Comment by NelsoN -

  372. Movie Lottery

    Just like New Mexico is creating a lottery to get people into the voting booths, you can invest $1 million of your marketing dollars into a lottery that will put people’s butts in the movie theater for your film.

    When people purchase their tickets online, that ticket number could then be entered into your film’s opening-weekend lottery for $1 million. It’s like a more mature version of a high school football game’s “Split-the-Pot.”

    I’m not schooled in federal lottery/gambling law, but I’m sure some form or fashion of a lottery could be created if New Mexico will be using one soon to entice the non-voting public.

    Gambling and movies are both valued forms of entertainment in America today, so why not try and unite both to attract an audience to your movies’ opening weekends?

    Comment by Shaun Radecki -

  373. The problem is MOVIES are too expensive!!!

    in NYC 23 bucks for a couple to go to movie – if you use moviefone it is up to 27 dollars I went to a movie and a SMALL bottle of water was $3.50 —

    WHen a couple goes to movie they ask is this movie worth 50 dollar (more if you have kids and need a babysitter) – Most of the time in your mind you ask the 50 dollar question and say “I will wait to Netflix this flick”

    Netflix actually has the answer.. why not start offering monthly Film subscription.. for 21 dollars a month – you can go to 3 movies .. 2 in prime time and 1 off peak hours. Maybe include special screening offers for members only – movie magazine subscription etc..

    Comment by Gary -

  374. Maybe there’s a way to tap into the online gaming communities. Millions of subscribers play games online via Microsoft’s Xbox Live program, not to mention the various online worlds for computer games. They wouldn’t be suitable for every film, but for action films, or films based on video games….

    “Clerks II” is prompting MySpace users to add the film to their “friends” lists in exchange for credits on the DVD–but that seems cheap. I gotta believe MySpace is eventually going to collapse under the weight of everybody and their dogs piling on….

    Comment by Greg Leding -

  375. Offer discounts on seats at a ball game with the purchase of a movie ticket. Maybe even do a special where people can earn stuff like Ebay Bucks when they see the movie.

    On the day the movie comes out, a free drink & popcorn or candy.

    Have a couple of players, or actors from the movie sign autographs at the end of the movie at certain times.

    Include codes on movie tickets, and give prizes away online.

    Promo cards passed out or placed in seats at sporting events, malls, or in rooms where other movies are showing, and etc. Cards about the size of the booklets you get when you by cds. A nice huge picture on the front, and info about the movie on the back. Put the card inside cd albums. Even a free ticket at random to see the movie.

    Let Oprah see the movie, and see if she wants to do a special for it in one of her shows.

    Comment by Sammie -

  376. If you could advertise on a billboard in the sky for millions of people to see every day would you do it? When you travel by air, what is the one thing you do vitually every time you go to land? You look out the window to see the landscape, you look down at the grownd just to see what there is to see. Millions of people do this every day. My unique somewhat bizzare idea is POOLS. That’s right in ground swimming pools in airport flight paths. When you look down you see pools. Why not advertise day and night in lighted pools. Advertise by resurfacing the pool with what ever it is you want to get out there. And, millions of people will see it every day. Pick pools in flight paths of what ever targeted airports that you want to market. It can be a movie, a beer, or maybe even a basketball team you promote. Whatever it is millions of people will see it. Test it, try my pool and see. My pool can use resurfacing anyway and I am in the DFW flight path.

    Comment by Scott -

  377. I can’t remember the last time I actually had “fun” at a movie theater. Half the reason my family stays at home is the nonsense you have to put up with – and then end up seeing a BAD picture. BUT – what if you actually made it fun to go to a movie premiere?

    People will remember fun – that creates buzz – driving more people back to the theater for the next show.

    So, how would I do that? Knock their socks off, Mark. Add a live warm-up act to every screen (much like they do for studio audiences at TV show pilots) – make people laugh so hard they don’t even remember the movie – they only remember the pre-show live interaction and they will go back the following night for more if the content is fresh.

    I was thinking about the Alamo Draft House and how much fun it is to go when they have a live pre-show (or post show) and get the audience involved in the action – sort of quasi dinner theater / comedy club. (Come on down to Austin to check it out if you’ve never been. I’ll buy you a beer.)

    Yes, I know – a daunting task – 1000 screens equals 1000 new employees for Mark Cuban Enterprises – AND they have to be some of the funniest people on the planet. You did say you wanted to be in the comedy business, too?

    $30M (half the amount of one big-budget film) hires most of them for the whole movie season. Add script writers and unique production value – and I think you’ve got something to bring people out of their homes again.

    Comment by Eseer -

  378. Nobody who’s deaf or blind will leave the house unless your movie has captioning or audio description, respectively. So you can rule out those audiences unless you take accessibility seriously, which, if memory serves, you do not do, at least not in the context of HDNet.

    Comment by Joe Clark -

  379. There needs to be a change in the atmosphere in these theaters to get people to go watch movies. A movie by itself is not enough to get people to watch a movie. People that go to sports events do not just get entertained by watching the game. There are also cheerleaders and chants and other fun things that happen during the game that allow people to be entertained. Movies should follow that route and try and create that same type of entertainment instead of just relying on the movie.

    Get rid of the individual seats and have comfortable couches or have chairs and a table and set it up like a dinner service. Try and create an atmosphere that fits with the movie or sports event that are shown. For romantic movies try and have love couches put into the theater. For comedies, use couches so it creates the atmosphere of watching it at home with your friends. For the artsy type movies you can set it up with chairs and a table and have an elegant dinner service to go along with the movie.

    Sports events can also be shown and there should be more of a party atmosphere to it. Try to recreate the atmosphere of having friends over, having pizza and a few beers and chipping in for PPV event.

    Comment by Philip -

  380. give the fans more stake in the movie and how it turns out. every movie made is going to have a fan base, whether it is one the size of star wars, or one the size of napoleon dynamite, its all a matter of how you use it.

    if its a movie that is based off of an already well known institution, whether it be a book, comic book, cartoon, etc, etc, use the fan base that it has instead of leaving it up to a director and writers that have no idea what they are doing. if you take the process of creating the movie down to the fans they will have a stake in what is being made. use contests to help design characters, determine what direction a character will take through the movie, determine who would live and who would die, if you do things like this, the fans will feel like they did something to help make the movie and go see it.

    on the other end, do the same thing with other kinds of movies as well, give the fans that are going to be out there from the start a chance to really influence the way the movie is being made, to an extent, and that will get them talking. do a contest to give them a chance to come see the movie being filmed, give them a chance to be an extra in the movie, get them there to see it being made and they will talk to their friends, which will get their friends talking, and so on.

    these might not be exactly new ways of thinking, but who cares how innovative it is if you make money on it.

    Comment by John -

  381. Contests. These days word of mouth/email/text messages do viral marketing for movies or youtube videos or goofy sites on the net for free. So you take your theaters and give the movie away for free…once a week. Once a week, after the credits roll, everyone in the theater gets their money back. So folks looking to roll the dice choose your theater over AMC and Loews, etc.

    Comment by Wacheena -

  382. The movie going audience needs to be segmented. There should be season passes or subscriptions that are paid for up front like a ski lift pass. Anytime passes are more expensive than weekday evening passes which are more expensive that daytime passes. Make family passes available. People with passes pay less at the concession. People with passes get guaranteed seats. (It seems as if yield/seat management of multiplexes could be a lot better.) That’s all for now. I don’t need a job but there are many, many more things to do, aside from making better movies, to get people into theatres.

    Comment by Steve -

  383. First, sell movie “theater seat time-shares” for popular movie venues nationwide. That is, one could buy rights to x seats per showing at participating theaters from drive-ins to cineplexes, to downtown dinner theaters or amphitheaters and more, wherever and whenever.

    Allow patrons to swap and trade their time-shares among the public at large (with all the rights and attendant annual fees due to the new owner), Luxury, VIP and Club. Tickets to each performance reserved by owner number in advance.

    This means booked entertainment and catered dining for early arrivals before showings. Creates opportunities for participating theaters to offer VIP (Red carpet entrance, valet parking), Luxury (suites), and Club seating.

    Potentially, all seats for all showings would be pre-sold at appropriate price by level of exclusivity. It would be up to the time share owners to find the movie of interest.

    Unsold “time-shares” for each showing always open to the walk-in public at the Club level.

    Comment by Jose Di Marco -

  384. Here are a few ideas, off the top of my head. Get to work with IMAX, to push bigscreen-format and 3D movies. You’re on the cutting edge with HDNet, so you know that IMAX is to movies what HD is to TV. But thats a content issue, not a marketing one. Heres a thought: special edition screenings of films with deleted scenes included – specifically deleted scenes that wont be on the DVD. You want to give people added value, that they can’t match by buying the DVD, and that means extra content. Since Landmark already has digital projectors, run movies in different languages to hit those niches (especially in ethnic hotbeds, i.e. the same movie in LA would be in English or Spanish, in two different theaters, at the same time).

    Comment by Alex -

  385. Five questions pop up to help get at the answer Cuban is looking for:

    * What is the job that people are ‘hiring’ movies for when they go to the theater?
    * What are barriers to the consumption of movies?
    * Are there ways to eliminate or reduce some of these barriers?
    * Are parts of the market overshot?
    * Is there a simpler, lower-cost approach that appeals to a neglected or underserved market segment?

    The first two questions are relatively straightforward and I will take a quick crack at them.

    The other three questions are at the heart of the issue and I will will attempt to address them over time. It would be a disservice to rattle of quick answers on those issues.

    Comment by Michael Urlocker -

  386. i go see all genres of movies for one reason only because it is my choice

    now i am influenced by many factors such as word of mouth, possibly reading something on the internet about the movie, movie trailers seen on tv…all these factors play a part in my decision

    its hard for me to understand how ticket prices have risen so much in the past 15-20 years like ppl have money to throw around to go watch a 2-3 hour movie and then what? not a damn thing no perks just a damn movie cmon now we are in the age when so many incentives are being thrown at ppl to get them to buy products (automobile sales for example salesman gave me four vouchers for free fillups after recently purchasing car small things do count) and the movie industry still thinks that the popularity of actors altogher movie mojo can entice me to spend 20 on me and my date to see a movie (im not cheap either i just feel that i can spend 20 going towards dinner and drinks and get the same response from my date and i dont have to waste 2-3 hours at possibly a dumb a** movie)

    sorry for the tirade here is my solution:

    first off get with with the times, done are the old fashioned ways for paying for things…lose the paper ticket, NFC (near field communication is here) and you can only read and know that overseas consumers use their cellphone to pay for products more so than a credit card (plus you need it anyway to call up friends to tell them what time to meet at the movies)

    now why not couple this technology with a dedicated movie site applicable to phone browsers…most phones can access wi-fi networks and have pretty good d/l times acessing traditional websites so why not a simple site that i can search my location, then genre and find movie information that is appealing to me at the moment (maybe overheard someone at the restaurant where i am dining with date and want to know where the movie is playing that they are raving about) so its immediate and gets me to where i can find movie information instantaneously

    lets go back to near field communcation for a moment, i am not all the way clear but i know technologically this should not be a deterrent…either let me buy the freakin tickets right there on my phone or quite possibly let me establish an account on this movie site that enables me to deposit money and use this money using NFC to buy tickets at the theater of my choice where i already know its playing

    would be also pretty tight on the site if the the location piece could find theater near you by taking in the GPS location using the cell phone (just an idea for to increae user adoption)

    lastly, the site will also send me permission based text alerts when new movies have arrived in DB, based on my preferences (i want to be alerted whenever a new movie with Eve Mendes comes out becuz i think she is beautiful or whenever a new comedy comes out) let the site bear the cost of text messaging just have to make sure SMS gateways give competive rates especially if you are sending lets say millions of text messages a month (i am confident the user base will get this large to have to send this many) and oh how valuable this list will be for cross-sell and up-sell opportunities

    one other thing it would also be nice if i bought ten tickets in one month or something to that effect and i get voucher for $30-$50 to use for a dinner for two at a nice fancy restaurant (i can go on with different marketing ideas but i will leave that to the experts) but im just saying for a family of 4 that would give me incentive to take the family to at least 3 movies a month so i can take the wife to a nice restaurant (kids could be entertained every weekend and the wife would definitely appreciate a dinner at a nice restaurant and i would like the fact that i may only need to add another $20 dollars or maybe nothing to pay for the dinner)

    so to sum it up the person taking tickets at the theater still may have to take tickets for those not ready to use new technology but less money will be spent for paper to create tickets and we save some trees…also the movie studios will still want to spend money on traditional marketing techniques tv ads, etc. but alot less

    eventually movie studios can deliver these trailers using the site as all cell phones become more and more media rich we can view the trailer from the cell phone which has to be alot cheaper than paying the tv station to air it e.g., get new text message alert for new Carmen Diaz movie and i can go directly to site and d/l or view the trailer to the movie buy my ticket and all without being touched by any other advetising campaign

    one more thing lets get the independent movie studios in the game we can let them also deliver marketing about their movies on our site and reach our customer base without having to worry about how can we come up with money to market this movie, let them be creative to make movies and provide the medium to reach their potential fans

    well i know am I long winded but thats how it is sometimes when the juices get flowing in my brain

    thanks for the time

    Comment by GMAN -

  387. Mark,

    I am not sure if anyone has suggested this as there are 750+ comments and I don’t have the time to go through all of them. So if someone had suggested this idea already I apologize in advance.

    I am a entrepreneur in the tech industry and being a entrepreneur you always have to a go for a niche market with differentiation that no one else has in the industry.Very hard to do. On the other hand I am also a family guy with a 2 year old and me and my wife have not been to the movie theater in 2+ years. A lot of you with young kids know what I am talking about:) The reason we don’t go is because not for the price or the time its because there are no relatives who live close to us and we want our daughter to be left somewhere safe if we do decide to go. Lot of daycares are also not open in the evenings. I live in California and the only chance we get to go to a movie is when grandparents visit from Dallas or when we visit them.

    So my idea is little out of whack and hopefully don’t get blasted from other people, but this is something that will work from my point of view. The idea behind the whole experience of watching movie that it should be relaxing and I don’t have to worry about babysitters and making sure the babysitter is there on time, making sure we grab something to eat first and don’t be late to movie. So what I am suggesting is where all of the things I mentioned will be taken care in one place. So the point is to aggregate everything in one place.

    First thing is to have daycare in the theaters(think in terms of Gymboree minus the parents), Second have a restaurant, not fast food, but something like Chili’s or something above that, but this is not too important for me, more for convenience and third is to package all this in one dollar amount. Since food is variable in terms of pricing you can package movie and daycare unless you have a buffet. If you want to go even further you can have a subscription model, this is just an example for $200/year you can watch 2 movies every month with day care provided for those number of hours for the movie. The daycare should cater to different kids like for older kids and younger kids, sleeping room, playing room and etc. If people are not interested in the yearly package do a weekend package or weekday package, afternoon package 3 month, 6 moth package or one day package and so on. Hey don’t you have something like this in the NBA for game packages?

    Provide a way for people to do reservations, so people will have a piece of mind when they get there, they have a place for their kids in the daycare and better management for you guys also. Provide a beeper that vibrates if they need for the parents to come to the daycare area for any particular reason.

    In my opinion good advertising is word of mouth and other niche market is stay home moms. My wife is involved in mom’s group and they are always planning out activates for all the moms every other week, so for some mom’s this will be a great option to take their kids to a place where there is daycare right outside the door where they are watching movies.Moms wont do this often but sometime when they get an opportunity like this they will do anything to be away from their kids for 2+ hours. Stay home moms will only have time to do this during daytime and the last time I checked most movie theater’s make their money at evenings and weekends, so this is adding revenue when traditional movie theaters are not supposed to make money during weekday day shows. So cater to moms in the afternoon and whole family in evenings and weekends. Also you know most of these moms email a lot or are a part of discussion groups, so if one person has a good experience and mentions something good about the experience you are milking money after that:) Of course you have to spend money initially to make money.

    Hope this helps and if there is something like this already in northern California, please let me know. Remember Mark most people have time and money they just need a good reason to spend it and people will always try something out for the first time if it is interesting and beneficial to them, you just have to make the experience pain free and enjoyable.

    Comment by Ravi Rajagopal -

  388. Mark,


    Comment by Fred -

  389. The idea is not mine. It is done now in The Netherlands(where I live).

    Pathé Netherlands( intreduced 6 months ago an unlimited pass. For the price of € 17.50 per month(and I let u do the math how much is this in US$) any holder of such pass can go to any movie in any Pathé theatre across The Netherlands, with no extra cost. As a movie ticket cost here around € 9(consumtion not included), if u go to 2 films a month, you have covered the costs.The more you go the cheapest is your avarage ticket price. You tend to use such pass and go more often to the movie. You even watch films you didn’t think you would like to see. But he,it cost you no extra’s so why not.Each pass has a photo of its holder and therefore is personal and not transferable.In that way someone fom Dallas can see a film somewhere else in the US, as long as he see it in one of your theatres.

    The terms and conditions(and I only quote the most important) on the pass are very simple:
    1. When purchasing the pass, you need to be a memeber for at least 4 months(can be adjusted to local terms).
    2.Tickets depends on availability and can be purchase as of 1 hour before the screening.
    3. You can go to any movie in the chain, no matter where,what day or how late.
    4. You can buy 1 ticket per pass.

    I think that for more information about logistic and how succesful the pass is,you should contact pathé.nl.

    After writing the above I have some added ideas for you.

    1. Make the pass a sort of loyality club. Arrange, once a month, a special preview screening for pass holders. If they liked the film, they will tell it to thier friends. That is called free advartising.It can also backfire if they didn’t like the film. But that will cost you less the 60 mm.

    2. Focus on you theatre. Make sure that ALL of your theatre have the optimal screening possibilities(comfortabel seats,big screen,perfect sound & projection systhem). Visiting your theatrs should be an experience people will treasure and would like to repeat.

    Anyway I have said enough. Success.

    Comment by shai -

  390. Mr. Cuban,

    I would keep it simple. Put a private, “small” movie theatre across from every starbucks in the country. Remove concessions out of the formula, allow people to bring in food and soda as they wish. By setting up your own theaters, small 50 – 100 capacity on every corner you will have created free advertising.
    Starbucks or any other chain will generate the foot traffic. This also eliminates the cut of the revenue that the theatre gets and with no restrictions on food and soda it will be great for families. I’m sure you could deliver the movies to their home but I enjoy leaving my home once in a while and enjoying a night out with the family. Also, you could fill in the slow periods with sporting event coverage and other special presentations, even competitors movies, might as well make some money off of their hard work too!

    Comment by Brad Loomis -

  391. post 10-20 mins of beginning of the movie available online. allow them to share it on sites such as 😉

    now that i already saw the first 10 mins of movie that I liked, i can take time getting popcorn and soda.

    Comment by Song Kim -

  392. Mark:

    The key problem is with your premise of driving people to theaters. That is the same as pushing people into record stores to buy more music.

    Deliver movies directly into the house at the same time (the key here…at the same time) they are released in theaters. People will spend more for a hollywood premier delivered into their home media rooms.

    How cool it would it be to have the ability to watch Talladega Nights-The Ballad of Ricky Bobby from home on Aug. 4 vs. the theater?


    Comment by JW -

  393. Let us go into one theater, hate the pic, and go to another one just starting up without fiddling around with ticket refunds and resells. Sell liquor. Radio block cell phones. Set up high-end private rooms (skyboxes!) Designate theaters by taste: one for squawking, talking and fistfights, and one for watching movies. PPV boxing on closed circuit. Sell corn dogs already. Bring back ushers, and give them the muscle and training to kick the hell out of bad customers. Put em back in tuxedoes, too. Host pinball tournaments. Sell more liquor.

    Develop interactive horror movies, so if we yell at the screen at some idiot “DON’T GO INTO THE BASEMENT”, he hears us and instead runs like hell to the police, who are, of course brain-eating zombies. But at least the person is killed because of scary stuff, not because he’s a moron who has never seen a horror movie.

    Offer a kid-care/play area.
    We go to the YMCA three times a week just for the “free” child care, and I assure you, the Y has a monthly gross from us that is probably 3 to 6 times what the local theater is making. Kids don’t always want to go to a movie, but they always want to climb on something dangerous. Just give them something dangerous to climb on and a couple of half-sane employees who can keep our little ones alive for two and a half hours already.

    Remember why movies got popular in the first place: they replaced the hassle and expense of stage productions, they ran movies, newsreels, shorts, previews constantly, they charged a dime for an afternoon or evening of entertainment. Sure TV and technology have pretty much kicked movie theaters’ teeth in, but that doesn’t mean the things aren’t viable.

    Just make ’em fun again. A place to go, with more value than whatever is on the screen. Re-master and run some cool old crap with digital sound and sell the soundtracks. Pat Garrett & Billy The Kidd, 2001, you know the drill.

    More “General Audience” (G) movies with war and kissing in them. Half the movies I watched as a kid had all sorts of action-adventure, history, and romance in them, but were really geared for an older audience. Although I’m happy to take my kids to movies like the Rookie and Dreamer, or the occasional Pixar offering, there is so much more you can do with “G.” But these are movies my kids want to see, but I end up enjoying. I’d love to take my kids to a movie I want to see, but that they end up enjoying. If I go with my kids, it is rare that I’ll even go to PG, unless I’ve already screened it. G doesn’t have to mean “generic.” Look at the old catalog of G movies, and make a few like that.

    Along those lines, I wouldn’t mind a few more self-imposed language, fart, nipple and butt-crack restrictions on all movies. Talk about distracting from the plot, and these have become almost standard, because some yahoo in Hollywood is under the sad, sad misconception that a series of flatulent raspberries continue to “push the artistic frontiers.”

    I still think the big screen is an awesome experience, but right now, almost everything surrounding that experience (the inconvenience, the great concession depression, bad movie-goers, the lack of child care) is what peels away most people, because if the movies today suck so bad, why are DVD sales through the roof?

    Make the destination a destination again, and your gate receipts will go up and your costs-to-market will go down.

    And sell liquor.

    Comment by Dan -

  394. Know your target audience. Once you know your “shopper” then you will know what will work. I think #4 gets it. Forget movie clubs, award programs, all that jazz, it is all a shot in the dark until you know who you are talking to. Once you know your audience then you can just pick and choose from things you know they want and things that motivate them to action.

    Comment by Jeremy -

  395. Hey Mark,

    How about this, pre-release the entire video portion of the movie online but not the audio. Allow the potential audience to dub in thier own dialogue ala “What’s Up, Tiger Lilly?”, thus making You Tube your marketing point man.

    Comment by HighAnkleSprain -

  396. Since your movies are generally word of mouth indy kinds of movies, you need as many words of mouth you can get. So… offer free admission opening weekend. Not only are you guaranteed sellouts because it’s free, the media will fall all over you (at least at first) because it’s never been done before. Free advertising.

    Comment by Luke -

  397. There have been lots of “good” thoughts displayed here so far. There are a couple factors that keep the wife and me away from the movie theatre: costs and the under 18 crowd. While it would be nice to be able to go to the movies without a bunch of children running around and screaming, or a bunch of immature teens yapping and throwing popcorn around; I fully understand that they are a part of the audience as well, so they cannot be excluded. I, however, do have an idea about the cost. Why not auction off movie seats? How much do you think you could have gotten for a ticket during the opening weekend of Star Wars? I know several people that would have given an arm & leg to be one of the first to see it. For a really good movie, perhaps you generate a little extra income; for a film with less hype, maybe just making sure you fill up the theatre is the goal… If you can sell 100 extra seats at half price for a movie that might be playing for a near empty theatre, why not do it? is still in business, so why not (when you advertise the trailer, you can advertise the site)? I checked GoDaddy, it is available.

    Comment by James -

  398. My idea is to have a prerecorded message from the “Star” or “Stars” of the movie personally invite me to attend. For example Will Ferrell would record a funny message asking me to see his movie “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”. I would get the call on my cell…recognize his voice… laugh and remember to check out his movie!!! I might even save it to play for my friend who is a big fan. You could send the message to anyone who has a phone\cell phone. So you can market to virtually everyone very quickly! Also should be very inexpensive to do.
    Let me know what you think.
    You know you can always get my on my cell.

    Comment by Sarah -

  399. Have two great ideas for a movie. pick the one that would have mass appeal for a TV broadcast on your network or the like. This would generate buzz. after a sucessful run on TV, the selling would be easy by promoting the 2nd idea as a movie by the folks who brought you that great tv boradcast movie.

    Comment by Hutch -

  400. A substantial portion of potential fans avoid movies that offend their values, and it seems that most movies offend millions of potential fans nowadays. Courts have recently ruled it an infringement of copyright for third parties to edit out offensive movie segments. But there’s nothing to keep movie makers from offering alternative versions of the same movie at different ratings. Make A and B versions and expand your potential market enormously.

    Comment by Frank Walters -

  401. Mark,

    Let me get right to it.

    The movie market place is FAT and LAZY. This is GREAT and should be REWARDED!

    “Zero Risk Movie”
    When people come to see a movie, offer a 100% guarantee refund of there money assuming they leave at intermission. (Which would last about a min right before the best hook in the movie.

    Where is the genius?
    People are fat, the ticket is already paid for and if the movie is even worth seeing they will sit through it.
    It takes less work to stay seated then it does to get up and leave. If you didn’t want to refund the cash you could give them a free movie pass for next time they come to your theater.
    Peer pressure. Just one person in the group who likes the movie can convince the entire group to stay. Please tell me what guy on a date wants to look cheap and say,
    ”let’s save some money and leave early?” Even I would have trouble convincing my woman that we should leave another tired JLO flick.
    If they do leave, you would have already sold them a couple LARGE SODAS, a JUMBO POPCORN, and 15 minutes worth of ad time. If a movie can’t keep 85% of people in the seats, then you should drop it anyway.



    Comment by Jason -

  402. There are 2 possibilites:
    1) Use websites like or a totally new website dedicated to displaying the first 10 minutes of each film about to open each week. I would definetly go to this website every friday to see what’s opening that weekend and watch the first 10 minutes of it. Make the bandwith larger to upload short films or the first 10 minutes of a film.

    2) Start a new publication dedicated to the films coming out in the next few months. Print is cheaper than media right? Offer some sort of free newsletter that people can subscribe to either online or at a movie theater lobby. I would love to receive a newsletter each month that has the descriptions of upcoming movies and a tid bit of movie related news.

    Comment by Derek -

  403. I think the challenge lies with getting people off their fat asses. we seem to be such a lazy society and with the introduction of more advanced home theater technologies people dont feel the need to get out of their houses. i think in order to get people to attend a movie we have to change the mindset of the viewers. i think part of this change can be done by providing an experience that you simply can’t get unless you go to the theaters.

    i look at it like a basketball game. its always better to watch a basketball game at the arena so you can feel the intensity and soak in the atmosphere and feel of being at the game. it just doesnt compare to watching it on your couch. i think teams that have trouble with attendance because their fans have the mindset that its not worth attending the actual game. its just as good for them to watch the game from their couch and its not worth their time and money to get up and go to the arena.

    i think the other problem is with the critics. in my opinion movie critics are worse than nba referees. The reason they are so bad is because they look at movies in a different light than the average movie goer. I took film and acting classes in college that totally changed my perspective on how to watch movies. it made my expectations rise as far as plot, acting and quality of production is concerned. however, the average movie goer isnt trained to look for certain things. they want to be entertained and for the most part entertaining movies seem to get bad to decent reviews. and if there are negative reviews about a movie then why would anyone want to go see it?

    just my 2 cents. if you want a third cent, itll cost ya…….mahalo

    Comment by Keith Alan -

  404. How about this: Make the movie downloadable. Technology is there to watermark it, and make it usless if it’s transferred to another media/computer. Charge the $7 or whatever pricetag to it, and you just opened up a completely new way to do things.

    Comment by Mike -

  405. Build the anticipated ending of the movie by releasing it to small groups on the web either paid or unpaid. The movie is a completion of the arc. The best way to do this over and over again and resell it to others is be the wifi provider and give the 802.11 device to the users and control the deck of the device. By linking the wifi to a municipal government and using cable provider bandwidth you will avoid the crash of the cellular networks revenues and the anger of the carriers. VOIP should be free and if the wifis are meshed and networked you are providing a great service and have gained the deck space now owned by four cellular carriers. The device should cost no more than $30 per user and the cost versus the cost to acquire clients for cellular networks is $170 cheaper and for banking its $45 cheaper. So conquer the deck space via free wifi and cheap 802.11 phones and the viral world of audience anticipation is your for the asking from anyone.

    Comment by James Nesfield -

  406. If I were a studio head, I would be offering my films:

    (1) via direct in-browser downloads; you simply go to the movie’s website, put in your credit card number, and download the movie by clicking a SINGLE link; let people choose the format (for their iPod, their PSP, etc.); make this site crazy simple to navigate; as far as DRM, use as little as you can get away with

    (2) via DVD; to rent or buy

    (3) in theatres

    The direct downloads needs to be offered before the others. Spend $10 million in tv, radio and print advertising driving people to the website. Then, let the website carry the load.

    Let the website market the film for you. Allow people who buy the movie to share it with ONE person (tracked via an IP or Mac address) for free. Then allow people to choose a single 5-min clip of the film (their favorite scene) that they can embed the video of on their MySpace page, YouTube account, blog, personal site, etc. Let them show your movie off for free.

    Then, once the buzz is big enough, start rolling out the film to DVD rental houses (online and brick-and-mortar) and theatres. Start small, grow as the demand increases.

    The point is to spend a little bit of money in the right places to drive the right people (bloggers, YouTubers, MySpacers, etc.) to the film’s website. Then, let the website do the work. It’s all viral baby.

    Comment by Jonathan Powers -

  407. If I were a studio head, I would be offering my films:

    (1) via direct in-browser downloads; you simply go to the movie’s website, put in your credit card number, and download the movie by clicking a SINGLE link; let people choose the format (for their iPod, their PSP, etc.); make this site crazy simple to navigate; as far as DRM, use as little as you can get away with

    (2) via DVD; to rent or buy

    (3) in theatres

    The direct downloads needs to be offered before the others. Spend $10 million in tv, radio and print advertising driving people to the website. Then, let the website carry the load.

    Let the website market the film for you. Allow people who buy the movie to share it with ONE person (tracked via an IP or Mac address) for free. Then allow people to choose a single 5-min clip of the film (their favorite scene) that they can embed the video of on their MySpace page, YouTube account, blog, personal site, etc. Let them show your movie off for free.

    Then, once the buzz is big enough, start rolling out the film to DVD rental houses (online and brick-and-mortar) and theatres. Start small, grow as the demand increases.

    The point is to spend a little bit of money in the right places to drive the right people (bloggers, YouTubers, MySpacers, etc.) to the film’s website. Then, let the website do the work. It’s all viral baby.

    Comment by Jonathan Powers -

  408. Mark, I think the answer is simple in nature, but complex in execution. (Exactly the type of idea consumers and marketers love!)

    The viewing paradigm has already shifted from theater to home theater. Therefore theater goers should be rewarded for their loyalty in a way that breaks the mold.

    “That looks like a movie I’ll see on DVD.”

    In my opinion theater owners need to break that habit, because the above statement results in lost sales.

    Therefore, why not make an unprecendented offer to theater-goers… by seeing the movie in the theater, you are now a PRIVILEGED CUSTOMER of that property.

    You will…
    1. Receive a substantial discount on the DVD release.

    2. Be offered an exclusive early purchase window to buy the DVD (HDDVD, Blu-Ray, or Amazon DV).

    3. Receive a discount ticket to a similar movie in the future.

    4. Receive a Amazon DV version of the movie for their portable player.

    This eliminates the excuse to “wait until the DVD comes out” since they will be getting it a cost savings. As a theater-goer, I am now incented with real offers of CONTENT, which is currently the reigning King.

    I wanted to keep this simple and short, but if you select my idea, I will do everything I can to make this work.

    I have a strong Relationship Marketing background (I’ve been working at a top agency since I got out of school 6 years ago) and I specialize in Interactive Marketing through the direct channel.

    Also, I like to think that I am familiar with your business ideals, through your postings on this blog (first time caller, long time listener).

    Keith Soljacich

    Comment by Keith Soljacich -

  409. The Movie Business Challenge.

    Hi Mark, big fan of you, your work and great ideas.

    Treat the customer like they’re an investor. After all they’re investing their time and hard earned money. In return for their investment they can expect me to give them a great movie and a better one the future. Have them looking forward to your next film right away. Not only will it be bigger and better. It’s bigger and better because of our investors. This is their reward.

    1. Problem: People don’t care about your movie, it’s all being shoved down their throats the same way day in and day out so they don’t care to listen to the same B.S. There is not one person or face we can go to so we don’t care.

    a. Solution: Have one person with a name who represents a certain Genre of film. Lets call them a Genre Representitive. When you have a horror film coming out you see someone like Vamprilla (Our Genre Rep) who will give you a brief run down of the film. Do that for each genre and get people used to having that one face and name that they can count on to tell them about all the films in that genre covered that are currently out. One person, One name. Kind of like the Golden Arches in a way. I know all films are different yet if one person could pitch it to us like we are investors because that is what are film lovers are. Investors.

    Another idea is based on what our Genre Rep says about a film that might influence the price of your ticket. Why pay the same price for a great movie as opposed to a shitty film that sucks. Some people like going to shitty films others don’t. You don’t pay the same for a Benz as you do a Ford or do you?

    Include your loyal movie lovers by making them part of the decision process on what your next film to green light might be? Maybe even to go as far as to use that method for casting as well.

    Thanks for the job. When do I start getting paid. I’m ready with tons more!

    Mike Naylor
    7320 Hawthorn Ave #423
    Los Angeles California 90046
    310-925-0647 Cell
    323-969-0813 Home

    Ex Military/movie lover and film maker.

    Comment by Mike Naylor -

  410. Advertise where people will have to see it. In places where people go every day an have to wait. Such as





    Comment by Greg -

  411. Final Suggestion for Today:

    Put my film which encompasses my suggestion on 35mm film. It will draw a crowd based upon the suggestions that I provided earlier.

    Comment by Ros Mickens -

  412. Oh God, enough with the “family friendly movies all the time 24/7” C’mon!

    You don’t have to make family friendly movies all the time to pack a theatre. Look at M. Night’s 1st (and only really good movie) “The 6th Sense”. You had to see that movie twice to make sure you saw everything the first time. I would not consider this movie a “family friendly flick”. Many multiplexes have day care centers. No offense to parents, but I don’t want to hear your kids crying in my ear at the theatre.

    What needs to happen is more face-to-face, word-of-mouth promotion for the good to great films. You can do a film for a few $M and get a high turnover success ratio. If you have a $3M film and make $30M off the film, I’d say it was a success.

    International markets are a different animal because Americans are pretty egocentric and they hate that in Europe & Asia. India has a much larger market than ours because theatre going is part of the culture. They aren’t as spoiled as we are here and appreciate a new flick. (Granted most of the Bollywood themes are the same damn thing, over and over and over again…) They appreciate seeing East Indian people on-screen. The same with Tyler Perry and his core audience. Black people in the US will support a film with Black people plastered all over the film (if it’s any good). The same with Latinas supporting films like “Real Women Have Curves”. We love seeing ourselves on the big screen.

    How many films show a multi-ethnic cast? You may have tokens on screen, but really most of the cast for large budget US films are White (to draw the White audience of course.) I’m not mad at them, but this country is filled with people from different nationalities and origins. People will support a good story with actors that look like them. I think this is one reason for the success of “Crash” and “Million Dollar Baby” and “Ray” the year before. You had exposure from people like Oprah Winfrey talking up “Crash” (which I LOVED)! C’mon, she could talk about asparagus and make people buy it that night!!! For real.

    Like I said in an earlier blog. POLITICS is holding back many good writers, actors, directors, films. It’s the golden rule: Those that have the gold- rule.

    Comment by Ros Mickens -

  413. Give the movie away.

    Free admission. Show ads before and after the movie. Ads on the back of the seats, ads on the wall of the theatre, and most important of all….ads IN the frickin’ movie.

    Give away schwag bags of sample sized crap featured in the movies or tied to the attending demographic.

    The only profitable airlines are using this model.

    Movie goers are WILLINGLY subjecting themselves to a 90 minute captive marketing opp.

    People are whores.

    No more complaints about “high movie prices”

    Comment by Jim Anchower -

  414. I didn’t take the time to read through all of the posts that everyone has posted, so if I am piggy backing, please do accept my apologies.

    This means of advertising would be relatively cheap, but after a few uses it would definitely lose it’s appeal (as most new advertising does). If you can generate enough press, you will get all of the advertising you need, without having to pay much of anything for it. One of the traditional methods is actors to make public appearances in the month or so leading up to the release of the film. This is done for every major release as the actors do their rounds to the late night shows, today show appearances and basically everwhere else they can be seen by a camera. My thought is to capitalize on this exposure by having the actors remain in character for every appearance they make during that time period. For example, if Will Ferrill was only Ricky Bobby for the past 2 months, attending NASCAR races, on Letterman, at the grocery store, everywhere. Another post had mentioned highlighting one of the characters without giving too much away from the film. Cut back the commercials for the movie and have Ricky Bobby parading around celebrity hot spots, getting into night clubs, everywhere. This would only work with certain actors for certain movies, but i think that it would be quite effective. Ricky Bobby would be in every US Weekly, People, ET, everywhere. The only danger would be over-saturation, but with the right mix it would work great. As an incentive to the actor/actress, tie their payment more closely to the Box Office take of the movie. If they were getting a larger percentage of the take of the film rather than a traditional pay day, they would be sufficiently motivated to remain in character for the month or so before the movie.

    Comment by Ryan -

  415. I knew what postings I would see here before I even logged on, and sure enough…

    Yes, we need better quality in the movies that we see. I’m tired of seeing the same tired shit all the time, too. Trust me. But there is a reason every movie sucks and looks the same. There’s too much risk in taking a chance. Movies cost $100 million to make, and that’s BEFORE the marketing issues that Cuban brings up. Figure at least half that much again for marketing. People lose their jobs in LA for making a single mistake. Why take the chance? Right?

    The problem is one of cost. Production costs. Distribution costs. Marketing and Promotion costs. Not to mention all the personal hairdressers, make-up and dog walkers for our stars. God knows they need those things.

    We live in a digital technology age. Any solution that doesn’t include that is doomed to failure. We already have the ability to satellite relay films to theaters, so there isn’t even a need to send a master film copy anymore.

    Personally, I feel the answer lies in driving costs down across the board.
    • Film production in Texas (a non-union state) would be much more cost effective.
    • Marketing is simple. Offer theaters that broadcast a number of movies through satellite relay. It would be not unlike HBO or the other pay channels, but in this instance, we would still see the films in a theater.
    • Advertising would be much the same as it is currently, but you could then piggy-back several productions on one add. Offer more movies (made for less money) that all share the marketing budget. You would also continue to do the internet blitzkrieg that currently accompanies every film production.

    There’s more, but I’ll save that for a possible interview. 🙂

    Comment by Jim Clayton -

  416. TV. Everyone has one.
    Instead of little blips and one-liners from a movie, buy 2 minutes from a network and show an actual CLIP. No interruptions. Not 3-second clips strung together, but an actual scene. Do it in primetime.
    Yeah, expensive, I know. But the exposure! Wow.

    Another idea–buy a basic cable station (come on, you can afford it) and run current movie scenes (again, actual complete scenes) every evening. I’d watch that. Nothing else on TV but wars anyway.

    One more: start a business where you install mini screens at the grocery store checkout (captive audience). Run movie scenes on it.

    Last One: Send videos of scenes to places that sell TV’s, like Best Buy. They are trying to hold people’s attention in front of their plasma screens that are for sale–what better way than to engrosse the customer in a current film scene? The crap they currently show doesn’t really give you an idea of the TV’s capability anyway.
    I am saying run scenes because oftentimes, I catch a movie on HBO that is much better than I would have thought it would be. If I had known it was that good, I might have gone to a theater to see it. I also hate shelling out for a movie ticket, unless I’m sure I’m going to like the film. And I’m rarely sure I’ll like it.

    PS–I require a pretty high salary.

    Comment by Judith -

  417. When I was a teenager, I was a regular movie theatre patron…2, 3 times every weekend, sometimes more. Then I got into my early 20s, and the appeal of the theatre wore off — in marketing-speak, the value propositions tailed off precipitously. I started noticing the crap-tastic maintenance, the noise level generated by patrons who seemed to believe they were in their own living rooms (add mobile phones for additional hell), the noise levels generated by infants and toddlers whose parents are too cheap to pay for a sitter, the over-priced food and beverage, the endless commercials, the poorly-maintainted restrooms, costly parking, the long waits in line for blockbuster movies, etc., etc. You’ve heard all the complaints, so I’m not gonna go on.

    What value propositions remain, that bring me in every so often?

    1. The “big-screen” experience: if a special-effects or epic blockbuster is well-reviewed (and you know how few of those come out every year), I might show up — if the theatre has a truly big screen (no multiplexes), a kick-arse audio system (that works), good lines of sight (no front-row seats unless it’s a “2001 – A Space Odessey” revival), and a projectionist who knows what he’s doing. If any of those things are missing consistently from a theatre, I’m taking my business elsewhere (they get one chance, contingent on a rain check being issued as compensation)

    2. “Must-See” films: there are some movies I want to see when they’re released for reasons of timeliness (e.g. movies with awards buzz that aren’t out on DVD, films related to current events such as “Syriana” or “Inconvenient Truth”, sequels to quality movies, films by favourite directors and writers or with themes compelling to me personally). This is not really an exhibitor issue, except insofar as they choose what they’re going to run.

    3. The group experience: nothing like attending a movie where everyone in the auditorium is either laughing or cheering (or perhaps screaming, though I’m not a horror guy) at the same time. I’ve also been corny enough to enjoy things like the Sound of Music sing-alongs and Rocky Horror. Again, this is more of a product issue than an exhibitor one, but it may be a marketing angle that you can use in conjunction with the social networking stuff.

    4. Theatres for grownups: such as Muvico, which I’ve patronised in Florida. You know the drill: private boxes with easy-chair-style seating, beer and wine sales, quality food, vigilant ushers who are proactive. All this chases away the teenagers, who’ll show up anyhow for a dark and private place to smooch or to make obnoxious spectacles of themselves.

    5. No commercials: a few (5 or less) trailers are fine, but the rest is an insult to the patron. Same, I’m afraid, with the heavy-handed charity-bucket walk-throughs that are done sometimes (I’d put up with one on-screen PSA, but anything else is overkill). And while you’re at it, you can address the other hassles I listed above (though I hear Landmark is a pretty good chain in that regard).

    Product/content issues aside, I can fulfill most of these value propositions by waiting for the DVD and watching it on my home system. #3 is probably the most difficult to simulate at home, so you’re definitely placing the marketing emphasis where it counts. The critical issue is that “a night out” is an inherently social thing, and consuming a two-hour film in the dark is not really a social thing unless the movie is worthy of discussion over dinner or drinks later (perhaps at an affiliated bar or restaurant), or unless it’s compelling enough to make the crowd roar at key moments during the show.

    I’m not going to provide any specific recommendations here* — e-mail me if you like, but I’m betting that between this thread, your own due diligence when you bought Landmark and a crackerjack staff you’ve likely heard ’em all. Honestly, I don’t think that exhibitors have a very bright future except with patrons who have low income levels and/or low expectations of product and experience. But I’ll give you credit for taking a risk on something you obviously believe in, and going beyond the usual surveys and focus groups to get feedback and ideas.

    * Ok, a small one: bring back Warner Bros.-style cartoon shorts before the show. By Warner Bros.-style, I mean Chuck Jones/Termite Terrace wacked out. Once in a while, an exhibitor will surprise me with a cartoon, and I’ve always been impressed enough to hope that it would become a regular thing (never did).

    Comment by Gracchus -

  418. Show the first 10 minutes of a movie for free and then viewers can have the option of purchasing/downloading the rest of the movie.

    The novelty of the moviegoing experience has worn off and people prefer to watch movies in their own homes.

    Today’s consumer seeks control. We want to be able to pause, rewind and fast forward. We want to pause the movie to get up and go to the bathroom or replay a funny scene. Or fast forward through a boring montage. At home, you can eat whatever you want and you don’t have to pay $10 for a crappy tray of nachos. Plus you can wear (or not wear)whatever you want.

    Comment by Karmina -

  419. Well I agree with making the great movies…movies that are relevant to the movie watching public but also offers a plot or twist that allows the movie watcher to live vicariously through the characters…but that’s the simple part.

    If you really want to make money with movies at low cost…higher some big names to play the role (preferably two people main people in the movie who in the media are viewed as enemies or on the outs). And then pump the media full of drama between the two actors and how they think the other one sucked in their role and couldn’t make a movie to save their life. Have the actors indirectly slam the other on talk shows, interviews, whatever.
    Basically show very little previews, build movie hype through malicious and slanderous gossip and don’t let any movie critics with a major platform see the movie before it comes out.

    Comment by J.W. Clark -

  420. Mr. Cuban,

    Option 1:

    If you want people to go to the theaters instead of watching movies on their HDTV’s. You have show them the differences between sitting at home and going out. Perhaps with humorous and viral ads.(Ala Mac vs. PC ads by Apple).

    Why should I wait months for a movie to come out on DVD? When I can go to the theater today and watch the movie now. You have to show people that you don’t need to wait a long time to see the movie. There are many advantages to going out to a movie, you get to spend time with friends and hang out with dinner +movie.

    With the onset of Blueray, HD-DVD..etc and the hardware+movies needed ..costing hundreds even thousands of dollars, I think many would rather go to movies and spend $10. Where they can see a movie on a huge screen with surround sound. Also many people watch a movie just once, so why waste money on DVDs you are never going to watch?

    I personally have a Home Theater in my basement with a projector, but most of the time I just watch movies that have been out for a while or play video games on it. I cannot get new movies that are out in theaters only.

    The only possible way I can see movie theater viewer ship going up is via Viral Ads.

    Option 2:

    Now if you want to talk about increasing movie revenue and decreasing spending on Ads. Establish a HD movie download/streaming service+device over broadband. Movies should be simultaneously released at theater and via this service. (Maybe difficult to get past angry theater companies).

    Most people are switching to HDTVs and already we have a huge broadband penetration in this country so I think there is a vast market for such a service. The movie download services today just plain suck. Come up with a vastly better service that has many titles and High Definition 720p and above. Forget Blue-Ray HD-DVD you have all your High Def movies on your Hard Drive. A 1 Terabyte Hard drive configuration should be enough and with the cost of Hard Drives coming down it shouldn’t be too expensive to have this.

    This option has huge potential for revenue growth since a reliable service is not there today, albeit there will be heavy opposition from movie theaters, but not everyone is going to win, and there will still be a market for movie theaters, people who do not want to spend too much money on technology.

    It is a great business opportunity. Perhaps Mr. Cuban, you can have another success like

    Well that’s all I can think of after reading your blog, If I think of more things (I’m sure I can, didn’t try too hard) I’ll be sure to post it.

    PS: I see that many people above criticize the movie content, and suggest changing the movies. But my view is purely from a marketing standpoint; this is much more feasible then telling the movie studios what to create.

    Comment by Karthik -

  421. We go to the movies for a million reasons, many mentioned in this blog so far but the common denominator I believe is the social, collective experience of going to a theatre. Its not really the money, or even the relative value compared to other options out there (concerts, lectures, sports etc.), because whether the demographic is adolescent or baby boomer, seeing the movie at the theatre puts us in a current social flow, for whatever that means to each of us.
    Sooo.. enhance the theatre experience, brand the chain, make the experience as hip as possible and imagine the great movie as a value add rather than the leading edge. Make Landmark the Hard Rock of the movie business only market plan to multiple demographics simultaneously. Give people the option of garlic or basil butter on the popcorn or sell a premium reclining seat. People buy tickets to the better music festivals and subscription series arts events long before the talent is identified because of either a great past experience or because there is an urgency in the sell that caters to a select few and who doesnt want to be in that group?
    Im about to launch a revolutionary media company that will take this premise to its max.. would love to discuss with you in further detail…

    Comment by Michael -

  422. My idea won’t work for every movie. However, it might make one movie really great. There is a movie coming out (“Snakes on an Airplane”) that is being hyped as a cult film before it is ever released. This is in large part due to the internet hype.

    Some of the internet talk of random people has resulted in changes in the movie. Apparently they even reshot a few things based on what people wrote.

    MY IDEA: Make a movie that is voted on. Obviously you don’t want to give the whole movie away. However, make it teasers from start to finish. Start the internet hype (on your website on to onto and Pose questions each day that will be factored into the screen writing such as “do you want the bad guy to win”. I am not sure if I would release the results of the voting each day or not.

    This kind of grabs on to the reality craze. People want a say in what happens in other peoples lives (and in this case a movie).

    This idea comes from books I read as kid where you would read the first chapter and at the end you decided if the girl would call the boy (go to page 12) or if the girl decided to wait for him to call (go to page 43).

    Just some random, rambling thoughts. See what you think.

    Comment by LaTasha -

  423. Mark,
    Seems like you are more concerned about the costs of driving people to the movies rather than maximizing your objective function – max revenue, max market share, etc.
    I would focus on the revenue aspect of it more than cost-cutting efforts. To bring in more revenue, you either charge a higher price for the movies, or you bring in more people. If you can justify higher prices in certain markets, do so. In other places, why not open smaller movie theatres in many different places rather than big theatres next to the malls? For instance, you can rent or buy smaller buildings in more neighborhoods and build smaller scale auditoriums in there. Starbucks wants to open stores not too far from each other on a given road. So if you miss your latte in one, you want it by the time you get to the second store.
    The impact of each additional revenue dollar is much higher than 1 dollar of savings. There’s no running away from advertising expenses, so the only other option is to try to maximize your revenue.
    Hope this helps,

    Comment by Mehmet -

  424. With 600-odd comments already, I doubt this will be read, but anyway..

    People used to go to the theatre for a sight and sound extravaganza, but now they can get that at home whenever the DVD comes out. Just as bookstores have had to adapt to online competitors by providing things the web sites can’t, the movie theatres will also have to adapt. But you can’t compete by marketing. You have to turn the theatres into something more than just a place with a big screen that shows movies. Make it a cool place to hang out for kids, teens and adults. Provide ways for the audiences to interact with the big screen BEFORE the movie starts – there are loads of things you could do to make it fun. Give people a reward for coming after the movie ends – on their way out, everybody gets a free shot at a basketball net decked out in Mavs colors for the chance to win a copy of the DVD when it comes out.

    Comment by Aidan -

  425. The reason movie audiences have delcine is two reasons. It the cost and it not personal. Movie tickets keep going up. In New Zealand we pay $15 to go to the movies round $10 US. Now I’m not going to spend that amount on a film if it not going to be great. The thing about the movies is you have no control of what is happening. People be eating popcorn next to you or behind your back, walking in front of you. Mobiles phones will ring and you don’t get bombard with commercials for 15 to 20 minutes. It better to hire or buy a dvd and you will fine that the average home has a home theatre that is ten times better than the theatre. You can by a home theatre for little as $200 with 5.1 audio (exclude tv). The best thing about dvd there is no satches on the film, it is in focus, digital transfer, 5.1 audio and best of all you have control. You hit the pause button when you want. I am suprise no one has pointed or maybe it has about the cost of going to the movies. The films that are made are not bad. It comes down to money. It always has and it alway will. And as technology improves with digital download the theatre ownens and the studios will continue to struggle.


    Comment by Edward -

  426. Mark,

    Here are few of my ideas and comments:

    Problem: I don’t think you can create a single theater for all people.

    Solution: Use existing downtown and suburban areas to differentiate your consumer base. In a downtown theatre you could market more towards young, single people, or married couples who would like a “date night”. The infastructure is already there with nicer restauraunts, bars, coffee houses, shopping, etc. Partner with the businesses in offering “date movie” packages that include food and two tickets. Have the theatre make an age limit. A lot of downtown theatres are not going to have families going anyway. Make it an experience,t hat will last a night, not just 2 hours.

    You could also do the same thing with the suburbs too. A lot of cities are building these “town centers”. Place a movie theatre in them. Partner with the local retailers in the center to offer some discounts to a movie with purchases, make it family friendly, because that’s who is going to be driving to the town center.

    You’re not going to achieve the ticket revenue by building massive theatres all over the place. Pick your spots, market to the demographic that you want to attend to these location specific theatres. You’ve already done some great stuff with Landmark in Dallas. It’s in an upscale, smart neighborhood. You have helped produce smart movies that people in that area want to attend.

    Comment by Matt -

  427. I like Michael Dean’s idea a lot.

    Comment by sl -

  428. Movie Challenge-

    Create a website.

    Allow members (for a nominal fee per month) see the 1st half of each movie, with the 2nd half to be seen in a theater.

    Allow the users to “write” the second half of the movie via web-voting, etc….to determine the fate of the characters. Early on, most moviegoers beocme emotionally attached to the characters, and have an idea about where they would like to see the movie go.

    At that point, they are invested, and would have no choice but to see the 2nd half of it.

    Comment by Michael Dean -

  429. Movie Challenge-

    Create a website.

    Allow members (for a nominal fee per month) see the 1st half of each movie, with the 2nd half to be seen in a theater.

    Allow the users to “write” the second half of the movie via web-voting, etc….to determine the fate of the characters. Early on, most moviegoers beocme emotionally attached to the characters, and have an idea about where they would like to see the movie go.

    At that point, they are invested, and would have no choice but to see the 2nd half of it.

    Comment by Michael Dean -

  430. Mark, it’s easy. Make the customer king. Word of mouth is the way to go. No one wants to see 5 commercials before a movie. I can watch commercials at home. Previews are fine. I just don’t want to watch a commercial for Dove soap. Going to the movies used to be a special event. Commercials just cheapen the feel.

    Put screens in the restrooms and hallways, so you don’t miss anything after you (or your little one) drank that whole gallon of soda before the movie because you had to get there early so you could have the best seat (I’m not the only one who does that, right?).

    Make it more like home. What about reclining seats?

    Comment by Josh -

  431. I’m not sure if this idea has been thrown out there already, I didn’t read the 600+ replies but I’m a college student and I cannot afford to go to the movies, I either wait till they hit a dollar theatre or more likely download them for free, I know you don’t want to hear that but it’s one of the downfalls of the internet for the entertainment industry. My idea is create an online movie theatre. Have a discounted fee for a one time viewing of your movies online, or set them up for when you purchase “a ticket” you can watch them for like 24 hours. I’m sure you could find a way to let people go to your “movie theatre” website and watch the movie while protecting your content from them saving the file and distributing it privatly. That would be the only difficult part. Most internet connections today are fast enough to handle the size of the files and could download them relatively fast. Go Mavs!! Brian Hughes

    Comment by Brian Hughes -

  432. Easy and new marketing is what you are after.

    From the movie “Opportunity Knocks” with Dana Carvey, “decisions are not made in the Boardroom but the bathroom”.

    Low Cost
    Install 3-D Arcrylic shells that fit over the hand dryers promoting the movie on the handdryers at ballparks, athletic fourms Walmart etc bathrooms. The shells would be a 3-d representation of the movie. With opening dates, locations etc.

    Higher Cost
    Or a 3-4in screen with a trailer running, possibly with sound etc. located in the same place. Add a touch screen to pick to see a trailer from several different movies etc. Add movie discounts on partical nights/days. Bring a friend 2 fer 1, etc. Insert past promotional gimmicks here.

    You have 2-3 secs of undivided attention of a potential viewer/moviegoer.

    Optional accessories, Discount tickets, vouchers for buying the DVD at a discounted price etc. The number people to see and discuss, I think, would be large. Thanks for this outlet. just a quick thought. There is more to this I think than just the installation, but just a thought.

    Comment by Kevin -

  433. How to create interest

    No matter how much you promote a product people are only going to use it if they have an interest. So, outside of finding new avenues to spread the same crap there is no new and exciting way to market.

    The answer to your problem is: Provide people with more information.

    Instead of sending a cease and desist letter to a blog that snuck a shoot of the new Optimus Prime big rig POST details about it. Have tons of shots of it, have the director detail why they chose that exact car. Have the special effect crew explain the process and challenges of creating the effects.

    Don’t just create sites for characters have the actors write about the process. People want to know what the leaded actor thought about some of the filming. Sure you can’t give the story away but a scene here and there can’t hurt. Shit, people want to know what the actor has for lunch. Create a brand and or a relationship between your customers and product. Stop trying to sell it and offer it.

    Use the movies homepage for more then trailers and a release date have the directors blog, podcast or vidcast (put it on iTunes?), have the actors do the same or at least have them do something. Special effect details and behind the scenes movie major can be very interesting.

    By creating a relationship with your customers you have the opportunity to overcome plot, character, actor, director flaws. You can’t do that if you just sell the product.

    Comment by Eric Polerecky -

  434. We all know that it’s much harder and costly to gain a new customer than to get an