Sony to provide content for exhib pre-show

HOLLYWOOD — In an arrangement integrating movie marketing more directly into other cinema advertising, Sony Pictures and Regal CineMedia announced a deal Monday through which the studio will contribute entertainment content to the circuit’s 20-minute “pre-show” presentation.

Universal and NBC are also content partners for Regal’s pre-show, which mixes onscreen advertising with interstitial entertainment such as behind-the-scenes glimpses of films and TV shows.

“In a highly competitive and increasingly cluttered media environment, we believe this is a great opportunity to reach out directly to our customers,” said Jeff Blake, president of worldwide marketing and distribution at Sony.

Some suggest Sony could see another benefit from its Regal partnership in the form of easier trailer placements. Exhibs cite an increased crush of requests for playing movie trailers, with distribs placing ever greater importance on trailers in their overall marketing campaigns.

It’s unlikely Sony or U can make any specific new demand on Regal with respect to the placement of any particular trailer, but as one industryite suggested, “It can’t hurt.”

No quid pro quo

Sony’s Blake said he’s been warned not to expect any sort of quid pro quo. “They were real specific,” he said. “We’re still in the same mosh pit as before.”

Regal said it’s just happy to have a new content partner to help fashion a more entertaining pre-show.

“The continued support and commitment of our studio partners to explore and expand a variety of new in-theater marketing opportunities have allowed us to create a much more entertaining and impactful program,” said Cliff Marks, marketing prexy at Regal CineMedia.

Cinema advertising reps a burgeoning revenue stream for Regal and several other large exhibs, though the trend is not without its critics. Some view the onscreen ads as an intrusion on the moviegoing experience.

Some moviegoers have complained about the high decibel level of the Regal pre-show. For some time, exhibs and distribs have adhered to certain sound-volume standards for movie trailers, and it’s considered likely such guidelines may be extended to cinema advertising.

Timing tiffs

But even critics of onscreen ads say they prefer Regal’s approach to the timing of cinema ads, limiting them to its 20-minute pre-show block prior to the lowering of house lights. Screenvision, a provider of movie ads to Loews Cineplex and others, plays its rolling-stock advertising only after the dimming of theater lights.

Disney so objects to the display of advertising before its family pics that it has barred onscreen ads from being displayed prior to the presentation of any release from Walt Disney Pictures.

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