Preshow ads pump up theater revs

Overall cinema advertising grew by 23% last year

Even as movie attendance slides, exhibitors are enthusiastic that new blurb revenues will pad their bottom line beyond the traditional box office and popcorn sales.

According to industrywide figures released by the Cinema Advertising Council, preshow advertising revenues grew by 20% in 2004 to $374 million.

Overall cinema advertising, which includes lobby displays and other marketing, grew by 23% last year to $438 million.

Increases reflects the proliferation of digital preshows that include audio and full-motion video, rather than the old slides.

Cliff Marks, prexy of National Cinemedia, the joint venture formed by Regal and AMC to sell in-theater ads, said, “It would be fair to say that we’re never going to be the primary biz for any exhibitor, but we’ve become a pretty important supplemental revenue stream.”

Darryl Schaffer, VP of exhibitor relations for Screenvision, which serves ads to a 14,797-screen network, said declining box office has made exhibs more interested in playing ads before the lights go down.

“Every time I make a presentation,” she said, “our line is showing very steep growth.”

While some in the industry suggest a barrage of pre-show blurbs will only give people another reason to wait for pics to come out on DVD, Marks countered there has been, so far, no difference in attendance at chains that show the preshow blurbs and those that don’t. “The numbers would have to be different before you could blame commercials,” he said.

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