Loews Super Bowl plan widens

Cineplex chain offers super discount

To combat the slow biz that plagues exhibs on Super Bowl Sunday, Loews Cineplex is this year expanding a one-day two-for-one ticket promotion to 13 cities, including the hometowns of this year’s Super Bowl teams, Boston and Philadelphia.

The buy-one-get-one-free program is unusual for the chain, which is typically reluctant to offer discounts. Offer is good for all shows on Sunday except Sony’s horror pic “Boogeyman,” which is expected to post a strong opening this weekend. Also opening this weekend is Universal and Gold Circle’s romantic comedy “The Wedding Date.”

John McCauley, Loews senior VP of marketing, said the program is aimed at football fans who don’t plan on watching the hours of coverage before kickoff as well as people who have no interest in the game.

“We’re trying to rise with the tide rather than against the tide,” he said. “Traditionally, (Super Bowl Sunday) has been thought of as a woman’s day (at theaters),” he said, “but we’re trying to encourage everybody to come, particularly football fans.”

Loews has tried the two-for-one program in a handful of markets, including Boston, over the past two years, and McCauley estimated attendance has tripled at participating theaters.

Normally, exhib biz grinds to a near-halt while tens of millions gather around the tube to watch beer commercials and football. Overall, box office on Super Bowl Sunday is nearly half that of other winter weekends. Last year, for instance, total biz on Super Bowl Sunday was $17 million, compared with the $32 million average for the rest of last year’s winter Sundays.

Just one Loews theater will run the program in each market, except for Boston, where both the Downtown Commons and the suburban Methuen theater will participate.

Loews also selected one theater each in other cities where football is followed closely: Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Baltimore.

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