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Consumer marketing at AMC Theaters experienced a seismic shakeup in the past three years. The theater chain, the second-largest in the U.S., ramped up involvement in digital media that connects the circuit directly with its patrons and at the same time dropped paid advertising in newspapers.

“Social media is pervasive and consumers expect brands to be in social media,” says Stephen Colanero, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at AMC Theaters who is a speaker at the Film Marketing Summit: Presented by Variety in association with Stradella Road. “We made Facebook, in particular, a priority although we participate in many social media platforms. We believe this leads to higher guest engagement and more ticket sales.”

AMC has 3.8 million reader “likes” on Facebook, leading all U.S. exhibitors. Elsewhere, the circuit’s consumer loyalty program AMC Stubs has more than 2.5 million participants who log their ticket and food/beverage purchases in an AMC database. Separately, a work-in-progress is a field trial of a mobile device app enabling paperless ticket purchases.

Besides those digital media ventures, AMC’s marketing efforts include film marathons, presenting all the best picture Oscar nominees just prior to the Academy Awards and scheduling back-to-back retrospectives of popular movie series timed boost the release of new installments, such as the “Twilight” franchise.

AMC’s digital media efforts enable the circuit to profile individual patrons and thus tailor its outgoing communications to the specific tastes of each consumer. For example, AMC Stubs members are selected for advance in-theater screening events that are, in turn, streamed online. The first such AMC Stubs Livestream Q&A brought Ridley Scott to a special AMC-only debut screening of the full trailer for “Prometheus,” and later Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis answered questions as part of a screening of their “Lincoln” (which was followed by 10 other “Lincoln” screenings in college markets). Next up is “This Is 40” with Judd Apatow.

The streaming Q&A with talent and marathons “feed into the sense that a movie is an event,” says Colanero. “People want to be part of big events.”

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