×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hollywood Tests Movie Ticket Sales at Walmart With ‘Man of Steel’

Retail giant is first to offer tickets to early screenings from a major studio

Walmart is about to give Superman an early boost at the box office, with the company becoming the first retailer to sell tickets to an advance screening of a studio film. It’s a deal that, if it takes off with consumers, could quickly become a new source of revenue for Hollywood’s majors while altering the way moviegoers are lured into the megaplex.

The retail giant will offer nearly 1 million tickets to Warner Bros.’ “Man of Steel” at 3,700 stores nationwide beginning May 18, at 8 a.m., for screenings scheduled June 13. Film officially bows Stateside on June 14. Advance tickets won’t become available to more traditional outlets until May 21 or 22, giving Walmart at three- to four-day advance on sales.

The 6,372 exclusive screenings will take place at 2,379 theaters, with consumers able to purchase up to four tix for either 2D or 3D showings in their area. Walmart will promote the early sales on Facebook and Twitter with #SeeSteelFirst. The amount of tickets available per store will be determined by their size and the cities in which they’re located.

Walmart launched a microsite to identify which theaters are participating.

To sweeten the deal, the ticket price will include a free code to pre-order a Blu-ray combo pack or HD digital download of “Man of Steel,” which will contain exclusive film content. They also will get a free original digital comicbook penned by “Man of Steel” screenwriter David Goyer.

The deal is significant for various reasons:

  • At a time when chains are competing for exclusive merchandise to sell from the studios, Walmart clearly sees the deal as a way to prove that it’s still the biggest fish in the retail pond.
  • The ticket sales will not only boost the pre-sale box office of “Man of Steel,” they’re also meant to pump up early demand for the film’s eventual homevideo release across multiple platforms. Despite declining DVD sales, Hollywood has hardly given up on the rest of its homevideo divisions just yet and the Walmart deal is an innovative move to generate more coin for parts of that business that’s still showing signs of growth — namely Blu-ray and digital.
  • For Warner Bros., having the nation’s largest retailer on its side gives the studio the kind of marketing muscle few other tentpoles can tout and help launch “Man of Steel” to greater heights at the B.O. than 2006’s “Superman Returns.” After all, the success of “Man of Steel,” which introduces Henry Cavill in the red cape, is key to Warner Bros.’ efforts to introduce other DC Comics characters in their own franchises or lead to a “Justice League” film that already has fanboys lathered up with anticipation. With the amount of traffic flowing into Walmart’s stores each day, Warner Bros. is guaranteed a lot of exposure for its superhero.

“We know the movie delivers and believe this unique partnership will kick off strong word of mouth that, thanks to the reach and immediacy of social media, will propel moviegoers to theaters nationwide,” said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. Pictures president of domestic distribution. Legendary Entertainment co-produced “Man of Steel,” helmed by Zack Snyder.

  • And for Walmart, the company is betting big on “Man of Steel” as a title it hopes will lure consumers into its stores. In addition to selling tickets to early screenings, it will also start offering “Man of Steel” merchandise, beginning April 28, that includes T-shirts, electronics, posters and other items on shelves and online at Walmart.com.

Superman has always been one of DC’s top sellers when it comes to licensed merchandise, and with a new film in theaters, Warner Bros. is eager to exploit the character across various age groups this summer — something Walmart is eager to support.

In addition, Walmart is backing the “Man of Steel Experience” mobile app,  using augmented reality technology to enable customers to take photos with Superman using their smartphones at various locations around stores. App is available from Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

Either way, “Man of Steel” will likely be just the first film Walmart offers its customers, should ticket sales take off. And its manager are already learning the ropes of the exhibition biz, as they’re the ones that determined which local theater chains would be part of the early Superman screenings. Nearly every chain is represented as part of the early run.

The test using Walmart stores will also dictate whether studios expand the offer to other retailers like Target, Best Buy, Toys R Us, perhaps even Amazon, in the future.

“We couldn’t be more excited to give our customers and associates early access to one of the summer’s most anticipated movies,” said Laura Phillips, senior VP of entertainment at Walmart U.S. in a statement. “Walmart’s premiere of ‘Man of Steel’ once again proves we have the ambition and studio partnerships to develop unique retail programs that give our customers access to the movies they love.”

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Barron HiltonBarron Hilton 1990

    Famed Hotelier Barron Hilton Dies at 91

    Barron Hilton, a famed hotelier who helped expand the Hilton Hotels empire and a founding owner of the Chargers NFL football team, has died, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced. He was 91. “Today the world of hospitality mourns for one of the greats. Barron Hilton was an incredible family man, business leader and philanthropist. [...]

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor Targets Sept. 27 for Stock Debut, IPO Video Tells Company's Origin Story

    After years of preparation, Endeavor is set to make its formal Wall Street debut on Sept. 27, when its stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Endeavor has targeted Sept. 26 for the final pricing of its shares. The stock will trade publicly the following day. Earlier this week, Endeavor said its [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Stock Drops After CEO Acknowledges 'Tough Competition' Coming From Disney, Apple

    Netflix shares fell as much as 7% Friday to a nine-month low, coming after CEO Reed Hastings commented that the November launches of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus will introduce a “whole new world” of competition. Hastings, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference Friday in Cambridge, England, said, “While we’ve been competing with [...]

  • Charlie Rose Sexual Harassment

    Charlie Rose Sued for Sexual Harassment by Longtime Makeup Artist

    A makeup artist who worked for Charlie Rose for 22 years has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, accusing the former CBS and PBS host of years of unlawful behavior toward female employees. Gina Riggi alleges that Rose was verbally abusive with her and would often make derogatory comments about her weight. She also alleges that [...]

  • Rob Stringer

    Sony Music Chief Rob Stringer on Sustaining Growth and Recovering From the 'Dark Times'

    The Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, now in its 28th year, gives top executives at major companies the opportunity to make their case to investors — and the Goldman analysts the opportunity to keep things on the up and up. While the analysts don’t necessarily grill the executives, they don’t lob softball questions either. That was [...]

  • Frank Grillo'Avengers: Endgame' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Matt Phelps Tapped as President of Joe Carnahan, Frank Grillo's Warparty

    Frank Grillo and Joe Carnahan’s Warparty productikon banner has appointed Matt Phelps president of the company. Phelps will head the Los Angeles office and be responsible for overseeing all film and television projects. “We searched long and hard to find the right fit for Warparty and felt that Matt embodied everything that we were looking [...]

  • Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent,

    Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent, Dies at 88

    Jack Gilardi, a longtime ICM Partners agent who represented such stars as Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Jerry Lewis, Charlton Heston and Shirley MacLaine, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88. Gilardi was known for his gentlemanly style, love of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his skill at representing top actors. He [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content