×

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.”

More Biz

  • Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer

    Starz Nears Realignment: Why Lionsgate Won't Hire a CEO to Replace Chris Albrecht

    Nearly six months after Starz CEO Chris Albrecht exited in February, Lionsgate brass is moving closer to a revamp of the premium TV network’s executive structure. According to insiders, at least one thing is clear: Albrecht is not expected to be replaced as CEO. Instead, Lionsgate chief executive Jon Feltheimer is taking a more active [...]

  • Movie Ticket Subscriptions

    As MoviePass Fades, Theaters Fall In Love With Subscription Services

    MoviePass may be cratering, but movie theater subscriptions are here to stay. AMC and Cinemark already operate their own online ticketing services. And by the end of July, Regal Entertainment is expected to unveil a subscription plan for customers accustomed to getting all manner of entertainment for a monthly fee. With ticket sales down more [...]

  • John FordNPact Awards, Show, Los Angeles,

    John Ford to Exit as Head of Unscripted Producers Trade Association NPact

    John Ford has stepped down as general manager of NPact, the trade association that represents unscripted TV producers. Ford is exiting the post he’s held since 2015 because of the potential for conflicts of interest arising from his role as head of programming for digital multicast outlets Justice Network and Quest Network. The channels were [...]

  • Woodstock 50 Applies for Vernon Downs

    Woodstock 50 Applies for Vernon Downs Permit Yet Again

    For better or worse, Woodstock 50 isn’t giving up on Vernon Downs, despite being rejected twice already: The producers have applied for another permit to hold the festival at Vernon Downs, according to the Utica Observer Dispatch. Town Attorney Vincent Rossi confirmed the application was submitted Wednesday. This is the festival’s third application; previous applications [...]

  • Bert and Ernie

    Sally Field, Linda Ronstadt and 'Sesame Street' Among 2019 Kennedy Center Honorees

    Sally Field, Linda Ronstadt, “Sesame Street,” conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and R&B veterans Earth, Wind and Fire have been selected as the 2019 Kennedy Center Honorees. The kudos will be handed out Dec. 8 at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C. The award to “Sesame Street” marks the first time the prestigious laurel [...]

  • Jeffrey Epstein

    Jeffrey Epstein Denied Bail in Sex Trafficking Case

    Jeffrey Epstein, the high-living financier who partied and traveled with Hollywood stars and world leaders, has been denied bail. The multimillionaire businessman is accused of sexually abusing underage girls as young as 14 years old and collecting child pornography. Prosecutors argued successfully that Epstein’s wealth made him a serious flight risk. He faces up to [...]

  • AWAL Names Bianca Bhagat as Senior

    AWAL Names Bianca Bhagat as Senior VP, Synch & Brand Partnerships

    AWAL, Kobalt’s recorded music company, announced the hiring of Bianca Bhagat as senior vice president, synch & brand partnerships. Based in Los Angeles, she will oversee AWAL’s global synch & brand partnerships team, pursuing creative marketing opportunities for the AWAL roster, according to the announcement. Most recently with Glassnote, leading the Film and TV department [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content