National CineMedia has added five new movie theater circuits to its cinema advertising network.
The additions will give the company behind the “First Look” pre-movie programming an audience of over 10 million people, it estimates. The deal was announced at CinemaCon, the annual exhibition trade show taking place this week in Las Vegas.
The new additions include Santikos Theatres, Cinetopia, Crossroads Movies 8 and the Rosecrest Entertainment Lexington Cinema 8. Movie theaters have increasingly viewed advertising as an important way to boost revenues in recent years, and National CineMedia includes three of the top four chains among its client base — AMC, Cinemark and Regal Entertainment Group.
National CineMedia CEO Kurt Hall argues that its ads and teases for movies and TV shows from the likes of Sony Pictures Entertainment and A&E reach more eyeballs than almost any other weekend program save for sports. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are traditionally the biggest days for moviegoing audiences, but dead zones for television programming.
“Bringing in new circuits allows us to create more ubiquitous coverage across various states,” he said. “We’re competing with TV, cable and online video platforms. Getting bigger lets us compete more effectively.”
National CineMedia had tried to grow its base via the M&A route, but Justice Department objections to a proposed marriage with ScreenVision on anti-trust grounds led it to abandon the merger earlier this year.
The Santikos Theatre circuit includes nine theaters primarily in Texas; Cinetopia offers four theaters in areas such as Kansas City and the Pacific Northwest; while the Crossroads location is in Oklahoma City and the Rosecrest Entertainment Lexington Cinema venue is in North Carolina.