Entertainment Industry

Category: Regal

Kia Motors USA to premiere Super Bowl ad in theaters

Kia Super Bowl Ad

The Super Bowl has become television's biggest stage. Within days, Kia Motors USA will begin touting its Super Bowl commercial on big screens.

To kick off its football championship advertising campaign, Kia Motors will release a teaser trailer for its upcoming Super Bowl commercial in 18,000 movie theaters, beginning Jan. 27.  Then, four days before the big Feb. 5 game, the car company will introduce the full-length 60-second commercial, called "Drive the Dream," on the same 18,000 screens.

It is believed to be the first time a Super Bowl commercial will premiere in movie theaters. 

The move by Kia is part of a growing trend by marketers to give sneak peaks or unveil their entire ads before the Super Bowl to get a jump on competitors and gain traction in the increasingly important social media platforms. 

"We are trying to continue to push the envelope,” Michael Sprague, vice president of marketing for Kia Motors America, said. “Consumers at the movies will start tweeting about the ad, and that should help us build momentum and awareness.”

Kia's Optima sedan ad -- created by the car company's longtime agency, David & Goliath of El Segundo -- features super model Adriana Lima, MMA fighter Chuck Liddell and the rock band Motley Crue.  The concept for the commercial came during research sessions in which a consumer on a panel said the Optima was his dream car, said David Angelo, chief executive of David & Goliath.

Kia doesn’t think the early release will spoil the freshness of the ad, which will make its television debut during the Feb. 5 championship game broadcast by NBC. 

“Every year, the Super Bowl audience grows. And if we can tap 5 to 10 million people who see it early, there will still be 100 million people who haven’t seen it when it breaks during the Super Bowl,” Sprague said. “We are simply trying to create the buzz and get people talking.”

The Kia ad will be distributed in theaters by National CineMedia, which describes itself as the largest in-theater network in North America.  The company -- a joint venture between AMC, Regal and Cinemark -- also programs sporting events and concerts.

The Super Bowl ad stakes are increasingly high. This year, companies are paying NBC an average of $3.5 million for a 30-second spot, and more than $6 million for a 60-second spot.  


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Photo: Kia Motors USA advertisement in the 2012 Super Bowl features fashion model Adriana Lima, fighter Chuck Liddell and Motley Crue. Credit:  Kia Motors USA


Regal Cinemas L.A. Live multiplex draws the crowds in a down market

The $100-million gamble by billionaire Phil Anschutz to create a destination multiplex in downtown Los Angeles appears to be paying off.

Since it opened in October 2009, the 14-screen Regal Cinemas in the entertainment sports district known as L.A. Live has emerged as one of the busiest theaters in the nation's largest cinema chain, executives said.

"It's definitely a theater that has outperformed our expectations," Regal Entertainment Group Chief Executive Amy Miles said. "It has continued to increase market share."

The theater saw its share of overall box office revenue in Los Angeles increase to 1.74% in May, up from 1.37% in January, according to AEG, the sports and entertainment comglomerate that is controlled by Anschutz and owns Regal Cinemas L.A. Live. Anschutz is also the largest private investor in Regal, which is based in Knoxville, Tenn. 

The downtown multiplex was always envisioned as an L.A. flagship theater for Regal, which has more than 50 theaters locally and 539 nationwide. But it has generated more business than company executives expected, consistently ranking among the 20 busiest theaters in Regal's circuit and often drawing bigger crowds than much larger multiplexes.

At a time when theater attendance has been down nationwide, largely because of a crop of weak movies, Regal executives said the L.A. Live venue has seen a 9% increase in ticket sales so far this year over the same period in 2010.

Additionally, the multiplex -- which is adjacent to the Staples Center -- has held 15 screenings and premieres this year and is hosting the L.A. Film Festival, which begins this week.

Miles said the theater has benefited from all the foot traffic at the L.A. Live complex, which draws crowds to restaurants, concerts and sporting events, notwithstanding the Lakers early exit from the playoffs.

-- Richard Verrier

Photo: A worker cleans the windows on the exterior of the Regal Cinemas Stadium 14 at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles on Oct. 23, 2009. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times


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Kids have easy access to explicit music but have a harder time getting violent video games

For a kid, scoring a music CD with explicit lyrics is easy. But good luck when it comes to getting that new, blood-splattered horror game.

A sting operation conducted by the Federal Trade Commission between November and January found that 64% of kids were able to buy music CDs with a "parental advisory" label. But when the undercover, underage shoppers tried to buy a video game with a "mature" rating, only 13% slipped through. The other 87% were stopped cold.

For movies, 38% of kids were able to buy an R-rated DVD, while 33% were able to buy a ticket to see an R-rated movie in a theater.

FTC Violence Survey 
With the exception of movie theaters, retailers improved their enforcement over 2009, and all retailers showed progress since the FTC began its investigations in 2000.

"But more needs to be done," David Fladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement.

The issue of media violence has taken on broader resonance as the U.S. Supreme Court ponders the constitutionality of a California law that would ban the sale of violent video games to minors and fine retailers that do so. The court is expected to issue its opinion on the case this spring.

Retailers saw the FTC report as fresh ammunition against the law.

"These numbers demonstrate once again that industry self-regulation can and does work, and there is no need for punitive government regulation, such as the California video game law," Bo Andersen, president of the Entertainment Merchants Assn., said in a statement.

But family advocates echoed the FTC's statement, praising the progress being made at retail stores, but pointed out that games, as with music and videos, are increasingly available online where there are fewer checks than in stores. The Entertainment Software Rating Board earlier this week announced that it would apply a more streamlined procedure to rate downloadable video games sold over Internet-connected consoles. The decision rattled parent advocates who feared that the new process meant that fewer games would be reviewed for compliance with the voluntary ratings system.

"It’s good to see signs that retailers are making progress on enforcing the ESRB ratings about content that’s not designed for kids," said Alan Simpson, vice president of policy for Common Sense Media, an advocacy group in San Francisco, "but as the FTC points out, there is more work to be done. The study is a reminder of how important it is to have adults making sure that unaccompanied kids aren't purchasing M-rated games – and it raises serious questions about the ESRB’s troubling decision to use computers, instead of adults, to auto-rate downloadable games.”

The report on the FTC survey included a breakdown of compliance by retailers and media. Among music retailers, Target was least strict, allowing 77% of undercover shoppers to buy CDs with explicit lyrics. Clerks at K-Mart, on the other hand, let just 29% of shoppers slip by.

For R-rated DVD movies, Target was again the most permissive, allowing six out of 10 mystery shoppers to buy, while Wal-Mart clerks let only 27% through.

Interestingly, the results were just the opposite when it came to video games. Target scored best when it came to policing games, with only 8% able to purchase an mature-rated game. Wal-Mart let 20% through, the largest percentage of the six retail chains in the survey. The inconsistency suggests that enforcement may be highly variable, depending perhaps on which clerk handled the transaction or which store was sampled. 

Among theaters, AMC Entertainment stopped nine out of 10 underage patrons from buying a ticket for an R-rated film. National Amusements prevented 55% from buying, making it the most lax of the eight theater chains surveyed.

-- Alex Pham

Chart: Federal Trade Commission

Theater chains escalating fight with studios as premium video-on-demand looms

With the launch of a new premium video-on-demand initiative that will get movies from the theater to the TV screen a lot quicker around the corner, the nation's largest theater chains are waging a public war with the Hollywood studios involved.

Representatives from Regal Entertainment and AMC Entertainment have been meeting with movie studios this week to inform them that they will not play or promote any movies that will be part of "premium VOD," through which the movies would be available to rent in homes for $30 eight weeks after they launch. The exhibitors think some people wouldn't go to theaters to see movies that are available to rent so soon and that theaters would end up a marketing vehicle for a business in which they don't participate.

Regal, the nation's No. 1 chain, has taken it a step further. It is reducing the number of trailers it plays from the four studios that are poised to launch premium VOD soon -- 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. A person familiar with the matter said that's because Regal has not been informed which movies will go premium VOD.

Regal and AMC want studios to tell them ahead of time which movies will be released on premium VOD so they know which to play and promote and which to ban, according to people close to the situation. The chief executive of Cinemark USA, the third-largest exhibitor, recently expressed a similar sentiment in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter.

Combined, those three companies represent about 16,000 of the nation's roughly 40,000 movie screens.

By cutting back on trailers and banning certain movies, the exhibitors could cost themselves ticket sales in the short run. That's an indication of how big a threat they believe premium VOD is to their businesses and how high-stakes a game they are willing to play.

"It is simply not in Regal's best interest to utilize our resources to provide a marketing platform for the release of premium video-on-demand movies," Amy Miles, chief executive of Regal, said in a statement this week.

Similarly, AMC said in a statement, "As [release] windows shrink and threaten our industry's future, it is only logical to expect AMC to adapt its economic model."

This is far from the first time that theater owners have expressed their fierce opposition to such plans. When the Los Angeles Times reported in March that DirecTV was poised to become the first provided of premium VOD and that its chief executive had floated a time frame of four to six weeks after theatrical launch, Miles and AMC chief Gerry Lopez said they wouldn't play movies under such circumstances.

Tensions have only heightened since then, as news has leaked of specific movies that may launch on premium VOD as soon as late April, such as Sony's Adam Sandler comedy "Just Go With It."

Distribution executives at several studios declined to comment on the matter, citing the sensitivity of ongoing talks.


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AMC and Regal unveil new film distribution firm Open Road Films

The nation's two largest theater operators announced plans Monday for launching their own distribution company to acquire and release independent films. Regal Entertainment and AMC Entertainment have named their joint venture, which the Times first reported on three weeks ago, Open Road Films.

The new company -- headed by Tom Ortenberg, a former senior executive for the Weinstein Co. and Lions Gate Entertainment -- aims to distribute eight to 10 movies a year and release its first film later this year. The venture has been in the works since last fall.

Regal and AMC did not specify what films they would distribute but said they would be wide-release movies. In an interview, Ortenberg said the joint venture will not compete with studios by acquiring big-budget event films but instead will buy smaller projects that are anywhere from the script stage to completed movies.

"There are a number of films that are being financed independently that are capable of going out wide,'' Ortenberg said. "It's just that most of them are not found in film festivals."

Gerry Lopez, chief executive of Kansas City, Mo.-based AMC noted in a statement that  "as major studio releases have declined in recent years, Open Road films will fill an important gap that exists in the market today."

Nonetheless, the move could further strain already tense relations between theaters and studios by casting cinema owners in the role of distributing and marketing movies -- traditionally the domain of the Hollywood studios. Exhibitors are already at odds with distributors over how soon movies should be delivered into the home.

The types of movies that Open Road will release will put it in direct competition with small distributors such as Lions Gate and Summit Entertainment.  Asked whether companies such as those should be concerned about competing with Open Road for AMC and Regal screens, Ortenberg said. "We think there's plenty of room for everyone."

AMC Chief Executive Amy Miles said the joint venture will not be exclusive to AMC and Regal.

"Open Road Films will distribute these movies to theaters across the United States, playing them well beyond Regal and AMC's screens," she said.

-- Richard Verrier and Ben Fritz


AMC and Regal forming joint venture to acquire and distribute films

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AMC and Regal forming new venture to acquire and release movies

The nation's two largest movie theater chains are about to encroach on Hollywood  studios' turf.

Regal Entertainment Group and AMC Entertainment Inc. are close to launching a joint venture to acquire and release independent movies, according to people familiar with the situation, a part of the business historically dominated by the Hollywood studios.

The move potentially disrupts the longtime and delicate business relationship between theater operators and studios, in which they have acted as partners and divided a movie's box office ticket sales. Instead, the venture would essentially thrust theaters into the studio's role of distributor, turning a partner into a rival as the theaters' own movies compete for screens against those from the studios.

It also is occurring against a backdrop of increasingly strained relations between theaters and studios as the latter are looking to release movies directly into the home through video-on-demand shortly after they have appeared in theaters. Theater operators fear that will dissuade people from going to the movies.

The still unnamed company has yet to acquire any movies. However, the partners have hired a chief executive: Tom Ortenberg, a former senior executive for the Weinstein Co. and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., who has been working as an independent consultant since 2009.

AMC and Regal hope in part that by acquiring their own movies for distribution they will fill the supply-and-demand gap created by Hollywood's downshift in movie making. From 2007 to 2010, the number of movie releases in the U.S. dropped 16%, according to Box Office Mojo. At the same time, the theater industry's trade group estimates that the number of screens in the country has risen 3%, making fewer pictures available for a larger number of screens.

And with attendance flat over the last five years and down 5% in 2010, theater owners have been experimenting with ways to draw more people into their venues, such as showing live sports events and concerts.

Some chains have already taken steps to promote independent movies. AMC currently runs a program called AMC Independent that helps market independent films that play in its theaters. However, the company does not buy distribution rights to the pictures as its joint venture with Regal would.

People familiar with the plan said the joint venture will not compete with the studios by acquiring big-budget event films. Instead, the new company will seek out independently financed movies that may not otherwise make it into theaters, such as low-budget dramas, comedies and horror pictures.

Independent or specialty films have been largely eschewed by the studios in recent years but are experiencing a resurgence thanks to such broad-appeal movies as Oscar contenders "Black Swan" and "The King's Speech."

The venture's movies will have automatic access to theaters owned by AMC and Regal, which together control 31% of the nation's nearly 40,000 screens, but will also be offered to other cinemas. AMC and Regal also will aim to release movies on DVD, television and the Internet, which would also provide new sources of revenue that theater companies sorely need.

While a 1948 U.S. Supreme Court consent decree barred the major studios from owning movie theaters, the federal government has relaxed the rules over the last two decades. In 1996, MCA Inc., the former owner of Universal Pictures, bought a large stake in theater company Cineplex Odeon. Also, the parent company of Sony Pictures Entertainment previously owned Loews Theaters.

Currently, the Massachusetts theater chain National Amusements Inc., is privately held by Sumner Redstone, the controlling shareholder in Paramount Pictures parent Viacom Inc. And, the largest shareholder of Regal, Philip Anschutz, also owns the movie production company Walden Media.

In addition, independent film financiers such as Mark Cuban own small movie companies and theater chains.

Ortenberg did not respond to a request for comment, nor did a representative for Regal. An AMC spokeswoman declined to comment.

-- Ben Fritz and Richard Verrier


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