AMC Theatres Pull Movie Listings From Washington Post; Post Hopes Movie Attendance Drops

from the we've-seen-this-movie-before dept

Remember back when you used to check the local newspaper for movie listings? To be honest, I can barely remember when that happened. These days, it’s just easier to look up the info online. However, many newspapers apparently still print movie listings — and apparently (I had no idea…), this is actually paid advertising by the theater chains. AMC Theatres, however, is realizing that most people now get movie times online and has pulled its listings from the Washington Post (via Romenesko), leading some readers to believe, incorrectly, that the Post had dropped the listings (similar to the way many newspapers have dropped stock listings). But, since this is ad revenue, the Post is actually quite upset about this, and worried that other chains might follow suit. So it’s actually hoping that theater attendance will drop, and AMC will be convinced to pay for movie listings again. Of course, the data itself is factual information, and if the Washington Post really wanted to, it could print the times itself — but, instead it clearly wants the advertising money (and to prove why it thinks AMC is making a mistake). It will be fascinating to see what happens, but I get the feeling that even if AMC is convinced to come back, it won’t be long before movie theaters stop paying newspapers to print showtimes.

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Companies: amc, washington post

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Comments on “AMC Theatres Pull Movie Listings From Washington Post; Post Hopes Movie Attendance Drops”

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Blatant Coward (profile) says:


Only problem is that to do it in nice big attention grabbing pictures like it is traditionally done to advertise the movie, the papers would have to lift a pic of movie from the production itself. Making them Pirates.

Just like Youtube when it shamelessly stole that movie trailer advertising that dis-knee movie, that was put out for free, as advertising.

The internet won’t kill papers, the RIAA will when they send over all those gaffers and painters out of work due to online and newspaper theft!

Sneeje (profile) says:

Attendance will drop?

Reality aside, I’m not even sure how expecting attendance to drop even makes sense.

“Hey Midge, let’s go see that new movie that just came out! Oh wait, there are no listings in the newspapers for the theater near us, so I guess it vaporized. Even if it didn’t, I couldn’t possibly trouble myself to call the theater to get the movie times or, heaven forbid, actually go to the theater, check the times, buy a ticket, and go shopping until the movie starts. Oh well.”

I suppose they are anticipating that people will see the listings for AMC competitors and go there instead, but still…

Chris Wahl (profile) says:

Re: Attendance will drop?

I will state ahead of time that I stopped reading the newspaper years ago.

However, even those that I know that still do read one will reach for a computer to do movie searches. Or, heck, their cellphone (and I don’t mean to call the theater).

This seems like a pretty logical move on AMC’s part. And if things go sour, they can just go back to advertising again … I suppose.

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: Attendance will drop?

“I suppose they are anticipating that people will see the listings for AMC competitors and go there instead, but still…”

That’s precisely the point. Out of sight/out of mind. They seem to think that most people still get movie times from those ads, so when they go to the newspaper they’ll go to a Regal or UA theater instead of an AMC one. If only AMC sees a decline in attendance, then they can spout off “see, if you don’t pay us to put your times in the newspaper, people will forget you exist!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Attendance will drop?

It is unlikely AMC will see a significant much less permanent decline in attendence. Most people go to the theatre chain closest to them and don’t give much thought to branding. Do you say, “Let’s go to the AMC”? More likely you say, “Let’s go to the movies” without ever giving a thought about which chain owns it.

Clamp Down says:

Attendance Dropping?

It’s idiotic to think that attendance will drop because the theaters don’t advertise in the paper…

…it’ll drop because while people are online looking up showtimes, they can just look to see if there’s a torrent.


Then, when the DVD rental comes out, they can pay an appropriate amount ($2 or $3) to see the film in high quality.

Since good movies are usually worth watching twice – unless the studio puts out shit that no one wants to rent once they’ve seen a lowrez version – everybody wins.

Well, except the theaters…I guess they don’t win. But I’m still pissed at them about the sticky floor and the overpriced junior mints. Fuck, it takes a mint just to buy a box!

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

I do read the movie listings in the newspapers

But the newspapers I read don’t print the show listings of the cinema I go to, probably because that cinema (Metropolis in Antwerp) is in another country, but a lot of people from my area go to that cinema.
Simply because it’s the best one in my area, great seats, large screens, large selection of movies because it has 25 theatres, great audio, and no breaks. (hope you don’t mind this plug, no I’m not associated with it, just a happy customer, their concession stand is expensive though.)

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Better Methods of Marketing.

The point is that AMC is opting for other means of advertising. For most advertisers, their pertinent facts do not change very much from one day to the next, or, often, from one week to the next. For example, a movie theater works out what the best showtime for the most lucrative time slot would be, based on audience convenience, and sticks to it. Other showtimes are scheduled around that. Newspapers were never really a very good fit. However, they used to be very cheap (twenty-five cents), and therefore, very ubiquitous. Now, it seems, the price is rising and the circulation is falling, in a death spiral.

Newspapers do not have very good demographic segmentation. You can advertise movies to a working mother until you are blue in the face, but the over-riding fact is that she _has_ to get to the daycare center to pick up little Jenny by a certain time. Most of the people who don’t go to the movies very often have excellent and compelling reasons for not doing so, based on things like age, employment, and family status, and you cannot change those reasons by advertising. College students are of course the prime market for things like movies, because they have so much unsupervised free time, without responsibilities. You can arrange to put boxes of leaflets in the student unions and dormitories of local colleges.

An alternative market might be traveling salesmen. When the maids in a hotel clean a room, they leave behind a package of assorted leaflets, etc. If you target your leaflets to downtown hotels, you might be able to get an affluent audience which is comparatively free to go out on short notice. Of course, they are older, and more likely to be shagged out. Possibly, it would be better to sell them pay-per-view movies in their rooms. In either case, this is a deal to be made with the hotel, and you don’t need a newspaper to do it.

Parenthetically, given falling computer prices, it ought to be possible to manufacture a TIVO-type device for fifty or a hundred dollars. Cable systems which have not gone TIVO will do so shortly, and that will make television schedules largely irrelevant.

Anonymous Coward says:

Look, I don’t read the paper in general, but I will look there for movies. In one page, it lists all the theaters in the immediate area that the paper serves, with all titles and times. If I wanted to get that info online, I’d have to visit the website of all the chains of theaters in my area and find out how to pick the specific theater because not all theaters in a chain play the same thing.

This is a good feature for a paper to have.

Brandon says:

I worked at a movie theater for many years and our local paper would get our showtimes wrong so often that at one point we threatened to pull our ad. Yes, we had to pay for it, so when they would mess it up, we would raise hell about it. Mistakes ranged from just one wrong time to sometimes an entire movie that we were showing wasn’t listed! Or they would list a movie that we weren’t showing anymore. The problem was, since it was considered an ad, it was only updated a couple times a week. If the Friday paper came out and had a showtime wrong, we knew we were in for a long weekend because it wouldn’t get changed until maybe the Monday edition. Meanwhile, every paper over the full weekend would have the wrong time listed. Maybe our local city paper just had a bad editor but it certainly felt to me that sometimes it would have been easier to not have the showtimes listed in the paper.

Anonymous Coward says:

This blog spends a lot of time discussing the fact that if newspapers stopped offering content for free, consumers would simply find other sources for the content. This seems like a good test of this theory… here we have a content that is no longer going to be available for free in the Post, and we should be able to see the impact to AMC against a control group (all of the non-AMC threaters that will continue to advertise in the Post).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The Movie ad in the post was never free. The ads were pulled from the Post by Cineplex in the mid 90’s. If you want the AMC ads back in the post then dont spend your money there.

No other DC area paper charges a fee for the Ads. They call them a reader service.

They also raised the prices for senior citizens.

Anonymous Coward says:

They still print phone books.

I used to work for a theater that, about a year ago, stopped putting movie times in the paper during the week and only paid for printing costs on the weekends. Much to my surprise, we ended up getting a lot of angry phone calls (most from older people) who had no idea what the movie times were. Our number didn’t drop, we just got more phone calls of people asking for the times. As long as the people who read the paper still know how to use a phone book, AMC shouldn’t be in much trouble.

curt says:

movie ads

I’m a small theatre owner and 2 years ago, after the newspaper messed up my ads twice in a month, after a lot of thinking twice, I pulled my ads. When the theatre opened on Friday I could only hope that some how the word would spread on what we were playing. And low and behold the patrons came. As the weeks went on I found that my attendance never dropped but only gained. I use our preshow ads, our website, our 24/7 phone line and the marquee. I save all the $$ from then paper ads that helps the bottom line.

Anonymous Coward says:

Without newspaper listings for SOME theaters, but still for others, the people who use newspapers to decide what to see will likely move their business as a result.

If it is even 10% of the people going to the movies, it is a big move. Remember, most major movies are released in more than one chain, which means there will still be listings for almost every movie out there.

Jen Lieberman (profile) says:

Washington Post Ad Rates

Has anyone actually looked at the advertising rates for movie theaters? The absolute minimum is $401/day PER COLUMN INCH! (See
Assuming that AMC uses 6 column inches for one theater, that’s $2406 per day per theater. Assuming movie tickets are $10 each, they would need to lose more than 240 people per day in EACH THEATER to consider advertising in the Post again. I just don’t see that happening. Perhaps the Post should consider lowering their rates to keep with the digital times. 🙂

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