By Roberto Pérez Antolín
What is SuperTicket? Its basic initial premise is to provide added value to the ticket for a film premiere by means of elements selected by the major film studios to satisfy the needs of the audience. And just what are those extras? Well, here is where we find one of the principal problems that have caused the slow international development of this concept: there is not a homogeneous offer, there are no clear standards, and as a result consumers are confused.
From its launch in the United States with World War Z in 2013 to the most recent premiers, SuperTicket has included as part of its package an endless string of variations to the concept.
World War Z offered –for the price of the 50-dollar pack– the chance to see the movie two days before its general release (one of the added values most appreciated by the biggest fans), some 3D collectors’ glasses, the movie poster, a small bag of popcorn, and the digital download in HD of the film starting on the day on which it was available via Home Entertainment. In the United States, this means between three and four months after a film opens in movie houses. This doesn’t sound like a bad offer, although in view of the present economic crisis, who in Spain would be willing to pay 50 dollars for the this “product”? In our opinion, very few people.
But price is not the only barrier to swifter expansion of the concept: there is also the waiting time, the lack of immediacy. The two principal elements of the SuperTicket are entry to the cinema and the digital download, but is it really appealing to a consumer to advance that money before seeing the film in a cinema, just so as to be able, four months later, to enjoy it in digital format? It seems the answer is ‘no’. Not until the period between seeing the different formats is made more flexible and the price of the pack is much lower.
The current offers in the United States have been simplified, and are much less flashy. In general they are limited to entry to the cinema and to the digital download of the movie (an average of three months after its general release in cinemas) and are offered at a much more reasonable price. But the results have still not been cause for celebration, and this explains the time the majors are taking to intensively launch this model internationally.
Big markets for the Hollywood industry such as Australia still have not launched the concept, while the United Kingdom –the second most important Home Entertainment market for the majors after the United States– recently tried it out with a film starring Anthony Hopkins, Kidnapping Mr. Heineken. In this case, the SuperTicket could only be acquired in Empire Cinemas, and for the same price as a ticket to a traditional movie house it was possible to download the digital archive of the film by means of Wuaki.tv as soon as it was available.
What’s interesting here is the movement by the digital content provider to get publicity and media attention as part of the UK “premiere”. But was this really the best film with which to launch this new marketing concept? The results have been humble.
One of the main things to take into account when analyzing this new system is that it is difficult to carry out because of the great number of different elements. Some of the major studios, the smallest number, have marketing departments that are shared by their Films and Home Entertainment divisions, but marketing and selling a concept is only a small part of the process. In most of the majors, these divisions are separate and have separate priorities. There are even majors in which the physical and digital aides of Home Entertainment are separated. These studio idiosyncrasies make it extremely complicated to carry out initiatives like SuperTicket between divisions. If, in addition, there is the need to find a partner in the exhibition branch and another partner on the digital content distribution side –partners that are important and have sufficient customers– the equation is more and more complicated.
What are the expectations for SuperTicket in Spain? Until there is evidence to the contrary, it seems that this will not be a priority for the majors. As long as there remains a four-month waiting period, the added value of offering a movie ticket –and a free digital download in the price of that ticket– doesn’t seem to be enough of an attraction. Maybe when the exhibition of a film definitively leads to its download in digital format, things will be different. The Yelmo chain of cinemas tried it, Cinesa thought about it… Let’s see what happens when the giant Mexican operation Cinépolis is established in Spain: it already has its own platform for distributing digital content in Mexico, called Cinépolis Klic.
For those people who want to be the first to reserve their movie in digital form from the day it is released in cinemas, there exists advance sale through iTunes. At least that way they can first see the film at a movie house before making the commitment to buying it in digital form.