With over 280 theaters across the country, Carmike Cinemas is the fourth largest theater chain in the U.S. But like other big (and small) chains in the theater market, Carmike sought to boost snack sales with numerous promotions, including its infamous “refillable popcorn bucket.”
Buying popcorn at the movies is a critical element of the movie-going experience for many — over the years, concession sales have also been critical for theaters.
Carmike Cinemas needed to quickly and consistently roll out promotions in concession stands located in lobbies across all 280 sites while maintaining the flexibility to adapt offerings for a specific region.
The chain also wanted to easily be able to modify specific prices, like a special on ice cream during an unexpected heat wave.
Challenges with the Carmike Cinemas Project
The cinema group relied on paper counter cards and table tents to advertise new items and special promotions, which were a hassle to get into every theater.
“Any promotion would take weeks to put together, print, and mail out to all of the theaters,” said Rob Lehman, Carmike’s vice president of food and beverage. It was also impossible to ensure that every individual theater manager would put out the promotional materials on the same day for a coordinated, nationwide effort.
Carmike Cinemas has almost 45 distinct concession stand layouts, and each of them required an adaptable solution. Several theaters had only just recently finished construction, while some structures dated to the 1970s or earlier.
How NEC Digital Signage Solved the Problem
Cinema Scene Marketing, an integrator specializing in theaters, recommended NEC digital signage for menu boards which would enable Carmike to roll out promos uniformly across its many locations.
The integrator installed over 1,700 42-inch NEC V423 displays in multiple configurations based on the layouts of each theater.
The crisp picture quality on the V423 and V463 displays make it easy for theater patrons to read menu items and prices. Saturated colors add to the visual appeal of food and drink imagery, including effervescent animated sodas that zoom across the three screens.
The installation started with a test run in April 2013, followed by a roll-out of nearly 225 location installations between July and September 2013. Phase two was completed during the first and second quarters of 2014. Cinema Scene continues to provide digital signage services as Carmike constructs new theaters and acquires additional locations.
The manufacturer’s convenient solution wasn’t the only star of the show. Cinema Scene implemented different display strategies depending on the configuration of the boards in each theater, which, again, changed by location.
Cinema Scene’s software seamlessly integrated with the Carmike’s point of sale system to allow for ease in managing price changes. As a turnkey integrator, Cinema Scene manages nearly every aspect of the client’s digital signage strategy, including graphics, content management, software and technical support.
NEC Digital Signage Impact on Carmike Cinemas
Carmike can now run a short promotional tie-in during the week before a big movie’s release without much effort or investment of time or money.The signs also make it easy to test a product or promotion in a small group of theaters before rolling it out nationwide.
The theater expects the total cost of ownership on the signs will ultimately be less than designing, printing and mailing thousands of paper promotional materials each year.
The company reports that customers value the signs’ readability, while employees enjoy ease of updates.