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The Hollywood Strike Is Over. Now, We Capitalize on Movie Theater Activations.

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This past September, the 146-day-long writers’ strike finally came to a close, with the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reaching a deal late Sunday afternoon on September 24. The second-longest strike in Hollywood history put a significant damper on late-night talk shows, TV series, and movies for several months, but now that things are resolved, let’s celebrate by looking at the possibilities of experiential event marketing for movie theater activations.

Brands Should Tap Into Target Audiences with Movie Theater Activations

Despite the writer’s strike, the box office had a tremendous year. In fact, 2023 domestic box office sales marked the highest since the COVID-19 pandemic, clearing $9 billion in total. Box Office Mojo reports that the year’s top hits at the box office included “Barbie” bringing in over $636 million domestically, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” scoring over $574 million, and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” raked in over $381 million.

Moviegoers are a prime audience for your brand to target because they are known to be engaged, entertainment-driven, and have disposable income. Moreover, movie theater activations enable you to tap into that audience while they’re in the theater lobby and already in a great mood.

A diverse, affluent, and on-the-go holiday moviegoing audience may be just what your brand needs to help further drive brand awareness and marketing goals for the holiday and into 2024. Your goal with a movie theater activation is to connect with this affluent audience during, before, or after the movie.

Plan Your Next Experiential Marketing Event as a Movie Theater Activation

Historically, a night out at the movies has always been about more than just watching a film. The movie theater represents an experience, which is why theatergoers are willing to shell out cash for an enjoyable evening they can’t replicate at home, meaning a movie theater offers the ideal ambiance for a unique activation.

Additionally, the convenience and accessibility of the movie theater are two of its best features. You can find a theater or two in almost any neighborhood, they’re usually conveniently located with sufficient parking, and they can quickly be reserved for events during the day when they are less crowded. 

It almost goes without saying, but movie theaters also come readily equipped with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment to display your brand’s video footage to its best advantage. Moreover, many movie theaters recently stepped up their game to compete with the comfort of our living rooms and home streaming options. In place of scratchy fabric seats and sticky floors, many of today’s theaters are enhancing their premium format movies with in-seat meals, beverages, leather reclining seats, and one-of-a-kind entertainment experiences and events.

What to Show on the Big Screen at a Movie Theater Activation

Just picture your latest promotional material or stunning drone footage on the silver screen. Watching a movie on a large screen transforms event attendees into an enthusiastic audience, which is the ultimate goal of every product launch or brand activation.

If your product is related to the release of a big-budget film, time the launch well. You can likely even count on some extra mileage by tying your activation into the movie’s release.

Along with your promotional material, consider streaming a classic favorite that relates in some way to your product or brand, and theme your event around the film to turn the movie showing into a full-blown party. The beauty of an activation is that the film you choose can set the tone. 

For example, you can plan a holiday activation for the whole family by showing an animated classic and handing out popcorn and soda in the lobby. You can also stage a classier couples event by showing a classic black-and-white film from the 1940s or ‘50s with branded ambassadors dressed for the era and serving martinis.

Your brand can use the theater to screen almost anything relating to your product or brand, so use your imagination. If a recent documentary or art film embodies your message, look into community-driven apps to help you bring your audience together for the screening and coordinate your event with the theater as you sell tickets to attendees who RSVP.

Showing a 3D film at your brand’s movie theater activation can be even more exciting than a regular screening. If you want to create even more buzz, a movie theater can be the ideal location for a virtual reality event, and this emerging technology is currently all the rage in experiential marketing. For employing virtual reality at large events, auditorium seating is ideal because it allows a large crowd to sit in relative darkness.

Experiential marketing and theatrical productions both involve aspects of storytelling. After all, an experiential marketing campaign or event is, in many respects, a theatrical production. 

For decades, seeing a movie on the big screen has been a favorite way to spend an evening, so why not bring that excitement to your marketing activation? For a wide variety of experiential marketing events, a movie theater can be the perfect setting.

About the author


Ray Sheehan

Ray Sheehan has a background in strategic planning, marketing, event management, and advertising and has helped the company expand from one city to over twenty states. In 2020, he launched the G.I.F.T Program as part of Old City Media. Ray is recognized as a leader and an innovative thinker in the special events industry.