At Screenvision Media, Original Content Gets More "Front+Center" Time

By Upfronts/NewFronts Archives
Cover image for  article: At Screenvision Media, Original Content Gets More "Front+Center" Time

Cinema advertising organization Screenvision Media this week continued its annual tradition of holding Upfront presentations just before or just after Upfront Week at the same location as last year: The historic Hammerstein Ballroom inside Manhattan Center on W. 34th St. More than 600 people trekked their way to the second balcony to watch the proceedings, happening on a stage constructed above Hammerstein's orchestra floor, complete with a wide movie screen and soundtrack of hit songs from past box-office blockbusters. The crowd was the most ever to catch Screenvision Media's production on site, joined by about 300 people watching on a virtual feed. Lo and behold, no there were no Writers Guild of America picket lines anywhere in sight outside.

The Big Message: Moviegoing, especially among Gen Z, is in the midst of a post-pandemic renaissance, making Screenvision's "Front+Center" pre-flick presentations more valuable than ever for advertisers to reach and impress this audience. The addition of more original segments running before a lineup of projected blockbuster movies the rest of 2023 and 2024 further increases the value proposition. "We believe there's a better place for your premium video advertising," Screenvision Media Chief Executive Officer John Partilla declared. "Movie theaters, whether grand in scale or the neighborhood cinema, are the great cathedrals of storytelling. There's no better way to reach, to engage and to deliver young, diverse audiences."

Hosts: Hosting duties were split equally between Partilla and Chief Revenue Officer Christine Martino. Just like last year, they made their case with tremendous passion and enthusiasm without going overboard.

What Worked: Martino's portions of the presentation, ensuring each talking point she offered was illustrated by one or more slides on the wide screen. One big sizzle reel with scenes from upcoming movies, instead of sizzle reel after sizzle reel every few minutes, hit the spot.

What Also Worked: Partilla's interview with celebrated film and TV director Spike Lee, who was in great form, riffing on his movies and related topics. At one point, Lee disclosed that he would like to do an "all straight-out singing, dancing" musical film next, "when I get the money." Give Partilla credit for giving Lee free rein to ramble, even giving someone from the front row freedom to engage Lee in a snappy back-and-forth about the NBA playoffs.

What Didn't Work: The absence of a case study during the presentation, wherein a specific advertiser's innovative message to theatergoers was shown with follow-up on results. Speaking of follow-up, there was none offered on the developments announced last May, including the Trailer Park initiative.

Bonus Point: Popcorn, beer and other drinks were available for attendees to consume pre-presentation.

Data Points: About one billion tickets will be sold by movie theater owners this year, compared to more than 900 million in 2022, getting the industry closer to annual pre-pandemic level. Eighty percent of all moviegoers are age 40 or younger, a five percent rise from last year. First-run movie presentations deliver a 75 percent attention score, versus 37 percent for linear TV channels, 31 percent for content reaching viewers through smart TV products and 12 percent for social media.

News: Hartbeat, Kevin Hart's comedy-minded multimedia content venture, will develop a number of scripted multi-part series for Screenvision Media's "Front+Center" programs, plus create branded content displays for several advertisers. The first Hartbeat series will be disclosed in the near future. Another new "Front+Center" recurring segment coming soon to participating theaters will be "Tik-Tok On the Big Screen," 60-second sequences assembled from videos by the service's most popular creators.

Parting Words:

"Attention is a new revolution in media measurement, and cinema delivers the highest attention scores for results." -- Christine Martino, Screenvision Media's Chief Revenue Officer

"Let's start with a big headline: movie attendance is on the rise. It's hard to keep audiences away." -- Screenvision Media Chief Executive Officer John Partilla

"I feel sorry for the young generation. They're watching 2001: A Space Odyssey on THIS??" -- Spike Lee, pulling out a smartphone to make a point during his interview

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