Movie theaters and studios are an interesting place right now. With less than three weeks to go until the Oscars, suddenly there’s a lot of interest from audiences in some very good films.
Which is great to see packed houses for “Zero Dark Thirty” or “Silver Linings Playbook.” But theaters don’t live on ticket sales alone — they need to move concession sales as well. The problem is that Oscar-nominated films tend to be downers, or at least about weighty subjects, so they don’t lend themselves to special tie-ins. Nobody wants a “Lincoln” commemorative cup to take home with them the way kids wanted a “Wreck-It Ralph” cup.
So I feel for whatever advertising executive at AMC Theateres thought this up.
First of all, this year AMC is continuing its tradition of having marathon showings of all the Oscar-nominated films at its theaters nationwide. Which is a fun idea — it’s a great chance for film fans who have had other priorities over the holidays to get caught up in a hurry for their office Oscar pools. In Madison, on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 10 a.m., for $30, you can settle in and watch “Amour,” “Les Miserables,” “Argo” and “Django Unchained,” then come back the following Saturday, Feb. 23, at 10 a.m. and spend $40 to watch “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”
So that’s great. But then AMC took it a step further with their “Oscar Offer Mania” promotion, in which they tied special discounts to each movie. See “Argo” today through Wednesday and get a free small drink. Fine. Free small cheese pizza “pie” when you see “Life of Pi.” Cute.
Then we get to “Amour,” the incredibly sad French film about an elderly man watching his lifelong wife slip into illness, dementia and death. Which at AMC, you can watch with a a free Light Snacker popcorn and soda combo!
This is the actual ad copy with that offer:
“Celebrate a love that spans generations and share a popcorn and soda combo with someone you love.”
Wow. Sounds like a great date-night outing! Say, in the spirit of the movie, should I hand-feed my date the popcorn and spoon soda into her mouth while we watch?
I suppose it could be worse. The promotion connected to “Zero Dark Thirty” could have been “Waterboard yourself with our jumbo-sized soft drinks, now $1 off!”