Startup Tackles Filling Empty Movie Seats

Brooks Barnes reported in Monday’s New York Times that, “As anyone who has been to a movie theater knows, a lot of seats are usually empty. Add up those empties over the course of a year, according to Atom Tickets, a start-up based [in Santa Monica, Calif.], and more than 5 billion seats go unsold annually at North American multiplexes.

“How can theaters fill just 1 percent of that inventory, resulting in hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars in added box office and concessions revenue?

“Atom, a movie ticketing app and website, has made solving that puzzle its mission — and, as it seeks to increase its user base over the busy holiday film season, it has secured backing from three Hollywood heavyweights: J. J. Abrams, Tyler Perry and Steven Spielberg.”

The Times article indicated that, “Atom, incubated by Lions Gate Entertainment, where the vice chairman Michael Burns has been a crucial supporter, makes it easy for groups of people — particularly those glued to their smartphones — to plan film outings.”

Monday’s article stated that, “But Atom, only a few months old, has already proved to be a serious competitor. It services about 15,000 screens in North America, with thousands more coming online in the months ahead;” and added that, “The start-up has also made group discounts, particularly for less popular showtimes, part of its mission, along with concession stand pre-orders. Merchandise is another component. Starting last week, anyone using Atom to buy tickets to ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,’ set for release by Disney on Dec. 16, could also buy exclusive products tied to the film, including sweatshirts and T-shirts. Down the road, Atom plans to sell toys, music and games related to various films.

“Free to download, Atom collects a surcharge on ticket sales. Studios can also hire it to promote certain films.”

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