CineAsia: Next Innovation for Exhibition Industry to Come from Social Media

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How to translate a tweet or a Facebook update into a ticket sale

The next innovation for the exhibition industry is going to come from the social media habits of cinema-goers, panelists said at the CineAsia International Cinema Technology Association discussion in Hong Kong.

One of the important things that is going to drive the development of the exhibition industry is the social experience of watching a movie in a crowd, said panelist Brian Hall. "How do people interact socially these days? They interact with [a mobile phone]. So their lifestyle is driven by their social media habits and the friends that they have, and the biggest change we can positively drive in this industry both on the content and the distribution side and on the marketing of that content in cinemas is to work together to find ways to engage our crowd in their social media environments around our content," said Hall. "And I think if we do that really well, that will make the biggest change in the cinema industry in the next few years."

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Brett D. Hogg, Senior Vice President, International Distribution, Sony Pictures Releasing International, was in agreement: "From a studio marketing perspective, we're all over social media. A big portion of our spending is now online and in social media. Where I think this really does help, is connecting those people when they're tweeting or when they're on Facebook, linking them straight through to a cinema to buy tickets," said Hogg. "When there are technology companies out there looking for ways to provide that service, it's something that we all want to work together on. Because we want to be able to translate that into a ticket sale. And making that process as easy as possible for the consumer to go, 'Hey I like that trailer, how do I buy my ticket.'"

"It's an interesting combination of intimacy and interactivity," commented Sunder Kimatrai, Executive Vice President, Asia Pacific, Twentieth Century Fox International.

Social media also plays a part in the slow but steady decline of the admission of 3D movies in the last 12 months, panelists said. "There is a concern, especially with the premium pricing," said Irving Chee, Golden Screen Cinemas General Manager. "As social media is very rapid, whether a movie or the portion of the movie was shot in 3D or converted into 3D does make an impact into the costumers' preference of watching it in 3D or 2D."

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But innovation will continue to come, no one knows where it's going to lead, said Kimatrai. "Some technologies and innovations lead to lasting improvements and product offerings, and others fail. It's important and inevitable that the industry continues to evolve and innovate, and if something does work and something doesn't stick, it's all about offering new experiences to the consumers," said Kimatrai.

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