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CinemaScore Releases Smartphone App

CinemaScore Mobile Screen Shot - P 2012

The company that gives major movies a grade based on national polling at theaters is going mobile with new services.

CinemaScore, which provides letter grades for new movies based on a national exit poll conducted at theaters, is going mobile with new services for consumers and entertainment industry subscribers.

Beginning Thursday, anyone with an Apple iPhone, an Android or Blackberry will be able to look up scores for recent movies on the go, according to Edward Mintz, the 71-year-old founder and president of the Las Vegas-based data company.

“We wanted people who are at the movies or on their way to be able to see the scores as a way to help them decide what to see,” said Mintz.

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So, you can find out that Argo received an A+ grade and Cloud Atlas got a C+.

The grades are consensus scores from exit polls conducted in at least five cities across the country collected the night the movies opened in wide release. The company interviews several hundred people and asks six questions. Each weekend, CinemaScore polls moviegoers as they leave theaters in about 30 cities.

The CinemaScore grades have become well known by those who read newspapers, the industry trades, websites and magazines. Since August, CinemaScore has been making the overall grade of major movies available at www.CinemaScore.com. As of Thursday, the information also can be accessed on mobile devices.

The public can see the grades for movies that open on Friday at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday. The grades remain available generally for about three months, though that will vary by how well the film scores and how long it stays in theaters.

While  consumers can see the scores at no cost, industry users who subscribe to CinemaScore will see that overall grade and much more on a mobile device for the first time. Studios, home video companies, producers and others subscribe at prices ranging from $50,000 to more than $1 million a year.

Subscribers can get grades by age groups and gender. They also can find out if ticket buyers said they were likely to rent or buy a copy of the movie on DVD or Blu-ray. They also have access to information about movies from years past and can search for films by title and date of release.

The development of the mobile application, which has taken months, was driven in large part by a request from CinemaScore’s show business clients. Industry subscribers can now use their mobile phones to track CinemaScore grades in real time as they are reported by pollsters. They can view a score as soon as data arrives from at least two theaters. That is updated as more data comes in. The final tally is typically available to subscribers by 11 p.m. on Friday. Often, the CinemaScore data goes into making a decision over the weekend and on Monday about future advertising and release patterns.

CinemaScore uses that same information to provide industry subscribers with a prediction of how a movie will perform during its entire theatrical run. When a movie opens Friday, CinemaScore makes its estimate of the final theatrical tally on Monday.

“We have been surprised by how accurate the estimates have been,” said Mintz, whose son, Harold, does those calculations.

Among CinemaScore’s biggest customers are home video distributors who use the data to decide on who to market the movies to. And if the grade is high, it's a way to impress potential buyers.

CinemaScore, which launched in 1978, is privately held and very much family run. Along with his son, Mintz’s daughter and teenage granddaughter pitch in along with other family members.

CinemaScore developed the mobile website with TalkWise, a branding and strategic design company run by Ben Glass and Michael Melnick that is based in San Francisco and Tel Aviv, and with Rosenthal Consulting, a Los Angeles-based data warehousing and system development company run by Edward Rosenthal.

CinemaScore has not done much marketing of its consumer website or the launch of the mobile application. There is no advertising on the site, but Mintz said that might come as traffic builds.