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Cinepolis offers online rentals & ‘4D’ cinema

November 6, 2013

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Not content with dominating Mexico’s cinema industry thanks to its unrivaled number of theaters, state-of-the-art technology and attractive promotions, Cinepolis is also looking to challenge online rental giant Netflix and restore the vision of the blind.

The self-proclaimed “Capital del Cine,” Cinepolis is the biggest cinema chain in Mexico and Latin America, and the fourth largest in the world, with over 230 theaters, 3,000 screens and over 13,000 employees throughout 11 countries, including Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Brazil, Peru, India and the United States.

In Mexico alone it runs 205 theaters in 65 cities and by the end of 2013 it aims to have opened a further 160 screens in Mexico and 150 abroad. The current focus in Mexico is on small towns with 50,000 to 100,000 inhabitants, where there is a demand for cinema but no existing theaters.

In Guadalajara, Cinepolis is by far the most prominent cinema chain. It has 17 multiplex theaters in the metropolitan area, while Cinemex has six and CineMark has just one.

All of Cinepolis’ local multiplexes have the capability to show films in 3D, while in the upmarket Andares and Galerias malls, Cinepolis runs two VIP installations which are kitted out with more comfortable seats and buttons to call waiters. Cinepolis also has an IMAX theater and a special 4DX cinema at Plaza Galerias.

 A fourth ‘dimension’

4DX is a motion picture technology licensed to Cinepolis by South Korea’s CJ Group. It combines 3D film with a range of physical effects to enhance the viewer’s experience. These special features, which include moving and vibrating seats, strobe lighting, jets of air or water, mist, wind, fog or smoke, bubbles and aromas (from a collection of 1,000 different scents), are programmed into a 4DX track which controls their release during playback of the film.

Since 2011, Cinepolis has begun showing movies in 4DX at 11 special theaters across Mexico. 4DX tracks, which take up to six months to program, are only created for select films such as “The Hobbit,” “World War Z,” “Pacific Rim,” and Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity,” which is currently showing in 4DX at Plaza Galerias with tickets priced at 159 pesos.

While the novelty of 4DX may be enough to draw moviegoers on a one-off or occasional basis, Cinepolis has also been working to encourage more frequent visits to its cinemas through a range of different promotions.

One such promotion has been the recent introduction of half-price tickets every Wednesday (excluding premieres, 4DX movies and VIP screenings). Another promotion entitles moviegoers to receive a discount of 30, 40 or 60 percent for buying tickets one, two or three days in advance, respectively.

Miguel Mier, Cinepolis’ director of operations, told Spanish-language daily Mural last week that although the value of ticket sales has fallen by 1.5 percent across Mexico this year, Cinepolis is on course to achieve a six-percent growth in box office revenue because it has managed to increase its audience numbers by 7.5 percent.

The current strategy of drawing more people to the movies through promotions rather than raising ticket prices is partly based on the fact that Cinepolis draws much of its revenue from selling expensively priced drinks and snacks. However, impending fiscal reforms which include the introduction of value-added tax on sugary drinks and fatty food could significantly impact Cinepolis’ business plan.

“Without doubt the industry will be affected by the tax on soft drinks,” Mier told Mural. Cinepolis is currently analyzing what effect the taxes will have and what actions should be taken to offset any losses, he added.

Home cinema

Earlier this year, Cinepolis branched out into the world of online movie rentals – a relatively untapped market in Mexico – and launched its own Netflix-style service entitled Cinepolis Klic.

While Klic does not offer TV series, it has an arguably superior selection of feature films to choose from than the Mexican version of Netflix. Users can instantaneously stream films to their computer on a one-off basis from as little as 25 pesos (newer movies cost more) or pay a monthly subscription of 80 pesos, which entitles them to stream an unlimited number of free movies from Klic’s extensive collection, although, again, rental of newer titles incurs additional fees.

There are hundreds of great movies to choose from and all are presented in their original language (the majority of available titles are English-language films) with Spanish subtitles. However, if you rent a Spanish-language film then be warned that it will not come with English subtitles.

Users can search by title, genre, actor, director, or browse festival prizewinners and the rankings created by Klic’s editorial board of movie experts. Headed by Daniela Michel, the director of the Morelia Festival, the board is responsible for deciding which films are available on the service, which claims to offer only “las mejores peliculas.”

Online transactions

Cinepolis aims to attract 500,000 Klic users within two years. To facilitate the payment process, it has introduced the Cinecash card, which can be purchased at any Cinepolis cinema or authorized retailers including Wal-Mart, Liverpool and 7-Eleven.

This pay-as-you-go card can be used to pay for movie tickets online or to rent films via Klic. The aim of Cinecash is to aid Cinepolis’ target audience of young people aged 14 to 23 – many of whom are unlikely to own credit cards – in making transactions online or via smartphone apps.

Aside from discounts for buying in advance, other advantages of purchasing cinema tickets online include being able to select your seats from a map of the theater and not having to queue at the box office before the screening. Having invested heavily in new platforms for electronic sales, Cinepolis has now sold over 11 million tickets on its webpage and another 11.4 million via its official app, which has been downloaded by 4.3 million smartphone or tablet users.

The chain has also accumulated over 4.4 million followers on its various social media accounts, confirming its status as Mexico’s most popular cinema.

Restoring vision

But not all of Cinepolis’ exertions are driven by reaching more clients and generating greater revenue. The company also has a philanthropic side, manifested in the Fundacion Cinepolis, which says it is “committed to social development in Mexico through visual health programs, education through film, and entertainment aimed at the most vulnerable sectors of society.”

Whenever anyone buys a ticket, snacks or makes an online transaction with Cinepolis, they are offered the opportunity to donate five pesos  to Del Amor Nace la Vista, a charity organization dedicated to restoring the vision of the blind.

Founded by Fundacion Cinepolis in 2005, the charity has paid for over 15,000 low-income patients suffering from cataract-caused blindness to have their vision restored. The foundation has organized over 100 days of surgeries in 18 states across Mexico, with Cinepolis helping with fundraising by donating another peso to the cause for every peso raised by its customers.

Click here for more information or to make a donation.

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