UPDATE, 2:20 PM: This is what Lionsgate just advised me about reporting this weekend’s box office grosses with the The Lincoln Lawyer ticket deep discount which the studio is funding: “When any discount or coupon is used at a theater the exhibitors still report gross receipts based on the value of the tickets sold. There is also no necessity or guarantee that the tickets purchased with Groupons will be redeemed this weekend. The box office reporting for this weekend will reflect only the number of people who saw The Lincoln Lawyer this weekend and the ticket value at the specific time and place they saw it, like it always does. This is like if people used gift cards that were purchased from a theater chain to buy their tickets – the receipts always go toward the value of and towards the receipts for the particular show they redeem it for.” Do you agree?
12:45 PM: Let me say right now that Deadline’s weekend box office coverage of The Lincoln Lawyer‘s opening grosses will come with a big asterisk. Because they’ll be artifically inflated. Lionsgate’s deal with Groupon to sell $6 movie tickets for the pic through the big online ticketseller Fandango is even more ridiculous than Deadline previously reported. That’s because I’ve just discovered there’s also a $5 coupon so the price of one movie ticket comes down to $1. That’s right, go see the brand new movie starring Matthew McConaughey and based on Michael Connelly’s bestselling novel for any showing for a buck.
(“Get this deal for only $1! Use this promotional code and get $5 off the listed price at checkout: kb9d35nfjqtxf68pca3e.” For new Groupon customers only. Limit of all the discounted tickets is 2 per person, plus 2 additional bought as gifts. The $1 ticket offer is limited to 1 ticket, and $6 for the other 3. Not valid for IMAX or 3D showings.) I hear exhibitors have mixed feelings about the promotion — some like the extra biz but others abide by the movie industry’s cardinal rule to never discount the ticket price of a new release. This is a huge slippery slope because what happens when consumers decide $11 bucks is now too much to pay for any new movie? Now the exhibs do get reimbursed for the full ticket price. But, tell me, what’s the dollar figure that Lionsgate is going to report to me for grosses this weekend? From a marketing perspective, Lionsgate might think this is a smart move but is this really is this a good way to portray your movie on opening weekend? With box office down considerably this year, Hollywood is looking desperate.