Tugg.com Letting Customers Control What Comes to Their Local Theaters

     February 22, 2012

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Although Atlanta is a major city, we don’t get indie films for a long time.  We Need to Talk about Kevin opened in New York on December 9th but it won’t open where I live until March 2nd.  Instead, we wait for indie films to come to one of our three art house cinemas, and the multiplex is stuffed with Safe House playing on 12 screens.  I understand the thinking behind the system, but it still sucks, and I’m hoping Tugg.com is going to change it.  The company sent out a press release today announcing that they were working with major exhibition chains like Regal and AMC to let consumers campaign for what plays in their local theaters.

Hit the jump for more.

movie-theater-01What Tugg does is kind of genius:

Individuals are empowered to select a film, screening time, and nearby theater, and then spread the word to their immediate and online community. Once a necessary amount of people commit to attending, the event will be confirmed, and Tugg will reserve the theater, manage ticketing and ensure delivery of the film; allowing the audience to sit back and enjoy the show.

Unlike the defunct Moviepass, which tried to go around the exhibitors and distributors and got crushed in the process, Tugg is working with Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, AMC Theatres, Bow Tie Cinemas, Cinemark Theatres, Goodrich Quality Cinemas, Rave Cinemas and Regal Cinemas [Correction: Moviepass is still up and running; we just haven’t heard anything about it in over six months.  However, the point still holds that Moviepass did not have the support of distributors and exhibitors when it was announced].  The partnerships with distributors will be announced prior to the service’s official launch at SXSW in March.  In addition to exhibitors and producers, the company’s board of advisers includes Terrence Malick, Ben Affleck, and Richard Linklater.  This doesn’t sound like some fly-by-night operation.

If this works, it will be tremendous.  It will use the Internet to foster physical communities of cinephiles (remember having groups in real life?), and hopefully restructure platform releases so that a film can still build word of mouth without forcing indie films to compete directly with wide releases on opening weekend.  Beyond new releases, Tugg could bring classic films back to theaters.

movie-theater-auditoriumI really hope this works.  Here’s the press release:

Austin, TX— Wednesday, February 22, 2012— Currently in it’s pilot stage, Tugg, Inc. (“Tugg”), a collective action web-platform that enables individuals to choose the films that play in their local theaters, today announces it’s working with exhibitors Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, AMC Theatres, Bow Tie Cinemas, Cinemark Theatres, Goodrich Quality Cinemas, Rave Cinemas and Regal Cinemas. The exhibitors will provide theatrical venues for individually curated events showcasing Tugg’s growing library of hundreds of studio and independent films. Tugg’s partnerships with distributors will be announced prior to the official launch at South by Southwest in March 2012.

Tugg co-founders Nicolas Gonda, CEO, and Pablo Gonzalez, COO, have created an innovative way for moviegoers to experience the films of their choice in a theatrical setting. Through Tugg, individuals are empowered to select a film, screening time, and nearby theater, and then spread the word to their immediate and online community. Once a necessary amount of people commit to attending, the event will be confirmed, and Tugg will reserve the theater, manage ticketing and ensure delivery of the film; allowing the audience to sit back and enjoy the show.

“Every film speaks to a different person, and the most exciting thing about Tugg is that it allows for audiences to find their films and films to find their audiences. We are eager to offer a platform that enables studios, filmmakers and exhibitors to have unprecedented interaction with communities and influencers,” said co-founders Gonda and Gonzalez.

Through the exhibitors, Tugg provides audiences with access to a nationwide network of high-quality theatrical venues. Now an audience can watch a film of their choice, be it current or classic, mainstream or independent, in the multisensory environment only available in a movie theater. Tugg reaffirms the importance and value of the theatergoing experience, and allows exhibitors to court and retain both new audiences and active moviegoers by offering a wider variety of theatrical content.

Tugg’s partnerships with distributors and independent filmmakers have helped build an extensive library of content for audiences to choose from. In addition, Tugg’s demand-based infrastructure provides an exceptional platform for offering new releases to targeted markets across the country, and creates exciting opportunities for new films to reach theaters and audiences through a local, community-based approach.

“As the film exhibition industry continues to evolve, AMC Theatres remains committed to staying at the forefront of innovation, which is why we’ve been proud to work with Tugg from the very beginning to determine the feasibility of its platform,” said Robert J. Lenihan, president of Programming at AMC Theatres. “As we continue to evaluate the program through trials at our theatres, we’ve experienced its potential firsthand through successful results by not only putting the choice directly into our guests’ hands, but also through the power of grassroots, guest-advocate marketing.”

“As the creators were first showing me Tugg, I had the same sensation I had when I first started using Facebook.  This was a brilliant, well-executed concept that could really change things for our business in a significant way,” said Alamo Drafthouse CEO/Founder Tim League.

“Rave & Bow Tie Cinemas are excited about the innovative ideas Tugg has brought to our industry,” said Spencer Klein, Rave Cinemas & Bow Tie Cinemas Senior Vice President Film & Alternative Content.

The Tugg team and its advisory board embody a strong collective of industry and media experience in the realms of production, development, marketing and distribution. Gonda, a producer on The Tree of Life, got his inspiration for Tugg while working all over the world with filmmakers Terrence Malick and Steven Soderbergh. Gonzalez, an experienced high-tech and marketing executive, leads Tugg’s development and operations. In working towards this innovative new initiative, Tugg is privileged to have a board of advisors that includes writer/actor/director Ben Affleck, writer/director Richard Linklater and writer/director Terrence Malick.

Tugg is currently inviting early participants to use the platform during its pilot stage, and will be open to the public in the coming months. Become an early participant here http://www.tugg.com.

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