Talk about gone in 60 seconds…
Just like that one the the Kansas City Star‘s premier advertisers – Dickinson Theatres – has gone missing. Sources say the heavy hitter, locally owned movie exhibitor quit the Star as of October 1st. Dickinson had been a seven day a week advertiser.
However its flight from print isn’t so much a sign of today’s difficult times, as the trend of moviegoers no longer consulting newspapers for movie times.
"I saw a survey recently that said that nationally 84 percent of moviegoers get their information on movie times from places other than newspapers," says movie industry veteran Jack Poessiger who writes for KCC. "And I spoke with someone at a movie convention in Las vegas who told me 92 percent of moviegoers were getting their movie times from places other than newspapers."
This isn’t the first time Dickinson or other exhibitors threatened to yank their ads out of the local daily, sources say.
However in the past the Star reportedly made the companies "offers they couldn’t refuse" to retain the biz.
"I’ve heard that AMC is getting an almost free ride," says one source. "That the Star‘s running its ads just to keep everybody else in check."
That said, the local movie powerhouse has cut back its ads from seven days a week to three – Friday through Sunday.
Not that there are zero financial considerations to the cutbacks.
At one point operations like Dickinson and AMC dropped big bucks on movie ads, reportedly in the neighborhood of $300,000 or more each every year.
Which may explain in part why the Star axed longtime movie critic Robert Butler earlier this year in favor of syndicated and freelance reviewers that can be had for pennies on the dollar.
As reported on KCC earlier this year by Poessiger, several major film studios have stopped buying those huge newspaper display ads for blockbusters like this past summer’s Transformers and Harry Potter movies.
What then is in store for the remaining few who rely on newspapers for movie times?
For years many newspapers have run movie listings for free as a service to readers. In the biz, that’s called a "movie clock."
"That’s what the Star will have to do eventually if they keep losing the movie ads," Poessiger ventures.
Or not provide them at all..which given the vast majority of moviegoers get their show times elsewhere is maybe no big deal.
Because if they’re not going to provide a comprehensive listing of theaters and movies, why bother?