Key takeaways from AIMC: AI, engagement, and audience appetite
The Australian International Movie Convention drew industry expertise from across Australia and New Zealand together, with global representatives from not only exhibition and studios, but from the wider technology space as well. With so many minds in one place, the event was buzzing with insights and excitement.
The Vista Group team brought great presence across the event, with our Group CEO Stuart Dickinson hosting a keynote speech at the event’s commencement, Matthew Liebmann and Richard Greenwood lending their expertise to insightful panels, and the Vista Group bar in collaboration with Paramount. Now, we bring the biggest takeaways and trends we saw from AIMC.
The two letters on everyone’s mind: AI
As if to put the AI in AIMC, Artificial Intelligence was on everyone’s mind last week. AI, of course, has been top-of-mind across the globe for some time, and it only grows more and more relevant with emerging technology. As Google’s representatives noted in their keynote, AI is currently the most searched term on Google for 2023 in Australia.
Tech and exhibition lent their minds to exactly how AI can empower the industry both in cutting-edge software, and what the future of AI holds for future opportunities in personalisation, consumer understanding, and operational efficiency.
Vista Group’s own AI-assisted offering, Oneview—the tool to keep cinema executives’ fingers on the pulse of their businesses with real-time insights and business intelligence—saw great interest from clients and friends throughout the event.
Hand-in-hand with AI, data itself was a core topic across both of the main morning panels of the event. AI is being embraced not just in the exhibition industry, and as several speakers including Google’s Dean Schraftt (Industry Manager, Entertainment and Technology, Google AU/NZ) noted AI is seeing more and more use from technology to the automotive industry, especially in pursuit of the ‘holy grail’ of 1:1 marketing with complete personalisation—something that can only be achieved with a foundation of great data.
Engaging audiences and marketing with social media
Personalisation and audience engagement were similarly top topics across the AIMC panels. Particularly, the power of audience advocacy—the zeitgeists of fandom, FOMO, and becoming a phenomenon—were exceptionally well explored with experts from TikTok, exhibition, and academic media research offering their insights into how movies can leverage social media to market.
As one panellist noted on Day 2, social media marketing for movies has doubled in its influence since 2019. While it may still not be the biggest of all influencers for moviegoing intent, the aspects it offers are unique in their effect.
With the success of movies like Barbie’s use of social media creating a true phenomenon, the power of audience advocacy was on display—with panel discussions repeatedly returning to how audiences turn a movie into a must-see event, with fandom and social sharing instilling the fear of missing out (FOMO) in others, which in turn drives further visits.
One of the strengths of social media for movies is, of course, the influence of star power—something that has been sorely missed in the movie marketing cycle for the duration of the Screen Actors Guild strike.
With the actors strike finally reaching an end deal with studios, the stars of massive upcoming movies can finally promote them again, and we’re bound to soon see the resurgence of the draw of big names for movies through social media.
Audiences have an appetite for more
There’s no mistaking that audiences are back—as Movio’s research has seen, since the pandemic almost every one of 2019’s moviegoer audience has been back to the cinemas at least once—but a unifying theme was the knowledge that moviegoers are hungry for more diverse titles. Moviegoers have the time, the money, and the desire for moviegoing, but they need more content in the film slate to draw them to see.
While moviegoers have returned, the gaps of time between moviegoer visitation are higher than previous years, and exhibitors across Australia spoke about how their audiences come in big peaks and big troughs. With the top 20 movies, which prior to the pandemic counted for 50% of box office, now counting for close to two thirds of the box office, there is immense opportunity for titles 20-100, and even 100+, to have more effect.
Now, with the Screen Actors Guild and studios reaching a tentative deal only a week after AIMC, those core needs for greater breadth of content can look towards a bright future. With production able to begin once more, actors able to bring their star power to promotion, and hopefully fewer shifts in the film release slate in 2024, we can look forward to more movies to entice our audiences while innovative technology brings us new ways to enhance efficiency in exhibition operations, and new ways to market.