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If it didn’t win an Oscar, it still might be gold.

The Shape of Water may have been the favorite film at the Oscars this year, but here at HighRock, we have three very different favorites: 50 Shades Darker, Girls Trip, and Bad Moms Christmas.

While those films won’t be winning any kind of critics-choice award – they might actually win a Razzie or two  – we still knew these films were guaranteed “gold” for any movie theater willing to follow our proven formula for event marketing success.

What are the key ingredients for the formula? The right audience. The right film.  And the right experience.  (Or in the case of these three movies: women… and wine!)

Knowing the Audience

For each of these titles, HighRock worked with more than a dozen movie theaters to host “Wine and a Movie” events on opening night. And wouldn’t you know it? All of the events were a tremendous success! Every. Single. One.

Our strategy was to turn the opening of each film into an event people would want to attend with their friends. Here’s the general concept: Open the doors about an hour-and-a-half before the movie started on opening night. Serve customers wine (or Sangria or margaritas), have a DJ and film-related vendors, and pretty much guarantee a sold out event.

A night out at the movies was no longer just a good time with friends - it was an experience!

Why Event Marketing Works

Event marketing is all about the experience, and movies are really experiences in themselves. What event marketing at the movies can do is bring in the passive movie-goer and invite them to join in on the fun. Beyond the popcorn, fountain drinks, and big screens, event marketing creates a unique atmosphere that fosters a deeper connection between the audience and the film.

Have a new animated movie getting ready to hit the screens? Consider reaching out to a local candy store to offer up some promotions and giveaways with the release. Showing Pretty in Pink for a nostalgia night? Make sure to plug the ’80s hairstyle and Molly Ringwald look-alike contests. Or if you’re not in the movie theater business, simply find ways to create an experience around your product or location.  (Case in point – check out the Middletown Valley Bank Krumpe’s Donut Drop.)

When a business becomes known for its fun-filled events, brand loyalty follows. That turns into packed storefronts, busy cash registers, and positive reviews on social media.

Proving the ROI

Through this marketing method, HighRock was able to help 11 theaters with events for Bad Moms Christmas. Six of those theaters ended up on the TOP 20 list for ticket sales across the entire country; one of them even cracked the top 10 at #7. And what's even more amazing; not a single one of these theaters is in a major city.

The movie was a flop with critics, earning a 29% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Just goes to show that even if something isn’t “Oscar-worthy” – it still might be gold.