The Post vs. AMC Theatres
A battle of wills is quietly being waged between The Post and AMC Theatres over local movie listings. Among those caught in the crossfire: readers who have come to rely on the listings in their daily newspaper.
It began a little more than a month ago when AMC stopped paying to list movies and showtimes in the Movie Directory that appears daily in The Post newspaper. A handful of readers initially complained to me (and other departments at The Post), but the numbers have been growing with each passing week.
Most readers believe that it was the newspaper’s decision, like The Post's recent move to cut costs by making TV week an opt-in insert. In fact, movie listings in the print product are paid advertising, and it was AMC’s decision to stop paying.
Justin Scott, a spokesman for Kansas City-based AMC Entertainment, Inc., which maintains roughly 300 theaters in the United States, including more than a dozen in the Washington area, suggested the decision was partly budget-related. “The expense required to maintain 365-day-per-year movie time ads limits our ability to advertise other important information, like value programs and promotions,” he said in an e-mailed response to questions.
But he said it also reflected the changing habits of consumers, who increasingly go online for information about movies and schedules. “In an era when many moviegoers are using alternative resources to access movie times, AMC has chosen to reallocate its movie time information methods,” Scott wrote.
Indeed, movie showtimes are readily available through a variety of online and mobile sources, including The Post's Going Out Guide, which receives local showtimes from an outside vendor, Tribune Media Services. Online, The Post pairs those listing with its movie reviews and enables readers to buy tickets at select theaters through Fandango.
Still, The Post is not ready to give up on AMC. Neither side would say how much AMC was spending on advertising in the print Post. But Post executives are worried about an escalating loss of ad revenue if other movie chains follow suit. And they are hoping that AMC will see a decline in attendance at its local theaters and resume advertising in the newspaper.
Kenneth Babby, The Post’s vice president for advertising, declined to answer specific questions about the standoff, but said: "We hope AMC will be back with us soon.”
Asked whether attendance at local AMC theaters had suffered since the company stopped paying for its print listings, Scott said in a telephone interview that “I don’t have stats to the positive or negative.”
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