Fandango has been a movie ticketing powerhouse for nearly two decades. But in the competitive world of advance screenings, the outlet has aggressively jumped into the pack.
In January, Fandango partnered with Universal to hold nationwide preview screenings of “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” on Saturday afternoon, February 2nd – three weeks before the film opened. The DreamWorks animated threequel pulled-in $2.5 million from these early access screenings.
Then in March, Fandango offered-up the same for WB’s superhero flick “Shazam!”, with not one but TWO chances to see it on Saturday the 23rd – two weeks before its official open. The result: $3.3 million.
Now Fandango has a one-two power punch of early pay sneak previews of Paramount’s “Rocketman” this Saturday and Universal’s “The Secret Life of Pets 2” next Saturday – weeks before their respective opens.
Over the past two years, the major film studios have figured out that moviegoers will pay regular ticket prices to see their big releases a few days or even several weeks early.
Things really kicked into high gear when Amazon held pay previews of Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” for Amazon Prime members 12 days before its release in December 2017. Most of these screenings sold out around the country, bringing in nearly $1.9 million total. And the only place you could buy your tickets: Fandango’s competitor Atom Tickets.
So Amazon & Atom decided to do it again in July 2018 for Sony’s animated “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation”, with a $1.3 million gross. And then they teamed-up yet again to allow members to see WB’s “Aquaman” early last December, to the tune of $2.9 million.
Warner Bros. has recently gotten on the pay-screenings craze, with their own special “early access” showings of “Crazy Rich Asians”, “A Star Is Born”, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” and “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part”.
Also this past December, Sony sneaked “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and Paramount sneaked “Bumblebee” on the same day (I took advantage of that Double Feature). Lionsgate has done early pay showings of “The Spy Who Dumped Me”, “Robin Hood” and “Five Feet Apart” in the past year. And there have even been “Girls Night Out” screenings this year of Paramount’s “What Men Want” and MGM’s “The Hustle”.
I don’t expect this trend to die down anytime soon. The only thing that’s decreasing… is the money in avid moviegoers’ pockets.