Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Cinderella Man: Free to Good Home

Cinderella Man may have failed for a number of reasons, but AMC Theaters is not giving up on Ron Howard's boxing melodrama that easily. In fact, the chain is so smitten (or desperate, or both) that it is offering a money-back guarantee in each of its 3,500 theaters: If the film is not good, then it is free.


Cinderella Man, now with fewer calories and bearing the AMC "Stamp of Earnest Pandering"

Obviously, this is an exercise pulled from the ages-old "loss leader" lesson of Marketing 101, which states that even if you do want your money back for Cinderella Man, the theater is betting you'll just turn around and drop it on War of the Worlds or Lindsay Rides Herbie since you are already there. And you will buy more popcorn, or get another $4 box of Junior Mints. Fall for it at your peril.

But now I am wondering who at Universal got to AMC; after all, the studio is still about $38 million in the box-office hole on Cinderella Man, and the last time AMC so shamelessly pledged a similar guarantee involved the 1988 Julia Roberts dazzler Mystic Pizza. Either way, The Reeler wishes the policy could somehow be applied retroactively for the 2.5 hours it will never get back from the first viewing of the film. Or that maybe AMC will introduce 0% financing for its ball-shrinkingly high ticket prices. That might get me back to the the theater.

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