How NCM Is Changing Your Moviegoing Experience

The company is re-imagining its cinema pre-show FirstLook

At its upfront presentation, NCM showed a trailer from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in theaters Dec. 15.
Headshot of A.J. Katz

Long before a movie starts can be a valuable time for brands to get their message out. That’s why National CineMedia (NCM) uses the TV upfront week to entice advertisers to buy in to what they’re selling.
The centerpiece of NCM’s advertiser presentation today–its 6th annual upfront–was the revamp of its signature cinema pre-show series, FirstLook. The series is getting a refresh, and a new name, Noovie, later this year.
“When we began to re-imagine the pre-show, we knew that we wanted to build Noovie into an entertainment brand that develops engagement through content that’s relevant to today’s movie audiences,” explained NCM president Cliff Marks. “But we also knew we needed to expand Noovie beyond the four walls of the theater by creating new digital properties.” So the company will also develop a Noovie app and social media channels to continue engagement beyond the theater.
NCM asked 5,000 moviegoers what would make their experience more memorable. The results? They want more ways to connect with friends, family, and their local communities, and they want more engagement before and after the movie experience.
“Noovie is stretching beyond the theater, delivering entertaining content, purposeful commerce, and interactive gaming opportunities,” explained NCM chief executive officer Andy England. “Noovie will give movie audiences a reason to arrive early to discover what’s next.”
Noovie content will include Soundcheck, a cinema-first music program in partnership with Sony Music’s Rumble Yard productions that will give moviegoers a glimpse into how musicians prepare before their performance and the arrival of the crowd. That program debuts in October. There is also 60-Second Docs, a locally-focused series about people doing extraordinary things in their hometowns. NCM is also tapping into fantasy gaming with Fantasy Movie League, a box office predictions game co-created by ESPN Fantasy Football guru Matthew Berry.
“Over 60 million people play fantasy games in the U.S. and Canada, and they’re more brand aware and more brand loyal than non-players, which is great news for advertisers,” said Berry, adding, “Fantasy Movie League players are more gender balanced than sports, and they’re younger.”
According to Berry, there are more than 210 million people in America who self-identify as movie fans — which is more than the NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball, and NASCAR combined.
Maria Menounos, who hosts NCM’s pre-show interview segments, introduced top films for the coming season, including Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
“The big screen makes an impression on people that the small screen just cant,” Menounos said during the presentation.
EVP and chief revenue officer Scott Felenstein reiterated NCM’s desire to be “the connector” of movie audiences and brands. “Our movie audiences are young, they’re affluent, incredibly diverse, and extremely social. When you connect with movie audiences, you are influencing the influencers.”

@ajkatztv A.J. Katz is the senior editor of Adweek's TVNewser.