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Dealflicks expands discount movie ticket efforts to compete with Fandango

Dealflicks expands discount movie ticket efforts to compete with Fandango
B&B Theatres has announced a deal with discount ticket seller Dealflicks. (B&B Theatres)

Film ticket start-up Dealflicks is enhancing its discounted ticketing business in an effort to better compete against larger rivals Fandango and Atom Tickets, after struggling for years to gain traction in the market.

Dealflicks and Missouri-based B&B Theatres, the nation's seventh-largest cinema chain, have launched a service to offer deals on tickets and concessions to customers, the companies said Thursday. The hope is that discounts will help fill empty seats at a time when theatrical attendance is in decline.

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Previously, Los Angeles-based Dealflicks, founded in 2012, offered savings on tickets in a roundabout way by selling vouchers and by combining ticket sales with deals on concessions. Now Dealflicks will be able to sell discounted tickets directly to customers online.

Theater owners have long resisted so-called dynamic pricing, but demand for discounts has increased as ticket prices continue to rise. The average ticket price hit a record $8.97 last year, while domestic attendance fell 6%.

With B&B, Dealflicks will offer lower prices for less popular screenings, including showtimes during nonpeak hours and weekdays. Prices will depend on time of day, availability and the day of the week. The ticket discounts range from 38% to 55%, according to the company.

The deal comes after New York-based start-up MoviePass has enticed 1.5 million subscribers with its debit card that allows theatergoers to see a movie a day for $9.95 a month, a plan that AMC Theatres has blasted as an unsustainable business model that could harm the industry.

Dealflicks founder Sean Wycliffe said his plan is to provide a middle ground between MoviePass's ultra-cheap offering and the full-priced menu offered by the likes of Fandango, the largest online ticket seller.

"We're going to do what's best for the customers and make sure to build something that we know is a win for the theater and the studio," Wycliffe said. "We're trying to be innovative, but do it in a more sustainable way."

Dealflicks, billed as Priceline for the movie theater industry, has been slow to catch on with major theater chains. It's available for only 3,000 screens, a small fraction of the 40,000 movie screens in North America. Fandango is available for 29,000 screens.

Dealflicks suffered a major setback when its largest partner, Carmike Cinemas, was acquired by AMC Theatres in 2016, leaving Dealflicks with about 250 fewer theaters in its network. Dealflicks' revenue for 2017 is estimated to be roughly $2 million, down sharply from $3.7 million in 2016, partly because of the loss of Carmike locations.

B&B Theatres is a nearly century-old family-run chain with 49 theaters, accounting for 391 screens in seven states, mostly in the Midwest.

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