Palace eyes record summer
...pushes improved technology and blockbuster line-ups to drive sales
Palace Amusement's flagship Carib 5 cinema in Kingston .

WITH the impending roll-out of its new and upgraded mobile app, website to drive efficiency, and the line-up of a number of blockbuster movies, cinema company Palace Amusement Limited is looking to have increased patronage and a record summer this year.

As the country's lone cinema operator the company — banking on the roll-out of a number of blockbuster films this summer including Big George Foreman; Spiderman: Across the Spiderverse; Transformers: Rise of the Beast; The Flash; and Indianna Jones in June, among others such as Mission impossible- Dead Reckoning Part One in July and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem in August — is now in high anticipation to attract significant traffic from regular and new moviegoers across its circuit of cinemas within the Corporate Area and Montego-Bay.

The recent drop of the much anticipated Little Mermaid movie, which dominated Memorial Day box office showings in the US, debuted at over US$118 million to rank among top Memorial Day openings in that market. Already a big hit locally from the film which opened in theatres last Friday (May 26), Palace is hoping to also rake in significant revenues from its showings, especially as it moves to return its COVID-19 pandemic-battered business back to pre-pandemic levels.

Up to the nine-month period ended March the company's revenues totalled $1.1 billion–$303.1 million, which it earned during the reporting third-quarter period. Profits which continued to improve amounted to $3.8 million at the end of the nine months, despite reduced losses of $20.8 million in the third quarter when compared with $77.3 million for the corresponding period of the previous year.

Palace said that its new mobile app and upgraded website will allow for greater speed and efficiency when purchasing tickets for movies online.

Now in its last quarter, the company — which continues to engage new initiatives to boost revenue streams so as to trim debt and return to full profitability — has indicated that it is in high anticipation for a much better summer period.

"I have planned for a record summer with my concession orders — with lots of items on standby — because I just don't want anything to run out, as when the tidal wave of patrons come it's hard to catch up so we have decided to be ahead and not behind," said Executive Director and Concessions Manager Steven Cooke in an interview with the Jamaica Observer this week.

Cooke who has also been piloting the company's development of a new mobile app and website upgrade, said that the planned enhancements will help to ease previous frustrations when purchasing movie tickets online.

"Our current website was developed when e-commerce was almost non-existent and so the verification of funds and purchases were very difficult, making it very complicated, time-consuming and frustrating for many of our patrons who wanted to purchase tickets online. With the website upgrade and introduction of the mobile app…we are therefore making things a lot more user-friendly and purchases much easier and efficient when buying various categories of tickets," he told the Business Observer.

The improved system and new technology — which he said was expected by summer, after some delays with the development — is being undertaken from a "sizeable investment", funds of which he refused to disclose as he instead noted the technology's ability to deliver greater speed, efficiency and customer service.

"It is incredibly important for us to streamline and to become more efficient because we are frustrating our patrons by not allowing them to make purchases online in a manner they would want to. The current website, because it's so old, often malfunctions when the traffic gets heavy, issuing people with incorrect information for tickets and creating some amount of frustration for patrons using this medium. With the roll-out of the improved technology we have, however, sought to put in a place a system that is more robust and up to date, also having a brand new facelift geared towards speed and efficiency," he further told the Business Observer, noting that the upgrades, which are being done on a phased basis, are to later include other features which will allow patrons to purchase concession items and have them delivered to their seats, under a new VIP-type service.

The concessions manager further said that as the company positions to live up to its vision of providing cutting edge technology, the need to re-invent and to try new things — including the use of artificial intelligence — sees no option being ruled out as it continues to mull more options for growth.

"We are currently looking into 4DX technology — which is basically 3D on steroids — which aims to capture all senses and have them engaged in the viewing experience. With 4DX moviegoers can therefore expect to smell, get sprayed with water, and move in their seats etc as they watch some of their favourite films on the big screen.

"We are now a little past the discussion phase on this, and while we do not yet have a set timeline for roll-out we are definitely pushing this one across the pipeline. We are currently assessing costs to allocate resources and to get it done. When this, however, comes to market, it will revolutionalise the cinematic experience — which cannot be replicated at home or on mobile devices," Cooke said.

BY KELLARAY MILES Business reporter

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