Tugg-ing It

The movies you want at your local theater. That’s what Tugg.com ballyhoos. It is a variation/combination of social media and movies. Film lovers can book films into their favorite megaplex or theater. It sounds a tad confusing, but it isn’t.

Here’s how it works, at least according to their web site
1. You create a Tugg event with the film and theater of one’s choice.

2. Using social media and other methods, the community generates enough demand to confirm the event.

3. Tugg delivers tickets, books the theater and provides the film

4. Then on the day of the event, everyone enjoys the film with the community.

Sounds simple. You want to see a film. You plug that desire into Tugg. Then you promote it amongst your friends via a social network. If it reaches a certain critical mass of attendees, the film is booked. If not, oh well there’s always VOD.

Tugg is just getting off the ground now. It is far too early to see if it will actually work. There have been some early successes as well as failures. The studios and exhibitors are interested, but as usual they are taking a conservative wait and see approach.

Exhibitors like the idea of Tugg because it means bringing a younger crowd into their theaters with a predetermined amount of revenue all achieved by little advertising or work on their part.

Distributors, aka the studios, seem to be more circumspect about the idea. They see it as another distribution platform in a time when younger audiences are abandoning them. So they like the idea of drawing them back, but still can’t quite grasp how it all works and what it will mean.

There is something appealing about Tugg. It does bring back that sense of community that was once a dominant part of movie going experience except now there is a new wrinkle. The main problem is VOD. It is more prevalent, easier, cheaper and more gaining momentum.

I expect Tugg to fail.

Perhaps not entirely, but it will need to go through several iterations before a system that is attractive to customers, easy to implement for exhibitors and profitable for distributors will emerge.

One iteration that appeals to me is a vehicle for older films rather than new films. Where older, more committed audiences book a classic like ‘Casablanca’ and invite their friends. Then the model is not unlike the old repertory film houses of yore.

Way back when, I was a repertory booker. We would occasionally do ‘You Be The Booker’. A contest where a list of films was offered and then patrons would vote on it. The highest vote getter would be booked. It did reasonably well back then. Perhaps Tugg could revive that tradition. That would be cool.


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