Create Cinema Apps That Entertain and Engage

published on 08 October 2023


Cinema apps provide an excellent opportunity for movie theaters to engage with moviegoers. These custom-branded apps allow theaters to showcase trailers and showtimes, sell tickets, promote concessions, integrate loyalty programs, and much more. Developing a robust and feature-rich cinema app in-house can be challenging for theaters, especially smaller chains and independents. Partnering with an experienced streaming video provider like Brightcove or Vobile simplifies the process and enables access to valuable assets like user data, content libraries, and seasoned development teams.

Streaming providers are uniquely positioned to create cinema apps that entertain and connect with audiences. Their expertise in building video apps, combined with access to analytics and expansive content libraries with thousands of trailers and clips, helps theaters deliver outstanding moviegoer experiences. This drives increased engagement, brand awareness, and revenue for partner theaters.

Partnering With Streaming Video Providers

Developing cinema apps requires significant technical expertise and resources. Streaming providers like Akamai and Amazon Web Services are experienced in building, scaling and supporting video apps optimized for different devices, platforms and use cases. They can handle complexities like video encoding, streaming, payments and more to deliver a smooth and seamless app experience.

Partnering with a streaming provider gives theaters access to experienced developer talent and proven infrastructure to simplify and accelerate the app development process. The ongoing partnership also ensures the app is maintained and continuously improved over time.

Access to User Data

A major benefit of partnering with established streaming providers is leveraging their existing user data. With millions of users across their platforms, streaming providers have access to a wealth of insights on viewing habits, engagement, recommendations, and more. This data powers personalization to keep each user engaged.

For cinema apps, user data enables highly relevant movie trailers and recommendations based on factors like location, viewing history, and previous ratings. For example, the app could automatically recommend Marvel superhero films to users whose history indicates they enjoy those movies. Personalized recommendations keep users happier and more engaged with the app. The data also facilitates promotions and loyalty programs tailored to customer preferences. This drives incremental revenue through targeted upsells and offers.

Robust Content Libraries

Streaming providers have extensive libraries of movie trailers, clips, interviews and other video content through partnerships with major movie studios. This wealth of content spanning tens of thousands of assets can be seamlessly integrated into cinema apps to populate each theater's app. Relevant movie trailers are automatically selected and updated based on the theater's current and upcoming showtimes.

Having access to these vast libraries alleviates the burden for theaters of securing licenses and rights to trailer content on their own. The streaming partner handles the relationships with movie studios and ensures compliant use of all content within the app experience. This simplifies and accelerates the process of creating informative, engaging cinema apps.

Experienced Development Teams

By partnering with experienced streaming providers, theaters benefit from the expertise of seasoned app developers on staff at these companies. These teams specialize in building sleek, high-quality video apps optimized for retention, engagement and conversions.

They are well-versed in app development best practices, and have experience streamlining the build process for clients. The development teams handle all technical complexities, while providing an intuitive content management system so the theater's non-technical staff can update content as needed. Ongoing maintenance, troubleshooting and feature updates are also handled by the streaming provider's development talent. This expertise and support enables theater staff to focus on their core business.

Key Features of Cinema Apps

The core functionality of cinema apps centers around showtimes, ticketing, trailers, concessions and loyalty programs. Well-designed apps make it easy for moviegoers to find movies playing locally, watch trailers, purchase tickets, and even order food and drinks for pickup or delivery. Apps must have intuitive and responsive interfaces to facilitate easy browsing and conversions across devices.

Integrating loyalty programs into the app experience incentivizes moviegoers to make more purchases to earn rewards. Push notifications keep users engaged by alerting them to new trailers, promotions and more. With robust features and compelling content, cinema apps become a hub for movie lovers and a source of invaluable data.

Showtimes and Ticketing

Cinema apps allow users to view showtimes at local theaters for current and upcoming movies. Advanced ticketing functionality enables customers to seamlessly select seats and purchase tickets directly within the app.

Streamlined checkout and the ability to store payment information expedite the purchasing process. Upselling upgrades like IMAX, 3D or D-Box can increase average order value.

Trailers and Promos

Cinema apps are a great vehicle for promoting trailers and exclusive content to engage moviegoers. Trailers can be personalized and localized based on the user's location and preferences.

Clips, cast interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and other content keep fans entertained and informed. Promotions and special offers incentivize ticket purchases during slower periods to drive incremental revenue.

Concessions and Loyalty

Ordering concessions and food through the app increases convenience and order sizes. Apps can facilitate ordering food and beverages for delivery right to the customer's seat. Loyalty programs integrated into the app experience encourage moviegoers to make more frequent purchases to earn rewards.

Gamifying the experience via loyalty tiers and redeemable points enhances engagement. Advanced apps can even allow ordering concessions for pickup during the movie.

Custom Branding and Promotions

Branded cinema apps present a major opportunity to reinforce theaters' brand identities and highlight local promotions. A customized design showcasing the theaters' branding immediately fosters recognition and connection with moviegoers in the area.

Promotions can be targeted based on location, movie title or time period to incentivize behavior that benefits the theater. For example, happy hour pricing could encourage early arrivals during slow periods to increase food and beverage sales.

Targeted Promotions

With access to user data and engagement analytics, promotions can be extremely targeted and personalized. Offers can be tailored based on someone's location, favorite genre, tendency to bring a group, and more. Targeting high-margin items or concessions with short shelf-lives can optimize inventory and profitability.

Continuously testing different offers, discounts, bundles and pricing enables optimization over time. The performance of promotions can be measured against key metrics like redemptions, lift in sales and ROI.

Advertising Opportunities

In-app advertising presents an incremental revenue opportunity while keeping the app experience free for users. Ads can be targeted contextually to promote brands that cater to moviegoers. For instance, movie-themed consumer brands would be ideal advertisers.

Ads can be personalized further based on someone's location and movie preferences. The revenue generated from in-app ads could help offset the costs associated with developing and supporting the apps.

Theater Spotlights

Cinema apps enable theaters to highlight special experiences and amenities unique to their locations. For example, an IMAX theater equipped with laser projection and Dolby Atmos sound could showcase trailers and content optimized for its screens and audio systems. Menus and concessions can feature signature food and beverage items only available at that theater.

Photos, history and fun facts about individual theaters make the app feel more personal. Promoting nearby restaurants, bars and attractions makes the app a go-to resource and strengthens local partnerships.

Analytics and Insights

Robust analytics provide invaluable data to optimize the cinema app experience. User engagement with trailers, purchases, promotions and other app content can all be tracked. These insights help fine-tune the app to keep moviegoers coming back.

Testing variations in design, content and features reveals opportunities to boost key metrics like usage, retention and conversions. Quantifying the incremental revenue and engagement driven by the app validates the ROI on development.

Engagement Data

Analyzing usage data identifies the most popular trailers and content overall and by genre. Monitoring drop-off rates on different app screens highlights areas for improvement. Social sharing and referral traffic metrics provide useful engagement benchmarks.

Ongoing A/B tests help optimize navigation, layouts, autoplay settings and other factors to minimize drop-off. Insights from engagement data guide enhancements to continually improve the user experience.

Sales and Conversion Data

Granular data on purchases enables optimizing conversion performance. Sales can be analyzed by title, date, format, concessions pairings and other metrics to gain insights. This helps identify the highest converting promotions, categories and bundles to inform merchandising decisions.

Measuring sales directly influenced by the app quantifies the revenue impact of development. Tracking metrics like add-on conversion rate for IMAX or 3D upsells provides data to maximize ROI over time through data-driven optimization.

Loyalty Program Analytics

Robust reporting provides key metrics on enrollment, activity and purchases across loyalty program tiers. Monitoring engagement and redemption patterns identifies opportunities to drive activity through relevant rewards.

Testing different combinations of earn rates, redemption options and point values reveals the optimal structure to incentivize purchases and app usage. User segmentation and profiling provide added context to personalize the program.


Partnering with experienced streaming video providers like Filmgrail paves the way for feature-rich cinema apps. Access to data, content, development teams and proven infrastructure enables theaters to keep moviegoers engaged and entertained.

Custom-branded cinema apps showcase theaters' unique offerings while providing must-have functionality like trailers, ticketing, concessions and loyalty programs. Valuable user analytics support continuous optimization and personalization to boost engagement and sales. By driving incremental revenue and delivering exceptional audience experiences, a robust cinema app can transform a theater's digital presence and business performance.

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