Walmart seems to think that Superman, the world’s hardest-working superhero, will impress its customers more than he does Lois Lane. In what it claims is a first for either a retailer or a movie studio, the company plans to begin selling tickets for an advance screening of the new “Man of Steel” movie on May 18. Ticket buyers will have the chance to see it on June 13, a day before its official premiere.
The deal is an exclusive with Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, and allows for shoppers to buy up to four tickets per visit, for either 2D or 3D viewings, in more than 3,700 Walmarts. In addition to building traffic with ticket sales, Walmart is also hoping to spark sales of the movie when it is eventually released as a DVD. Ticket buyers get codes that allow them to pre-order a Blu-ray Combo Pack or HD digital download of “Man of Steel,” which will provide exclusive new content.
All parties stand to benefit by sparking those sales, since DVDs continue to be Hollywood’s Kryptonite. While industrywide revenues from the subscription streaming of movies and shows rose to $2.3 billion from $1.6 billion in 2012, disc sales dropped another 6% to $8.5 billion, while revenue from video rental stores declined to $1.2 billion from about $1.6 billion, according to the Digital Entertainment Group.
Walmart also plans to sell an augmented-reality mobile app that allows fans to take photos with the caped crusader, offer a free digital comic book, and sell such merchandise as tee shirts, electronics, and posters. The Bentonville, Ark.-based chain is using a social media campaign, with the hashtag #SeeSteelFirst, to build momentum.
Superman, born in the 1930s, has been a television and movie mainstay since the 1940s. This version stars Kevin Cavill as the mild-mannered Clark Kent, surrounded by such names as Russell Crowe, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, and Laurence Fishburne.