Bigish Data and the Big Screen

Bigish Data and the Big Screen

I was thinking about how businesses could better use data, and I wanted to do a quick case study with some real data… even if it’s only a little bit of real data. This post will look at how a company like Ster-Kinekor could benefit from investing in a smarter CRM system but hopefully it will have insights that can be used by other businesses.

The Experiment:

Using the data that is publically available through Ster-Kinekor’s online booking system, I looked at ticket sales for a show across 10 cinemas at The Zone in Rosebank, all screened between 19:30 and 22:15 on Wednesday the 2nd of July 2014. For simplicity’s sake, I pegged the cost of each ticket at R62 and compared the number of tickets sold vs not sold based on the number of total seats in each cinema.*

The Results:

  • In total there were a total of 1,707 seats available to potential movie goers
  • During the evening, only 216 seats (12.6%) were sold
  • The other 1,491 (87.3%) of seats were vacant
  • Sold tickets generated an estimated R13,392 in revenue
  • The value of unsold tickets had an estimated value of R92,442
  • This excludes popcorn, Coke and Astros

Now this isn’t enough data to jump to any conclusions, but you would imagine that The Zone would be one of the busier Ster-Kinekor cinemas. And while this is taken during the week, I’d assume that the real opportunity would be to look for ways to increase attendance during the least busy times, especially during the day….

At first I thought the solution might be for Ster-Kinekor to implement a loyalty programme:

See 10 movies, get the 10th one free. But while surfing on their website, I was shocked to find that they already have this in the form of the SK Club. The only thing is that 11th free movie at The Zone has already cost you between R310 – R620 depending on whether you watch your movies on a Tuesday or not.

But what if Ster-Kinekor had a better, smarter CRM programme and invested more in data-based marketing?

To me, there is a big difference between a loyalty programme and a CRM programme. While a loyalty programme can reward a customer, a CRM programme can go one step further by creating a unique and personalised experience for that customer. The way that this can be achieved is through data.

Every business generates data. The only thing usually missing is having the people with the right skill set to make sense of the data and identify the opportunities. When you get this right, data can be a huge competitive advantage.

The beauty about this Ster-Kinekor case study is that you can extrapolate any effort put into a CRM programme into a tangible business value. In many ways, the cinema chain’s business model is very similar to the hotel industry, another industry that has embraced the concept of CRM. Hotels sell rooms, Ster-Kinekor sells seats (and popcorn and Coke). The more people sitting in seats (and eating popcorn and drinking Coke), the bigger their bottom line.


The success of a great CRM programme (and the data people behind it) would depend on being able to find out how much money Ster-Kinekor could lose on tickets to increase the overall current profits from popcorn and Coke sales or vice versa….Theoretically speaking, Ster-Kinekor could probably afford to lose some money on both tickets and snacks, but only if they could increase the overall number of bums in seats.

Now between their loyalty cards and mobile apps, Ster-Kinekor probably has a comprehensive database with enough information about their customers to build the foundation of a smarter CRM programme. Here are some ways that they could make this happen:

Dynamic Prices

Not all customers are created equal. The buy 10 get 1 free mechanic is great, but if you are a true movie fan, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could unlock a tiered discount based on your patronage? As it stands, if you have a Discovery movie card, you actually pay more to watch a movie the second time than the first. In reality, it should be the other way round to increase repeat viewings and fill up cinemas…

In fact, if you think about it, even movie shows at different times of the day should be priced differently based on fluctuating demand….The only way to do this is to get a clearer understanding of each individual customer based on their long-term movie watching habits.

Social Reviews

Social reviews aren’t just another way to increase visibility on social. Companies like Amazon and Netflix have used customer reviews and ratings to get a better understanding of customers, increase the amount of content viewed and increase sales.


By getting a better understanding of your individual customer’s favourite movie genres and actors, it would be possible to segment a database and geo-target them with time-based discount offers to increase attendance across various cinemas during week nights.

More Special Events

Ster-Kinekor already does premieres for the latest blockbuster movies, but I think this could be taken further by identifying and creating once off events targeted at specific movie fans. Imagine if Ster-Kinekor celebrated the birthdays of filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock with a weekend movie festival, or screened the original Planet of the Apes before the release of Dawn of the Apes. Halloween Horror festivals, Star Wars Marathons, 100 Movies to See Before You Die…all of these events could be promoted, amplified and tracked through digital means.


There are plenty ways that businesses can use data to create value. It requires investment, in both people and systems but if done correctly it can create a better experience for customers and more more money for a business. Now after that lengthy post, I think I really feel like going off to sit in a dark room and drink some Slush Puppy.

*The very small bit of data used for this post can be found here. If there are errors or oversights, please let me know and I will do my best to update it.


X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past is pretty ambitious. The latest installment of the X-Men franchise aims to merge the original X-Men trilogy with the excellent X-Men: First Class prequel. By taking advantage of the time traveling elements of the original Days of Future Past storyline, it’s also aims to erase the worst parts of the previous X-Men movies (namely X-Men: The Last Stand) while keeping the good parts (namely Hugh Jackman and the cast from First Class).

The good news is that Days of Future Past largely succeeds on both accounts. While it is not perfect, it is definitely one of the best X-Men movies and one of the better superhero movies released to date.

As a general rule, comic book movies have always excelled when they stick as close as possible to the source material and failed when they haven’t. Days of Future Past is no exception. It’s based on one of the most iconic X-Men stories, perfectly highlighting the themes of fear and prejudice that make the X-Men so unique.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is definitely the darkest X-Men movie so far. It’s partly set in a post-apocalyptic future where mutants have been hunted to the point of near extinction by an army of giant robotic Sentinels. In order to save themselves from destruction, the X-Men send Wolverine back to 1973 to prevent the events that will lead to the extinction of the mutant race – and to be groovy.


Days of Future Past features the largest ensemble cast to date. Due to the sheer scope of the film, the majority of the cast is relegated to smaller, supporting roles in order to focus on Wolverine and the younger versions of Xavier and Magneto. Each of these characters have a satisfying character arc, but it would have been nice to see a bit more of Ian Mckellen, Patrick Stewart and the rest of the future X-Men.

Evan Peter’s Quicksilver also deserves a special mention. While the internet freaked out because he looked like a dork in photos, he delivers some of the best moments in the film.

Days of Future Past does a good job of balancing character and action with some of the best action set pieces in any X-Men film. The action ranges from epic battles between the future X-Men and hordes of sentinels to a daring prison break in the Pentagon and an all-out assault on the White House.

I always feel ambivalent about the action scenes in an X-Men movie. The X-Men’s mutant powers have always resulted in action packed comics and this action has never been fully captured on screen. In my opinion, the X-Men deserve the scale of action seen in Man of Steel.  Days of Future Past is a step in the right direction, mainly due to the sentinels who are powerful enough to pose a genuine threat to the X-Men. They will thrill any X-Men fan.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is a great comic book movie. It is definitely darker than X-Men: First Class, but I’m still undecided if it is actually a better film. What Days of Future Past does do is solidify the X-Men franchise – even if it does so through some slightly wonky “time travel fixes everything” mechanics. The filmmakers have already announced that they will continue to draw upon iconic X-Men stories for future films. Next up is X-Men: Apocalypse, based on the Age of Apocalypse run from the 1990’s. If they can continue mining the best of the source material, then the future is definitely looking bright for the X-Men franchise.

What Rocks:

  • Brings together the best bits of all the X-Men movies
  • Based on one of the most iconic X-Men stories
  • The darkest and most ambitious X-Men movies so far
  • Solidifies the X-Men franchise
  • Scary Sentinels
  • Magneto


What Sucks

  • Some wonky time travel mechanics


8.5 out of 10