Both the casual dining chain and the movie theater chain have seen better days.
Both entities have rebounded, to some extent, from the worst days of the pandemic.
Fast casual chains such as Chili’s and Olive Garden (DRI) – Get the report from Darden Restaurants, Inc. were down by 30% in 2020. But once vaccines were rolled out and life started to return to normal, “casual chain restaurants drawn less than 3.8% from 2019 levels in June” to summer 2021, and were usually able to bounce back.
But while casual chains may have survived the days when few people wanted to eat in and takeout was the way of the world, the fast casual restaurant isn’t what it used to be.
While articles with titles such as “The Death of the Casual Dining Chain” are a bit exaggerated, it is true that companies like Chili’s, Applebee’s or Buffalo Wild Wings have lost a certain cultural cachet, because Applebee had to close 130 restaurants in 2017.
The simple and blunt reason for this is, to quote this “Death of” article, is “If you’re between the ages of 18 and 35, you probably have a simple answer: they’re just not cool.”
Young customers either want healthier options, delivery from Grubhub, or cheaper options like fast-casual restaurants.like Chipotle, Panera Bread and Boston Market, or something local. (We all know how millennials love their authenticity.)
Difficult times for theater chains
Likewise, the theatrical movie experience and movie theater chains as a whole have, to some degree, rebounded from the calamitous fall they have suffered during the pandemic with theaters largely closed, and AMC lost $4.6 billion.
Once vaccines were available and blockbuster (largely Marvel) movies like “Spider-Man: No Way Home” hit theaters, AMC (AMCX) – Get the Class A report from AMC Networks Inc. experienced an annual increase of 103%, with $2.54 billion in revenue. But was still only 46.2% of the $5.47 billion revenues that the company reported in the pre-pandemic 2019 period.
And even 2019 was not the best year for the chains. AMC reported a net loss of $13.5 million that year.
Cinemas and restaurant chains must stick together
So it’s no longer the 90s or 2000s. Tastes have changed, generations have followed one another, time has continued its relentless march.
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But that also doesn’t mean that movie chains or restaurant chains are going to disappear altogether. They will be fewer in number and may attract a more…selective clientele, but they are too much of a part of the American cultural firmament to fade away. (It’s not like it’s local newspapers or anything.)
They just have to get smarter.
This month, Applebee’s has launched a new campaign where customers who spend $25 will receive a free ticket to Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” which is getting strong reviews.
The offer is valid until June 12 and is worth up to $15, which may not fully cover the cost of the ticket, depending on where you live and varying prices.
The ticket will be in the form of a fandango promotional codeand comes with a limit of “2 movie tickets per transaction and 4 movie tickets per person during the promotion”.
Twitter really likes this offer
This isn’t the first time Applebee’s has done such a promotion, as it made a similar deal last year. Disney’s “Jungle Cruise”.
But the promotion was a bit under the radar until a shrewd Twitter user spotted it and started spreading the good word.
Once this Tweet went viral, everyone started having a little fun with it.
A sequel to “Top Gun” and fried mozzarella sticks? There are worse ways to spend Memorial Day.
(The Street has reached out to Applebee for more information on returning that deal for other films. We’ll update if they respond.)