Dealflicks endeavors to put movie fans in cheaper seats

| Saturday, May 17, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

On a quiet residential street in Mid-Wilshire, Kevin Hong and his sales team huddled around a parked Toyota Sienna emblazoned with a magnet sticker reading “Dealflicks Coupon Code: Man Van.”

They were loading the converted minivan with suitcases, sleeping bags, brochures and yellow “Dealflicks” T-shirts in preparation for a six-week road trip to visit movie theaters in Kansas, Iowa, Michigan, Boston and Illinois. The sales team members planned to take turns sleeping and driving as they stopped by theaters to personally market their service.

After four road trips and logging more than 40,000 miles to dozens of cities, Hong and his team have helped transform Dealflicks Inc. from a fledgling Los Angeles startup into a fast-growing discount ticketing service for theaters across the country.

“The idea is to increase as much face time as possible,” said Hong, co-founder of Dealflicks. “We'll be hitting as many theaters as we can.”

Billed as a Priceline or Hotwire for movie tickets, Dealflicks partners with theaters to offer discounts of as much as 60 percent on movie tickets and concessions when theaters are mostly vacant.

That's an appealing pitch when average movie ticket prices reached record levels in 2013 and theaters are experimenting with ways to bring in customers to the multiplex. Last year, theaters in the United States and Canada drew 1.34 billion patrons, down from 1.5 billion nearly a decade ago, according to a recent report by the Motion Picture Association of America.

“Right now, 88 percent of movie theaters are empty,” said Sean Wycliffe, chief executive of Dealflicks. “We'll say, ‘Give us some of your excess inventory ... and we'll do all the marketing for you.' ”

Dealflicks lets theater owners select which movies they wish to discount, at what price and when. Customers buy the tickets through Dealflicks' website or iPhone app.

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