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Can Wine Save the Movie Theater Industry? Elizabeth Banks Hopes So

Can Wine Save the Movie Theater Industry? Elizabeth Banks Hopes So

Ask the actress Elizabeth Banks what she’s up to, and in recent years, the answer has increasingly described roles behind the camera. A director and producer, Banks is now striking even deeper into the film industry. Last week, her canned wine brand Archer Roose announced a new partnership with Regal Cinemas. Its Bubbly and Malbec cans are now available at 100 theaters nationwide, making the multi-hyphenate the first Hollywood force to compete with household names like Coca-Cola and M&Ms at the concession stand.

Though Banks’s is not the only celebrity wine brand behind the theater chain’s bar—Regal also sells pours of musician Post Malone’s bottled Maison No 9 rosé—its cans are the only ones allowed in theater seats. And she and her partners at Archer Roose hope this availability helps to encourage movie viewers back into theaters.

“We’re pretty avid about getting butts in seats and making moviegoing an experience again,” Banks recently told me at a cabana wine reception at the Kimpton Surfcomber hotel on Miami Beach during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. “As a storyteller, I am interested in making theatrical events, and wine ‘event-izes’ those nights out even more.”

The push comes at a critical time for the industry. A recent survey by the National Endowment for the Arts found that from July 2021 to July 2022, just 43% of respondents reported going to the movies—a significant 16% decrease from 2017. (However, these numbers were pulled before last summer’s Barbenheimer phenomenon.)

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Alongside CEO founder Marian Leitner-Waldman, Banks—who joined Archer Roose in May 2021 and whose titles include co-owner and chief creative officer—is eyeing cross-promotion opportunities. Could Archer Roose’s canned wines go as viral as Dune’s adult-oriented popcorn buckets? Such virality seeks to build upon Banks’s already attention-grabbing work for the brand, which includes a series of comedic online videos that have racked up millions of views. Who better to resonate with members of the wine mom demographic eager to pick up 1L four-packs of Archer Roose Bubbly, Sauvignon Blanc and Malbec in big-box stores like Target?

As those customers reemerged from the pandemic to more social settings, Archer Roose became a recognizable concession, capturing audiences on JetBlue airlines and, more recently, at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles, where the brand became the official wine partner of the Angel City football club in April 2022.

“So much of our business is taking wine where it’s never gone before,” says Leitner-Waldman. “When we pitched BMO stadium, wine made less than 1% of concessions. Now we’re 7%. We started with two varietals and no advertising; now all four are available and they’re offering us billboards and airtime to see what we can do.”

Archer Roose

Leitner-Waldman says that the Regal data is already surprising the team. Figures collected by the movie theater chain suggest that Friday night moviegoers have a preference for red wines; as a result, they’ve decided to add the brand’s Malbec to the concession stand.

Though Archer Roose is arguably today’s most recognizable celebrity-backed canned wine brand, it’s not the first. Francis Ford Coppola created the market in 2004 when he introduced four-pack mini cans of Sofia Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine following his daughter’s Oscar win for Lost in Translation, and in 2017, he introduced his premium Diamond Collection wines in cans. However, the Coppolas never developed a pop culture narrative around their product, which may explain why it wasn’t on Leitner-Waldman’s radar before she founded Archer Roose in 2015.

“I’m going to be really honest, I thought I was one of the first people to come up with canned wine,” says Leitner-Waldman. “I was drinking wine on a chairlift, and I’m embarrassed to admit this now, but I thought someone should put wine on a can because I wanted wine with me right at that moment. And that’s when I learned about Sofia Coppola.”

“That’s why the wine industry has to wake up,” she continues. “We need to market to the end consumer, more than to one another. I’m glad [the Coppolas] left that opportunity open for us.”

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Is a celebrity necessary to make canned wine truly mainstream? It’s certainly hard to argue with the interest generated by the Archer Roose videos starring Banks. Six of Banks’ videos have garnered more than a million views, with one two-year-old video topping 7 million impressions. But perhaps the videos are successful not merely because they feature a celebrity, but because the celebrity is Banks.

“People discount my business savvy,” Banks said. “I have to build a brand every time I have to make a movie. We built Pitch Perfect up from zero to Universal’s most successful franchise; we have to create and entertain with a new brand every time out. I bring a lot of that to this experience.”

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