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Barbenheimer’s Impact: How AMC Manages Record-Setting Mobile Engagement

When “Barbenheimer” dropped, AMC’s web and mobile sites were ready. 

Last summer’s combined in-theater releases of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” was more than just a cultural phenomenon. It was, in the truest sense, a box office smash. Since release, Barbie and Oppenheimer have grossed over $2 billion at the worldwide box office, Barbie alone has grossed over $1.4 billion and is on track to be the highest-grossing movie of the year. 

Beyond the astronomical revenue, the two movies drove record traffic to AMC’s website. In 30 days, the largest movie theater chain in the world served 22 million users and 57 million active sessions, and thanks to the two films, converted $100 million in revenue. 

As one might expect of a media company, AMC’s mobile and websites are media-rich experiences. Typically, massive surges in traffic to meida-rich sites can slow page load times or cause a complete system crash. Not so with AMC. Working with Cloudinary, and benefiting from our ability to automate and optimize visual assets, AMC handled a tidal wave of traffic with ease. 

“If we hadn’t found a way to guarantee that customers were viewing the right-sized images for their phone’s display and their bandwidth connection, we would have had to sacrifice our app features for everyone just to ensure that some users didn’t experience slow loading times,” said Travis Maddox, AMC Theatres’s senior director of application development – consumer. “It’s a huge boon that Cloudinary allows our app experience to be both media-intensive and high-performing.” 

Every new movie on AMC’s web properties comes with around 15 to 20 images, usually detailed posters and stills from a movie. In total, AMC manages around 7 million images. That doesn’t include video trailers and teasers.

For developers, managing the high volume of media assets can be a daunting task, but with Cloudinary’s Image and Video API Platform, visuals are handled at scale through automation. 

Maddox said the system is very efficient, citing that images are automatically edited with perfect cropping, and are appropriately delivered to mobile app users when they’re researching a movie or buying a ticket.

“We have several points of automation in our pipeline where image assets delivered from our partner studios get auto-uploaded to Cloudinary and associated with the appropriate metadata on the AMC side,” said Maddox. “We have a team of content admins on our end whose job is to manage media assets for our consumer-facing properties, and they’re always telling us they’re impressed with how well Cloudinary does that.”

In 2016, AMC redesigned its website and mobile experience. Then, Maddox said they began looking at ways to better serve images on the site beyond a traditional content delivery network. 

“Cloudinary emerged as the obvious choice when we realized our media-intensive website needed to serve up images much more quickly than an out-of-the-box solution could support, especially on mobile, which was getting bigger and bigger for us every day,” he said.

Cloudinary solutions save AMC developers hours of time formatting visuals. For example, AMC uses our Automatic Image Quality, which automatically runs an image at the best image format and bandwidth available. Cloudinary continues to improve the Automatic Image Quality feature, too, having recently launched a fourth iteration.

To see how else AMC is leveraging our capabilities to manage yet another cultural phenomenon, “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour,” read the full case study here.

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