The rapid evolution of home entertainment in recent years, culminating in home theatre technologies like soon-to-be-released Ultra HD Blu-ray players, massive 102-inch 4K TVs and hi-res audio, as well as the proliferation of diverse interactive games delivered by next-gen consoles and powerful computer display hardware like NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) graphics cards, has put considerable competitive pressure on movie theatres, FECs (family entertainment centers), and other entertainment venues like bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. Today’s savvy consumers want more bang for their entertainment buck and, in a move telegraphed by the shift from brick and mortar retail to shopping online via etailers like Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), more and more consumers are staying home more often, opting to enjoy their advanced home entertainment suites with a movie off Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) or Amazon Prime. Even with big-budget blockbuster attractions like Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB) subsidiary Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation currently playing on the big screen nationwide across sold-out theatres, a film which grossed $56 million in its opening weekend, National Association of Theater Owners data indicates relatively slow growth for the North America movie theatre sector.
With ticket sales off by five percent last year from 2013’s figures, driving just $10.36 billion in revenues, a sum lower than in 2009, the roughly $16 billion movie theatre sector is currently projected as growing only 1.9 percent in 2015, and has been exposed to disruptive reinvention of the underlying business model by innovators. Indeed, movie-goers are now flocking to venues that offer a more comfortable and engaging experience, with operations like AMC (NYSE:AMC) Dine-in Theatres and private company Alamo Drafthouse Cinema stealing the show, as they offer patrons the thrill and image quality of the big screen, combined with casual/fast casual menu options, vastly improved seating, or even a large selections of alcoholic beverages.
This trend has led to innovative fusions of multiple entertainment options into single venues by companies like the Dallas-based subsidiary of Australian company, Ardent Leisure Group (OTC: ANRRF) (ASX: AAD), the highly-successful Main Event Entertainment . Main Event employs an Eat/Bowl/Play model at its nearly 20 FECs, bringing together a variety of interactive games, such as technologically advanced bowling lanes, billiards and multi-level laser tag, with virtual and regular arcade video games, and topping the entire package off with a sizeable menu, ranging from fast-casual to chef-inspired casual, as well as a full bar offering beers, wine, and creative cocktails. This one-stop-shop model has become the cutting-edge of the industry and is garnering increasing traction as the destination of choice for small groups of friends, corporate events, and family parties.
It is along these same lines that up-and-coming sector player Latitude 360, Inc. (OTCQB: LATX) has structured its ultimate entertainment eatery business. Latitude 360 is capitalizing on the proven success of companies like Ardent Leisure Group and actively expanding its operation to an ever larger nationwide presence via its own already well-established brand. With three locations currently based in large shopping centers that have been selected for their choice regional demographics, and three more locations in the hopper set debut in the near future, Latitude 360 is intent on taking the FEC fusion concept to the next level. By putting together under one roof a wide, synergistic array of options, Latitude 360 is focused on winning the hearts and minds of consumers who are looking for the complete afternoon meeting, night out, or party experience.
A key element of the company’s approach is its emphasis on capturing the shift towards dine-in movies via its Cinegrille® luxury dine-in cinema, by fully exploiting the potential of the roughly $160 billion casual dining market, occupied by brands like Darden Restaurants’ (NYSE: DRI) Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, or Cracker Barrel (NASDAQ: CBRL), as well as the burgeoning $35 billion fast casual market, superbly characterized by newer players such as Chipotle (NYSE: CMG) and Panera (NASDAQ: PNRA). Elegantly styled home theater-quality seating with dining trays for convenience, combined with 25 foot by 11 foot HD screens and 10,000 watts of DTS™ digital surround sound, are a big part what makes Latitude 360’s Cinegrille® dining experience something to come back for again and again. The dining formula is quite impressive in its own right too, with full food and beverage service offered in the main dining area, as well as throughout the establishment.
Ultra-modern bowling lanes, equipped with the very latest in interactive scoring features, a giant video wall, a mega sound system and luxury leather seating, constitutes a total reimagining of the bowling alley experience for the modern age. This winning realization of the modern bowling alley includes a state-of-the-art game room as well, with professional billiards tables, and over 70 various interactive and redemption center-based games. Paired up with the luxury bowling and casual, fast casual, or upscale dining choices is a complete selection of HD Sports Theater viewing options, offering patrons the chance to catch the latest fight or other sporting event on multiple screens inside with a cold pint, or at the outdoor patio where they can lounge with a cocktail, or even on the huge indoor jumbo-tron. All the screens are wired for multi-media presentations and microphones, making them great for product launches and corporate lunch/dinner meetings. Because Latitude 360 as a concept was designed from the outset as a full-spectrum event center for birthdays, corporate events or social events of all kinds, the company’s trained event planning specialists can also help customers arrange a whole host of different kinds of events, accommodating just a few guests, or as many as 2,000 people at most locations. Guests can even hook up a Sony (NYSE: SNE) Playstation® 3 or any other gaming system to the projection screen for the ultimate gaming party.
Add to these sports bar and gaming options the presence of Latitude Live, a Vegas-style live performance theater, complete with event-style seating capacity that is able to accommodate several hundred guests, as well as a sophisticated AV stage setup with a giant LED wall backdrop, and you have the makings of the ideal micro-event center for private functions. Latitude Live hosts live comedy on weekends and puts LATX in the $350 million comedy club circuit loop as a growing, increasingly prominent nationwide spot for comedy enthusiasts to catch today’s top performers. Moreover, the Axis Live nightclub, bar and live music venue, complete with a high-energy dance floor, makes Latitude 360 the perfect place for a night out with friends, where everyone can enjoy dancing, great food, and a full selection of beverages.
With three locations currently open in Jacksonville, Florida (50,000 square feet), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (65,000 square feet) and Indianapolis, Indiana (75,000 square feet), as well as locations slated to open this year in upscale areas. The company has done considerable due diligence on both of these areas and identified an organic receptivity towards, as well as lack of, live and multidimensional entertainment. These upcoming locations are just the leading edge of LATX’s aggressive, strategic expansion vision.
A fact attested to by recent developments such as a multi-year, on-premise brand integration agreement executed with Monster Beverage (NASDAQ: MNST), the producer of the wildly successful Monster Energy® drinks. Monster has soared to a 14 percent market share of the energy drink space in recent years (right behind Red Bull) and the company posted a 4.7 percent rise in gross margins for Q2 2015 to 56.9 percent, clearly indicating to investors how valuable such a deal is to the Latitude 360 brand. This key brand integration is perfect for the high energy identity of Latitude 360, and the even more recent announcement by LATX, that the company has partnered with and pending acquisition of one of the leading fantasy sports providers, Major League Fantasy, making Latitude 360 the first to offer a chain of live, in-venue fantasy sports books, further separates the company from competitors.
Projected as growing to around $10 billion in revenues by next year alone, fantasy sports have become incredibly popular. With major players like Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) recently throwing their hat into the fantasy sports ring, following after the successes of operators like DraftKings and FanDuel, the Latitude 360 experience’s outcrop into “360 Fantasy Live,” complete with high-stakes fantasy games backed up by amenities like the comedy club, bowling lanes and entertainment theatre, as well as a cigar lounge, should really help to further establish LATX’s overall brand presence. This is a shrewd move for the company that appeals directly to one of its core target demographics, upper-class males from 18 to 49, and by cultivating affluent professionals across choice regional markets in this manner, Latitude 360 should be able to maintain serious momentum as the company continues to expand its logistical footprint. Especially considering customer loyalty membership programs like the Latitude 360 Rewards and Membership Club Card, which rewards frequent patrons with free bowling, comedy shows and other perks/rewards, allowing them to rack up double (Blue class membership) and even triple (Black class membership) points with every purchase.
Clearly, LATX’s vision of going above and beyond the Eat/Bowl/Play model offered by sector players like Ardent Leisure Group’s Main Event Entertainment, expanding into lucrative segments such as live music and events, as well as fantasy sports, will help the company to identify itself as the ultimate in upscale multi-dimensional entertainment eateries. This move by LATX to completely redefine the FEC space and dovetail in additional, complementary elements will no doubt provide the fuel needed to achieve the company’s goal of expansionistic escape velocity, and become a national contender for the top sector slot.
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