Groupon Uses Matthew McConaughey Interview to do Boffo Box Office

Groupon partners with movie studio and uses Matthew McConaughey interview to break new ground in daily dealsGroupon is now a one-stop shop for movie discounts and celebrity dish. In a move that other Internet coupon bearers are bound to analyze, Groupon offered $6 tickets to The Lincoln Lawyer, plus an exclusive interview with the film's star, Matthew McConaughey. The two-day sale closed Thursday night, March 17, and the movie opened Friday, March 18.

It was Groupon's first time partnering with a movie studio (LionsGate) to sell price-slashed movie tickets. Groupon is also believed to be the first among social-media discounters to post original celebrity features in the same email with the coupons.

Groupon previously interviewed Rihanna to sell her album Loud at a bargain, but McConaughey is the first actor it has featured.The Groupon Lincoln Lawyer tickets were gobbled up. In New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, a total of 38,809 clicked on the deal before the deadline. Those kind of numbers could situate the online economizer as both a wheeler-dealer of mass-distributed deals and as a content provider of entertainment journalism -- at least on occasion.

"It really depends on if it's the right fit," Groupon spokeswoman Julie Mossler said. "Who knows what voices and personalities you might see on Groupon?"

Groupon had been selling discounted movie tickets through Fandango, as does rival LivingSocial, which sold a million $9 movie tickets recently and even transmitted an offer of $5 for Little Fockers. (It didn't, however, provide an original interview with any movie stars.) Both Groupon and Living Social include a film clip or trailer.

Groupon's $6 enticement for The Lincoln Lawyer represents about a 50% discount in many regions. The cost-cut coupled with a celebrity Q&A is a slam dunk for all involved: Groupon gets a movie star trumpeting the movie for which users are pondering whether to buy cheaper tickets. The studio feels the promotional bounce. And the movie star gets a safe interview in a tabloid-free zone aimed at putting the movie in the best possible light.

While The Lincoln Lawyer received mostly positive reviews, an editorially-enhanced coupon could offset potentially negative buzz for other films before they open. It also could help releases deemed by studio marketing wonks to be tough sells.

Groupon could use some image enhancement after it enraged many for its Super Bowl commercial that poked fun at Tibet's fight for freedom. Groupon has quite an investment to protect, given reports that the company is about to value itself at $25 billion in an initial public offering. Having a presence in soft entertainment journalism can't hurt.

In The Lincoln Lawyer, McConaughey plays an L.A. attorney who does business out of his Lincoln sedan and finds himself embroiled in a dangerous case.

As the Groupon story pointed out, it was the third time the actor covered his oft-exposed turtleshell abs in a lawyer's suit. "I'm kinda fascinated by what [lawyers] do and how the hand of justice swings and how the system works," he tells Groupon. He also said he's comfortable working in cars, likes to lift rocks to work out and loves bulls&%$-ers but hates liars.

Not earth-shattering stuff, but perhaps enough to make hesitant McConaughey fans press the button on the deal. And definitely enough to persuade Groupon to again package cheap tickets and celebrity chat. "It's one more reason to click on your email," Mossler said.
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