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Freestyle Coca-Cola.

Theaters have been investing so heavily to improve the moviegoing experience--with new screens, digital projectors and 3D--that the concession stand feels a bit dated.

Now, that's starting to change. The Coca-Cola Co., for instance, is installing a re-imagined vending machine called Freestyle in theater lobbies.

The freestanding units are the same size as current dispensers but offers consumers a large touchscreen to help them select from more than 100 different Coke-owned brands, from sodas to flavored waters, lemonades and sports drinks.

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With 60 diet and 65 caffeine-free beverages, as well as a long list of flavors not typically offered from fountain machines, the options aren't just a big draw for moviegoers but a way for Coke to promote its products.

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Overall design is friendly and inviting, and even more alluring with its bright colors; theater chains are said to be clamoring to install the devices.

About 15 of them (including AMC, Carmike, Century, Pacific, Rave and Cinergy) in select markets feature multiple machines, with more to come.

Overall, Freestyle has found its way into more than 500 outlets (including restaurants) in more than 25 markets across the U.S. Device even has its own Facebook page.

Early usage shows customers spending two to three minutes making their selections. That could prove annoying for lines of thirsty customers, but for Coke, which wants more buyers (especialiy younger ones) to spend time with its products, the Freestyle is a winner.

It should also pay off for exhibs down the line--anything that makes something simple like buying a soda interactive and fun can only have a positive effect on concessions sales.

Coke declined to disclose pricing on each machine.

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Title Annotation:New gadgets add kick to old standbys
Author:Graser, Marc
Publication:Variety
Article Type:Brief article
Date:May 2, 2011
Words:280
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