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Twitter Loves The 'Top Gun' Summer Movie Deal

A viral Tweet highlights the chain's summer promotion.

The casual dining chain restaurant and the movie theater chain have both seen better days.

Both entities have rebounded, to an extent, since the pandemic’s worst days. 

Fast casual chains such as Chili’s and Olive Garden  (DRI) - Get Darden Restaurants Inc. Report were down by 30% in 2020. But once vaccines rolled out and life began to get back to normal-ish, “casual-dining chains pulled within 3.8% of 2019 levels in June” in the summer of 2021, and were generally able to rebound.  

But while casual chains may have been able to weather the days when few wanted to eat inside and take out was the way of the world, the fast casual restaurant isn’t what it used to be. 

While articles with headlines such as “The Death of the Casual Dining Chain” are a bit overstated, it’s true that companies such as Chili’s, Applebee’s, or Buffalo Wild Wings have lost a certain cultural cache, as Applebee’s had to close 130 restaurants in 2017. 

The simple, blunt reason for this is, to quote that “Death of” article, is “If you’re between 18 and 35 you probably have a simple answer: they’re just not cool.” 

Younger customers either want healthier options, delivery from Grubhub, cheaper options like fast-casual restaurants such as Chipotle, Panera Bread and Boston Market, or something local. (We all know how much millennials love their authenticity.)

Tough Times For Theater Chains

Likewise, the theatrical movie experience and theater chains writ large have, to an extent, bounced back from the calamitous drop they experienced during the pandemic with theaters largely shut down, and AMC lost $4.6 billion. 

Once vaccines were available and blockbuster films (largely from Marvel) such as “Spider-Man: No Way Home” hit theaters, AMC  (AMCX) - Get AMC Networks Inc. Report saw an annual increase of 103%, with $2.54 billion in revenue. But was still just 46.2 percent of the $5.47-billion-dollar revenue the company reported in the pre-pandemic 2019.

And even 2019 wasn’t the best year for chains. AMC reported a net loss of $13.5 million that year.

Movie Theaters And Chain Restaurants Gotta Stick Together

So it’s not the ‘90s or the ‘00s anymore. Tastes have changed, generations have turned over, time has continued its relentless march. 

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But that doesn’t mean that theater chains or restaurant chains are going to completely go away either. There will be fewer of them, and they might attract a more…select clientele, but they’re too much a part of the American cultural firmament to just vanish. (It’s not like they’re local newspapers or something.)

They just have to get craftier.

This month Applebee’s has started a new campaign where customers who spend $25 will get one free ticket to Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” which is getting good reviews.

The offer is valid until June 12, and is worth up to $15, which might not completely cover the cost of the ticket, depending on where you live and variable pricing. 

The ticket will come in the form of a Fandango promotional code, and comes with a limit of” 2 movie tickets per transaction and 4 movie tickets per person during the promotion.” 

Top Gun: Maverick Lead JS

Twitter Really Loves This Deal

This is not the first time Applebee’s has done such a promotion, as it did a similar deal for last year’s Disney’s “Jungle Cruise.”

But the promotion was a bit under the radar until one crafty Twitter user discovered it and went about spreading the good word.

Once that Tweet went viral, everyone started having a bit of fun with it. 

A "Top Gun" sequel and fried mozzarella sticks? There are worse ways to spend Memorial Day.

(The Street reached out to Applebee's for further information on whether this deal would return for other movies. We'll update if they respond.)