Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar has teamed up with smartphone movie app Flixster in a bid to lure moviegoers to add dinner nearby to their movie plans.

Applebee’s, the 2,000-unit casual-dining division of DineEquity Inc., on July 1 added a “Find Applebee’s Nearby” button in the popular Flixster movie-discovery application that comes up when a user searches for a theater location.

When users click on the Applebee’s “Find” button, it takes them to a page that features the chain’s new “Take Two Menu,” and another button that transports them to Google Maps and the nearest Applebee’s location to the theater they have selected.

Applebee’s is also sponsoring the affiliated Rotten Tomatoes website’s ‘Certified Fresh Picks” top-rate movie section. Flixster bought Rotten Tomatoes in 2010 and both were acquired by Hollywood studio Warner Bros. in 2011.

“The natural tie for us is that obviously during the summer months we’re really highlighting seasonal, fresh ingredients,” said Applebee’s spokesman Dan Smith, citing in an interview the grilled Vidalia onion sirloin. Both movie-related promotions will continue through July 31, Smith said.

“The strategy behind the mobile app,” Smith explained, “is to tap into the natural tendency when you look for movie titles or decide which movie you are going to see, part of that occasion is dining out before or after the movie.
The Flixster ‘Find Applebee’s Nearby’ button sends the user to the Applebee’s locator, which is part of the company’s online-ordering system. “The online ordering function is now active in more than half of our restaurants nationwide,” Smith said. The company uses the Where 2 Get It platform for the geo-location piece of its app, he said.

A Nation’s Restaurant News test of the locator found it worked in New York and Dallas, but it did not find locations in Chicago or Los Angeles.

“Mobile advertising and occasion-based marketing are certainly things we are interested in as digital and mobile platforms increase in popularity,” Smith said.