Massive movie marketing spending is back as summer kicks off – The Hollywood Reporter

TThe summer box office turned into a “thing” nearly five decades ago when Steven Spielberg jaws It broke all records to become the first movie to cross $100 million domestically after Universal spent an unprecedented $700,000 on TV ads. Nearly 47 years later, the summer of 2022 is more important than ever as Hollywood attempts to return to some semblance of normalcy and release one movie after another for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

For marketers in Hollywood, there’s no avoiding blood in the water as the frenzy begins to kick-start their expansive operations and try to sell their 2022 summer tent poles amid a busy calendar and a changing world. Returning consumers to multiplex is not for the faint of heart. Advertising on TV is more complex and expensive than ever as studios compete digitally on TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube and other platforms. “How do you stand out again? It’s a minefield out there,” says one of the studio’s chief marketing officers. “Just look at the summer, when there is a big movie every week in June.”

Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian adds, “Movie marketing has never been more important, especially after two years where movies on the big screen are out of sight and therefore out of the minds of many potential consumers.”

So far, so good. Disney, where Asad Ayaz leads marketing, watched Marvel’s Doctor Strange in a multiverse of madness (May 7) is open to at least $185 million domestically and $450 million worldwide over the weekend of May 6-8 to land one of the biggest openings ever.

The tent will be increasingly crowded in the coming weeks, starting with Paramount / Skydance Top Gun: Maverick (May 27). This is followed by Universal Jurassic World Dominion (10 June); Pixar / Disney First Toy Story Role, Light year (17 June); Universal Minions: Rise of a puppy (1 July); And Marvel / Disney Thor: Love and Thunder (8 July).

Don’t be surprised if studios put $150 million or more into spending on global marketing for the biggest titles. Although not technically, summer action movies like Warner Bros. ‘ Elvis (June 24), Universal no (July 22) Sony Express train (July 29) They potentially have huge global marketing budgets of $75 million or more.

nofrom Jordan Peele, may be the cheapest on the market because it’s a horror title, while ElvisIt will include costs for the world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival (more than a million dollars). Never underestimate the power of a strategic premiere – just look at the headlines from the pullout group Top Gun: Maverick The world premiere in San Diego on May 4, where Tom Cruise landed an aircraft carrier to walk the red carpet. The sequel will also be shown in Cannes before a grandiose screening at the London Royal Film.

A string of recent box office successes, led by $1.89 billion in global gross Spider-Man: There is no room for home, was a mood booster for marketers because it meant people came back to watch trailers on the big screen. “The best place to experience a trailer for an upcoming movie is in the theater,” says Ray Sobers, senior vice president of plays at the National Research Group. “You need to put eyeballs in front of the trailers. A friend sits with his friend, and they start talking about him and getting excited about him, and then they talk to their other friends, and those friends make plans, and that’s how we’re going to supply the cinema.”

Hollywood film marketers are also encouraged by the huge rise in people’s comfort with going to theaters, a measurement that NRG has been tracking on a weekly basis since the start of the pandemic. As of May 4, the comfort level was at its highest level in 2022 at 87 percent, up 22 points from 65 percent in January. And among moviegoers 35 and older — the demo with the most frequency to return — relief was 83 percent, up 28 points from 55 percent in January.

But there is work to be done. Attendance in the first quarter of 2022 is down more than 40 percent from the same quarter in 2019. “One of the things we know very well is that behavior has changed to the point where going to the movies is kind of what you do now at home; the event is what you do In the theatre. An event can take many different forms, and it’s not always limited to superheroes,” says a box office insider.

Execs also agree that it is very difficult to reach a wide audience through TV advertisements. “It’s all about sports now,” says a marketing executive. “Back in the day, you had primetime shows and co-watching. There are still things like masked singer And The bachelorette, but these audiences are nowhere near what they used to be. Many of these shows are available on streaming as well.” However, lower viewership on linear TV doesn’t mean lower media prices. TV ads are up as much as 10 percent.” Even prime linear media cost more. But you need both – the things with the greatest reach [on TV] And then you have to reach a very specific audience that digital media offers,” says the executive.

Digital media sites now cost more than they did before the pandemic. “It is no longer a one-size-fits-all for digital campaigns. There are different platforms for different demographics. Audiences are very different from one another. You used to be able to take a TV spot and assign it to different things. Now you have to think from the ground up about every service and every platform. ‘, says another prominent marketing executive.

Another change in the era of the pandemic: the campaigns used to start six months ago. Now, liking begins after four to three months. One exception is Avatar: Water Road. Disney and the 20th Century have decided to drop the trailer for the long-awaited sequel to James Cameron Dr. Gharib 2about seven months ago water water It releases on December 16th.

Throughout the pandemic, broadcasting has become the hero of Tinseltown. But that narrative changed somewhat on April 19, when Netflix announced that it had lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter, causing its stock to collapse. Media heads such as David Zaslav were CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery or Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon CEO Brian Robbins praise the value of theater. “I think the data shows that when you … you open a movie in movie theaters, it has a full flow of monetization,” Zaslav says. “But more importantly, it is marketing and building a brand. Thus, when it moves to the streaming service, there is a higher quality viewpoint that benefits the streaming service.”

Netflix, Apple TV+, and Amazon generally don’t have to spend big on theater marketing for their movies since they often only get a token release in theaters (a streaming-only title will be more difficult to drive the watercooler conversation than a column). According to iSpot.TV, which monitors media spending, Apple has spent $6.4 million on ads. kuda When it was re-released in theaters after winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards, it’s hard to tell how it went since no box office earnings have been revealed.

Some are even questioning whether Netflix should consider creating a new revenue stream and giving some of its titles a traditional theatrical release, even if that means more marketing spending. “There is no doubt that Netflix has a quantity of content, which has helped its subscription over the years. Consumers are now looking for better content. If Netflix can improve its movie content, perhaps that will help the theatrical window as well as reduce disruption,” he said. says Wall Street analyst Eric Handler of MKM Partners.

“The full attention you get from the audience in the theater is where the franchises are born,” says one senior studio executive.

A version of this story first appeared in the May 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe.

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