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Purpose And Process Of Movie Marketing Film Studies Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Film marketing is a process that is specific to the movie industry. Like all businesses promotion of movies is an integral part of any new release because of the extremely high financial risks that are inherent in the process. Movie studios conduct extensive marketing campaigns in order to maximize the revenue from the movies they produce right from the beginning of the release cycle of the movies. Usually promotion and the incident publicity are conducted by the distributors as well as the exhibitors.

Marketing mainstream movies

Mainstream films gross billions of dollars year in and year out on a worldwide basis. There are many forms of entertainment around but nothing can come anywhere near the sheer earning power of mainstream movies. The main reason for this phenomenal success is the fact that the movies are marketed efficiently as well as effectively. Film marketing can be counted as a science that induces filmgoers to go out to the nearest cinema, stand patiently in queues and buy tickets.

In spite of the fact that mainstream films rake in billions of dollars every year, only a fraction of such movies actually make profits. This is because the costs involved in making a major movie are indeed very high. For instance, in the year 2007, the mean production budget of a major Hollywood movie stood at around $70 million. However to sell such a movie to the filmgoers, movie studios had to cough up around $35 million making the actual budget exceeded $100 million for every movie (Friedman, 2008). Just to break even, Hollywood producers rely on a small number of runaway hits every season to compensate for the majority of movies that fail at the box office.

This whole sense of uncertainty pervading the mainstream movie business makes the role of the film marketer all the more important. A movie might be so great as to win many Oscars or it might be lousy beyond measure, a movie marketer worth his salt is under tremendous pressure to find a way to fill all those millions of seats at all the cinemas spread all over everywhere.

Elements of film marketing

Marketing movies can also be termed movie promotion or movie advertising. All major studios as well as film distribution companies maintain internal departments dedicated to the process of movie promotion. These promotion departments take upon themselves the duty of designing as well as implementing cohesive and effective advertising campaigns across diverse media platforms that include massive bill boards, movie trailers, radio, television, magazines, newspapers and internet.

The movie business is seasonal as well as cyclical in nature (Vogel, 2001). All major studios release their new movies during Christmas, Thanksgiving, Labor Day, Memorial Day, extended holiday weekends and summer. During these periods a whole lot of high profile films are competing for the very same audience. In such a context, movie promoters have to figure out ways to make the films they are marketing stand out from the whole pack.

A new trend is being apparent in recent years: to make high budget movies. For those block buster movies that cost the earth, the marketing campaign budget alone can consist of a whopping fifty per cent of the entire production budget (Vogel, 2001). This means that for a movie with a budget of $80 million, the distributor has to shell out $40 million on promotion as well as advertisement. Such incredible amounts are spent in the hope that the sum total of the money spent on marketing will be realized by the sale of tickets. As anyone knows, the main indicator of success of any film marketing campaign is box office ticket sales realized during the first weekend of a film’s release. The sales from the opening weekend alone are a measure of the excitement and buzz aroused by the marketing campaign.

Sometimes, strong opening ticket sales are sufficient to break even or make a little profit for the studio. But when this does not happen the result can turn out to be a huge loss. For instance ‘The Hulk’ by Ang Lee made 47% of its entire earnings in the opening weekend itself, but grossed 69% less in the subsequent week (Box Office Mojo).

Each movie is different from all other movies. So the marketing department has to determine the kind of promotion campaign that can find its way to the target audience in the most effective manner. This needs doing considerable research to ascertain the consuming trends as well as the tastes of the end audience. Then on the basis of this research, the movie promoters determine the money they shall allocate to all the various media outlets for the necessary publicity.

Strategies for effective marketing

Theatre trailers

As it so often happens, the initial chance to promote a film to its intended audience is by means of theatrical trailers. This makes them a mainstay of movie marketing. Distributors run the highly condensed, scrupulously edited as well as audience-tested theatrical trailers up to one year in advance of the release of a major movie. Thus for about two and half minutes, the filmgoers can get an advance taste of the special effects, plot twists and laughs of the upcoming releases making them wishing for more. A theatrical trailer is considered a form of art and is handled by specialized trailer production studios.

Other means of promotion at the cinemas are film posters, slideshows that are projected at the movie intermissions, standees and 3D displays made of cardboard, at times producing sounds (Cool Theater Displays).

By the time the first trailers are shown in the cinemas, the film studio will host the standalone official website of the movie in the internet with the URL ‘movie-name.com’. This website will let the visitors to watch various versions of the theatre trailer, listen to behind-the-scenes interviews, mini-documentaries, go through plot synopses, download desktop wallpaper and cell phone ring tones, attend chat forums, play games and order tickets. Thus this official website is an integral part of a wider internet promotion exercise. By the way, some viral marketing is also involved in tandem with the internet promotion like free supply of trailers to movie related websites, blogs and disseminating links to such content by email. This also includes ‘leakages’ of alleged rushes of film scenes.

Press Junkets

As the date of the release of the movie draws to a close, movie promoters endeavor to obtain early positive press coverage in magazines, newspapers as well as on TV shows. The notable film publicity tactic is what is termed a press junket. At a typical press junkets


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