More Than Popcorn

16 10 2007

movie pic

Brandweek just released in a report that in-theater advertising has experienced a 15% increase since 2005. I’ve never really thought much about in-theater advertising, but clearly it will increase in popularity and importance with film budgets ballooning and the threat of busts increasing.

The truth is, we have become pretty darn good at picking a flop when we see it. Sure, some well received movies still flop (see Shawshank Redemption and Grindhouse as my favorites) but we’re rarely fooled by junk such as The Heartbreak Kid (Ben Stiller seriously needs a new character type) and the biggest loser, The Adventures of Pluto Nash.

But another part of the problem is, we just aren’t as motivated to head out to the movies with the ticket prices still rising. I know if I’m borderline on a movie, or just don’t feel like making the time, I’ll wait for the DVD. And even then, if a friend says it sucked then I won’t even put in that much effort.

So the challenge then is to drive people to the theater. Make the experience memorable, and customers will go and line up during opening weekend. Give them an added on performance to go along with the movie, and maybe they will be happy to shell out the $30-$40 it can cost to have a date at the movies.

I’m not a marketing genius, but I do know that studios are shelling out millions to place their movies in every available media slot and open space outside of the theater. I literally just watched “The Comebacks” sponsor a spot in the intro to the ALCS game four. And I know Transformers was sponsoring NFL football this weekend (now where was the tie-in there?)

But then you arrive at the movie, and there is no special effort to connect. There is no reason to show up before the previews. If the only experience is the movie, then why NOT just wait for the DVD and watch it in your own home? Save some of the millions from stuffing your movie down our collective throats. With the power of the Internet, we’ve been reading about your movie for months. And even if we haven’t, the local paper and news reviews your movie before it opens.

iron man

I think some of the movies coming up have incredible potential. Slash Film, an awesome preview and review film blog, recently posted their 55 Must See Movies of 2008. Movies like Cloverfield, Be Kind Rewind, Jumper, and of course Iron Man look like sure-fire hits. Couple the movie with something unique, some free schwag, something that says, “we gave a damn that you specifically came to the movie.” I’m thinking a glossy book of pictures from shooting, or a comic that supports the storyline. The more interest the movie studio shows, the more we as viewers will return.

In the end, the movies can be a welcome escape for a lot of people. The movies captivate our attention in the way few other things do (sports and musical performances come to mind). But with the expansion of the home theater, it takes something extra to get us to choose the movies for our night out. But as the numbers show, in-theater advertising is a channel that has serious growth potential, both economically and creatively.

UPDATE: The Movie Blog author John has written an article on why commercials before movies are worse than piracy. Makes it even more important to have a relevant, creative, well connecting idea for marketing to filmgoers.

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