Movie Marketing Update
March 2004
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Can I have a Large Pizza and a side of 'Chocolat?'

Posted on Monday March 22, 2004
Filed under Market Research

flexplay.gifFlexplay is teaming up with Papa John's Pizza in a test of their ez-D self-destructing DVDs. The discs become unplayable within a predetermined window, making them a cheap commodity perfect for impulse buys.

In addition to the obvious employment of these discs as screeners, I bet somebody comes up with an interactive, time-sensitive contest.

I should take a look at what thriller/crime releases are coming up this fall...

Related Links: - Pie-and-a-DVD delivery tests in Denver

Sony and Best Buy to Offer free 'Hellboy' promo DVD

Posted on Saturday March 20, 2004
Filed under New Releases

Another day, another new twist on new release marketing. While free promo DVDs are nothing new, in the past they usually just contained the film's trailer and looked like cheap throw-away promos. Sony has upped the ante, including materials like behind the scenes footage and other features normally reserved for the DVD release. Sony also threw in other trailers (including Spiderman II) and packaged it in an Amaray-style DVD case, making a promotional item attractive enough for DVD hoarders to display with the rest of their collection.

With a run of 500,000 discs, Sony probably spent .68 - .75 cents per disc, making this quite an effective promotion when compared to expensive prime-time advertising.

Releated Link:

Report: Expensive Marketing Stunts don't Pay

Posted on Monday March 15, 2004
Filed under Film Publicity

For execs out there tempted to pull a pricey marketing stunt to coincide with your next release, you might want to read this article. According to Robert Pasikoff, president of Brand Keys, Inc., expensive publicity and marketing stunts are probably a big waste of time and money:

"When we did outdoor [ad] boards for clients, no matter what the product, we always made sure to buy the board that was across the street from the client's own office window," said Rob Frankel, author of The Revenge of Brand X: How to Build a Big Time Brand on the Net or Anywhere Else. "There's a huge amount of ego that goes into this kind of stuff," he said. "A lot of them [execs] just want to be there and say, 'Did you see us on the Hollywood sign?' It will have no impact on their bottom line at all."

There's an exception to every rule, and in the case of movie marketing, B-movie producers have always done pretty well with stunts. Troma, the mini-studio who churns out straight-to-video schlock and horror titles, has been successful at getting attention at high profile festivals in the past. And they probably spend nothing out of pocket, either.

Related Links:

Many 'marketing' stunts are little more than expensive ego trips for senior executives: The National Post

Settlement reached in Sony phony critic case

Posted on Friday March 12, 2004
Filed under Film Publicity

All studios are pretty liberal with their "pull-quoting," the process of extracting positive comments from critic's reviews for use in print ads. However, finding usable pull quotes for duds like The Animal and Hollow Man apparently proved so troublesome for Sony's marketing department that they created film critic "David Manning" out of thin air in 2000 to lavish cooked-up praise. Now it looks like all of the ill-gotten gains (meager as they probably were) are being taken away:

Filed on the behalf of "all consumers nationwide who paid to see any movie" on Manning's recommendation, the class-action suit sought injunctive relief, restitution, and "complete disgorgement of [Sony's] ill-gotten gains" for Sony to make restitution to everyone who bought a ticket to the falsely advertised movies.

Are people really swayed by critics' proclamations about movies like Big Daddy? Whenever I go to see something with a high "mindless fun" quotient, I don't really pay attention to reviews.

At any rate, it looks like the real David Manning has stood up, taken notice, and wants his good name back...

Related Link: - Moviegoers to settle with studio after being lured by phony critic

Indie film attracts an upscale market

Posted on Thursday March 11, 2004
Filed under Theatrical

410.jpgIt's no big secret -- "art-house" film has always drawn an upscale crowd. I haven't seen any study in particular, but my guess would be that the typical indie film-goer is college educated with a sizable disposable income, similar to museum or theater-goers. Both Gen-Art and Sundance have crafted an impressive luxury-driven sponsor base over the years, and the joint effort by Lexus and The New Yorker magazine drives the notion home without much subtlety:

Lexus, the No. 1-selling luxury automotive manufacturer and The New Yorker magazine team up in a partnership to bring five cinematic events to five major cities across the U.S. Beginning in March 2004, invited guests in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Boston will enjoy an exclusive evening of cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and an advance screening of a film feature -- courtesy of Lexus and The New Yorker.

"Lexus is excited to be partnering with a brand like The New Yorker," says Mike Wells, vice president of marketing for Lexus. "This event allows us to offer New Yorker subscribers an entertaining evening in a relaxed environment."

In March and April 2004, 200-270 guests in the five major U.S. metropolises will enjoy an exclusive opportunity to see up-and-coming cinematic features while experiencing the latest luxury Lexus has to offer, highlighting the 2004 LS 430. With a cocktail reception before each screening, the ambiance will be set for guests to mingle with other guests as well as interact with the luxury of the Lexus brand.

I'm not familiar with all of the announced titles, but I bet a bit of legwork would show that comparable titles did fairly well in upscale metropolitan areas.

Related Links:
Lexus Partners with The New Yorker Magazine (PR Newswire)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Focus Features)
Eulogy (Lion's Gate)
Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity (Film Movement)
Bright Young Things (THINKfilm)

Universal and Warner Brothers hope to whet appetites with extended previews

Posted on Monday March 8, 2004
Filed under New Releases, Online Marketing, Theatrical

Following Fox Searchlight's success with their extended preview for 28 Days Later last year, both Universal and Warner Brothers will be premiering lengthy previews of their own next week.

Universal will screen an uncut 10 minutes from the upcoming Dawn of the Dead as a special event on the USA Network (which is a division of Vivendi-Universal, mind you), which will air "sometime between 10 and 10:30 pm" on March 15th.

In me-too fashion, Warner Brothers will release the first 9 minutes of Taking Lives, although it will only be available online. The preview will premiere on the Taking Lives website on March 19th.

If these test cases work out well, we'll probably see additional budgeting for the creation of "prefaces" to films to be used as "special events," much like we see additional funds budgeted for DVD extras. So far, it looks like this marketing effort works best with horror and thriller titles, which by nature have provocative, spine-tingling sequences perfect for a few minutes of attention-getting advertising. Plus, horror titles are more resistant to bad reviews.

Related Link:

WB to Preview First 9 Minutes of Taking Lives Online

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