Chapter summaries in this section of the website are distilled from 139,000 words in the book.
The task of getting the first opinions from outside the small, adoring circle of admirers (at a film company) falls to the research department. It exposes the film to a small slice of the outside world—the test audiences. Of all the components of the theatrical distribution process, research is the least understood and the most misunderstood. The dichotomy exists because research is the most secretive part of the marketing process, and its impact is supposed to never be seen or heard by the outside world.
“Research serves the straightforward purpose of providing more information,” said Henry Shapiro, vice-president and general manager of entertainment research company MarketCast. “It’s a tool for risk management and resource allocation and a relatively inexpensive source of insurance that introduces accountability and objectivity into the marketing process. But it’s certainly not a replacement for the gut instincts of creative executives.”
Boiled to its essence, consumer research is the science of polling a small, defined sample of people. Done correctly, consumer research provides information that is representative of a larger population. In Hollywood, the main role of research is to help identify target audiences for films and to determine which advertising and promotions have the most impact on each one, without sending confusing or irrelevant messages. Eight distinct types of research can be done in the movie business. All types elicit responses from groups recruited from the moviegoing public.
A common presentation of findings divides the audience into four big groups, called quads, for quadrants. The grouping structure divides the audience into male and female and then again into ages over twenty-five and ages under twenty-five. This type of data presentation is found in virtually all types of movie research. Film industry executives are particularly attuned to results in the two quads for ages under twenty-five because the youth demographic dominates the cinemagoing audience.
Research practitioners talk of crises in the movie field in recent years on at least three fronts: (1) it’s increasingly difficult to recruit test audiences that are representative of the moviegoing population, (2) consumer behavior is more difficult to predict as their entertainment options multiply, and (3) movie research increasingly leaks out.#
Copyright © 2013, Robert Marich. All rights reserved.
Used here with permission from SIU Press.
Fig. 2.2. Sample questionnaire for exit survey (excerpt)
Before coming today, how did you select this theater and showtime? NOTE: Check all that apply.
O looked at all movies listed in newspaper before deciding
O looked at all movies listed in a magazine before deciding
O looked at all movies on an Internet site before deciding
O looked at other media not listed above before deciding
O used newspaper only to select theater and start time
O used magazine only to select theater and start time
O used Internet only to select theater and start time O used cell-phone SMS messaging
O others in my party identified theater and start time #