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As a rule, films don’t recover from failed theatrical openings, and so ad campaigns usually are framed in terms of the release launch, which is the two weeks period leading in to opening weekend and first week. At the high end for the top tier of major-studio films, this generally involves $30 to $50 million in advertising, of which over half is deployed in the final two weeks, mainly on broadcast TV, cable TV, newspapers, outdoor billboards, magazines, radio, and digital.
Despite some proclamations to the contrary, new media such as the Web are no panacea so far for the movie business. Costly broadcast-network TV advertising is still the only way to reach huge audiences with speed and certainty for the critical film-premiere week. The ad-expenditure escalations have transformed the media-buying function from a dull backwater into the front lines in Hollywood’s war on rising film-marketing costs.
“We are pushing for new ways to break through to audiences beyond the thirty-second television spot,” says film marketing executive Pamela Levine.
Hollywood is a big spender. The movie sector ranks as about the fifth-largest category for paid advertising on a national basis, trailing the automotive, drugs, cell phone, and fast-food–restaurant categories. Financial services and cosmetics are ranked after movies. Movie marketers spend roughly $3.6 billion a year to buy advertising in the United States.
Film distributors tend to hire outside media-buying advertising agencies to handle purchases of advertising. These agencies follow a budget that originates from the distributor. T he opportunity to reach the mass market inexpensively is fast vanishing as a consequence of media fragmentation. Cable-television networks cut into broadcast-television audiences. Lower printing costs have opened the door for more-specialized magazines and newspapers, which nip at the heels of traditional print giants.
Hollywood got a black eye for dubious media-buying practices when a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report (initially issued in 2000) documented embarrassing examples of advertising for films with restrictive ratings aimed at inappropriately young audiences. In the FTC’s sixth follow up report (seventh when including the original) issued in late 2009, the federal regulatory agency found some faults with theatrical movie advertising, though the industry was mostly behaving well.#
Copyright © 2013, Robert Marich. All rights reserved. Used here with permission from SIU Press.
Table 3.1 Movie Advertising Spending by Medium, 2010 (%)
Network TV 35.8
Cable TV 25.9
Spot TV 5.5
Syndicated TV 3.4
Spanish-language TV 2.4
TV SUBTOTAL 73.0
Internet display 4.0
Source: Kantar Media
Note: figures are for the United States and theatrical releases only#