Recalling Flops Of Film Ads On Super Bowl

By Robert Marich – Feb. 1, 2008 (see table at bottom of this file)

    QUESTION: What movie in the past three years had a box office gross that was so anemic that it was not even three times the cost of its Super Bowl commercial?
    ANSWER: Read on….
    With the kickoff to Super Bowl just two days away, it’s appropriate to review the curious relationship between Hollywood film distributors and the big game.
    Every since Fox’s alien invasion Independence Day hit the jackpot with a 1996 Super Bowl commercial, other films have tried to capture the same magic. The money-shot of the White House being blown to smithereens by aliens in Independence Day electrified audiences and helped carry the film to $306.2 million in domestic box office. The key copy line was a hoot too: “Enjoy the Super Bowl. It may be your last.”
    Certainly, Super Bowl ads – which go for around $2.7 million per 30-second this year – have helped carry films to blockbuster status. As the accompanying table indicates, after a Super Bowl ad two years ago, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest went on to gross $423.3 million in domestic BO. In the past three years, Wild Hogs, Cars, Mission: Impossible II, Batman Begins, Hitch, The Pacifier, Robots and War of the World all surpassed $100 million in BO after Super Bowl 30s.
    Having a big ad splash equate to big box office is expected. According to TNS Media Intelligence, Time Warner and Walt Disney are the fourth and fifth most consistent buyers since 1988 (trailing Anheuser Busch, Pepsi and General Motors). Most of the Time Warner and Disney spending have been for movies, though some of the spending includes theme park ads.
    What is a surprise is how poorly some films have done despite a Super Bowl blast. It’s hard to believe, but three films since 2006 have failed to achieve box office gross that is merely three times the cost of the Super Bowl ads. So the ANSWERS to this article’s opening question are Lions Gate’s Pride ($7 million in BO); New Line’s Running Scare ($6.9) and Magnolia’s World’s Fastest Indian ($5.1 million). Surely, those cautionary examples prove a Super Bowl ad alone does not catapult a film.
    In post-game analysis, movie ads always rank in the bottom half of audience recall and audience favorites, which is function of simply presenting film clips. Other advertisers cook up elaborate commercials. Still, film clips are effective to sell films.
    The Super Bowl audience of just over 90 million U.S. viewers is unmatched for delivering a huge and engaged audience to advertisers. A prime time series with 16% of that audience is considered doing well.
    Sports events are coveted because advertisers know real-time viewership is high for live sports. For scripted shows watched on a delayed basis, viewers are likely to skip through ads. In addition, Super Bowl games are taped for repeat viewing, which means commercials have a shot at being seen more than once by the same person.

For Los Angeles Times story on movie ads in Super Bowl, click link below:,1,6061853.story

Note: Seven of eight movie ads in 2008 Super Bowl (see below) were 30-seconds. The eighth -- New Line's Semi-Pro -- was a 15-second ad.

Movie Ads In Super Bowl 2005-08    
Title/year Distrib Premiere Film BO $ mil.Rating
2008 $2.7 mil/30 seconds    
Wall-E Disney (Pixar) 6/27/2008 n/a n/a
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Disney n/a n/a n/a
Jumper Fox 2/14/2008 n/a n/a
Semi-Pro/15 seconds New Line 2/29/2008 n/a n/a
Iron Man Paramount 5/2/2008 n/a n/a
You Don't Mess With Zohan Sony/Columbia 6/6/2008 n/a n/a
Leatherheads Universal 4/4/2008 n/a n/a
Wanted Universal 6/27/2008 n/a n/a
Meet The Robinsons Disney 3/30/2007 $97.8 G
Wild Hogs Disney 3/2/2007 $168.2 PG-13
Pride Lionsgate 3/23/2007 $7.0 PG
Hannibal Rising MGM/Weinstein 2/9/2007 $27.6 R
Cars Disney 6/9/2006 $244.1 G
Mission: Impossible III Paramount 5/5/2006 $134.0 PG-13
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Disney 7/7/2006 $423.3 PG-13
Poseidon Warner 5/12/2006 $60.7 PG-13
Running Scared New Line 2/24/2006 $6.9 R
The Shaggy Dog Disney 3/10/2006 $61.1 PG
16 Blocks Warner 3/3/2006 $36.9 PG-13
World's Fastest Indian Magnolia 12/7/2005 $5.1 PG-13
V For Vendetta Warner 3/17/2006 $70.5 R
2005 $2.4 mil./30-seconds      
Batman Begins Warner 6/15/2005 $205.3 PG-13
Be Cool MGM 3/4/2005 $56.0 PG-13
Constantine Warner 2/18/2005 $76.0 R
Hitch Sony/Columbia 2/11/2005 $179.5 PG-13
The Longest Yard Paramount 8/30/2005 $43.0 R
The Pacifier Disney 3/4/2005 $113.1 PG
Robots Fox 3/11/2005 $128.2 PG
Sahara Paramount 4/8/2005 $68.7 PG-13
War of the World Paramount 6/29/2005 $234.3 PG-13
Source: Complied by Marketing to Moviegoers     
from and USA Today