Sample Book Chapters
Chapter 4 - Digital Media
Chapter summaries in this section of the website are distilled from 139,000 words in the book.
Film distributors spend between 5 percent and 20 percent of their marketing budgets on new media, with the wide range attributable to whether a film’s target audience is a heavy user of cyberspace or not. For major-studio films, this translates into spending in the low- to mid-single digit millions of dollars. For independent films, marketing campaign budgets cover a wide range, and digital expenditures can surpass 20 percent for films with small total marketing spending.
Hollywood’s digital-era marketing started with the web-centric viral marketing campaign built around mysterious episodic videos that propelled The Blair Witch Project to surprising blockbuster box office in 1999, which amazed the industry. But only a half-dozen releases became successes primarily because of new-media marketing campaigns in the next decade. Every theatrical uses digital-media marketing, so there is no competitive advantage in merely having a Facebook page, since every theatrical has one.
The campaigns themselves are mounted in waves that typically start three to five months before a film opens, with each successive ripple becoming more pronounced and a more specific sell for to the film. A big buzz online does not always translate into big box office. Universal Pictures’ Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was trending well in online metrics, but the PG-13 youth comedy turned out to be a box-office flop.
Most marketing opportunities lie outside a film’s official website. The trend is to place big portions of films on third-party websites to create a buzz. These have millions of unduplicated visitors per month so these sites are prized platforms.
Social media is difficult to consistently reach audiences. Display ads are scarce on social media websites, and movie marketing messages can’t be inserted in private communications of users. To deal with this limitation, film marketers load up their movie pages with interactive elements where users can register likes and dislikes, e-mail friends, post comments, engage in contests, and share content.
A movie’s page on a social network is the springboard for promotions. For example, when pre-release buzz for Paramount’s sci-fi thriller Super 8 was weak, Paramount Pictures quickly organized 324 sneak previews with Twitter marketed through promoted Tweets in June 2011. Those screenings reportedly sold 100,000 tickets grossing $1 million and created a favorable buzz the day before the film officially premiered at 3,379 theaters.#
Text copyright © 2013, Robert Marich. All rights reserved. Used here with permission from SIU Press.
Fig. 4.4. Zynga’s FrontierVille social game hosted a weeklong placementwith-game integration on Facebook in 2011 for the animated film Rango. T he PG-rated Paramount Pictures release grossed a blockbuster $125.2 million domestically.