Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Many Methods of Movie Marketing: Part 1

The first of three (maybe four parts) that will cover all the different methods of movie marketing. This is mainly for my film students who are looking at the relationship between film producers and audiences. First we looked at how producers get information from audiences and now we move on to how producers give information to audiences.

The Hollywood studios are renowned for ploughing huge amounts of money into film production. Increasingly however, they are spending up to half their budgets on marketing the films in order to increase the chance of having a successful opening weekend. Independent, British and world cinema films are often also picked up by Hollywood distributors if there is ‘crossover’ potential. These distributors then spend large amounts of money marketing the films in the hope that they will play to mainstream audiences. However some films do not have the marketing budget to spend on selling the film and have to rely on other techniques to make themselves known to the audience.

The most commonly used forms of advertising in the movie world are posters and trailers. These reach a huge audience as the producers of the films pay to have their print advertising featuring large still images in prominent places such as bus stops and tube stations. This targets commuters with disposable income who live in major cities and elsewhere. Posters can be teasers, theatrical or character based. A teaser poster is released far in advance of the release of the film and is likely to include some kind of iconic image that will be recognisable to fans and will get them excited up to a year before the release of the film. The Iron Man 3 poster for example does not even feature the title of the film and only the release is stated at the bottom. It is deliberately telling very little about the film and just making fans aware that the film is on the way. 

Theatrical posters often have a number of characters on them and some hint at genre conventions for example the poster for Prometheus had characters running from an exploding spaceship signalling who the stars are, and that the film will contain action, special effects and science fiction elements. Some films, particularly sequels where the characters are already well known have individual posters for each character. The Pirates of the Caribbean sequels did this with many different character posters, each featuring one of the stars of the film and introducing new villains.

Trailers are perhaps the most effective method of movie marketing as these can give the target audience a really clear sense of what the film will be like with moving image clips, music, special effects, stars, dialogue, music all in a 1-3 minute package. Teaser trailers have the same purpose as teaser posters, to get the fans excited early. Theatrical trailers have more about the story and characters and often in many people’s opinions give far too much away about the story or reveal too many of the best jokes in the case of comedies; the 21 Jump Street trailer for example. 

An increasing phenomenon recently is the preview to the trailer. Some of the biggest blockbusters such as Prometheus and Total Recall have a short clip released that announces that the trailer will be released in a few days’ time. This is for hard core fans to get them to spread the word that a trailer is on the way and to get them talking on the internet about it. The Prometheus trailer preview featured director Ridley Scott talking about the film. 

Teaser trailers are about a minute long and reveal little about the plot. The Star Trek Into Darkness teaser trailer introduces the villain and dazzles with special effects whereas the Man of Steel teaser sets out the more realistic tone and different direction that the new Superman will be taking. Trailers used to be only seen in cinemas before a film but now can be watched in a huge variety of ways.

Part 2 on media advertising, internet marketing and promotional tie ins coming soon!

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