Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Getting Your Butt in the Seat

Over the summer, a TV commercial for Harry Potter 6 boasted that the movie had the “biggest worldwide opening ever!” I found this interesting, as this is not the kind of claim that would have been made 10 years ago. However these days, the business of the entertainment business is more transparent. Add this to the fact that the landscape of movies has gotten more crowded and competitive, and this means that Hollywood is now trying to hype their movies by any means necessary—which is why you might hear that the latest blockbuster has just had the biggest opening for a movie on a non-holiday weekend in a month that begins with a vowel. But does the average moviegoer even care?

Harry Potter is one of the biggest franchises in the world. Six movies in, I think that people have largely made up their minds if they’re going to see it or not. So I’m not sure what the tactic was with this ad. Is somebody who is on the fence about the franchise at this point going to be swayed by learning it had the biggest worldwide opening? I can’t help but feel like the bragging in these ads is really for Hollywood insiders, who are patting each other on the back, than for Mr. and Mrs. Multiplex.

Building buzz has become a big thing in movies. Studios spend $35 to $50 million to publicize their movies—more if it's a huge blockbuster. They are working harder than ever to connect with potential audiences and lure them away from their HD TVs, the internet and video games.

One of the biggest examples of the ever-growing importance of marketing is Hollywood's hijacking of the annual San Diego Comic Con. In the last few years, movies have pushed aside the actual comic books for a weekend packed to the rafters with preview screenings and panels—all designed to whip fanboys up into enough of a frenzy so that they will take to their laptops and extol the virtues of the next big blockbuster.

Fox recently tried a different approach. For the highly anticipated James Cameron 3-D movie, Avatar, they held free countrywide screenings of 16 minutes of footage. Those few who have seen it are raving. But again I ask, is this enough to get butts in the seats when the movie opens in 4 months?

How about you? What drives you to want to see a particular movie? Is it the trailer? The poster? Do you care if a movie is number one at the box office? Or has the biggest holiday opening? Or if people in Japan consider it great? Are they doing a good job of wooing audiences? Because Hollywood is working really hard to impress you.


Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

I'm ashamed that it works every time on me! The trailer is what makes up my mind though...don't know why because it usually never ends up how the trailer portrays it though.

Avatar looks pretty sweet but I think u have to know about who Avatar is to be really excited about it.

I have a 7 year old boy. Need I say more?

Eric the Bolton said...

If it's a movie based on a comic book.. I'm pretty much there regardless of the previews, posters or reviews...

SciFi Dad said...

If I know the story, like for a comic or a book, I'm more likely to go than if I know nothing.

If I've seen a trailer that looks good and I can get some good buzz ahead of time (see: District 9) I'm also more likely.

But if there's a promise of boobs or ass? I'm there in a heartbeat.

ZenMom said...

A really good trailer can make me more likely to see a movie, I s'pose. Or maybe just more excited about seeing it.

But ... if it's not already something I would be inclined to see in the first place, the trailer's not going to change my mind.

I am, for example, NEVER going to see any horror movie like "Saw" - I don't care what the trailer is like.

Conversely, I WILL go see Harry Potter, Star Trek and other movies whether I ever see a trailer or not.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Yes, trailers are the first and arguably the biggest impression a movie can make. Would it change your mind if you thought the trailer looked ok, but it had the biggest opening ever?

Shelle...Methinks you are referring to Nickelodeon's Avatar. That live action movie is going to be called The Last Airbender because this December, James Cameron is making a movie called Avatar.

Eric...Even Ghost Rider?

SciFi...So you must love all of the direct to DVD American Pie movies.

Zen...So I guess our plans for an October movie are off, huh?

James (SeattleDad) said...

We saw HP6 and were not that impressed.

I will go see it if 1)I can get away 2) Has a great trailer 3) Gets great critical review 3) Is a Scifi movie. We love a good scifi movie.

Star Trek was a good example.

... said...

I don't get the biggest opening ever schtick. All it tells me is that the promotion was good enough to get x number of people in the theatres on the opening weekend. Basically, awesome trailer and good on you for opening in a zillion theatres around the world at once. Was it any good? Who knows. Opening numbers tell me nada. It's obnoxious.

There was a particularly ridiculous case of this recently in Australia. An ad for the tv series Merlin began: "Harry Potter .... $1 bajillion dollars in tickets sold .... Lord of the Rings ... $100 bajillion in tickets sold ... now here's Merlin!" I don't get it. The genre is worth watching because a lot of other people went to see other movies? If they were asking me to invest, fine. But as a viewer, remind me why I care again?

ZenMom said...

DGB: We could go see Zombieland. Oooooh - or Where the Wild Things Are! Can't wait for that one! ;)

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

Honestly I go if the trailer simply looks interesting. Some of the movies that critics and Hollywood rave about were the dumbest movies ever made (Need I bring that English Man Who Went Up a Hill movie with Hugh Grant?)

I don't really care how many millions of dollars were spent the first weekend. All that money could have been spent for a movie that was horrible, who knows? I wouldn't pay to see that Marley movie about that dog (see I don't even know its name) but I bet a lot of people commenting did and loved it. Eh, not my cup of tea.

If Hollywood wants us to get away from our tv's maybe they should think about lowering ticket prices from astronomical to affordable.

Sorry, Guess I felt stronger about that than I realized.

Lady Mama said...

These brags mean absolutely nothing to me. Like you said, HP is an established brand, so you either know you want to see it or don't before reading or hearing anything about it. I want to see it. I've never read the books and have no desire to, but I have seen every other movie. I don't even care that it hasn't had great reviews.

With other movies, it's all in the trailer for me - either I like the look or don't.

Your escalator operator said...

A really good trailer helps. Although that's far from foolproof. (See: Duplicity.) Also, if the cast includes actors I trust to pick good movies (that list seems to be shrinking lately), I'll check it out. And I second ZenMom's comment about never seeing horror movies.