05/31/2005: Thought for the Day:
[B]ox-office results reflect neither the appeal of the actual movies—nor their quality—but the number of screens on which they are playing and the efficacy of the marketing that drove an audience into the theaters. If a movie opens on 30 screens, like Sideways or Million Dollar Baby, there is obviously no way it can achieve the results of a movie opening on 3,000 screens. And how do studios motivate millions of moviegoers—mainly under 25—to go to the 3,000 screens on an opening weekend to see a film no one else has yet seen or recommended? With a successful advertising campaign.
Studios spend $20 million to $40 million on TV ads because their market research shows that those ads are what can draw a movie's crucial opening-weekend teenage audience. To do that, they typically blitz this audience, aiming to hit each viewer with between five to eight ads in the two weeks before a movie's opening. The studios also spend a great deal of money testing the ads on focus groups, some of whom are wired up to measure their nonverbal responses. If the ads fail to trigger the right response, the film usually "bombs" in the media's hyperbolic judgment. If the ads succeed, the film is rewarded with "boffo" box-office numbers.
--Edward Jay Epstein
Len on 05.31.05 @ 05:51 AM CST