Still smarting from the huge losses tied to the film John Carter, Disney is now banking on The Avengers, the Marvel comic hero extravaganza that opens May 3, but had its Los Angeles premiere last night. And unlike John Carter, which can attribute its losses, in part, to the marketing effort, Disney is backing this film up with promotional power.
Bloomberg reports that Disney has launched an Avengers game, has ramped up its advertising, has a cartoon in support of the movie running on a Disney network, is hosting free screenings, and has made the trailers available on iTunes where they have broken download records. Disney has also partnered with companies like Honda and Wyndham Worldwide for further promotion.
Already, the film, which cost $30 million less than John Carter at $220 million, is showing signs of capturing interest across male and female audiences. It’s that kind of interest that helped The Hunger Games become a blockbuster.
The (marketing) success of The Hunger Games, which had an insane amount of pre-release promo, the triumph of The Lorax over marketing backlash, and the flopitude of John Carter have provided big lessons to movie companies. Lesson number one — saturate the public’s senses with your movie and watch the money roll in.
Product placement, trailers, and other forms of marketing are certainly not new to the movie business. But social media is. Where leaks and broken embargos were even recently seen as detrimental to a film opening, now we have multiple trailers, sneak peeks, and stills out the wazoo. You don’t want to give it all away, but you want to keep giving the audience something. Social media makes it possible to do that. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and all the others offer different ways to reach audiences on many levels with different content.
In the case of Titanic’s re-release in 3D, the filmmaker James Cameron even made news that ended up circling around and helping to promote his movie, which was already being released around the 100th anniversary of the tragedy. We caught someone on Twitter literally begging for the media to stop writing about Titanic.
By continuously building on the hype they’re producing, the movie companies are creating the sense that X movie premiere is a cultural event that audiences won’t want to miss. Or, they risk not knowing what everyone is talking about on Monday morning.
So if we weren’t already getting tons of entertainment news and info funneled to us throughout all the days of our existence, expect that to go up a little more. With big budgets, the need to grow ticket sales, and an audience whose attention is being pulled in a million direction, the imperative is there for film companies to do all they can to get people to the theaters. Nonstop marketing is proving to be valuable.