Movie industry not advertising anywhere anymore

So, yesterday Nikki Finke told us that movie studios will be pulling back on newspaper advertising. Today, the WSJ reports that they’re also cutting back on, or at least re-considering, their ad buys on network television.

Studio executives stress that TV still is a critical aspect of their sales pitch. Yet with the ever-more-crowded tableau of network and cable options, “no specific, individual show is absolutely essential to your message,” says Jim Gianopulos, co-chairman of News Corp.’s Fox Filmed Entertainment. As a result, he says, “the days when you absolutely had to be on ‘Friends’ if you were opening a movie the next day are a thing of the past.”

Fox now is toying with a few different ways of potentially saving television-buying dollars while still reaching viewers. One option: spreading the same money it would cost to buy network prime-time spots over a handful of cable channels. Another would be to purchase prime-time ads via local stations rather than through national networks.

Network television once was a must-see for viewers and a must-buy for advertisers. But habits have changed. “Now it’s more complicated,” says Initiative’s Mr. Spengler. “You’ve got to buy a couple of networks, and you’ve got to throw in some cable.”

Meanwhile, the brewing tension between theaters and studios over the DVD-release window makes the press, with National Association of Theatre Owners President John Fithian calling out Bob Iger for daring to suggest that there might come a time when DVDs are released simultaneously with the first-run theatrical opening. From the LAT:

“Mr. Iger knows better than to tell consumers – or Wall Street analysts – that they can have it all, everywhere, at the same time,” Fithian said. “He knows there would be no viable movie theater industry in that new world.”

Fithian goes on to suggest that the reason movie attendance is falling is because the movies are getting worse: “Here’s what we know about 2005: The movies are not as good. They’re not terrible. They’re just not as good… . It’s a product-driven industry.” Um, well, if it’s a product-driven industry, then movie theaters are S.O.L., because the audience is apparently starting to prefer other distribution methods for the product.