Movies are great fun, whether you’re going on a date, hanging out with friends, or looking for something to do with the family on a rainy night. Movies are also big business, generating $36.2 billion worldwide in 2011. Unfortunately, with fewer movies being made and released commercially, and the demand for big budget effects and high-dollar superstar actors, the movie industry has become high risk, high reward. With budgets for blockbuster films regularly topping $100 million, when a movie bombs, it bombs hard.
While some of a movie’s success is based on the art of the film, including the script, the acting, the directing, and the visual appeal, there’s even more riding on the movie’s PR and how well it is received by the populous. A strong public relations campaign can lift a movie up to make it a hit. But a poor PR campaign, or no campaign at all, can doom film to the direct-to-DVD three-dollar bargain bin. Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations, a firm based in New York City, knows that a strong ad campaign can drive people to the theaters, whether the film is an Oscar contender, or a certified stinker.
Critics may rate a film on its cinematic value, but the average moviegoer is looking for something else. People don’t necessarily want to see bad films, but depending on what an individual desires from their movie experience, the marketing of a movie can, and does, try to motivate viewership based on a number of x-factors. These can include using a popular actor who has a following that will go to all of their films, relating it to another popular film or genre, or even giving away a major plot twist in the trailer and promotional materials to heighten people’s excitement.
Of course, like any PR campaign, the primary goal is to find the target audience, and market the movie specifically for them. Action films are marketed to males, ages 18-35, by showing plenty of action, fighting, danger, and female sexuality. Romantic comedies are marketed to women, ages 30-45, and highlight the ways in which the main female lead can relate to the life of the “everywoman.” These tropes go back well over 70 years, and while not so accurate in today’s polyglot world where we’ve grown beyond traditionally defined gender roles, the numbers show that those markets do tend to still act as they have for years.
Commercials, trailers, viral marketing campaigns, product tie-ins, and everything else we’ve come to know as common practice in the film world all work toward one very specific end–to make sure as many people as possible go to see the movie, tell their friends to see the movie, and go back and watch the movie again, later buying it on DVD, because the movie business is booming, and is showing no signs of slowing down.