Commentary

Did This Summer's Movies Send You To A Theater -- Or To Your Own Big Screen?

U.S. box office revenues from May 2 through Labor Day were the lowest in eight years and down some 15% from 2013. Revenues were estimated at $4.05 billion, down from last summer's record $4.75 billion.

“Mis-hits” this summer included Lionsgate’s “The Expendables 3,” Paramount’s “Hercules,” and Warner Bros.’s “Blended” and “Jersey Boys.” 

With the poor summer box office, movie and TV producers and networks will now stress aftermarket revenues: after-theatrical showings for films, and after-first-run airings for TV shows.

Will there be enough revenue to fill the gap?

Longer term, Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, told the Hollywood Reporter: "You have to answer two critical questions: Do I have to see it now? And do I have to see it on the big screen? If the answer is 'no' to either, you are in trouble."

Maybe film marketers might also peek under the hood -- at their discipline. Seems the movie studios -- for all their marketing efforts -- pulled back from TV, the big marketing vehicle, this summer.

MoffettNathanson Research said there were 10% fewer commercials for theatrical films in June (36,914 spots) than a year ago, and 24% fewer in July (34,314). Even with a reasonable increase in August, overall summer theatrical spending on TV appeared to be lower than a year ago.

For some time, analysts have talked up the growth of digital marketing for many consumer products and services. Not being left behind, big-time entertainment offerings such as theatrical films have also boosted their digital marketing awareness.

But maybe it’s too fast?  Perhaps more importantly, film marketers need to decide which screens consumers should consider: first, second, and beyond.

The heat of the summer demands it.

4 comments about "Did This Summer's Movies Send You To A Theater -- Or To Your Own Big Screen?".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, September 3, 2014 at 2:51 p.m.

    I'm guessing viewing levels were also down 10% and 24% in June and July. Broadcast is no longer as crucial to marketers. And it's not demonstrated above that movie marketers pulled back from TV advertising more than any other sector did. But even so, the studios know that social media buzz will poison a bad movie faster than a few years ago, often killing that first, all-important weekend. The studios' test audiences likely told them these weak movies were likely turkeys, so maybe they cut some of the promotion budget to soften the impending disaster. Advertising is not a magic wand for a substandard product.

  2. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, September 3, 2014 at 3:12 p.m.

    This Summer's movie theater experiences (i.e., one film a week) have sent me back to the home screen. It is not that the movies were not entertaining, engaging and edifying; it is that one commercial in a movie theater, even for another movie, is one commercial too many. Advertising has ruined the in-theater experience in a way that commercials have not diminshed the in-home (or mobile) experience of TV programming. Stop the movie-theater nonsense. I paid enough for my tickets to the movie theater experience, not to be hounded by crass commercialism. Keep you hands out of my pocket, if you want me to come back -- anf that means theaters and advertisers alike. And please don't even think about tinkering with Broadway.

  3. Rob Frydlewicz from DentsuAegis, September 3, 2014 at 11:02 p.m.

    For me, the worst part about seeing a movie in a theater isn't the commercials, the endless trailers or the outrageous prices charged at the concession stand, but my fellow audience members. With that said, however, I find that I need to be in a theater to watch a movie, a setting where I'm captive and don't have the distractions found at home. Too often when I'm at home I'll procrastinate watching a movie for so many reasons that by the time I settle down on the sofa it's time for bed!

  4. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, September 3, 2014 at 11:32 p.m.

    Dear Rob,
    Consider joining a Film Center like Jacob Burns.
    Your fellow film center members will be a delight and the commercials plus trailers will disappear.
    Distractions and excuses will vanish like movie magic!
    Many happy screenings.
    Peace,
    Nick

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