Movie marketers never leave much to chance. That’s because typically they have one shot at a big score: opening weekend, when they reap a huge percentage of their overall revenues for a movie.
But “Star Wars” is not your ordinary movie -- it’s probably the franchise to end all franchises. Some observers say a new “Star Wars” movie — this from Walt Disney via Lucasfilm -- essentially markets itself. The three "Star Wars" prequels released between 1999 and 2005 earned a total of $2.5 billion at the worldwide box office.
Typically, big-budget movies can spend around $50 million to $60 million on TV advertising, adding up both what the movie studio itself will spend, as well as all the consumer marketing partners.
The first long trailer -- two and a half minutes -- for the movie appeared on “Monday Night Football” on ESPN (a Walt Disney company) last week. But the effort really started in earnest with a short teaser released by Disney in November 2014. Then in April of this year there was a “Star Wars Celebration” in Anaheim.
No doubt Disney will go wall-to-wall with its own TV advertising efforts -- if not exactly look to break some records -- all to keep up the big movie image. At the same time, by all accounts, it is being “careful,” according to Bob Iger, the company’s chairman/CEO.
TV networks are still a powerful tool for theatrical film marketers. But as we all know, gross rating points on TV are drifting lower -- especially when looking at live, non-time-shifting TV rating points.
Movie studios need the immediacy of the live TV audience -- not time-shifted commercial viewing -- especially in the last two weeks leading to a its opening. Look for “Star War” advertising to appear in all TV news and sporting events, on NFL and college football games in particular.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opens on Dec. 18, a week before Christmas. Advertising gifts will start appearing under the tree before that for TV networks.