VNU, parent company of Nielsen Media Research, Nielsen Entertainment and The Hollywood Reporter, says it will crunch numbers under a new research method it calls Motion Media, which will span a six-year period from 2000 to 2005 to identify the most effective TV advertising platforms that yield the best box office results.
This should be fine viewing from the peanut gallery.
What will be the result? Putting movies into some sort of category and placing that category against a network, group of networks, an Internet site, a VOD service, or specific TV shows? Good luck.
The problem is there are way too many factors that will muddy up the works and have movie marketers weighed down in trending data that may be pretty to look at, but probably means very little.
Let's take NBC in the year 2000, when it was still a top network. Surely, the movies of that year, like "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "Mission Impossible 2" and "Gladiator," found some cool network to put their commercials on --ESPN, the WB, Nickelodeon, maybe even CBS.
But six years later, programming on those networks has changed, in some cases drastically. What does that mean for the movie marketer with a wide-release CGI animated movie coming out during the upcoming winter holidays? If people watch programs, not networks, then that's what new research tools for movie marketers should focus on. But this is complicated, since program lineups can change drastically.
Nielsen Entertainment says it'll measure 953 films in six years, 1.6 million broadcast, syndication and cable network occurrences, more than $11 billion in ad expenditures, 1.5 trillion impressions and $49.1 billion in box office revenue. It'll put all this into a cement mixer and come out with suggestions, directions, and no doubt some exhaustion.
Maybe movies shouldn't always buy broadcast TV on Thursday night. Maybe movie consumers are too distracted then by all the high-profile TV programming.
One should applaud Nielsen Entertainment for attempting to crack this Da Vinci code. But don't hope for much. Because as soon as we get some answers, there'll be movies that just happened to become hits with no marketing attack to speak of, that no research data can explain.
Look up "The Blair Witch Project" or "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." You'll get what the movie business, metaphorically speaking, gets sometimes. Unsteady, dark or out-of-focus camera shots. Or, lots of food preparation and eating, and cleaning products like Windex.
Clearly, you can't see what works in the future. You only get what happened in the past, and what can't be recreated.