Whither Movie Studios This Upfront Market -- And In The Coming Years?

Where are the movie studios this upfront market?

Typically these companies are first to get in on the ground floor for the new season. They need premium positions for their movies -- especially in the key holiday and summer time periods. Networks always like grabbing movie media dollars first (as well as automotive dollars). All this sets the bar nice and high for other advertisers to follow.

But maybe there are some changes afoot.

Nielsen Monitor-Plus says media spending was $3.4 billion in 2007, compared with $3.5 billion in 2006.  The biggest component of this media spending -- network television -- was at $1.09 billion in 2007, down a bit from the $1.13 billion the previous year.

According to one studio marketing executive, studios are on a "diet." To be fair, this has been said before. Then the next big action-adventure movie running a prime holiday or summer period - say, "Iron Man 3" or "Indiana Jones: The Search For 1940s Religious Chic" -- lifts movie media dollars to new levels.

Many movie marketing executives believe the dynamics of the $30 million to $40 million average spend on an individual wide-release theatrical film has to change.

Some Internet executives believe, for example, that the $1 million or so that is spent on Internet media per movie is way too little. They think that many more millions need to be spent, especially when studios, more often than not, are targeting young males. And the Internet is where those young movie-goers live much of the time.

TV executives believe video movie trailers still work best on the bigger TV screen, which lends  itself better to trailers' high production values.

Movie companies might find themselves in a better position with TV networks, especially after a year with the new C3 TV metric. Last year there was talk movie commercials would be a key component in the new C3 system -- that movies would figure prominently in commercial pods, specifically taking up those prime "A" positions and possibly driving ratings higher in those commercial breaks.

To date, TV advertising executives aren't making wholesale changes. They still want to give "fair" rotation to national advertisers, meaning everyone gets a chance at the better positions.

This hasn't discouraged movie studios from using TV. For example, cable TV advertising spending grew by around 5% in 2007 over the previous year, to $893.5 million. And while overall marketing dollars are down, a stipulation here is that studios are making fewer movies.

Where are movie studios this upfront? Where they need to be. Not totally out of the picture



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