In 2012, Marvel’s The Avengers brought in a staggering $632 million in revenues, and sold around 80 million tickets, according to The Numbers. But not every film manages to achieve the same level of success. In fact, the film industry funds lots of losers each year, in the hope that one of them will be a huge success.
Marketing budgets are usually discussed in terms of their relationship to the production budget. A high marketing budget might be two or three times the production budget, while a low marketing budget might be half of the production budget.
Most films only appear in theaters for a short period of time – typically around one month – so marketers need to spend a huge amount of budget in a short period of time. If the film is a commercial success, it might stay in theaters for a longer period, but not usually more than six weeks.
“Most marketing budgets go towards TV because the format is perfect for the audience, and does the best job of selling the product,” explains Film Producer Marc Shmuger, the former chairman of Universal Pictures. “If you’re selling a can of Coke, you can’t let people taste the fizz and feel refreshed through their TV. But, if you’re selling a film, you can let people feel the tension, the characters and the plot. Your only constraint is the time – you need to condense 90 minutes into less than thirty seconds.”
The next time you see a big-name actor on TV, or you read an interview with them in a magazine, you will notice that they are (almost) always promoting a new film. So keep in mind that big name actors do not just get paid a lot because of their talent, but also because of the media attention they bring. If an interview-style show has the chance to interview Brad Pitt, they will take it, and this is one of the reasons why famous actors manage to get paid so much.
While the majority of marketing budget still goes to TV, an increasing share of marketing budgets is going online. Many people really like watching trailers, so oftentimes marketers can simply upload a trailer and see it watched by millions of people, without having to spend a penny on marketing. Marketers are also increasingly choosing to spend money on video-based ad units, search advertising and social media advertising. Studios usually launch a website such as theMovieName.com or studio.com/the-movie-name and drive consumers directly to the site, whether from TV, print or online.