The business of film
The business of film

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The business of film

2.3 The marketing plan

The windows system is designed to extract the maximum value throughout the life of a film. However, the film's performance in the cinema is still critical to its future success.

It follows, then, that how you choose to market your film and when you release it are critical. It is what distributors do. Alex Hamilton, in another step-by-step guide, explains the key elements of a marketing campaign.

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A film campaign, there are certain things that will remain the same and there are certain things that will be entirely different on a film-to-film basis. We always joke that, actually, whenever you're doing a new film, you're doing it all over again. Each individual film needs and very precisely-pitched campaign. Now, don't get me wrong. You're not reinventing the wheel every time. There are common things that will always be the case on certain films.
You always have to create materials. You create a poster. You create a trailer. You create TV spots. You create other bits of art. You find a release date. You decide how much money you're going to spend on releasing the film. How much above the line marketing cost you're going to put into it. How much TV advertising are we going to have? How much advertising online? How much advertising outdoor, radio, press? Start to wet people's appetite for the movie. Hey, it's got this star. Hey, it's about that. Hey, look at this trailer moment. Hey, look at this explosion. Doesn't it look great? It's critical, I think, that you get the spend on your movie right.
 You need to spend enough to let people know it's there, but not too much that you've wasted money. Now, there's always a trade-off between frequency and reach, for instance. In marketing, you tend to think of your core audiences, and then you work out from your core audiences. Some films will appeal to greater demographics than others. Still, the fairly analogue way of looking at this is to think of audiences in quadrants. It's still the way every single studio uses tracking. They talk about males and females, under and over 25. Now, 26 to 70 is a however larger demo. So it's really important not to get too hung up on those. But you start to use them as guidelines.
 You start to think, maybe the audience is 25 to 45 or is the audience over 55? Is there a male or female split? Who's going to like this movie? Now, that's the tyranny of marketing, in a sense. It's actually reducing people to statistics. And we all know that taste, decision making that goes into going to see a movie at your local multiplex, it isn't as simple as all that. But advertising, of course, has to make assumptions. And that's how you actually can sort of tailor your spend accordingly. Our media agency will point out to us that if we're trying to reach an older audience, them we maybe should have some railway advertising on outdoor, rather than underground advertising.
Broadly speaking, you'll have a sales and distribution strategy which is around what's the right date. Critical for any movie, what is the best date to put this maybe out? Lots of things go into the thinking there, be it, how many films are likely to be out that week? Is there another film that actor's in that you've got that's out two or three weeks prior, because, actually, that might mean that all the editorial that you can run off that actor has gone for another film and not yours. That's an example.
It's critical you get that date right. And it is probably the simplest and hardest thing, because anybody could say, oh, I want to put that movie out that week. But, actually, getting everything right from the competition to, oh, there's a big football match that weekend, oh, look, the weather's turned beautiful, people aren't going to go this weekend. There are so many factors that go into the release date that make it, still, despite all the research and analysis that's gone into it, that still make it an art, as well as a sort of science.
End transcript: Video 4 Alex Hamilton explains the key elements of a marketing campaign
Video 4 Alex Hamilton explains the key elements of a marketing campaign
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You may be surprised that the cinema box office is not generally the area where a film makes most of its money. Actually, it often makes a loss because of the level of marketing cost incurred at this stage.


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