Film promotion is the practice of promotion specifically in the film industry, and usually occurs in coordination with the process of film distribution. Sometimes called the press junket or film junket, film promotion generally includes press releases, advertising campaigns, merchandising and media, and interviews with the key people involved with the making of the film, like actors and directors. As with all business it is an important part of any release because of the inherent high financial risk; film studios will invest in expensive marketing campaigns to maximize revenue early in the release cycle. Marketing budgets tend to equal about half the production budget. Publicity is generally handled by the distributor and exhibitors.
- Trailers are a mainstay of film promotion, because they are delivered directly to movie-goers. They screen in theatres before movie showings. Generally they tell the story of the movie in a highly condensed fashion compressing maximum appeal into two and half minutes.
- Slideshows – stills, trivia, and trivia games from the film, shown between movie showtimes.
- Standees (freestanding paperboard life-size images of figures from the film)
- Cardboard 3D displays, sometimes producing sound
Television and radio
- Hollywood movie distributors spend about $4 billion a year to buy paid advertising (30-second TV commercials, newspaper ads, etc.) and over half that total is placed on broadcast and cable TV, which are the main vehicles for advertising movies to audiences. TV is effective because it is an audio-visual medium – like film – and can deliver a vast audience quickly, which is crucial because films typically don’t linger in theaters more than 4–6 weeks, according to Marketing to Moviegoers: Second Edition.
- Product placement: paid active or passive insertion (as on-set posters, and action figures) of film brand in drama or sitcom shows, or as passing mentions in dialogue. For example, 20th Century Fox commissioned an I, Robot-themed motorcycle, featured on two episodes (2:17, 2:18) of American Chopper. The film Memoirs of a Geisha was placed throughout an episode of the TV show Medium.
- Extended placement: full episodes of television talkshows (Oprah), entertainment news programs (ET), or network news programs (20/20), devoted to compensated exposure of the film, stars, clips, director, etc.
- Production and paid broadcast of behind-the-scenes documentary-style shows, the type of which are mainly produced for HBO, Showtime, and Starz
- Advance trailers, longer previews, or behind-the-scenes footage on rental videos and DVDs
- Virtual relationship hyperlink marketing, wherein a major search engine (like Yahoo’s main page) offers articles seemingly presenting interesting news related items, but which are actually back-end loaded with a links page containing multiple “mental references” to film characters, storylines or products. Example: Bond, Transformers, etc…, are connected to scientific invention news stories about advanced weaponry or robotics discoveries, which quickly leads the reader to pages loaded with the latest 007 or Megatron movie clip or art director’s fantastical ideas and designs, thus hooking readers with a “bait and switch” story.
- Creation of standalone studio-sponsored per-film websites such as “example-the-movie.com”.
- Online digital film screeners: These digital film screeners have the benefit of letting you send individual copies of your film or a promo to the press, sales agents, distributors etc. Using them its simple to send individually controlled copies of your film to various recipients with different expiry dates. Along with the security of individual expiry dates, you can see reports of who viewed your film and track their viewing of the film.
- Viral marketing: free distribution of trailers on movie-oriented websites and video user-generated-content websites, and rapid dissemination of links to this content by email and blogs. Includes alleged leakage of supposed “rushes” and “early trailers” of film scenes. Sometimes, the efforts go further such as in the lead time to the successful premiere of the film, The Muppets which was preceded by several original film shorts on YouTube over a number of years while the film was in production.
- Creation of Internet Marketing campaign using Paid Advertisement and Social Media Marketing
- Paid advertisement in newspapers, magazines, and inserts in books.
- Cross-promotion of original book or novelization, including special printings, or new cover jackets (“Now a major motion picture.”)
- Comic special editions or special episodes
- Paid co-branding (Eragon in American Chopper-two episodes), or co-advertising (Aston Martin and James Bond films) of a product with the film
- Promotional giveaways: branded drink cups, toys, or food combinations at fast food chains
Promotional tours and interviews
Film actors, directors, and producers appear for television, cable, radio, print and online media interviews, which can be conducted in person or remotely. During film production, these can take place on set. After the film’s premiere, key personnel make appearances in major market cities or participate remotely via satellite videoconference or telephone. The purpose of interviews is to encourage journalists to publish stories about their “exclusive interviews” with the film’s stars, thereby creating “marketing buzz” around the film and stimulating audience interest in watching the film.
When it comes to feature films picked up by a major film studio for international distribution, promotional tours are notoriously grueling. Key cast and crew are often contracted to travel to several major cities around the world to promote the film and sit for dozens of interviews. In every interview they are supposed to stay “on message” by energetically expressing their enthusiasm for the film in a way that appears candid, fun, and fresh, even though it may be their fifth or sixth interview that day. They are expected to disclose just enough juicy “behind-the-scenes” information about the filmmaking process or the filmmakers’ artistic vision to make each journalist feel like he or she got a nice scoop, while at the same time tactfully avoiding disclosure of anything truly negative or embarrassing.
There are seven distinct types of research conducted by film distributors in connection with domestic theatrical releases, according to “Marketing to Moviegoers: Second Edition.” Such audience research can cost $1 million per film, especially when scores of TV advertisements are tested and re-tested. The bulk of research is done by major studios for the roughly 170 major releases they mount each year that are supported by tens of millions of advertising buys for each film. Independent film distributors, which typically spend less than $10 million in media buys per film, don’t have the budget or breadth of advertising materials to analyze, so they spend little or nothing on pre-release audience research. When audience research is conducted for domestic theatrical release, it involves these areas:
- Positioning studies versus other films that will premiere at the same time.
- Test screenings of finished or nearly finished films; this is the most well known.
- Testing of audience response to advertising materials.
- Tracking surveys of audience awareness of a film starting six weeks before premiere.
- Exit surveys questioning film goers about their demographic makeup and effectiveness of marketing.
- Title testing in an early stage.
- Concept testing that would occur in development phase of a film before it is produced.
Marketing can play a big role in whether or not a film gets the green light. Audience research is a strong factor in determining the ability of a film to sell in theaters, which is ultimately how films make their money. As part of a movie’s Marketing strategy, audience research comes into account as producers create promotional materials. These promotional materials consistently change and evolve as a direct consequence of audience research up until the film opens in theaters.