Paramount’s micro-budgeted ($15,000) horror phenomenon “Paranormal Activity” reached another notable benchmark yesterday, clearing $100 million at the US box office. The unusual roll-out of this movie is one model that studios and filmmakers are going to need to look at closely as distribution options for smaller to midsize movies continues to shrink.
Independent filmmakers and distributors are turning more and more to social media to help build online buzz around television shows, theatrical and dvd releases of blockbuster and independent movies. There’s an obvious opportunity for them, since these platforms are more affordable, by and large, than traditional, “old media”, especially if you stumble upon the holy grail of online marketing: the appropriation of your messages by the audience. Some have started saying: ‘If we all thought that Facebook and Twitter social media growth phenomena were extraordinary, wait until Social TV hits your screens.‘
One thing is for sure: Hollywood Studio marketers are becoming Facebook friends and Twitter followers!
“Facebook is really the focus for us right now,” said David Singh, executive VP of creative content for Disney. “Something like 70 to 80 percent of frequent moviegoers under 25 visit Facebook seven or eight times a day. In fact, I think marketers are fixated on Facebook because we tend to use it a lot ourselves.” (posted in The Wrap October 8th)
David Singh is right. According to a study released last September by former New Line web marketing guru Gordon Paddison, who is now an industry consultant, 73% of 4,000 moviegoers have established profiles on social media networks.
David Poland has grouped them in 3 categories for us:
84% of moviegoers make up their mind to see a movie regardless of what the critics say about it.
62% of moviegoers now get review information online.
45% of heavy moviegoers rely on movie review aggregation sites, placing a high value in seeing an average score.
75% say they trust a friend’s opinion more than a movie critic.
80% say positive reviews from other moviegoers make them more likely to see a movie (vs. 67% who say a positive review from professional critics does).
40% say negative reviews from other moviegoers make them decide not to see a movie (vs. 28% who say negative reviews from professional critics would keep them from going).
94% of all moviegoers are online; this is true across age groups. 88% have high speed/broadband connections.
86% of moviegoers across all demo segments go online via computer or mobile device at least once a day. They spend more time each week online (19.8 hours) than they do watching TV (14.3 hours).
90% of all ages of moviegoers have mobile phones; 32% of moviegoers no longer use a landline (44% of the 18-29 demo).
93% use Internet search to find more information about movies. Exposures that trigger online search include: Seeing a trailer (71%), seeing a TV spot (60%), someone telling you about a movie (58%).
HOW DO MOVIEGOERS FIND OUT ABOUT MOVIES?
69% of moviegoers watch online video content; 66% of moviegoers who look at video content watch movie trailers and 55% watch movie clips.
70% credit awareness from in-theater trailers, 73% from television, 46% from word-of-mouth, and 44% from the internet… all ranking ahead of such traditional methods of advertising as billboards and newspaper advertising.
Movie choice is highly influenced by group decision-making. The fact that someone else in the group wanted to see a particular movie (55%) was as important to the decision process as the movie’s storyline (57%).
2012 just released in theatres is another (good) example. The movie’s Facebook and MySpace pages contain trailers, photos and other information on the film and promote the iPhone apps, the game and other elements.
Everyone seems to agree that consumers are more and more playing an important role in film distribution. Adertising Age looking at the ultra-low budget Paranormal Activity came up with four lessons to be learned for the marketing community:
- Let consumers dictate distribution.
- Don’t waste money on large-scale TV campaigns when you can talk directly to your fans.
- Don’t create false hype.
- When there are low financial barriers, have fun.
“Paranormal Activity” cost a mere $15,000 to produce, with little spent thus far on traditional media, so Paramount stands to recoup any overhead costs thousands of times over if the film catches on with a national audience. But despite the initial success, “If it all ended today we’d be very happy,” said Paul Greenstein, the studio’s co-president, marketing.
Futurist Ross Dawson interviewed by Davy Adams (CXO Australia) on the future of media and how should marketers best navigate the new order in order to influence buyer behavior, has answered:
There is no simple and foolproof path to success. For marketers, one of the most important issues to deal with is the shift to the “influence economy” (“influence landscape” document here), in which peer and expert influence dominates decision-making. Pushing messages will not give you access to key influencers; engaging in interesting conversations will. This requires capabilities that are new for most large companies.
So to conclude, social media technologies could help filmmakers and distributors in:
- providing insight and commentary in real time (from location during shooting)
- promoting special contests, sneak previews
- facilitating collaborative video production experienc
- involving online communities in the design
- building conversation about the movie or television season or individual episodes
- opening dialogue between promoter and promotion participants
- movie & television website traffic generation
- promoting events such as movie premiers
- posting press releases
but ‘none of it should be taken lightly (…), be elegant and responsible while at the same time being strategic’ (words by Gordon Paddison).