As much as I like watching movies, I like to watch movie trailers too. Sometimes, unfortunately, the best part about a movie is the trailers that run before it. The main aim of the trailer is to raise the viewer’s interest in the movie. If the trailer is successful in garnering the viewer’s interest and pulling him towards watching the movie, its purpose is served. Teaser trailers which run for like 15-20 seconds generally pique the viewer’s interest. However the longer trailers, which usually run for 2-2 ½ minutes, tell much more about the movie. These should not give away too much lest it might ruin all the fun. Nor should it be so ordinary that it completely bores the person and he/she loses any interest in the movie.
A screenshot of the yahoo movies webpage
Now-a-days movie makers exploit every way to market the trailers. In addition to them being shown in theaters, they are up on television as well as on internet. Recently YouTube launched a new channel just for movie trailers. Yahoo already has had one for a long time. So has Apple.
But the most effective place for trailers is the movie theater. That is where a trailer is first released. These trailers are sometimes released four five months before the actual movie. And there is a lot of background work gone behind showing these trailers. Which trailers are to be shown with which movie, when should they be shown before the movie starts…all is a part of a strategy.
Generally movie studios decide to release a movie trailer with their latest movies. But the final decision rests with the theater chains. In India, there are still large numbers of single screen theaters. But the multiplex culture has developed considerably in the cities. Most of the movie followers are well aware about the recent dispute between the movie makers and the multiplex owners about the share of profits. Aamir Khan and SRK came together on that issue to resolve the dispute. The clout that the theater owners and movie chains hold over the movie industry is quite evident from this. Mostly they also have control over what trailers will be shown in the theaters.
In Hollywood, with large number of movies and big studios backing them up, there is generally a very tough competition before it is decided which trailers will be shown. The theaters cant just show trailers for all the movies that the studios want advertised. Generally there is a deal between the studio and the theater chain about the trailers. Before a movie begins, different trailers are shown for at least around 10 minutes. The deals decide which trailers will be shown and when. Efforts are made to put the trailer just before the movie starts because that is the best time when it can reach maximum audience members. The trailers that run first probably aren’t seen that much as every viewer is still not in his seat.
Hollywood executives are reported to have paid a theater chain as much as $100,000 to make sure that a particular trailer runs just before a hit movie. Also if not done explicitly, there are other ways to make deals with theaters. Some include diverting the marketing costs which are listed under print ads. Or giving the chain a bigger share of the ticket sales.
However there is always some amount of distrust between the theater owners and the movie makers. Studios even hire private companies to check on whether they are getting their money’s worth. These companies send their reps to theaters and check on whether the trailer promised to be shown in the theater is actually running. The amount spent per month on this is at least about $10K. If found that a particular chain is not running the promised trailer, results may be dire. If the studio decides against showing any of its movies in that chain, instead opting for the competition, it can mean a loss of lot of money.
Another new strategy adapted by studios is exclusive screening of trailers in theaters. Recently James Cameron showed a peek at his new movie “Avatar”. As you all know, James Cameron is the maker of the highest grossing movie ever, The Titanic, and Avatar, his next venture, is eagerly awaited. So when 20th Century Fox and James Cameron showed 15 minutes of “Avatar” at a specially ticketed event in August, more than 100,000 viewers attended the screenings. Also while marketing “The Dark Knight,” Warner Brothers had showed a few minutes of its opening sequence in theaters with paid tickets.
It is obvious though that such tactics will work when the big studios or at least big directors are behind that movie. With more and more different means to advertise and market a movie, now it just remains to be seen what new and interesting ideas the marketing guys will come up with next.
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