Over the past decade or so, the Super Bowl has been a great forum in which movie studios can promote their upcoming releases. As one of the most watched television events of the year, the big game used to mean prime time exposure for all those Summer flicks waiting to be unleashed a few months later...This year, however, things are quite different.
Dade Hayes and Michael Learmonth of Variety:
Less than a week before the Super Bowl, only two movie ads are confirmed for the game -- a steep decline from last year, when eight pricey plugs yielded decidedly mixed results.
Neither of the pics is a summer release; summer movies have historically used the winter showcase as a launch pad.
Time has not run out on inventory, and network and studio execs said a couple of studios are in talks with CBS over the last remaining fourth-quarter spots. Those positions are usually the least watched, especially in a lopsided contest.
Universal, Sony and Warner Bros. have deliberately avoided the Chicago-Indianapolis matchup, diverting those millions in potential spending to targeted primetime berths. With record ratings for "American Idol" as well as strong new series from "Grey's Anatomy" to "Heroes," TV has lately provided prime opportunities.
The two studios that have locked down game time are Lionsgate and Disney.
Lionsgate is advertising for the Terrence Howard-Bernie Mac pic "Pride," about an inner-city teacher who turns troubled kids into champion swimmers. Lionsgate is planning a wide bow March 23.
Disney is advertising for "Wild Hogs," a comedy starring John Travolta, Tim Allen and Martin Lawrence that launches March 2.
Paramount is sponsoring an hour of the six-hour pregame show, a promotion for its Eddie Murphy film "Norbit." Sony, which in past years has taken a pre-game spot, has done so again this year for "Ghost Rider." Both pics are launching in February, and pregame ad time is considerably cheaper than during the game....
Pressures can be more concentrated in Hollywood. "The biggest nightmare with Super Bowl spots is telling other producers why you aren't buying ads on the game for their movies," noted one studio marketing vet.
Film marketers' jitters reflect wider concerns about capturing eyeballs as ad dollars gradually shift toward the Web. The Super Bowl is perhaps the last bona fide communal campfire, but viewers are often at large parties when watching, and many are overly saturated with lavishly produced, 30-second spots and the accompanying Ad Bowl sweepstakes.
Plus, many major summer titles, especially those bowing in May, are new editions in well-established franchises, so generating awareness is the last concern. Would a 30-second enticement for "Spider-Man 3," "Shrek the Third" or "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" yield more B.O. or would it just raise that always-bedeviling level of expectations?
Rates for the game's fourth quarter are typically steeply discounted, and CBS is giving big discounts for the last remaining national spots, in some cases cutting nearly a million off the $2.6 million asking price.
"We're very happy where we are right now; we have a couple of units left, but we are going to be sold out by game time," said CBS exec veep of sports sales John Bogusz.
The shift this year is interesting in historic terms. A decade ago, "Independence Day" was the only film advertised on the game. Its theatrical launch was monstrous, leading seven studios to take ads the following year. Studio spending has remained at a high level ever since, with film trailing only beer as a category.
Time Warner and Disney have been the fourth- and fifth-biggest advertisers in the Super Bowl over the last 20 years, spending $63.4 million and $43.5 million, respectively, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
Since 1991, 87 pics have been advertised during the Super Bowl...
Maybe the lack of film ads is a good thing--considering that my team the Chicago Bears is going up against the favored Indianapolis Colts...I don't need the memory of any glossy film clips distracting me once the game comes back on...