The Evolution of Movie Marketing for Major Franchises

Around 10 years ago, I remember going to the cinema to watch a (quite forgettable) movie. What did stick out to me was a trailer for an upcoming blockbuster – ’Iron Man 2’. That early-2010 era was filled with action movies such as ‘The Expendables’, ‘The A-team’ and Angelina Jolie’s ‘Salt’.

From the moment I watched the Iron Man 2 trailer, I started noticing how generic and similar all the action-movie’s advertising was during this era.
They all had the same intense ‘danger’ music filled with quick flash shots of characters beating up one another and a narrator (with a strangely deep voice) telling us how awesome – said movie will be and when it’s getting released.

Closer to the release date of these movies, you would see the marketing campaigns launch in traditional forms of advertising. These would include your billboard posters, standard TV advertising and magazines.

Fast-forward over a decade on and the entirety of the movie marketing landscape has changed dramatically.

Social Media 

With platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, everyone around the world can connect with their favourite celebrity and follow them in their lifestyle. Celebrities these days have been using their platforms to promote their upcoming movies in creative ways. For example, Dwayne Johnson heavily uses his Instagram to promote his workout routine for different roles in his movies and Tom Holland does live stories with his fans for surprise reveals. Newer platforms such as ‘Snapchat’ have devised filters for people to use whenever an upcoming movie comes out. For example with Sonic the hedgehog movie, they allowed users to take a selfie with their faces as the character-sonic. This has evidently worked as the movies have grossed millions of dollars worldwide at the box office.

Twitter itself plays (arguably) a bigger role in movie marketing than any other social media network. With the platform relying on the use of hashtags, anyone can be sharing their views on certain topics that are trending. This on its own is the easiest way of increasing awareness for a movie to be released with certain influencers attending early screenings and sharing their reviews online before the release of the movie to build further anticipation.

Funny trends on Twitter occur after watching movies such as the ‘out of context’ trend where users tweet out 4 images with no context relating to certain iconic scenes within that movie. This engages with the wider community while also giving nothing away and leaves other people wanting more.

However, there is a downside to having Twitter as a channel of marketing which can be that users on there will have negative reviews and tweets to put out that can cause a stir around the movie, making people not go to watch that viewing.

As well as this, Twitter users can spoil the movie by tweeting out the ending and let’s face it… 

Everyone hates spoilers.

Augmented Reality (AR)

In recent years, AR has become increasingly popular as a consumer product. One particular product that helped revolutionise AR into the mainstream was the game, Pokemon Go. This was released in 2016 and it changed the entire landscape of how we use augmented reality today. The convenience of AR being added to smartphones and certain device applications has led to higher consumer engagement. As you can imagine, for this obvious reason, movie marketers have adapted their strategies to ensure that AR sees its fair share of movie advertising material and (again) it’s worked wonders.

The major franchises like Star Wars and Jurassic Park have all adapted their advertising methods to create apps/games on smartphones and let users play as the characters. Jurassic Park, in particular, have adapted their own version of the ‘Pokemon Go’ game where instead of users going to find (high ranked champion) Pokemon, they go out and look for dinosaurs, including some of the newer creatures that are featured in the newer franchise movies that get released. When they collect DNA samples from the creatures they can grow their personalised dinosaurs. Because that always works out so well for the humans in the movies.

This creative form of marketing has helped the movie studios break box office records with their movies as Jurassic World and Star Wars are in the top 10 all-time grossing movies worldwide. It’s clear from this that AR seems to be the future for movie marketing, specifically with the major franchises.

As we can see from these examples, movie marketing has evolved significantly from the days of printed media and standard TV advertisements. It has evolved to the point where users can engage with movie’s characters and leaves them wanting more. 

Due to the wider reach of these marketing channels, major franchises have been able to break the box office records and will continue to break these records in the near future with technological advancements enabling studios to expand a mass audience reach.

Not quite what back to the future predicted, but it will certainly be an exciting one to witness unravel.

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