Thursday, March 8, 2012

Audiences seeing film trailers in THEATERS first? Ye speak SORCERY! Lionsgate to debut Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn part II trailer with The Hunger Games.

Yes, as expected by everyone and their cat, Lionsgate will indeed unleash the first trailer for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn part II two weeks from tomorrow, attached exclusively to prints of The Hunger Games.  It's an obvious move, using one massively popular franchise to prop up a new franchise that shares at least some core demographics.  But what is most heartening about the move is that Lionsgate will in fact be keeping the trailer offline that entire opening weekend.  That's right, Twi-hards, there may be crummy YouTube bootlegs popping up online on Friday morning, but if you want to see a quality copy before Monday, March 26th (at 3:00am PST... really guys?), you actually have to buy a ticket to The Hunger Games over its opening weekend.  What a novel concept!    

It seems like a pretty obvious concept, actually debuting big movie trailers in theaters, preferably attached to new movies that share audience demographics (and theoretically giving the new movie a small boost over opening weekend).  But, with the exception of Warner Bros' advertising with the last two Batman pictures, no other studio seems to have the good sense to do this.  As you of course recall, Warner Bros. kept official versions of most of the various Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises teasers and trailers offline during the opening weekend of the Warner Bros films they were attached to. If you wanted to see the first teaser for The Dark Knight Rises, you had to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II in theaters over its opening weekend.  Ditto for The Dark Knight, which debuted its first trailer with I Am Legend.  Eleven years ago, New Line Cinema famously debuted the first teaser for the Lord of the Rings trilogy with prints of Thirteen Days.  We can debate whether the Cuban Missile Crisis drama got a boost, but I distinctly remember seeing signs at my theater warning patrons that they could not buy a ticket to Thirteen Days and then get a refund after the Lord of the Rings teaser played.

You'd think that more studios would do this, exclusively attaching anticipated trailers to their own films and using that exclusivity as a carrot to get fans into theaters on opening weekend.  You'd think Disney would have had the good sense to hold off on debuting the Avengers trailer online last week and instead waited and attached it exclusively to prints of John Carter this weekend.  You'd think that Sony would have waited a week to debut their full trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man and attached it exclusively to prints of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Never-mind the good business sense of one hotly anticipated film helping another film from the same studio, many of these big-scale trailers (such as The Amazing Spider-Man and Prometheus) obviously play much better on the big screen than they do on a computer monitor.  I can't imagine that would be the case for the relatively small-scale Twilight Saga, but the other point still stands.

So kudos to Lionsgate for exhibiting some old-fashioned good business sense by not only debuting their big trailer exclusively with their important would-be franchise, but keeping that trailer offline for three (3!) whole days in order to entice fans to actually sample the new product.  Watching theatrical trailers in a movie theater!  It seems like a no-brainer, it is a no-brainer, but in this online-first age, Lionsgate deserves a golf-clap for the smart play.

Scott Mendelson


Kyle Leaman said...

I think you are right...from a business standpoint. However, from a fan and consumer standpoint, I find it hard to give 'kudos' to a studio for essentially making fans and potential fans pay money to see an advertisement. From that standpoint, kudos to the other studios for not forcing people to pay money to see a movie they don't want to see just to view an advertisement for the upcoming film they really want to see.

Brett G. said...

Agreed 100% with this sentiment. I don't even watch trailers when they're released online unless they're for something I'm not really sure about or not 100% excited for. Big, huge no-brainer stuff like The Avengers, The Hobbit, etc. can all wait for theaters.


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