Monday, November 28, 2011
“Reed between the Lines” is a relatively new television series which premiered on BET (Black Entertainment Television) that has “edge”. The show aired on a network that caters to African Americans and it is also directed, produced, and cast predominantly by African Americans. The content shown, including humor and racial issues that appear in the series is targeted to and understood by one demographic. “Reed between the Lines” has the ability to appeal and be accepted by one demographic or audience which gives it an “edge”.
The series itself is a comedy that follows a middle class African American family through the ups and downs of life. Generally speaking the series breaks many common stereotypes associated with African American families today. For example, the family lives in a very stable household with both parents present; the mother is a psychologist and the father is a stay at home dad who home-schools their children.
There are very few shows targeting African Americans that do not that portray the stereotype of the broken family living in a lower-class. I believe “Reed between the Lines” appeals to African Americans as a whole. It provides a lifestyle that the majority of African Americans are not exposed to thus it serves as something to work towards. “Reed between the Lines” also appeals to the middle and upper class African Americans because they can relate to the lifestyle and characters.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Our visit to the movie theaters allowed us to see two very different operating styles of the distributors. Both made it clear from the start that they wanted to differentiae themselves from the larger competition. I found that Studio 35 succeeded in doing so, while The Arena Grand fell short. The Arena Grand is an independent movie theater, but felt identical to an AMC, just with less movies playing. They offer specialty items in their bistro restaurant including drinks. Yet this “bistro” stunk of popcorn, so who would want to eat there and the drinks were way over priced. Going to a movie is expensive enough and while distributors make most of their money off concessions, I think in this case they were a little greedy. The hardest pill for them to swallow is the digitization of the film industry. In was clear that the company is worried about the costs that come with the new technology and are unsure if all their theaters will be prepared for the new form of film.
Studio 35 was awesome. It punctuates what Drake was trying to prove; that in a stagnate industry one must make an attempt to stand out in new ways. The bar looked like a place my Grandpa would drink and a great selection of microbrews. At the lower ticket prices customers are more willing to buy drinks. That works for them because that is clearly their main revenue stream. The seats were in a bowl, which I had never seen before. Everything there stuck me as original, and I cannot wait to go check it out again. I hate going to the movies and spending all that money on a sub-par film, but in the case of Studio 35 I am paying for an experience. Also you can order pizza and they will deliver it to you while you’re watching the move.
One thing the two theaters shared in common was their willingness to bend the rules. People don’t go to the movies like they used to, so the industry had to find new ways of creating revenue streams. The Arena Grand pockets all the cash from a private showing citing that they were just renting out the pace and not selling tickets. Studio 35 shows the Buckeye games even though they have received cease and desist orders. They need to show these games in order to cover their operating costs because they do not make enough of movies alone. Due to increased distribution costs and piracy these distributors have attempted to come up with unique and sometimes not always legal idea to attract customers. Patrons want a viewing experience that does not solely revolve around the film. Distributors who meet the needs of their specific clientele will be the ones still successful in the industry.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Studio 35, the oldest independent movie theater in Columbus, has coupled its business to be a theater as well as a drafthouse. This unique combination will attract a whole different audience that may not go to ordinary theaters, but choose this one for their beer tastings and interesting brews. Also, this theater re-shows popular shows that consumers have fallen in love with, for example Office Space is being shown this week during a beer tasting, so people can see a movie they love and try out a few different beers. Arena Grand has also created an experience different than normal movie theaters with a wider range of food at their bistro. Typically you can get popcorn, candy, and a soda at a movie theater, but not Arena Grand. You can get a full meal at their bistro that serves wraps, subs, salads and more. Aside from the food, Arena Grand also offers space for meetings and private screenings, a service not provided by most theaters. In the end, creating an experience that is more than just a movie is the best way for these theaters to make the greatest profit and keep consumers coming back again and again.
Going to the movie has returned to being an “outing”. This change from quickly seeing a film has become an “outing” and viewers are looking for the full experience. With ticket prices higher than ever and over priced concession stand food; you can’t go to a movie without spending a good amount of money. For this reason movies and especially theatres are being looked at to provide a full experience (Drake, 64). Arena Grand Movie Theatre has transformed the experience of seeing a movie by introducing a Bistro and Bar, full of gourmet foods, beer, and wine. They promise that your “experience” will be one of pleasure and relaxation. Offering the Bistro to movie and non movie goers.
Studio 35 has taken a different approach with consumers, offering various specials to accompany their movie. For example on Sunday, November 6 they are offering a beer tasting and movie special, featuring Office Space. While both of these theatres have taken different approaches at transforming the movie theatre into an experience, they are both aiming at the same concept, creating a place where consumers want to watch a movie. Movies have become so easily accessed at home that the draw to pay for over prices movie tickets and concessions has become less and less appealing. For this reason it is the job of the movie theatres to create that one of a kind experience that competes with the comfort of ones couch and home.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Drake defines publicity as media coverage for which no payment by the studio is made. While a member of the marketing department essentially, it functions at a very different frequency. Instead of being handed budgets and creating campaigns, publicity looks to utilize the talent of their movie through media use. Interestingly, Drake notes that reviews, television appearances, and interviews do not usually involve a direct payment to the media, and therefore may be more trusted by audiences. Trailers, and ads for movies are clearly attempting to spin and sell something to the consumer, but a late night interview with the star in which the movie is not the sole topic can spark peoples interest in a unique way.
Real Steel starring Hugh Jackman, took full advantage of its ability to utilize film publicity. With an estimated budget of eighty million dollars, turning a profit for this action oriented film based around the simplistic theme of robot boxing seemed imperative. While the marketing campaign was certainly high budget, a similarly strong publicity campaign was happening. Hugh Jackman was pushed as the loveable character who brought depth and importance to a movie revolving around robots boxing. Jackman appeared on most late night television shows, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Jay Leno, and Conan O’brien. During interviews Jackman clearly was attempting to show that this film had heart, and while very Hollywood in its nature, it contained some layers. His attempts seemed valiant, he was charming, friendly, and very optimistic about the movie.
Despite excellent differential promotion efforts from Jackson and the publicity team to create a dichotomy of messages from the trailers, the film still has not grossed enough to make a profit. Currently at approximately 66 million dollars, the film had a strong opening weekend but has cooled off sense. Much of this may be due to mixed reviews and not the strong publicity campaign which utilized the television media incredibly well.
When it comes to pricing goods outside of the cinema industry, price discriminating is a huge factor in determining the cost to consumers. If you are selling a superior product or luxury item, you can increase the price because people will be will to pay more for the quality. If you are selling a cheaply made good, you have to change less because it not worth the money to consumers. When it comes to the movie industry all ticket prices are equal. Whether a films budget was over 200 million dollars with an Oscar winning scrip and big name actors or a simply shot on a camcorder and edited using an ipad, the cost at the box office is the same.
The article uses Spider-Man as an example often as a big blockbuster with a massive marketing budget. This film had high price actors, digitally laborious special effects, and needed filming permits in NYC which are not inexpensive. These are high sunk costs. Thus to turn a profit it was necessary to have a large marketing budget to ensure the films success (i.e. you need to spend money to make money). By launching a wide scale marketing approach that encompassed TV, print media, food industries, press appearances, ect. Producers were able to get the word out about the film. The article points out that a strong showing at the box office makes up only 15% of the films total revenue, that 15% sets the tone for the ancillary profits. Spider-Man dominated at the box office and thus kids wanted the DVD’s and merchandise that came with it. Also, due to it’s success sequels were put into production, which are producers safest bets for profits. After reading this article it is clear why some super heroes get sequels and it is because they are simply more marketable.
On the flip side a movie like My Big Fat Greek Wedding the chances of a net loss were slim. They had little to no marketing budget to speak of. Their distribution costs were low because it slowly spread across the country. Advertisement for the film was through word of mouth. Since the film was mostly unknown at the start, moviegoers may have been apprehensive about spending the nine dollars for a ticket; but if their friend recommends the movie that is better advertisement that any TV spot. A consumer is much more likely to trust their friend opinion than a flashy trailer. My Big Fat Greek Wedding is the largest grossing independent film of all time. To conclude, a movie does not need a ton of marketing to be successful, but if a significant investment has been made towards a film a marketing plan is necessary to protect those investments.
As Drake explains in this article the movie industry is a risky business. As he states, “Cinemagoing can therefore be considered a risky activity for consumers in that they are buying a product based upon a promise of a pleasurable experience, and risky for film financers in that they cannot guarantee demand for a particular film and cannot alter ticket price based on supply and demand.” Most people including myself thought every movie was making millions and millions of dollars in revenue. The economic models in the film industry are far more complex than most people think. Financers and investors have to take huge risks when backing a movie. They hope the demand for the movie is high enough so the financier will make money in the end, and not the other way around.
One aspect of film revenues is that it is “streamed across a lengthy period of time.” Over the last two decades DVD and the consolidation of videos are now the highest revenue earners for the movies, compared to the first week on the box office. This means that the economic models are shifting, because the change in technology more people are now viewing the movie at home or buying the DVD at a later time. Ticket sales have gone down in recent years. Consequently one key way to produce more revenue is through marketing and advertising. If the advertiser and marketer can keep the buzz around a movie for a longer time the revenues will increase. As Drake states, “Marketing is therefore a key means for the industry to establish product recognition and differentiation, and attempt to reduce these risks by highlighting the marketable elements prior to a film’s release.” The more people that know about the movie, and the more positive press can only result in higher revenues. As the economic models are changing, and as we shift to an age of digitization the movie industry is changing how to bring in profit. With a new age of social media, people in the movie industry are finding more ways to advertise. The reach of advertising today, is far greater than it was ten years ago. As we movie into the future, the film industry is going to have to adapt a new way to market a movie as well as keeping the money coming in.
Movie marketing can certainly help reduce the risk that the longevity and variable nature of profits entails. By Building a fan base through advertisements and marketing, a producer can increase his/her confidence in the money that will be recouped through not only ticket sales in the first couple months after the movie's release, but through merchandise sales, DVD sales, television royalties, and more. Advertising and marketing makes the film less of a risk because it helps bring more in more consumers who will decide to spend their money on that film. Additionally, as Drake points out, the marketing can be catered towards each specific film, emphasizing the star cast, the popular and promotable topic, and so on to help the movie producers to get the best bang for their buck.
While theatre differ in ticket prices the movies offered within the theatres do not alter. An Indy film costs just as much as a blockbuster to the excited movie go-er. For this reason the filmmakers play a gamble – they are either about to far exceed their budget in ticket sales or not make enough to compensate for their spending’s. On of the five peculiarities of Hollywood films are in fact that all ticket prices are the same despite the cost of films.
This peculiarity can be a good thing because the first weekend for blockbuster hits is such an attraction for people that millions flock to the movies, ultimately resulting in huge ticket sales for the filmmakers. On the other side smaller (cheaper) films do not initially draw the audiences in so their money is made more gradually (if at all) over time. In these cases the risk of peculiarity is diminished. But it cannot happen without marketing. Marketing for movies are the reasons why individuals know to go to the movies in the first place. Where they are marketed and how makes a big difference for the viewers, for some movies their trailers are on television every other commercial. While some have merchandise that attracts the audiences. In the end it doesn’t matter what brings the masses to the theatres – filmmakers are just glad they came and paid for their ticket. Ultimately that money will help offset the cost for the film.