Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Film Can Never be Fully Consumed

The Hollywood film industry is often seen as being an extremely risky business.  This is partially because the market for Hollywood films operates under what economists refer to as, “asymmetric information”.  What this means is that the film industry runs on incomplete information between producers and consumers which in turn leads to problems in predicting the success or failure of a film.  This often leads to a film being either a hit or a total disaster. 
Marketing and advertising are crucial to the success of a film.  Over the past two decades there has been a substantial increase in the amount of money spent of marketing and the creation of a film release schedule in order to reduce being forced out by other films or products. 
In the reading Distribution and Marketing in Contemporary Hollywood, Philip Drake presented five peculiarities of Hollywood films as cultural goods.  The point that I find to be the most fascinating is that the consumption of a film does not exhaust it.  A film can be watched a million times over by millions and millions of people and the film will never ‘deplete’ itself preventing other viewers from watching the film.  I believe this peculiarity causes the most stress on film makers.  A majority of our cultural products have the potential of eventually being used up, therefore preventing other people from using the product.  For example, toothpaste.  A person goes to the store buys a tube of toothpaste and within a month or so the toothpaste is all gone and the person needs to go out to the store and buy another tube. 
A lot of products we have in our society can be used up and prevent other people from using them, however, this is not the case for films.  Because of this, Hollywood has to pour billions of dollars into the marketing and advertising of its films.  Without the use of marketing and advertising, urging people to be at the cinema on opening day, a majority of people would not see the need to go see the films because the film will always exist and the person can just see it some other time.  Hollywood needs to spend a lot of money in order to create hype around the movie to get people excited.  It’s a very tough job to create hype, but one way or another Hollywood manages to do it.  According to The New York Times, last weekend, “The Hunger Games” raked in $155 million in North America and according to The Movie Banter, only spent $40 million on marketing.  That’s pretty good if you ask me!

Questions for Kacey Hagler
1) Many of the Fox Searchlight films you have worked on started out as independent films, as far as I know, and most of them became huge successes! What kind of publicity went into making them so successful?
2) When you work on publicity for films, such as The Help, do you focus on targeting a specific audience?  And if so, how do you select the audience you want to target?
3) Is doing publicity for a movie that is a sequel (Cars 2) a lot harder than publicity for an original movie?

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