Since the successful release of Jaws in the summer of 1975, the film industry has tried to top itself every year with a new, highly-anticipated summer movie line-up. And movie-goers respond in masses, driving a huge $208 million to the film industry per opening weekend for their summer flick fix. Summer 2015 was no different with a predicted $5 Billion in box office sales, with several mega films on the docket. How much of these successes are due to marketing savvy, and what really matters when it comes to getting ticket buyers in seats?
Based on our own analysis, here’s how well these summer blockbusters’ fans have engaged with these films over Facebook. Our top 3 picks are Jurassic World, Pitch Perfect 2, and Mad Max: Fury Road. Jurassic World blows all other films out of the park when it comes to fan engagement, but will it translate to box office sales? Below we examine the marketing strategies of seven blockbusters released this summer and note their opening weekend earnings:
Source: Fan Grader
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Release date: May 1st
Production Budget: $250 million
Opening Weekend Box Office Sales: $191,271,109
With Marvel’s massive and ultra-loyal fanbase, its movies are always predicted to be a box office hit. Some claim that The Avengers: Age of Ultron essentially sells itself, but that didn’t stop the film’s marketers from partnering with brands such as Gillette to promote the release. Gillette’s commercial featured Avengers-inspired technology and targeted their predominantly male audience with advertisements for The Hulk Razor. The film’s trailer was well received as its Comic Con debut in San Diego. The Avengers were also very active on social media, as the most popular characters had their own Twitter accounts, such as this one for Iron Man where Tony Stark tweets in character.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Release Date: May 15th
Production Budget: $150 million
Opening Weekend Box Office Sales: $45,428,128
Mad Max was also well received as it debuted its trailer at San Diego Comic Con. The movie made efforts to target an audience not typically attracted to this type of film by promoting its feministic theme and showcasing Charlize Theron front and center of movie posters as a badass warrior with a prosthetic arm. Its male audience was targeted through commercials backed by an estimated advertising budget of $9.2 million spent on 858 national airings across 45 networks. Though MTV and Comedy Central showed the most airings, the NBA basketball playoffs received the most spending at over $1.5 million. The film also engaged its Facebook and Twitter fans by asking movie-related questions and drawing them into this fictional post-apocalyptic world.
Pitch Perfect 2
Release Date: May 15th
Production Budget: $29 million
Opening Weekend Box Office Sales: $69,216,890
Pitch Perfect 2 premiered just before the start of summer, but we had to include them with the marketing stunt they pulled: It was the first movie to use Snapchat and Snapchat Story in its marketing strategy, earning it more than 300,000 followers. The Snapchat filter created for the film was viewed over 6 million times. Parts of the premier were even livestreamed on Periscope, the video streaming app for iOS and Android.
Release date: June 12th
Production Budget: $150 million
Opening Weekend Box Office Sales: $208,806,270
Though some critiqued the heavy advertisements, the movie gained serious traction long before its opening weekend. Aside from its partnerships with brands like Mercedes-Benz, Jurassic World came to life with a website designed as a virtual theme park, featuring brands like Hilton Hotels and Margaritaville. With Jurassic World’s strategy to blur the lines between fiction and reality, people were able to interact with the movie as if it were an actual destination to be visited and experienced.
Release date: June 19th
Production Budget: $175 million
Opening Weekend Box Office Sales: $90,440,272
Inside Out’s marketing strategy kept true to its theme: emotions. In every advertising partnership, the movie highlighted one of the emotions characterized in the film in a way that the viewer could relate to. For instance, one commercial for the internet service provider Sky Broadband displayed the frustration of poor broadband performance. Building on the hype of the annual Puppy Bowl, all the emotion characters, Joy, Disgust, Sadness, Anger, and Fear, made an appearance in a 42 second commercial displaying the rollercoaster of emotions while watching. The movie interacted with its audience on a truly sentimental level with everyday situations.
Release date: July 10th
Production Budget: $74 million
Opening Weekend Box Office Sales: $115,718,405
Minions! Minions everywhere! The Minions even have their own color by Pantone: Minion Yellow. These yellow creatures appeared everywhere to create hype, whether it be on your delivery box from Amazon or at McDonald’s with life-size mascots, or at your favorite theme park. The film partnered with many major brands, such as Chiquita Bananas, Comcast, and General Mills, to spread the hype. Like Pitch Perfect 2, Snapchat was also a major marketing component. Giant minions were a hugely successful experiential activation in theaters and at McDonald’s, as people lined up to take and post pictures online. These tactics were so successful that David O’Connor, Universal’s executive VP of Global Brand Marketing and Partnerships, commented, “The minions have permeated pop culture.” The movie had the help of its existing franchise followers from the Despicable Me movies to drive the conversation and excitement on all social media platforms.
Release date: July 17th
Production Budget: $35 million
Opening Weekend Box Office Sales: $30,097,040
Trainwreck is anything but. With Amy Schumer as the main character, the movie engaged her existing fanbase for promotion. The film’s campaign asked engaging questions related to the main character’s lifestyle over social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The movie also tapped into the fanbase of another character: NBA superstar LeBron James, with cameos featured in all trailers. This strategy engaged with an audience normally not targeted by a romantic comedy with a female lead. Both celebrities added to the film’s release buzz with high-profile events leading to the premier, with Amy Schumer having hosted the MTV Movie Awards on April 12th and Lebron James having played in the NBA finals.
In the end, Jurassic World ate up the competition and Mad Max: Fury Road and Pitch Perfect 2 failed to live up to the hype. Perhaps, Marvel movies really can “sell themselves” and Pixar movies aren’t far behind.
What can we take away?
We expect the film industry to take on more interactive movie release campaigns, with particular emphasis on social media. Snapchat seems to be making quite an impression in the marketing of upcoming films and Twitter continues to act as an outlet for reviews and movie sentiment. Not only is buzz about movie premiers generated on social media, but moviegoers actively share their anticipation for and impressions of movies before and after watching.
How do you measure up? Check out Fan Grader to discover your brand’s 100 most engaged Facebook fans.