Movie Marketing

January 31, 2009 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: movies

090119_r18129_p233.jpg The New Yorker ran a great article by Tad Friend profiling Tim Palen, Lionsgate’s co-president of theatrical marketing.

While most artists find the idea of marketing reprehensible, there would be no films to market if they couldn’t occasionally sell them to the audience. Film marketing is no less sophisticated than the marketing of any other product. Starting, of course, with identifying who they are going to sell to.

Marketers segment the audience in a variety of ways, but the most common form of partition is the four quadrants: men under twenty-five; older men; women under twenty-five; older women. A studio rarely makes a film that it doesn’t expect will succeed with at least two quadrants, and a film’s budget is usually directly related to the number of quadrants it is anticipated to reach.

The list of qualities that each segment responds to looks for was really interesting as well.

The collective wisdom is that young males like explosions, blood, cars flying through the air, pratfalls, poop jokes, ‘you’re so gay’ banter, and sex — but not romance. Young women like friendship, pop music, fashion, sarcasm, sensitive boys who think with their hearts, and romance — but not sex.

What’s the segment of death? You might expect older women. You’d be wrong.

Particularly once they reach thirty, these women are the most “review-sensitive”: a chorus of critical praise for a movie aimed at older women can increase the opening weekend’s gross by five million dollars.

Nope. It’s the lazy older guys.

“Guys only get off their couches twice a year, to go to ‘Wild Hogs’ or ‘3:10 to Yuma,’” the marketing consultant Terry Press says. “If all you have is older males, it’s time to take a pill.”

Since I’m in that demographic, but obviously see more films than two a year, we know that these things are generalizations. But, cliché’s come from somewhere. I now know I’m more likely to respond to marketing of a film if it has Clint Eastwood in it.