There seems to be a seismic shift underway regarding the role of celebrities in the making and marketing of a variety of things, but specifically films. With people like Tom Cruise getting publicly spanked by a former corporate partner, high-cost comedies with stars like Jim Carrey getting pulled in pre-production and other such incidents, stars are less reliable than they once were. Combine that with the reality that people are making their own entertainment instead of going to the movies and you have a major roadblock in the path most movies get made and subsequently marketed. The uncertainty of box-office results and complex financial arrangements are also causing studios to look for outside partners to help finance a film’s production.
The bottom line is that studios rely to a great extent on the Pavlovian response a certain segment of the audience has to a particular celebrity, especially when it comes to the marketing of the movie. They need to count on some people having a “oh it’s them – I like them” reaction. When celebrities start acting like nutters or appear in a series of so-so films that audience instinct is degraded. That not only affects production but marketing since the studios don’t have as big a hook to hang the film on.
I wrote this piece, called simply “Budget Comparison” a while ago but haven’t known quite what to do with it. It’s basically a call for studios to “think small” when it comes to movie production and marketing, the logic being that there’s more profit to be made by making small films and marketing to that film’s niche than shooting for the stars with a big budget movie that *might* appeal to a large audience. Let me know what you think of it. I think it ties into what I’m trying to say here but sometimes I’m just not sure.
movie marketing, sony pictures, warner bros., universal pictures, 20th century fox, buena vista, lionsgate, picturehouse, sony classics, weinstein, focus features, paramount pictures, new line, ifc films, pixar, disney