The filmmaking is multi-billion dollar industry, and the average budget of a Hollywood movie nowadays exceeds $100 million. When discussing a film, viewer mostly considers its plot, actors, and special effects, almost never thinking about advertisement and public relations. These components have crucial importance in modern industry, where hundreds of millions are at stake. Public relations accompany a movie at all stages of its production.
In Hollywood, a budget of the PR campaign may be up to half of the total movie budget (Belton 2007). Although, while PR is rarely considered by the general audience as an important component of the budget; a qualitative PR campaign can make a bad movie successful at the box office, but modern movie PR is usually streamlined and predictable.
The marketing and PR team start their work even before the principal photography. During the pre-production, the PR management has to make a comprehensive plan of the campaign. They conduct research of the potential audience. While it is impossible to predict every type of viewer, the team does not need to. As Cheng (2014) states, their primal goal is to research the general audience, “the first wave of ticket buyers” (p. 35). Along with identification of viewer base, the team starts to warm the audience interest with director’s and cast’s names, the movie’s title and other basic information about the final product and observes the potential viewers’ reaction.
The PR and filmmaking teams should create a marketing plan together. While the pre-production stage is a foundation of the upcoming campaign, its mistakes still can be fixed, while a keen cinema-goer may already begin to understand what kind of movie will eventually be released, basic on the previous films of the same director and cast members. Perhaps the most influential PR instrument is a trailer. Trailers for the most anticipated movies raise barely less excitement than movies do themselves. The most known modern example is the trailer for the VII Episode of Star Wars. Youtube is the most common platform for the trailer distribution, and they gain tens and even hundreds of millions of views.
At the production stage, PR team should continue their work, implementing the plan they have developed during the previous phase. Their work now is to distribute the promotional materials such as teaser trailers, to make media presentations. While the work on the principal photography is still in progress, the promotional material is prioritised. The advertisement and PR team also develops a press kit that contains actors’ photographs and biographies, an outline of the movie’s plot, etc. During this stage, the primary goal of the PR team is to warm the audience up not telling so much (Tench &Yeomans 2009). While the media has access to press materials, ordinary viewers should be satisfied with teaser trailers, first posters, and some photos.
Once the movie enters the stage of post-production, it is time for a media screening. Critics’ recommendations and opinions may be vital for a film, depending on its target audience and genre. In the Internet, reviews are aggregated on the sites like Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. The high average score is a mark of quality for cinema-goers. It is worth noting, that different categories of viewers are influenced by different critics.
Prestigious print magazines and newspapers do not mean much for the younger audience, as they tend to trust television or Youtube reviews. The latter, in general, become more and more influential. Independent critics are sometimes no listed below the traditional media. Media persons are controlled by the PR group after the screening. They should give their reviews to the world just before the premiere in order to raise the excitement. Obviously, the black PR is a PR too, thus devastating reviews may provoke movie-goers the same way as praising ones. Some films are not displayed before the premiere at all. It is called a cold opening. Sometimes it is justified, but in most cases should be avoided. High-budget films have pre-screening ubiquitously. Then the premiere comes.
It is another event to capture the media’s and public attention. Speaking of Hollywood films, movie stars are coming to the premiere along with the director. They give brief interviews and are photographed by the reporters. In some cases, a premiere tour takes places, and the same event on a smaller scale occurs in several countries. In terms of commercial success, one of the most important milestones for a high-budget movie is not the premier itself, but the opening weekend (Alamshaw 2014). Due to rising marketing budgets nowadays films are grossing more and more for this short period of time.
Another reason is that movies are now opening in a large number of cinemas. The most advertised films are released at summer. After the premiere, public opinions on the movie are spread spontaneously through the social networks, and the efforts of the PR team no longer matter much. A movie or its star may be nominated on some prestigious reward raising the public interest once again.
Several months after theatrical distribution, a film is released on DVD and Blu-ray discs. While Internet Video-on-Demand services like iTunes and Netflix are now widely available, the traditional physical version may become a collectible. It is especially true for collector’s edition that feature some souvenirs related to the movie. Although blockbusters generate a profit mostly during theatrical distribution, lesser expensive movies may be saved from the commercial failure this way (Obias 2011).
One of the most notable examples is “Fight Club”. At first this David Fincher’s film was considered as failed, but the home video made this masterpiece a modern-day classic. At several occasions, the home version of a movie contains additional scenes. It may be a few minutes, the director or the editor considered unnecessary though sometimes the “director’s cut is significantly longer.
In my opinion, modern film industry, at least in Hollywood is too predictable and uses the same patterns both in the movie and in its advertisement again and again. The limited colour scheme of the posters has already been a topic for jokes (Barackman 2013); trailers have the similar music and so on. It is also unfortunate that several movies have suffered from the producers’ wilfulness. The not so recent, yet important example of this is “Blade Runner”.
The theatrical version of this Philipp Dick adaptation was a catastrophe while the following re-release became a cult. In order to expand an audience, movies on adult themes are edited to be suitable for a lower age rating. Some movies require a relatively high budget, but they are not suitable for the general auditory, and PR have nothing to do with it. No wonder, that TV series are becoming more mature instead.
Alamshaw, S 2014, Silver Screen Strategies: Utilizing Relationship Management Theory in the Film Industry to Maximize Revenue Opening Weekend. Web.
Barackman, N 2013, Why Movie Posters All Look the Same. Web.
Belton, J 2008, American Cinema/American Culture, McGraw-Hill Education, New York.
Cheng, T 2014, Public Relations and Promotion in Film: How It’ s Done and Why It’s Important. Web.
Obias, R 2011, 11 Beloved Movies That Were Box Office Flops. Web.
Tench, R &Yeomans L 2009, Exploring Public Relations, Pearson Education, New Jersey.