It’s the summer of all dangers for Hollywood. A pivotal moment, likely to affect the way future films are conceived on the California coast. While the major studios are now (almost) all at the helm of their streaming platform (only Sony has opted for agreements with Netflix or Disney+, for example), they have all pulled heavy artillery and opened up a very wide portfolio in order to turn movie theaters into Weapons of mass temptation from summer 2022 to summer 2023.
While the average cost of a movie in Belgium is $2.2 million, a figure that goes up to $5.6 million for our French neighbors, in Hollywood it goes up to $65 million. Not to mention an average marketing expense of $35 million. Or $100 million per feature film.
Astronomical sums that seem absurd given the fortunes spent on blockbuster films. Nowadays, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides It remains the most expensive film ever made, with a total budget (ads included) of $410 million. It sounds crazy, but according to many American experts, this record could be broken in the coming months.
You have to go and get the spectator in his seat
The phenomenon of exploding marketing costs is not unusual. Today, presenting moviegoers with stunning images is no longer enough to lure them into theaters. You literally have to pull them out of their seats. According to information provided by CNC during the Cannes Film Festival, only 52% of viewers have resumed their previous habits of 2019, while the remaining 48% go to cinemas less or even not at all. In the United States, the loss of popcorn to enjoy in front of the big screen is estimated at 40%.
Thus bringing them back desire for desire is the first goal of the majors. And for that, nothing is too expensive. For the most attractive products, support columns, marketing campaigns now often exceed $150 million according to a survey The Hollywood Reporter. While feature films are shown with higher potential but are less “safe” than other Marvel or Star Wars (such as Elvis, no or Express train), this budget is generally close to $75 million. Which is not mentioned in the budget for the film. And so, if Top Gun: Maverick At a whopping $173 million cost, that doesn’t include his promotion on an aircraft carrier or his arrival by helicopter to the Cannes Film Festival, for example.
Believing that in 1975, Steven Spielberg was shocked to spend a pharaonic sum of $700,000 on television advertising to promote the first blockbuster movie in history, a film that for the first time crossed the legendary $100 million mark in revenue and sea teeth.
The scene on the screen has a cost
Promotional fees aren’t the only ones that defy the laws of inflation. Production budgets have also gone up “infinity and beyond” to ensure more gorgeous images on the big screens and ignite the cinematic flame that tends to fly in the comfort of the sofa.
Here is a small overview of the stated or estimated budgets by Hollywood professionals for the following films:
Dominion Jurassic World (June 8, 2022): $165 million;
Light year (June 22, 2022): $200 million;
gray man (July 13, 2022): $200 million;
Thor: Love and Thunder (July 13, 2022): $185 million;
DC League of Super-Pets (July 27, 2022): $130 million;
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (November 2022): $367 million (Marvel Fanon estimate)
Avatar 2: The Waterway (December 14, 2022): $200 million;
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (15 March 2023): “It will be the most expensive of all”, Ceylon Marveld Crossover.
Rain of dollars to flow
The numbers give a spin. Especially if we add the marketing expenses, since it is necessary to double the receipts for the studios to enter their expenses, the other half of the entries go to the cinemas. This means that the next few months promise to be crucial for multiplexing. Without the big box office, the major studios might be tempted to put more eggs in the streaming basket.
This year, platforms will already spend $140 billion on content, while movie theaters could, at best, bring in a box office of $33 billion. The fight is already terribly excessive. Cinema must win or risk falling into the lightweight category.
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