Selling Summer Movies

By Sarah Larson

Superheroes and irreverent comedies seem to be dominating the multiplex this summer. Every weekend a major film is released with hopes of box office success. As a cinema major interested in public relations, I wondered what these films do to stand out against the competition. Here is what I found…

Films are marketed by what are known as distribution companies. These companies distribute the film to theaters and also dispense marketing materials to advertise the film.

A big part of a firm’s marketing occurs when the company identifies the genre. This genre will determine how the film is packaged when appealing to various audiences. You wouldn’t want to go see The Expendables 2 expecting a romantic comedy and likewise this would not be a profitable tool for the company. This is not to say that some films don’t play on this notion of genre for comedic gains. The restricted trailer for Ted, an upcoming comedy about a foul-mouthed teddy bear, began by making fun of romantic comedies.

In a season full of sequels and long running franchises, it can be hard to make a new film stand out. The Avengers owes a lot of its success to the origin story films of some of its main characters. Likewise The Dark Knight Rises is a highly anticipated film and the end to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. So how does a movie stand out against all these superhero juggernauts?

Great trailers. Trailers are the reasons people decide to go to a particular film over another. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo had an amazing trailer that Hollywood buzzed about and likewise grossed close to $233 million worldwide according to

Here are two films I’m looking forward to seeing this summer because of stand out trailers. Note the different devices companies use to differentiate between genres. For example, the science fiction film Prometheus uses dramatic music and quick cuts of alien planets to draw viewers while the That’s My Boy comedy shows quick clips of partying and funny scenes.

As you can see, when trying to sell a product that costs millions to make, every detail of its marketing plan is going to be thought out. This is the case for films in an extremely high stakes industry.


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