How has theatrical film marketing changed in the past few years?

Enrique Gonzalez Kuhn, Alta Films: It’s changed in a bad way. There are so many films released each week you have to fight for attention, which means spending more money - but also being more creative.

Julio Fernandez, Filmax: Each week six to 10 titles are shown, often on several copies and with exorbitant promotional budgets. We’re very careful with our investments because the risk you assume is getting greater and greater.

Miguel Morales, Wanda Films: The space in the traditional media to promote your films has decreased. We now have to fight harder for each film.

Which have been the most interesting innovations?

EGK: After the first screening of a film, everyone knows if it’s good or bad within 10 minutes; it will be all over the internet and people will have texted their friends to say what they think. That can be good or bad, depending on the reaction.

How has online transformed the way a film is marketed?

EGK: There are so many blogs and chat rooms and quizzes where films are discussed. It’s a good medium if you have a great film, but it’s also terrible because of the problem with piracy. It’s the same people that look on the internet to find out about a film that download them for free.

JF: You need bigger and bigger budgets to promote in this medium and create campaigns that have the most impact, especially as a lot more people watch films online now. Films have to have profiles and identities on Facebook, MySpace and so on. It’s the media of immediate connection and in the future the consumption of cinema will be done on the internet. If you’re not online, you don’t survive.

Are distributors spending more or less on marketing than a few years ago?

EGK: We have, of course, been affected by the (economic) crisis, but the prices are cheaper at the same time. I don’t spend as much on advertising in El Pais or El Mundo (Spain’s leading national newspapers), but it’s still expensive. Having a film in a festival certainly helps.

JF: The prices paid in Spain in the past were exorbitant. Now we buy fewer titles and select better.

MM: We have less money to spend because the films are generating less money. We have to work a lot harder, but the number of spectators is falling. It’s also difficult to sell the films to the television companies.

Is TV advertising still the most important element of a campaign?

EGK: It’s almost non-existent for indie films. It’s at least $390,000 (EUR300,000) per film so it’s impossible. We prefer to target the internet and papers. Most of the people who watch our films also read the newspapers, whereas people who watch Beverly Hills Chihuahua probably don’t read El Pais.

JF: It depends on your film, but if you want to get to the masses, it’s the most effective way. But the elevated costs mean that many times these campaigns are not profitable at all. It’s important to have the right mix of marketing for each film.

MM: We only advertise on TV for a few films that are going to be released on a lot of copies and that have a higher profile. That’s the only way to justify the costs.

What is the most important thing when releasing a film in Spain?

EGK: The Spanish public is very lazy, you have to persuade them to leave their homes. To do that, you need an exceptional film with an exciting subject and good targeted marketing. For Gomorrah, the subject of the mafia was all over the press which really helped.

Which recent campaigns have impressed you?

EGK: With Gomorrah we brought Roberto Saviano (the author of the book on which the film is based) to Spain (when the film opened the Seville film festival). The photo call was bigger than in Cannes.

For Caramel, we provided several free screenings for club members at the Renoir cinemas. I have a database of their names and so invited them to see the film for free in Barcelona, Bilbao and so on. We created word of mouth that way.

The promotion of (Wanda’s) Welcome To The Sticks (released in Spanish as Welcome To The North) was impressive because it’s a French comedy about the divide between north and south, which Wanda played on in Spain. There is a divide here too between north and south.

How will films be marketed 10 years from now?

EGK: Internet and mobile phones will be important and audiences will do a lot more research about films before they see them.

JF: Practically all of the marketing will be online, but we will have to be more and more creative because this medium will end up being too intrusive for the consumer, who will tend to ignore direct marketing. We will have to be more subtle and intelligent so our promotions are more the recommendation of a friend than the mere impact of an advertisement.

TOP 100, SPAIN, 2008
 Title (Origin) DistributorGross US$
1Indiana Jones And The Kingdom … (US) UPI$27.3m
2Hancock (US) Spri$21.7m
3Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (US) PPI$19m
4Kung Fu Panda (US) UPI$18.1m
5Mamma Mia! The Movie (US-UK) UPI$17.6m
6The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon … (US) UPI$16.1m
7Twilight (US) Aurum$14.8m
8The Dark Knight (US) Warner Bros$14.6m
9Wall-E (US) Walt Disney Smpi$14.1m
10The Boy In The Striped … (UK-US) Walt Disney Smpi$13.9m
11The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince … (US) Walt Disney Smpi$12.6m
12Quantum Of Solace (US-UK) Spri$12.3m
13High School Musical 3: Senior Year (US) Walt Disney Smpi$11.8m
1410,000 BC (US) Warner Bros$10.9m
15The Oxford Murders (UK-Sp) Warner Bros$10.7m
16Iron Man (US) Spri$10m
17Mortadelo And Filemon: Mission … (Sp) Onpics$10m
18What Happens In Vegas (US) Fox$9.9m
19Burn After Reading (US) UPI$9.8m
20Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Sp-US) Warner Bros$9.8m
21No Country For Old Men (US) UPI$9.5m
22Dr Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who! (US) 20th Fox$9.3m
23Che: Part One (US-Sp-Fr) 20th Fox$8.9m
24Journey To The Center Of The Earth (US) Tripictures$8.8m
25Jumper (US) Fox$8.8m
26You Don’t Mess With The Zohan (US) Spri$8.6m
27Australia (Aus-US) 20th Fox$8.6m
28Sex And The City (US) Tripictures$8.1m
29The Happening (US) 20th Fox$8.1m
30The Day The Earth Stood Still (US) 20th Fox$7.7m
31Asterix At The Olympic Games (Fr-Ger-Sp) Tripictures$7.6m
32Changeling (US) UPI$7.4m
33Bolt (US) Walt Disney Smpi$7.2m
34Body Of Lies (US) Warner Bros$7m
35Juno (US) Fox$7m
36Chef’s Special (Sp) Warner Bros$6.7m
37Wanted (US) UPI$6.6m
38The Incredible Hulk (US) Spri$6.4m
39Hellboy II: The Golden Army (US) UPI$6m
40Vantage Point (US) Spri$5.8m
4121 (US) Spri$5.7m
42Meet The Spartans (US) 20th Fox$5.5m
4327 Dresses (US) 20th Fox$5.5m
44Atonement (UK-US-Fr) UPI$5.4m
45Made Of Honour (US) Spri$5.3m
46The Blind Sunflowers (Sp) Alta$5.3m
47Saw V (US) Walt Disney Smpi$5.3m
48The Game Plan (US) Walt Disney Smpi$5m
49The Other Boleyn Girl (US-UK) UPI$5m
50The Bucket List (US) Warner Bros$4.9m
51Mirrors (US-Rom) 20th Fox$4.9m
52Yes Man (US) Warner Bros$4.8m
53The Spiderwick Chronicles (US) UPI$4.8m
54Taken (Fr) 20th Fox$4.7m
55Get Smart (US) Warner Bros$4.5m
56Rambo (US-Ger) Manga$4.5m
57Sweeney Todd (US) Warner Bros$4.3m
58Nights In Rodanthe (US) Warner Bros$4.1m
59Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem (US) 20th Fox$4.1m
60Righteous Kill (US) Spri$3.9m
61Forbidden Kingdom (US-Chi) Aur/All$3.8m
62Nim’s Island (US) UPI$3.7m
63Charlie Wilson’s War (US) UPI$3.7m
6430 Days Of Night (US) Spri$3.7m
65Love In The Time of Cholera (US) Aur/All$3.6m
66Street Kings (US) Fox$3.5m
67PS I Love You (US) Filmax$3.4m
68Max Payne (US) Fox$3.4m
69Disaster Movie (US) Aur/All$3.4m
70Cloverfield (US) UPI$3.3m
7188 Minutes (US-Ger) Filmax$3.3m
72Bangkok Dangerous (US) DeAPlaneta$3.3m
73Elegy (US) On Pictures$3.2m
74Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead (US) Baditri$3.2m
75The Counterfeiters (Aust-Ger) Wanda$3.2m
76Shutter (US) 20th Fox$3.1m
77Transsiberian (UK-Ger-Sp-Lith) Filmax$3.1m
78We Own The Night (US) UPI$3.1m
79The Strangers (US) UPI$3m
80Step Up 2 The Streets (US) Walt Disney Smpi$3m
81The Tale Of Despereaux (US) UPI$3m
82The Water Horse (US) Spri$2.9m
83The Mist (US) Notro$2.9m
84Gomorrah (It) Alta Films$2.8m
85Tropic Thunder (US) PPI$2.7m
86Babylon AD (Fr-US) Aurum$2.7m
87In The Valley Of Elah (US) DeAPlaneta$2.6m
88X-Files: I Want To Believe (US) 20th Fox$2.6m
89The Spirit (US) Spri$2.6m
90Meet Dave (US) 20th Fox$2.5m
91Appaloosa (US) Tripictures$2.5m
92Fool’s Gold (US) Warner Bros$2.5m
93Outlander (US-Ger) DeAPlaneta$2.5m
94Death Race (US) UPI$2.4m
95La Conjura De El Escorial (Sp) Spri$2.4m
96Death Defying Acts (UK-Aus) DeAPlaneta$2.4m
97The Eye (US) DeAPlaneta$2.4m
98Bella (US-Mex) Edf$2.3m
99Dan In Real Life (US) UPI$2.3m
100Eagle Eye (US) PPI$2.2m