Some of the wonderful things rattling around in this full brain 'o mine. UPDATED EVERY TUESDAY AND THURSDAY (or at least twice a week)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Success of 300: Internet Marketing or Sky Captain?

I can’t wait to go see 300. Me and the Girlfriend are going tonight on the IMAX, that’s to be sure. I was geeked for it months ago based on my residual comic fandom. Fortunately, my geeked feeling wasn’t just my own as the movie took in an astonishing $70+ million dollars opening weekend, providing the largest opening March weekend take ever, and almost beating out the Matrix Reloaded, and the Passion of the Christ for biggest R opening weekends ever.

I’m sure there are plenty of reasons this movie is doing well, but one particular reason has been pointed out in a couple of articles and blarticles that I thought was pretty interesting…

The Internet. Harry from points out some numbers from movie polls that an amazing 60% of people who went to the regular theater to see the movie last weekend went because of internet marketing. That number jumped higher to 68% for the people who went to see it in the IMAX theaters. An article from Time Magazine online has this listed as the first of seven good reasons why 300 has been successful. Of course, the Time article also has homosexual worship as the number seven reason the movie is successful.

Anyway, internet marketing is still pretty hit or miss at this point. I don’t think I need to mention Snakes on a Plane to anyone. Also though, the Blair Witch Project was mainly a success based on underground internet marketing. Regardless, I do think there is some sort of usefulness for a full-on internet marketing campaign. It’s just as easy, if not easier to hit your target audience as TV marketing. It’s bound to add some to your bottom line, if not in your box office, to your DVD rental and purchase numbers.

I think there’s something people are missing though in how great of a success 300 will be. I’ve always thought a “success” was getting a great return on your buck. The main movie that always pops into mind is Phone Booth. I’m going to throw a bunch of numbers at y’all here, so just to tell you beforehand, I got them from The Numbers website. It’s a great little website to look up production costs, and grosses.

Anyway, Phone Booth cost $11 mill to produce. That’s pennies compared to some of these budgets now-a-days. The advertising cost another $25 mill. US Gross? Almost $47 mill and another $98 mill worldwide. That’s pretty good return for a $36 million dollar project. Still…Phone Booth was more a character driven vehicle. It was a more intimate story. How could you get the scale of 300 from that type of budget?

Enter Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. I remember being fascinated by that film. Not because it looked hella cool…which it did, and upon seeing it, I thought it was really good. It was because of the technology used to create it though. The film was shot entirely green screen. Effects were added later via a computer program that the creator had developed. It all started there. The ability to have a small $70 mill dollar budget, but to create films that looked like they cost 100’s of millions of dollars. Sky Captain didn’t set the world on fire at the box office…but it made it’s money back. Then came Sin City. Same type of scenario, but with better source material, and a more famous director and actors. Production costs? $40 mill. US Box Office? $74 million dollars. These two movies specifically paved the way for anyone to get a movie as ambitious as 300 off the ground and running. Now, we have 300, with a $60 million dollar budget, and it pays off big with a big opening. These successes allow studios to take risks on directors and projects that would otherwise be two shaky to guarantee a success. Thankfully, in the world of skyrocketing budgets upwards of $200 million plus…these films provide a ray of hope that otherwise too expensive films (like 300, Sin City, Sin City 2) will find light.

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