In his Big Picture blog, Patrick Goldstein underlines the slow, steady slide of movie newspaper advertising, and the (further) trouble this spells for newspapers, if/when such advertising eventually becomes, as one studio marketing chief predicts, a seasonal expenditure. I know, I know… “the sky is blue, water is wet.” What else is new? If newspapers in general are doomed, from a readership/business model perspective, of course it stands to reason that an abandonment of advertising will be a contributing cause of their demise. Still, there are some interesting details in the interstices. Pam Levine, Fox’s co-president of marketing, gives smart answers about the evolving logic behind print media ad buys, and cites notable exceptions in the form of Slumdog Millionaire and Marley & Me.
Tangentially, I would only take exception with Goldstein’s assertion that Fox is held in high regard for its marketing savvy. Fox Searchlight? Yes, absolutely. Notwithstanding its superb work on Marley & Me, however, 20th Century Fox has taken such great steps toward authoritarian “message control” that they frequently border on all-out suppression; it often seems as if they’re actively attempting to help eradicate film critics once and for all.
Fair game if that’s their druthers, I guess, whatever… except that it doesn’t really seem to be helping their movies at the box office on a consistent basis. Take, for instance, last summer’s almost non-existent critical/ancillary campaign for The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Am I to believe that more aggressive, non-TV-related outreach — including print advertising, to help reach older fans of the TV series, who might now have families, and not be surfing IGN for updates on a weekly basis — couldn’t have helped push the movie’s total domestic haul past $21 million?