Big Game, Few Trailers

Studios are sitting on the sidelines of this weekend’s Superb Owl.

If the fact that the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs are just days away from playing in Super Bowl LIV this Sunday kind of snuck up on you, you’re not alone The former’s fan base doesn’t, in my experience, extend much past the eastern-most BART station, and the latter’s is primarily made up of those who insist their barbeque is superior and so exhibit questionable judgement already.

Horrible regional stereotypes aside, Fox’s upcoming broadcast of the game has been commanding ad prices reportedly hitting $5.6 million and have, according to the network, been sold out since November. Those companies buying up commercial time include the usual mix of consumer, technology, auto and other brands, along with a couple politicians.

Where movie studios once dominated the Super Bowl ad field, this year apparently continues the trend of fewer and fewer films being advertised during the game itself. Universal and Disney are said to be the only studios participating as others sit out, whether that’s because the cost is too high, they don’t have movies that would benefit from such a huge platform or simply because they don’t want to.

Those making the cut are only partially known, including Universal’s Fast & Furious 9 and Minions: The Rise of Gru. What Disney has planned is less clear, though the story mentions a number of titles that could make an appearance, all of which are franchise entries in some way.

It is somewhat surprising that Warner Bros. isn’t bringing a spot for Wonder Woman 1984, or that Sony isn’t promoting Ghostbusters: Afterlife or Morbious. A handful of other titles could potentially get a boost from advertising during the game, but most are either too far out, are in the Disney mix already or don’t have the kind of brand recognition that would fit with the game’s demographic.

Also playing a role are two important factors: Studio’s total TV advertising budgets continue to fall from year to year as dollars are redirected to other media and tactics, and 2020 is expected to be a relatively weak year at the box office. That’s not good news for theaters or television networks, both of whom rely on Hollywood to churn out movies people want to leave the house to see.

With that, as well as the falling attendance numbers at theaters, in mind, studios are opting out for the same reason many have decided Comic-Con is no longer the valuable promotional tool it once was. Audience attention has become too fragmented, so a partnership with an esports championship league or New York City-based immersive experience makes more sense. Or perhaps a bigger return can be had by having the cast of a movie rotate through Jimmy Kimmel’s show during a week of broadcasts. All of these have proven to be popular tactics for high-profile films in recent years, including many that have forgone Super Bowl advertising.

While the exact lineup of movies remains, in large part, to be seen, I’d be surprised if Universal didn’t have a spot for Top Gun: Maverick somewhere. And if Netflix sneaks in at the last minute it could use that time to promote the sequel to To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and other streaming releases, or even tout current Oscar-nominated offerings like The Irishman.

Whatever happens on the movie advertising front, it’s clear the game won’t matter much at all.

Author: Chris Thilk

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist with over 15 years of experience in online strategy and content marketing. He lives in the Chicago suburbs.

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