‘Titanic’ price a selling point

LONDON — Twentieth Century Fox intends to spin the ballooned cost of “Titanic” to its advantage when the pic is released later this year, according to Fox’s U.K. marketing manager, Tomas Jegeus.

Speaking to a cinema advertising conference in London Wednesday, Jegeus said Fox will use the controversy surrounding the feature’s pricetag to put across the message that the cost reflects quality, much “like a Ferrari.”

Negative costs, carrying costs and overages resulting from the postponement have run the pic’s tab up to more than $200 million (Daily Variety, June 2). Prints and advertising are expected to run another $35 million, and Fox’s international marketing budget is thought to be about $25 million.

“In the U.K., we will not try to fight the perception that the film is too expensive,” Jegeus told Daily Variety. “We know we have a great film and people will see all of the money is up on the screen.”

While short on specifics regarding the forthcoming promotional campaign, Jegeus pointed out that the pic seems to have a minimum of computer-generated effects — unusual for director James Cameron — and screened a trailer that emphasizes the love story between the characters played by Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio over the spectacle of the Titanic disaster.

“Everyone knows the ship is going to sink,” Jegeus explained.

Jegeus, along with other marketing-related execs attending the conference, was on hand to explain where cinema advertising is going in the U.K. in the run-up to next year’s 100th anniversary of ads being a part of the British cinema experience.

Ads screened in theaters before the main feature have proven to be an important medium in Britain for companies such as the Virgin Atlantic airline and upmarket products like Sony PlayStation, and have been a boon for young filmmakers honing their craft.

Although about 70% of screen ads in the U.K. are TV ads transferred to film, Carlton Screen Advertising — the host of the event and the U.K.’s largest cinema advertising programmer — is encouraging potential advertisers to think of the scale of a cinema screen and the fact that a cinema audience is both captive and willing as a unique marketing opportunity.

Typically, a film in the U.K. is preceded by 15 to 20 minutes of ads and trailers.

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