Studios undeterred by economy

The hefty pricetag to advertise during the Super Bowl may have scared off major marketers during a down economy, but it hasn’t forced Hollywood to sit on the sidelines.

Nearly every studio will push pics during the big game, airing on NBC Feb. 1, with the movie lineup naturally made up of summer tentpoles whose studios hope to appeal to the nearly 100 U.S. million viewers that tune in to the broadcast.

Confirmed for this year’s roster are high-profile titles like Paramount’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” “Star Trek” and “G.I. Joe”; Sony’s “Angels and Demons”; DreamWorks Animation’s “Monsters vs. Aliens”; and Universal’s “Land of the Lost” and its fourth installment in “The Fast and the Furious” franchise. Disney is also planning to use the game to raise the profile for Pixar’s next toon, “Up.”

The movie blurbs will in many cases show off footage from the pics for the first time. Par has yet to unveil a single frame of the “Transformers” sequel and will use the Super Bowl to make the big reveal.

Bowing the fresh footage will generate heat for the pics considering the broadcast attracted 97 million viewers last year and consistently ranks as one of the few annual televised events in which auds pay attention to the commercials and talk about them afterward.

The Peacock allegedly raised the average price for a 30-second spot from a record $2.7 million last year (when the Super Bowl aired on Fox) to an even steeper $3 million.

That figure forced many marketers, including regulars like General Motors and FedEx, to bow out.

But studios are hardly ponying up that kind of money, media buyers say.

For example, DreamWorks Animation pacted with SoBe Lifewater and Intel to run a 90-second trailer in 3-D for “Monsters vs. Aliens,” DWA’s first 3-D toon, which bows in March. Spot will have characters from “Monsters” share the screen with SoBe lizards and NFL athletes. More than 125 million pairs of 3-D glasses are being distributed by retailers as part of the promo.

NBC said it sold 85% of its ads in September, but studios were nevertheless able to negotiate a reduced fee because the net needed to fill the 67 ad slots it will air during the game.

Decision enabled the Peacock to collect coin rather than fill the time with free promos for its own shows, which it already plans on running extensively during the broadcast to “reintroduce” them to viewers.

Several studios are still holding off for better deals.

NBC has told some advertisers that it still has about 10 spots available during the game, and those could be sold at a much reduced rate.

As of Thursday, Fox had yet to buy any time during the game. Should it do so at the last minute, “Wolverine,” “Night at the Museum 2″ and “Ice Age” are the pics it’s most likely to promote.

Disney is remaining tight-lipped about its Super Bowl strategy, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it buys time for Dwayne Johnson starrer “Race to Witch Mountain” and Jerry Bruckheimer’s “G-Force.” The Mouse House typically airs two spots — one devoted to a toon and one to a live-action release.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros. hasn’t bought a spot and may not at all, even with “Terminator Salvation,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and “Watchmen” — pics that would all appeal to the Super Bowl crowd — on its upcoming release sked.

That’s because lowered last-minute prices could result in more movie spots than in previous years. Some studios are opting to go elsewhere with their high-profile pics, believing that while the Super Bowl certainly attracts a huge audience, some pics will have a hard time standing out amid all the other films being promoted.

While Sony will play the Super Bowl promo game with “Angels and Demons,” it’s turning to Google to launch a major effort around its Roland Emmerich-helmed disaster pic “2012.”

Viral marketing campaign will quietly unleash content created by the studio that revolves around the apocalypse and will likely give the pic more exposure considering that year’s expected to be heavily researched online given that doomsdayers believe it will usher in the end of the world.

Among the other distributors, MGM’s lion won’t roar during the Super Bowl because the studio doesn’t have a film to promote. And despite filling its coffers with “Twilight,” Summit Entertainment won’t be spending any of that new money during the broadcast to push its upcoming slate, which includes the Nicolas Cage thriller “Knowing” and actioner “Push.”

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