Marketing movies is sort of like being Goldilocks: The campaign can’t be too hard, it can’t be too soft. It has to be just right.
Former Warner Bros. worldwide production topper Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who oversaw “The Matrix” franchise, “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Analyze This” among other hits, says that marketing is all about gauging the audience.
And though he’s known for thinking big, di Bonaventura says sometimes it means paring down, noting that “if you try to be all things to all people, it might come across as being confused.”
Di Bonaventura adds that new media, used properly, is a great tool, but it offers such a volume of information that it threatens to be a distraction.
“Integration of the traditional ways we have marketed movies — which are not going away — (with) new media” is key, he says. “You’re learning things in one medium and applying them to another.”
Rob Friedman, the co-chair and CEO of Summit Entertainment, says that di Bonaventura was always consulted on marketing when Friedman headed that department at Warners.
“He learns very well from interaction and listening and absorbing,” Friedman says, “and that has served him well. One of the things that you strive for as a marketing executive is to make sure that you always get your core and then expand, and I think that’s something that Lorenzo has carried with him from his executive days.”
Di Bonaventura also believes that starting big isn’t always better when it comes to budgeting action movies. Pics with budgets in the $25 million to $45 million range can still provide the broad themes of good and evil to which auds respond, such as 2000’s “Romeo Must Die,” which grossed $75.5 million worldwide.
“Hollywood is missing the boat on smaller action pictures,” he says. “People worldwide love those little action films.”
Even Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino,” not an actioner by genre but thematically in that spirit, exemplifies what a mid-budget film can achieve at the B.O.
“The good guy takes on a bad guy,” di Bonaventura sums up.