Studios to promote at least 13 pics during Feb. 6 broadcast

The Big Game just got bigger for Hollywood: Studios will promote at least 13 movies during Fox’s telecast of the Feb. 6 Super Bowl and its pre-show, a record number for the biz.

Among the top titles being pushed with blurbs costing an average of $3 million for 30 seconds are summer tentpoles including Par’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” “Super 8″ and Marvel’s “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger”; Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”; Universal and DreamWorks’ “Cowboys and Aliens”; Sony’s “Priest”; and DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda 2,” also being released by Par.

Increasingly, studios are using the Super Bowl to promote pics that bow within weeks of the broadcast, and this year is no different. Sony is pushing its Adam Sandler-Jennifer Aniston comedy “Just Go With It,” set for release Feb. 11, and its alien invasion epic “Battle: Los Angeles,” to bow in March. Relativity Media has bought its first Super Bowl spot to hype the thriller “Limitless,” and Par is reaching out to families with lizard toon “Rango” — both of which unspool in March. Focus Features also has a spot for “The Eagle.”

Last year, the majors bought ads for eight films, including pre-game and post-game spots for Sony’s “The Bounty Hunter” and Overture’s “The Crazies.” In 2009, they promoted eight films; all of those spots aired during the game’s first three quarters.

Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox are again sitting out the Super Bowl as they have over the past several years.

While the annual event may attract a massive viewership, advertising during the Super Bowl “just doesn’t move the needle enough” to warrant the steep fees to buy spots, said one Warner Bros. exec. Studio is launching “Green Lantern” and the final “Harry Potter” this summer.

Because the ads have become such a big part of the Super Bowl, some marketers are concerned about the clutter of spots competing for consumers’ attention. But for those that still want to cash in on the attention the Super Bowl generates, there’s always the pre-game show, which offers up spots at a discount.

Sony is taking advantage of that opportunity this year, with all three of its films to be promoted during the hours that lead up to the Super Bowl. Ads for “Just Go With It” and “Battle: Los Angeles” will air shortly before kickoff, while a “Priest” spot will play earlier, during the pre-game show.

An ad for Focus’ “Eagle” will also air during the pre-game show.

And there’s the opportunity in the show that follows the Super Bowl. This year Fox’s “Glee” gets that coveted spot, during which Relativity will unspool an ad for its coming-of-age comedy “Take Me Home Tonight,” out March 4.

Fox sold out of its inventory for the Super Bowl in October. Network is charging between $2.8 million to $3 million per ad in the game . In 2009, CBS demanded $2.5 million-$2.8 million per spot. This year game will again collect more than $200 million in ad coin, the third consecutive time it’s done so.

Among the marketers, 20 of the ads were bought by automakers, the most ever — Mercedes-Benz is making its Super Bowl debut, while Audi, BMW, Kia, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Chrysler and GM’s Chevrolet are returning. Best Buy is also a first-timer.

Last year’s event featured 104 commercials that added up to 47 minutes and 50 seconds of airtime, up from 82 spots, or 40 minutes and 15 seconds, in 2001, according to Kantar Media. In a typical Super Bowl, 15%-20% of all commercial time is a plug by the network for its own programming, the research firm said.

The strong interest from advertisers isn’t surprising after last year’s broadcast was watched by more than 106 million people, beating 1983’s “MASH” finale as the most-watched TV program in TV history, according to Nielsen, and guaranteeing any marketer a huge audience for its messaging.

Yet, “with so many competing messages, it will be that much harder for any individual brand to stand out from the pack,” the study said.

For that reason, marketing chiefs say studios need a high-profile property that will win over viewers — or must use the hype of the Super Bowl to reveal footage of a pic for the first time.

In the past, that’s worked for Par’s “Transformers” franchise. This year, the third installment of the robot actioner is back with new visuals that weren’t shown in the teaser that bowed in early December. The first available scenes of J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg’s top secret “Super 8″ pic will be offered up, while Marvel is showing off more action from “Thor” and “Captain America,” two films that the Disney owned comicbook company hopes will launch new franchises that follow in the footsteps of “Iron Man” and lead into 2012’s “The Avengers.”

Hollywood’s increased presence this year also signals a fiercely competitive summer to come.

But other studios have found that unveiling new trailers on their films’ websites or entertainment-obsessed sites, as well as MySpace or Facebook, has proved more cost-effective. During the last week, Sony and Fox offered the first looks at characters from their new Spider-Man and X-Men properties through online photos that were picked up immediately by virtually every site following those pics as they are readied for release.

Last year, studios also shifted dollars to the Oscarcast and the Winter Olympics, which enabled their films to stand out more.

Pigskin promos

Disney: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

D’Works Animation: Kung Fu Panda 2 (pre-game show)

Paramount: Captain America: The First Avenger, Rango, Super 8, Thor, Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Relativity: Limitless

Sony: Battle: Los Angeles, Just Go With It, Priest (pre-game show)

Universal: Cowboys and Aliens

Focus Features: The Eagle (pre-game show)

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