Ads for Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” which opens Nov. 18, carry the tagline “Everything is about to change” — but, in fact, things have already changed.
After the first three PG films, the fourth installment landed a PG-13 in the U.S. and is earning similarly tougher ratings overseas — meaning WB has to market it more carefully to young audiences.
But that’s OK with WB: They’re targeting an older demographic with this edition.
Warner prez of domestic marketing Dawn Taubin in the U.S. and Warner Intl. marketing prexy Sue Kroll are being careful about placing media buys during certain children’s programming.
“We aren’t marketing to the 4- to 8-year-olds that were originally part of the demographic,” Kroll said.
But by targeting an older audience, WB has a different kind of challenge. Since they have so many other alternate enticements for their dollars, that aud is proving extremely elusive for films at the box office.
Unlike with the previous three “Harry” pics, WB isn’t making media buys during morning kiddie TV, a practice it began to curb with the previous film, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” At the same time, the studio is increasing its MTV campaign, both Stateside and overseas, hoping to lure more teens.
Taubin adds, “Were the first movie to have received this rating, it would have been a challenge. But it’s less of a challenge now, because the audience has grown organically.”
Separate teen-targeted trailers promote the stepped-up action in the Mike Newell-helmed “Goblet.”
Taubin said the PG-13 rating hasn’t impacted print campaigns, nor are there any restrictions on advertising a PG-13 movie on nighttime TV.
Taubin said the family portion of the aud dropped off over each of the first three Potter films in the U.S., with a corresponding rise in the number of teens and adults. She said families with children will still flock to see “Goblet,” but that teens and adults are tracking at higher numbers than ever.
In the U.K., “Goblet of Fire” has received a 12A rating for the first time, meaning kids under 12 must be accompanied by an adult — a tighter restriction than the PG-13 rating, which merely cautions parents.
Warner Intl. prexy of distribution Veronika Kwan-Rubinek said the 2004 “Azkaban” received a rating similar to the 12A in Germany, but box office didn’t drop off any more than it did in other territories.
The franchise has racked up a total of $2.6 billion. Box office cume has dropped off with each movie. “Sorcerer’s Stone” grossed $318 million in the U.S. and $656 million overseas; “Chamber of Secrets” grossed $262 million and $617 million; and “Azkaban” $249 million and $543 million.
But WB isn’t worried. Readers have stayed faithful as J.K. Rowling’s books have gotten darker and more intense, with long lines still snaking around bookstores every time one of the volumes is released.