Suddenly, it’s tentpole time, and studio promo dollars are gushing.
Monday’s Tokyo preem of “Spider-Man 3” marks the first salvo, as studios prepare to spend $100 million-plus for multiple global launches of their giant summer sequels.
Sony plans nine Spidey preems before the official May 4 bow: Pic’s filmmakers and stars begin a European promo tour April 23, preeming in seven cities before heading back to the U.S. for the Stateside bow at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 30.
Spidey’s promo blitz will be followed by massive global pushes for the third “Pirates of the Caribbean” and the fifth installment in the “Harry Potter” franchise. Like Spidey, those pics are debuting with day-and-date launches worldwide.
Several others, including “Transformers,” “The Simpsons Movie” and the latest “Die Hard” installment, will bow in most markets at the same time.
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At stake: their share of the biggest — and most competitive — box office season of the year. Last summer’s movies generated $3.7 billion domestically, and the international summer B.O. is growing.
Jeff Blake, chair of marketing and distribution at Sony, says the promo blitz for “Spider-Man 3” is designed to take advantage of the pic’s pole position in the summer box office derby.
“Believe me, it’s not vanity, it’s a necessity when you have this time schedule,” Blake said Tuesday morning Tokyo time following the premiere. “Another part of the urgency we feel is we’re the first one up. We want to get the summer off to a great start, and we want to take advantage of the fact we’re two weeks ahead of ‘Shrek’ and another week before ‘Pirates.’ ”
“Shrek 3” bows in several territories May 18, two weeks after Spidey, followed by the day-and-date bow of “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” May 23. Disney will once again close down California’s Disneyland for its “Pirates” preem as part of that tentpole’s promo push.
Warner’s push for the fifth “Harry Potter” will gear up later in the summer; pic bows July 13 on more than 10,000 screens internationally.
Massive global launches can add more than $100 million to tentpoles’ already hefty pricetags once prints, advertising and cost of mobilizing talent are added in. (Blake says Spidey’s launch didn’t cost that much.)
Regardless of the cost, meticulous planning is required to pull off such large-scale launches: Sony had to lock “Spider-Man 3” six weeks early so that it could get enough prints — 10,000 worldwide — dubbed in various languages.
“There’s no doubt about it — it’s a pretty big operation,” Blake said. “It’s not a matter of cost, it’s a matter of time.”
On the plus side, studios may pay bigger bucks on the making of sequels — “Spider-Man 3’s” official budget is $258 million — but they cost less to launch than untested tentpoles, since awareness is already there. Blake says the studio is spending less on promoting “Spider-Man 3” than “Spider-Man 2,” which cost less to promote than the original “Spider-Man.”
“That’s what makes real blue-chip franchises so valuable,” Blake said. “You don’t have to spend as much.”
Studios also rely on promo partners to defray marketing costs. “And ‘Spider-Man’ certainly has no shortage of that,” Blake said.