Superheroes Spider-Man and Captain America are headed to the Super Bowl. So are the Muppets. But Godzilla and the Guardians of the Galaxy will remain on the sidelines during the Big Game: Their studios plan to hype those tentpoles through showy events at a later time.
The Super Bowl has long been a magnet for marketers looking to promote their products given that the game is the most-watched TV event each year (last year’s edition attracted 108.7 million viewers).
Because of that extraordinary popularity, Fox is charging upward of $4 million for a 30-second commercial, a record, and reported that it sold out of all its Super Bowl ads two months before the game. (Advertisers spent $292 million on Super Bowl spots last year, Kantar Media said.)
That price may be worth it since this year’s game between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks is expected to set viewership records. The event takes place at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium — the first time it will been held in an outdoor cold-weather stadium.
Movie studios have long followed automakers and dotcom companies when it comes to Super Bowl ad spending.
Popular on Variety
And while there are four studios opening their wallets this year – the same as last year – at least five movies will get a promotional push during the game. (Seven films were promoted last year). These are the campaigns:
■ Disney will promote Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (April 4) and the DreamWorks actioner “Need for Speed” (March 14). Both Super Bowl spots already are being promoted inside New York City taxis. Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted” also will be promoted during the Super Bowl through a tie-in with Toyota.
While the Mouse House is holding off on airing a spot for Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” director James Gunn teased on Twitter that fans will get “something incredibly awesome” soon. On his Facebook page, Gunn added: “Marvel and Disney have had a plan in place for a long time for the rollout of these characters in the biggest and best way possible, serving the widest audience as possible. Trust that they know what they’re doing, as they’ve been through this a few times before. And please be patient. Your enthusiasm, as always, is more than appreciated.”
■ Sony is swinging with “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” in theaters May 2.
■ Paramount has an ad for “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” which Michael Bay teased in December. Fourth entry in the franchise bows June 27. It will also promote Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” with a spot that airs before the kick-off and after the national anthem. Film sails into theaters March 28.
■ And Lionsgate will have a pre-game show spot for Kevin Costner’s football-themed “Draft Day” (April 11).
Other studios have long felt that their films would get overshadowed amid the onslaught of ads that compete for attention during the Super Bowl. The steep – and only increasing cost — of the ads isn’t helping them commit, either.
In most cases, studios release their Super Bowl ads online, where they generate more views. And film ads rarely make the lists of the most-remembered spots after the game.
As a result, studios including Warner Bros. often observe rather than pay-to-play the Super Bowl ad game. Despite Thomas Tull’s connections to the NFL through his part-ownership of the Pittsburgh Steelers, his Legendary Entertainment won’t have an ad for “Godzilla” on Feb. 2, sources confirmed to Variety.
And while Fox is broadcasting the game, 20th Century Fox has no spots planned for its tentpoles “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”
Instead, all of the tentpoles without Super Bowl pushes will get promoted elsewhere — perhaps during the upcoming Winter Olympics, which will also attract a massive audience and cost slightly less for airtime. Or their studios will go straight to the Web with trailer launches, a move that will quickly get the ads shared to audiences via social media and prove more cost effective.
“If the plan is to reach a massive audience to promote the latest franchise film, then the cost may be worth it,” said SNL Kagan analyst Wade Holden. “A smaller film with more of a niche audience is probably not the type of film a studio would want to fork out the large fee for a Super Bowl ad. A studio that opts out may also be considering how the commercials are now events nearly on level with the game and they don’t want their film spot to get lost in the fray.”