10 Takeaways on Entertainment Marketing From Variety’s Massive Summit

Ron Howard

Marketing gurus from the film, television, and digital worlds were on hand for Variety‘s Massive Entertainment Marketing Summit on Wednesday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, sharing their experiences in getting the word out to consumers about their projects.

  1.  Being a genius is “now sexy,” according to “Genius” producer Brian Grazer, who was half of the keynote conversation at Massive, along with his Imagine Entertainment co-founder and fellow producer on the National Geographic show, Ron Howard.
  2. According to Howard, as the platforms through which to tell stories multiply and become more specific, especially in the world of TV, so the stories become more linked to the platforms themselves. “I knew that the platform, Nat Geo, could actually inform this project and challenge me and the story in important ways,” Howard said “It’s an interesting thing in this moment, it’s the story linked to the platform, which sends another kind of message, whereas in the past it’s always been the story that drives everything, and that’s not necessarily the case now.”
  3.  The personal and political obstacles that Albert Einstein faced in his day are still present in America today, according to “Genius” producer Brian Grazer. “If you were to be able to transport those thoughts about the culture and about being outside of it and feeling pressure, it’s highly relevant to today’s world,” Grazer said. “It’s something that became more and more apparent to us as we were shooting some of these scenes.”
  4. Howard and Grazer are already thinking about season two of “Genius,” and are on the hunt for their next genius to feature. “If there’s any answers for who our next genius should be … ” Grazer jokingly asked the audience.
  5. Opening a film has become much more complicated than just putting it into multiplexes. “You can’t do releases the same way — you have to create an event,” said J.P. Richards of Warner Bros. in the panel “The Art & Science of Opening a Film.”
  6. It’s remarkable that moviegoing remains as popular as it has in a fast-changing world. “We should be impressed with how super-resilient going to the movies is,” noted Fandango President Paul Yanover at the same panel. “People want to go out.”
  7. Measuring TV viewership accurately remains enormously complicated. “People underestimate the difficulty of measurement; there are maybe 10 companies that do something seriously,” said Sean Muller, CEO of iSpot.tv, during a panel on “How to Tie the Perfect Knot: Video &Viewership Understanding.”
  8. Globalizing a franchise is hard work. “Superheroes don’t resonate in every country around the world,” noted Amit Desai of DC Entertainment in the “Trailblazers of the Global Franchise” panel. The exception is the Minions, according to Universal’s Manuel Torres Port, who said, “The non-verbal humor works everywhere.”
  9. Making micro-budget studio movies for less than $10 million makes all kinds of sense, according to horror king Jason Blum. “When you have a movie that doesn’t have to make $100 million, you can take chances in the marketing,” he said in the final panel Wednesday.
  10. The marketing of “Get Out” was highly nuanced to bring out the film’s undercurrents of hidden racism in contemporary America. “We wanted to create something of the moment,” said Universal’s marketing chief Josh Goldstine.