During the peak of COVID, as movie theaters were struggling to stay open and blockbusters were getting delayed again and again, Hollywood tightened its wallet for expensive Super Bowl spots. Why spend a casual $6 million — or more — to promote a film that may not see the light of day any time soon?
But the movies are back, baby. And there’s no better place to guarantee America’s undivided attention than the most-watched television event of the year. Over 100 million viewers are expected to tune into this year’s showdown, between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles, slated for broadcast on Fox on Feb. 12.
That’s why major studios, including Disney, Universal and Paramount, are returning — with a bigger presence, compared to earlier pandemic days — to the Big Game with looks at “Fast X,” the latest installment in the sprawling “Fast & Furious” franchise, the adaptation of “Dungeons and Dragons” and “Cocaine Bear,” a comedy about — you guessed it! — a bear on cocaine. The goal, of course, is turning those marketing dollars into box office ticket sales.
Major movie studios have long been a pillar of the Super Bowl ad roster, with the three aforementioned ones typically providing the bulk of the category’s commercial spending for the gridiron classic. But, as of late, some of that cash has been used to tout streaming hubs for venues such as Paramount+, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. Indeed, Paramount+ is set to run a Super Bowl ad starring Sylvester Stallone, the star of its show “Tulsa King.” Streaming services and broadband hubs shelled out $58.5 million to tout their wares in the 2022 Super Bowl broadcast on NBC, according to Kantar, a tracker of ad spending. That’s more than the money spent by crypto firms; big beer brewers; and consumer-goods manufacturers, three other Super Bowl category stalwarts.
As for other traditional players, Warner Bros. is reportedly bringing “The Flash,” a superhero adventure starring Ezra Miller, though the studio’s spokesperson Candice McDonough didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment. Attendees of DC Fandom and CinemaCon were treated to teasers of “The Flash,” but it’ll be the public’s first look at the anticipated summer tentpole, which has been declared by James Gunn, the new head of DC Comics, as “probably one of the greatest superhero movies ever made.” (Objectively speaking, of course.)
Otherwise, studios are expected to offer new marketing materials for movies that have already been heavily advertised — such as “Scream,” which opens in March; and “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts,” which debuts in June. A spot for “Fast X” is getting prime placement, but it’ll come a few days after Universal hosts an official trailer premiere in Los Angeles.
Disney is likely to promote several of its upcoming releases during the big game, but the studio isn’t sharing which ones will get airtime. Among the other major players, Sony, MGM and Lionsgate aren’t expected to bring the goods on Super Bowl Sunday. However, plans could always change prior to the main event.
Some of the usual suspects are trying a shift in strategy. Disney’s own plans may be foggy for the moment, but the company’s Marvel Studios is already showing up in an ad for Heineken. Actor Paul Rudd, the hero of the studio’s upcoming “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” appears as Scott Lang in a recent teaser from the beer. Mmm, tastes like corporate synergy.
Netflix is taking a similar route. It’s not running any stand-alone Super Bowl ads, according to Marian Lee, the company’s giant’s chief marketing officer, but the streamer has elected instead to team up with Anheuser-Busch InBev and General Motors with spots from those two advertising stalwarts to tout various Netflix series. An ad for Michelob Ultra also contains a QR code that lets viewers see a sneak peek of the golf documentary series “Full Swing.” And a one-minute GM spot featuring Will Ferrell will nod to Netflix shows including “Bridgerton,” “Squid Games” and “Stranger Things.”
Elsewhere, Michelob Ultra’s “Caddyshack” tribute and a PopCorners-themed “Breaking Bad” reunion will stuff the commercial breaks.