Monday, January 31, 2011
Tracking had been strong but the studio had expected a gross in the $17M-19M range. CinemaScore was a "B". The audience equally divided between males and females, with 64% over the age of 25. The studio used Anthony Hopkins' pedigree to pursue an older target for the film. To appeal to younger moviegoers, it exploited the intensity of the exorcism moments and the premise of the unknown in the marketing materials. Interestingly, as Warner Bros was developing the campaign, the topic of exorcists became a current news event with the recent increase in the Catholic Church's recruitment and training of exorcists to fill what they characterized as an alarmingly growing need. This news got coverage, resulting in a high profile OP Ed piece in the New York Times. We bolstered that piece, and used a quote from it in the main trailer and in several TV spots, a very unusual tool that anchored our disturbing, effective premise that the film is “based on true events”.
Hopkins' pedigree is the core of the campaign, and he has done a very heavy press schedule on everything from Regis to Charlie Rose, and morning shows to late night. Additionally, we launched a significant Hispanic marketing campaign, through publicity, grass roots activity and a heavy media buy.
We also developed the faith angle through an extensive program with our consultants at Grace Hill Media. The outreach included drafting off of the topical conversation that was already happening within the church and allowing that to give the film a level of credibility. Father Gary Thomas participated in a number of interviews for us including an LA Times piece and a segment on Nightline that aired the Thursday before we opened. While this is a difficult segment to pinpoint in the tracking, the message of the film clearly has relevance for that audience and we feel that we captured their interest.
The campaign kicked off with trailers on Hereafter, Saw VII and movies throughout the holiday season to target both younger & older moviegoers. We built a mix of broad commercial films & older, more sophisticated awards films to get the right exposure.
We also ran a heavy TV schedule on everything from BCS College football games to NFL playoffs, and broad multi-targeted programming.
In terms of tracking, The Rite shows a pretty well-balanced balanced awareness and interest profile. The younger audiences will tend to gravitate to the suspense-thriller genre, while older audiences are likely to be drawn to the genre plus Anthony Hopkins appearing in his first starring role in quite some time. Notably, there were aggressive efforts in the last week towards Latino moviegoers, which could generate some upside to the film's opening weekend prospects as they tend to represent early boxoffice attendees.
As the campaign evolved, the nature of the story (centering around faith and belief) & the pedigree of Hopkins naturally led us to pursue an older target for the film. But we also wanted to appeal to younger moviegoers, so we exploited the intensity of the exorcism moments and the premise of the unknown in our marketing materials. Interestingly, as we were developing the campaign, the topic of exorcists became a current news event with the recent increase in the Catholic Church's recruitment and training of exorcists to fill what they characterized as an alarmingly growing need. This news got coverage, resulting in a high profile OP Ed piece in the New York Times. We bolstered that piece, and used a quote from it in the main trailer and in several TV spots, a very unusual tool that anchored our disturbing, effective premise that the film is “based on true events”.
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