Tag Archives: New York Times

CBS Films Masters The Art of Social Media Marketing

Inside Llewyn Davis New York Times AdUsing Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram to advertise and promote a new or upcoming film release isn’t exactly a new concept. Distributors have been incorporating social media campaigns as part of their marketing efforts for the past several years now. However, most attempts at building awareness via social media have been learning experiences and results have varied widely. In other words, not all distributors are capable of exploiting social media to its fullest.

CBS Films, on the other hand, has proven over the past few days that they have mastered the art of marketing via social media.

On Saturday, January 4th, CBS placed a full page advertisement in the New York Times for their current release, “Inside Llewyn Davis”, the latest Coen Brothers film. That, in and of itself, isn’t so unique, but rather it was the content of the ad which caught everyone’s attention: a single Twitter post (also known as a tweet) from New York Times film critic A.O. Scott.

The ad placement turned out to be a marketers dream come true, as it soon went viral with countless mentions on Twitter, Facebook and photo replications showing up on Instagram. Then there were all the journalists who posted stories about the ad on their respective blogs. What CBS managed to do is brilliantly intermingle promotional mediums creating the ultimate self-reflexive marketing Mobius; a traditional newspaper advertisement featuring a Twitter post which people then reference in their own tweets and blog posts.

Granted, part of the reason for the ad getting so much attention was the “controversy” over whether 1) using A.O. Scott’s tweet without his permission was against Twitter’s terms of service and 2) whether it was ethical to edit the content of the original tweet which read.

You all keep fighting about Wolf of Wall St. and Am Hustle. I’m gonna listen to the Llewyn Davis album again. Fare thee well, my honeys.

The tweet as published in the ad removed the first sentence, which referenced “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “American Hustle”, two films that are competing with “Inside Llewyn Davis” for top honors during the current awards’ season. In yet another example that there is no such thing as bad publicity, the debate only served to expand the reach of the original ad in the Times well beyond the newspaper.

And in a turn of events that couldn’t be more meta, Scott himself used Twitter to comment on his tweet being used in the ad, setting off another chain of Facebook and blog posts:

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Fox Comes Up Blank For “Book Thief” Advertisement

New York Times Book Thief Ad

If you happened to pick up today’s print issue of the New York Times you may have been thrown by what looked like a printing error; pages 9 and 10 of the main A section were blank.

These were not, however, pages that slipped past the printing press untouched. Rather the blank pages were purposefully included as an advertisement for Twentieth Century Fox’s upcoming release “The Book Thief“.

While most print advertisements contain slick artwork or loads of text detailing a products attributes, the “Book Thief” promo takes the opposite approach of halting readers in their tracks and asking them to take the additional step of visiting a website to learn more.

Each page has the New York Times header, page number and date printed in its usual spot at the top of the page. The second “blank” page actually has “wordsarelife.com” printed at the bottom, which is the address of the film’s website.

“The Book Thief” is the film adaptation of Mark Zusak’s novel, which tells the story of a young girl living in Nazi Germany during World War II. Directed by Brian Percival and starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson, the movie is slated for release on November 15th.

An announcement about the campaign from the New York Times Company explained:

The underlying message of the advertising campaign, “imagine a world without words,” echoes the film’s narrative, which follows a young girl in WWII Nazi Germany who begins to steal books from war-torn areas and share them with others.

The campaign has had the added benefit of generating news coverage from the likes of Deadline and Indiewire, which certainly helps build awareness of the film. Heck, even we’re writing about it.

What do you think of Fox’s promotional campaign for “The Book Thief”? Let us know in the comments section below.

New York Times and NPR Dissect Movie Trailers

New York Times Lincoln Trailer Timeline

As part of their coverage of this year’s Academy Awards, the New York Times has published an interesting (and technologically slick) interactive graphic that details how scenes from a film are used in their accompanying trailers.

The Times examines five of the nine Oscar nominees for Best Picture including “Amour”, “Argo”, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, “Lincoln” and “Silver Linings Playbook”. They had trailer specialist Bill Woolery and Stephen Garrett, the founder of a trailer production house named Jump Cut, explain significant characteristics and aspects of each trailer. (Full disclosure: Stephen Garrett is an old friend of mine whose career as a trailer editor I’ve watched prosper over the past 14 years.)

Woolery and Garrett highlight how some trailers follow the chronological order of the film they are promoting (“Silver Linings Playbook”), while others might include footage not found in the version which gets released to theatres (“Argo”).

The feature provides a timeline for each trailer that shows where from the film a particular shot was taken; beginning middle or end. This makes it easy to see how the trailer for “Lincoln” jumps all over the place. Visitors can skim through the timeline with their cursor as a tiny video version of the trailer displays which shot is being viewed.

It’s a fascinating way to present how the multiple visual elements of a trailer are pulled from their source material and pieced together with specific promotional agendas in mind.

Yesterday NPR followed up the Times feature with an interview of Garrett during a 16-minute segment on Talk of the Nation titled Movie Trailer Math: Getting ‘Butts In The Seats’ In Minutes.

Fathom Brings Los Angeles Philharmonic To Cinemas

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After turning the New York Metropolitan Opera into a poster child for alternative content over the past five years, NCM Fathom is hoping to have the same success with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Starting in January of next year Fathom will broadcast three L.A. Phil performances to upwards of 450 theatres throughout North America.

Each concert will be broadcast on Sunday afternoons when attendance at many cinemas is presumably lower than it is on Friday and Saturday evenings. It should be noted however, that the 2:00 pm start time on the west coast may actually eat into primetime showings on the east coast where it is three hours earlier later.

The first concert is set for January 9, 2011 and will feature compositions by John Adams and Leonard Bernstein, as well as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. Selections from Tchaikovsky’s Shakespearean work will be presented on March 13, 2011 with the final concert on June 5, 2011 highlighting Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 and Double Concerto. Each program will be conducted by the L.A. Phil’s Music Director Gustavo Dudamel.

Dudamel is the 29-year-old Venezuelan conducting prodigy is often hailed as a rock star of sorts in the classical music world. His image has been plastered around Los Angeles ever since he took over as the L.A. Phil’s music director in September of 2009. No doubt it is Dudamel’s charismatic and energetic presence was a factor in the L.A. Phil’s decision to broadcast the concerts.

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More Rumblings About DCIP’s Financing

dcip.jpgLast week both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported that an announcement from Digital Cinema Implementation Partners about their financing was imminent. The opportunity to play 3D content will certainly be welcomed by AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas and Cinemark, however from the way the two newspapers covered the story you might get the impression it was the only reason. The financing would allow Hollywood studios to “roll out more 3-D movies in the wake of the success of James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’” wrote the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times said the “money would allow future 3-D film releases”.

Both media outlets seem to have gotten their hands on some internal briefings or at the very least seen an early draft of a press release as they have updated some of the details from previous reports about DCIP’s financing. A more exact figure of USD $660 million was cited by both papers which is down from the original USD $700 million rumor which was first floating around. As well, the number of screens has been upped to 14,000 from 12,000 with the Wall Street Journal putting the number of actual theatre sites being converted at 1,100. The New York Times laid out the details as follows:

According to a draft announcement making the rounds in Hollywood, the new financing, arranged by JPMorgan and Blackstone Advisory Partners, would total about $660 million. Of that, $445 million is expected to come from senior bank debt, $135 million from what is described as “junior capital” and $80 million from equity contributed by the member theater circuits. Nine banks, including Bank of America and Citibank, are part of the lending group. Blackstone raised the $135 million from other investors.

I always find it amusing to see how mainstream media covers the transition to digital cinema in reporting such news. The Wall Street Journal piece states:

In a digital conversion, theaters rip out old celluloid film projectors, and stop receiving weekly shipments of large film canisters. They instead use fiber optic lines to transfer huge digital film files.

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TI’s 4K Announcement Causes Waves – Wither 2K Now?

The announcement on Celluloid Junkie that Texas Instruments is developing 4K projector solutions is causing waves throughout the industry. The story was picked up by both THR.com (DLP making the jump to 4K) and Variety (TI leaping into 4K fray), which despite their headline both acknowledge that TI was effectively forced into this situation by the Sony tie up with Regal and AMC.Perhaps the best other coverage came from Eric Taub in the New York Times:

TI has always said that 2K is good enough, with tests showing that consumers can’t see the difference.

TI has been against 4K, until they were for it. On Thursday, the company announced that it would now market 4K technology, which will be incorporated into their next-generation projector technology to be manufactured by a variety of partners.

The company will continue to sell 2K projectors to the majority of its customers, according to Nancy Fares, business manager for TI’s DLP Cinema Products Group.

Ms. Fares said that this is not a case of TI trying to play catchup to Sony, which recently announced a number of large contracts to install its 4K projectors in AMC, Muvico, and Regal Entertainment cinemas. Texas Instruments has been working on 4K technology for two years, she said.

And when TI said that most consumers can’t see the difference between a 2K and 4K image, the company is sticking to its guns.

Their 4K technology will only be installed in about 20 percent of its customers’ theaters, the “brightest and biggest” with screens 70 feet and larger in size.

TI has meanwhile put out a press release providing details:

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Oh Dear, New York Times Not Impressed By ShoWest

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Don’t take our word for it, the New York Times has taken a long hard look at ShoWest and noted that it is not what it used to be. In fairness to both NYT and ShoWest the article’s author Brook Barnes does an admirable job of giving a balanced portrait of a complex relationship between studios, exhibitors, vendors and the organisers of the event. It is worth reading the whole piece to get a proper overview, but a flavour can be had from this bit:

…there are signs everywhere that the event’s once-infamous sizzle has been snuffed out. Gone are the trade show vendors handing out free hot dogs. Gone is the parade of megawatt stars. Gone are some attendees: the number of registered conventiongoers is 2,400, a 15 percent decline from last year.

Booth rentals are down by 5 percent, although Mr. Neuhauser emphasized that a number of first-time renters have made up for others who have left.

Universal issued a statement saying cost cutting was behind its decision. “We looked hard at conventions and felt it was necessary to cut in that area,” the statement read, in part.

While trimming their spending on ShoWest, some studios say they will remain loyal. “We’re not hosting an event that involves much pageantry or really any food,” said Jeff Blake, chairman of Sony Pictures’ worldwide marketing and distribution. “But we still see this as an important opportunity to let exhibitors know what we have coming.”

Nowhere is there any mention of the show being taken back by NATO in two years’ time. Nor are there any implications discussed for the likes of ShowEast (unlikely to survive without its bigger West Coast sibling), Cinema Expo (challenged by a new cinema trade show in Brussels), CineAsia (constantly moving and seemingly too small to last), though chances are that ShowCanada will survive because, well, why shouldn’t Canada have its own cinema show? Read More »

AMC Set To Deploy Sony 4K Digital Projectors

amc-logoOn the eve of ShoWest, the largest trade show for the motion picture exhibition and distribution industry, AMC Entertainment is set to announce that it will install Sony’s 4K digital projectors on all of their screens.  According to Variety and the New York Times, the world’s second largest cinema chain will begin installing the equipment in the second quarter of 2009 and complete the rollout by 2012.  Presently AMC has 4,628 screens across 309 theatres.

The circuit is no stranger to Sony’s projectors having already installed 150 units to date.

The announcement comes on the heels of last Thursday’s news that AMC chose RealD as the 3D technology provider for 1,500 of its screens.  The cinema chain already has 29 screens capable of showing 3D films.  Together the two announcements are the culmination of the agreement made public in February that Sony and RealD would team up to merge the two companies’ technologies into a combined 3D product offering.

Besides being the kind of news the industry was hoping to hear at ShoWest, given the stalled digital cinema rollout, this is a huge win for Sony.  As the Times points out, there has been little competition for Texas Instruments, which as installed it’s DLP projection technology on nearly 5,500 screens.  Read More »

Booming U.S. Box Office Makes Headlines

John Fithian of NATO

John Fithian of NATO

These days, with the global economic crisis at full force dominating headlines, it seems mainstream media will jump on anything that even smells like positive news.  So, it’s no wonder with North American box office earning a billion dollars in January and an additional US $800 million in February that media outlets would break their tradition of only covering box office grosses on Monday mornings in favor of feature stories about how moviegoers have returned to theatres.

A spate of articles in various publications was kicked off on February 25th by Andreas Fuchs’ Film Journal piece in which John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), holds forth in a “state of the industry” interview.  A good portion of the lengthy piece is devoted to the current state of the digital cinema transition, which Fithian still believes will heat up in 2009 despite any financial woes.  Fithian then goes on to describe the exhibition industry as being “recession-resilient” though stopped short of calling it “recession-proof”:

“The cinema is a relatively inexpensive way to be entertained. If people don’t have money to go on a big vacation, they take a mini-holiday at their local movie theatre. So the environment of challenging times is generally good for us, but that doesn’t mean it always works. You need to have good movies. People are not going to escape the burdens of the day by going to see a bad film.”

While U.S. box office set an all time record in 2008 with US $9.79 billion in grosses, Fithian points out that admissions were actually down 2.5% Read More »

Opera Industry Voices Concern Over Movie Theatre Broadcasts

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Many who know me are aware what a big opera buff I am.  I’ve held a subscription to the Los Angeles Opera‘s annual season for at least the past five years, and when I travel I make a point of trying to see an opera in each city I visit.  But when CJ’s co-editor Patrick Von Sychovski forwarded me an article from last Friday’s New York Times about operas being screened in cinemas around the world I was a little ambivalent.  Why did we need another article about how wonderful it is operas are reaching the masses through movie theatres?  Especially the umpteenth article from the Times about the successful Metropolitan Opera program.  We get it; opera is the new black, it’s the greatest thing to happen to movie theatres since the invention of the popcorn kernel.  What more could we possibly learn about operas being shown in movie theatres?!

Apparently. . . quite a lot.

In fact, the article by Daniel J. Wakin’s article advanced the story of showing operas in cinemas quite a bit and went deeper than simply rehashing the successful program offered by the Met.  Back in June of 2008, at Opera America’s annual conference of opera professionals, several managers and artists actually complained about the Met’s ongoing dalliance with streaming its performances into movie theatres.  Wakin’s writes:

The dissenters say that the movement will lead to more conservative programming; that the voice will become subservient to appearance; that listeners will be trained to hear something electronic and lose an appreciation for a live experience.

Some worry that vocal training will change, de-emphasizing the ability to project, and that the Met’s effort is a deal with the Devil, because it will divert audiences from local opera houses to make the easier, cheaper trip to the mall.

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