What makes a movie premiere successful?
Think Like a Man movie poster
I asked myself this same question on Friday night as I sat in the THINK LIKE A MAN premiere. Unbeknownst to me, THINK LIKE A MAN was a highly anticipated movie. Without previously being inside a movie theater, I wouldn't have even known that the movie was produced. Truthfully, I had not seen a single preview on TV and I sure didn't have any friends who were buzzing in my ear about it. But, as I sat surrounded by anxious people, I realized that THINK LIKE A MAN was the most highly anticipated movie this past weekend.
Now, please do not take me for a racist, because I am the farthest thing from racist. However, I sat with my two brothers and sister-in-law as the only Caucasian patrons in the theater. Was THINK LIKE A MAN highly anticipated by everyone, or being a predominately African-American cast, was this movie simply drawing a predominately African-American crowd? I had no problem being the minority in this theater and frankly, I didn't even consider race when deciding to go see THINK LIKE A MAN. But come Monday morning I did share a nice conversation with my executive director and my supervisor, whom are both African-American, about seeing THINK LIKE A MAN. My executive director and I chuckled as we discussed the difference in locations in which we chose to see the movie.
past five days, I have let the question fester in my mind; what makes a movie premiere successful?
I have compiled a list of my top five movie premiere must-haves to make the premiere a success.
1. Targeted audience/Demographic - The movie must be appealing to at least one race, group, or type of person. I cannot recall ever seeing a movie that appealed to every single person I know. For instance, THE LUCKY ONE sure did not appeal to my 15 year old younger brother, but for a free movie he would see anything. The audience being targeted must hold a connection with the film. THINK LIKE A MAN clearly had a targeted audience of African-American descent. The terrific cast consisted of comedian, Kevin Hart, Wendi Williams, Gabrielle Union, Megan Good and many others. The cast was truly selected perfectly for the film.
2. Cast/Crew - Speaking of the perfect cast in THINK LIKE A MAN leads perfectly into item two. Cast. The cast of any film will either draw audience members or drive them away. Someone mentions a new movie to you and they reference cast. For instance, "Hey, we should see that new Sylvester Stallone film," "Did you check out that new Mel Gibson movie?" Most of the time, the title of a film is not remembered until seeing a preview three or four times, but if Angelina Jolie or Channing Tatum are staring in it, your
friend will remember seeing them in the preview and mention it. Likewise, a good crew (producer, director, writer, etc.) will also lead to audience members. For instance, James Cameron is one of the most widely recognized directors in the world for movies like TITANIC and AVATAR.
3. A Good Preview - A good preview almost guarantees a good audience for the premiere. If you fall in love with a preview, laugh hysterically at it, or cry, you are almost 99% determined to see the movie. The draw of emotion helps viewers relate to the cast and story without knowing what will happen. The preview of a movie is like the inside cover of a book. In order to draw audience members, you have to put a good product out first, a good sneak peek, to get them to spend the money to go to a theater and see a new movie. Without that sneak peek or first look, most people will not even know the movie is premiering. With a good preview, people will see a movie even if they think it might not be good, and sometimes, they are right.
4. A Good Soundtrack – I have found that songs I like or I am familiar with, will draw me to see a new movie. I had to see the movie COUNTRY STRONG, which I hate, because of the song they used in the preview, Stronger by Sara Evans. The song was constantly stuck in my head, and every time I thought about it or sang it, I
wanted to see the movie COUNTRY STRONG. Another example is TITANIC. TITANIC draws huge audiences, even with this past repremiere, because of the song My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion. Music speaks to people and sometimes a little familiarity is all a person needs to be drawn to something, like a movie premiere.
Country Strong Soundtrack Art Work
5. Good Media Placement/Hype – Movies like AVATAR and HARRY POTTER, which top the premiere grossing charts, were knockout premieres because of the hype and media exposure they received. Whether it was because of the book it was based on, the Director, or the Writer, people are drawn to events with a great deal of hype. The TWILIGHT premieres are always packed because the hype of the movies and media exposure is huge. And every list item before number five plays into the hype of a movie. The preview, the cast, the crew, the soundtrack, and the targeted audience all play a part in how much hype a movie receives.
So what do you feel makes a good premiere? What draws audience members into a theater on Friday night to see a movie premiere? Do you have any items that are detrimental to a premiere?
With new movies premiering every week, it is interesting to think about what makes the premieres successful or fail. Maybe, you should go see a movie and observe if any of my list items have drawn a person to see that movie.
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Apr 26, 2012 12:57 AM
|Great analysis, Lauren. I feel you've broken down the movie experience into factors that can be quantifiable. |
Do you think your premise works only 5x5? Or can a factor be missing and still be good? FAIL SAFE had virtually no music, but was a classic. The first HOSTEL had no promotional sales, and it went gangbusters. Other movies had a lousy soundtrack (THEY LIVE), or a strange preview (The BLAIR WITCH PROJECT).
Then some had a targeted demographic, a good cast, a recognizable score, and major product placement/advertisement, and it bombed. The THREE STOOGES should have been a blockbuster, but a nature movie (CHIMPANZEE) beat it last week knocking it from second place to fifth!
I think there a "something," that can't be packaged or categorized, and that "something," in my opinion, makes or breaks a movie. I call it "The PRODUCERS Syndrome," whereas a movie succeeds despite itself.
I enjoyed your column!!
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