Yes, traditional critics have lost a lot of clout in an era where many young moviegoers take their ticket buying cues from friends and acquaintances on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. But don’t count critics out yet Nielsen says today in its annual American Moviegoing report — being released just as studio execs and theater owners converge on Las Vegas for the annual CinemaCon convention. Some 41% of Millennials look at critic ratings on sites including Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb, and about 80% of all moviegoers refer to reviews once in a while, before they decide to buy, Nielsen says. That may be cold comfort to critics: “As movie studios plan their marketing budgets for next year’s blockbuster movies, they should consider that most moviegoers are using social media to get their information,” says Nielsen National Research Group SVP Kathy Benjamin. “Taking advantage of the potential that social networks provide will be important to connect with their audiences.” About 40% of moviegoers say that they rely on recommendations they see on social media. Twitter appears to be especially important. About 55% of moviegoers who use the service regularly tweet about films. They’re 25% more likely than other social network users to head to the theater on a release’s opening weekend. And they see the most movies — about nine per year.
The search giant just released a whitepaper that makes a case for studios to buy ads on Google, noting that it has become a central resource for moviegoers when they decide what to see generating data that can predict sales. About 61% of ticket buyers consult online resources — averaging about 13 sources — ahead of time. And searches for movie info including trailers jumped 56% from 2011 to 2012, even though the number of releases fell by 9%. “Since 48% of moviegoers decide what film to watch the day they purchase their ticket, it’s important to have a continued search presence through opening weekend and beyond,” Google says. People typically search for tentpole movies such as The Hunger Games or The Dark Knight by name, but in slower periods use generic keywords to find out what’s playing. “By adjusting search marketing strategies to these trends, marketers can either capture the attention of the ‘curious’ moviegoer, or deepen audience engagement with a blockbuster title,” Google says. Studios also can make last minute adjustments: An analysis of 99 films released last year found that search traffic in the week before they opened proved to be “a strong indicator” of the weekend sales. For example, a film with 250,000 more search queries than a rival release usually generates $4.3M more at the box office; one with 20,000 additional paid clicks should have a $7.5M advantage. In addition, …
Is the price of movie tickets falling? Of course not. It may not look that way in 3Q: The average amount that consumers spent was $7.94, down from $8.06 in 2Q, the National Association of Theatre Owners reports today. But the numbers tend to bounce around from quarter to quarter, due in part to whether there are 3D films compelling enough to lead consumers to pay up for the higher-priced tickets. Last quarter was light, although it included Warner Bros’ Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Disney’s The Lion King 3D. The pricing picture becomes clearer when you step back to look at averages over time: The average for the first nine months of 2011 is $7.96, up 1% from all of 2010 and 6% from 2009. Regal also recently reported that its average ticket price was $8.78 in 3Q, up 1.9% vs the same period last year.
Universal Pictures is thinking outside the box in trying to raise awareness for its David Dobkin-directed body-switching comedy The Change-Up, which opens Friday against Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The Change-Up has been tracking a bit softly, and the studio today sent a promo that highlights the chemistry and appeal of the film’s stars, Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds. The studio has done something else that caught my eye: Similar to when Lionsgate sold $6 tickets to The Lincoln Lawyer through Groupon, Universal is offering $6 tickets to the movie through DailyCandy Deals, the Comcast-owned online daily newsletter that offers discounts from jewelry to restaurants. Here’s the offer as it was sent to me through an email from movie site Fandango: “As a Fandango fan, you’re invited to score a special deal from our friends at DailyCandy Los Angeles. Round up the gals this weekend and ogle Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman in The Change-Up for just $6 (up to a $14 value). Even more swoon-worthy: DailyCandy will send new Deals at 40-70% off straight to your inbox, along with insider info on Los Angeles restaurants, spas, boutiques, and more.”