Face aux plateformes de streaming, Hollywood est obligé de faire exploser ses budgets et frais de marketing

Faced with streaming platforms, Hollywood is forced to explode its budgets and marketing costs

It’s the summer of all dangers for Hollywood. A pivotal moment, likely to influence the way of conceiving films in the future on the Californian coast. Although the major studios are now (almost) all at the head of their own streaming platform (only Sony has opted for agreements with Netflix or Disney +, for example), they have all pulled out the heavy artillery and opened very wide the portfolio to transform cinemas into weapons of mass seduction from the summer of 2022 to that of 2023.

While in Belgium the average cost of a film is $2.2 million, a figure which rises to $5.6 million for our French neighbours, in Hollywood it rises to $65 million. Not to mention an average marketing expense of $35 million. Or $100 million spent per feature film.

Astronomical sums that seem derisory in view of the fortunes spent on blockbusters. Nowadays, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides remains the most expensive film of all time, with an overall budget (ads included) of $410 million. It sounds crazy, but according to several American experts, this record could well be broken in the coming months.

You have to go get the spectator in his chair

A phenomenon to which the explosion of marketing costs is no stranger. Today, it is no longer enough to present spectacular images to moviegoers to attract them to theatres. You literally have to drag them out of their chairs. According to information presented by the CNC during the Cannes Film Festival, only 52% of spectators have resumed their pre-2019 habits, while the remaining 48% go less, or even not at all, to cinemas. In the United States, the loss of popcorn lovers to enjoy in front of a big screen is estimated at 40%.

Giving them back the desire to want is therefore the number one objective of the Majors. And for that, nothing is too expensive. For the most attractive productions, tentpoles, marketing campaigns now often exceed $150 million according to a survey by The Hollywood Reporter. While for feature films with high potential but less “safe” than Marvel or other Star Wars (like Elvis, nope Where Bullet Train), this budget is generally close to $75 million. Which are never mentioned in the film’s budget. Thus, if Top Gun: Maverick cost a whopping $173 million, that doesn’t include his promo on an aircraft carrier or his arrival by helicopter at the Cannes Film Festival, for example.

And to think that in 1975, Steven Spielberg had shocked by spending the pharaonic sum of $700,000 on television advertising spots for the promotion of the very first blockbuster in history, the one that for the first time crossed the mythical bar of 100 million dollars in revenue, Jaws.

The spectacle on screen has a cost

Promotional fees aren’t the only ones that defy the laws of inflation. Production budgets have also soared “to infinity and beyond” to ensure ever more spectacular images on the big screens and rekindle the cinematic flame that tends to go out in the comfort of the sofa.

Here is a small overview of the budgets announced or estimated by Hollywood specialists for the next blockbusters:

Jurassic World Dominion (June 8, 2022): $165 million;

Lightyear (June 22, 2022): $200 million;

The Gray Man (July 13, 2022): $200 million;

Thor: Love and Thunder (July 13, 2022): $185 million;

DC League of Super Pets (July 27, 2022): $130 million;

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (November 2022): $367 million (Marvel Fanon estimate)

Avatar 2: The Waterway (December 14, 2022): $200 million;

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (March 15, 2023): “it will become the most expensive of all time”, according to marveldccrossover.

Rain of dollars for streaming

The numbers give the spin. Especially if we add the marketing expenses, since it is necessary to double the receipts so that the studios enter their expenses, the other half of the entries going to the cinemas. This means that the next few months will be crucial for multiplexes. Without a big box office, major studios might be tempted to put even more eggs in their streaming basket.

This year, the platforms will already spend $140 billion on content, while cinemas could achieve, at best, a box office of $33 billion. The fight is already terribly excessive. Cinema must win or risk falling into the lightweight category.

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