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It has been a dismal two years for the movie industry. There’s no way around it, no sugarcoating it—the pandemic may have had a bigger economic impact on film than just about any industry.

After making an anemic $2.1 billion total at the box office domestically last year, Hollywood is ending 2021 on a better note. Year-to-date receipts are up to almost $3.2 billion, and the year is closing way stronger than it began, with a trio of superhero movies (“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” and “Black Widow”) leading the way.

And 2022 should be better. It could be the first year since 2019 that most theaters stay open all year, barring any unforeseen COVID-19 hiccups. Plus, a slew of movies openings have been pushed to next year anticipating the better moviegoing environment, including “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Mission: Impossible 7,” as well as Marvel can’t-misses “Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever” and “Thor: Love and Thunder.”

So all this begs the question: Is it a good time to reconsider cinema advertising? Many brands have, understandably, been wary of investing money in movie ads right now with crowds thin. But with more releases crowding the schedule and a better 2022 on the horizon, it may be time to make a splashy return to theaters.

Here’s what advertisers need to know about movie advertising in 2022.

What Is Cinema Advertising?

Cinema advertising includes any ads posted inside or outside movie theaters that people can see when they go to a film. The most popular format is pre-movie commercials on the big screen, but you can also buy displays and posters in the lobby.

Screen ads make the most significant impact and have the greatest chance of grabbing the audience’s attention. They are generally 15- to 30-second ads that play before the show, when people are still filtering into their seats but before the previews begin.

Marvel Trailer Placement for In-Theater Messaging
Marvel Trailer Placement for In-Theater Messaging

What Are the Advantages of Cinema Advertising?

Pre-pandemic, movies were one of the top forms of entertainment for Americans. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, three-quarters of Americans over age 2 go to the movies at least once a year, and about 24 million went to theaters each week to see a film.

 Informative PSA Messaging
Informative PSA Messaging

Now, that’s changed post-pandemic, obviously, with attendance levels way down. Still, many of the other reasons that movies are attractive remain, such as:

  • Captive audience: People sitting in seats waiting for a movie to begin are bored and open to messaging. You reach them when they have nothing else to do besides look at their phones or talk to their companions.
  • Happy customers: Moviegoers feel relaxed and excited because they are about to do something they enjoy. They are in a good frame of mind to receive messaging.
  • Desirable demographics: Teenagers and millennials go to the movies more frequently than their older counterparts, and most advertisers are eager to connect with these demos.

What Is the Price of Movie Advertising?

Cinema advertising is moderately priced. You can buy on-screen ads for about $5,000 for a four-week run, and most vendors have a minimum number of theaters or showings you have to buy.

The cost is similar to many forms of digital advertising. It’s cheaper than buying a billboard in the most popular locations in Los Angeles or New York or purchasing train advertising, though it’s more expensive than shopping mall advertising and some other smaller out of home formats.

The great news is, right now, any of this should be negotiable. Movie theaters and cinema advertising vendors are so eager to draw people in after a disappointing couple of years that they will likely negotiate on anything, including price and commitments.

How to Target Movie Advertising

You can target cinema ads in several different ways. If your brand wants to reach a certain demographic, you can seek out theaters that index highly among that demo, such as ones in Latino or African American neighborhoods.

You may also prefer to target by the movies themselves. Say you want to reach young music fans. Then advertising in, say, the documentary about Billie Eilish may represent the most desirable audience, and you can limit your ads to playing in theaters where that movie is showing.

Brands that want to advertise with the latest Marvel movie or other franchise action film may have to pay a bit more. But the extra investment can be worth it when you connect with people who are more likely to buy your product.

Creative for Movie Ads

If you buy a pre-movie screen ad, you will need to film the commercial, which can add to the pricing. Some brands recycle TV ads, while others prefer to make something tailored to the movie experience. You can make it funny or sentimental or community-oriented. A timely ad for a big release, such as a new album, can get notice.

Want to deliver your message in a different way? A static ad can also work for screen advertising. You can run the static ad with sound or without it.

National Lobby Network
National Lobby Network

You receive a fairly generous window for creative, which doesn’t have to be turned in until about three days before your campaign begins.

Where Can You Purchase Cinema Advertising?

Movie advertising is available in just about any market in the United States. If the market has a theater, then you can advertise there. Many brands prefer to target big cities. You can get better deals when you run a campaign across multiple movie theaters or in multiple markets, if you advertise with a vendor that has a national presence.

Cinema advertising has been a poor investment since March of 2020, but the further we get from the start of the pandemic, the stronger the box office becomes. The big test will come in 2022. While it won’t be back to normal, it will be worth reaching moviegoers again as the bigger releases start generating buzz and producers stop their current strategy of releasing many movies on-demand soon after their debuts. If you want in on cinema advertising opportunities, reach out to DASH TWO to see how we can help.

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