Spectre and Star Wars show cinema's box-office appeal for advertisers

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Daniel Craig: stars as James Bond in Spectre
Daniel Craig: stars as James Bond in Spectre

Last week was a watershed moment for the cinema industry. Two of this year’s most anticipated films broke records. Spectre finally hit the big screen with the James Bond film breaking the record for the biggest opening seven-day gross in UK history, with £41.3 million. That wasn’t from the full week either, with the first public screenings on the opening day not starting until 7.30pm after the commencement of the world premiere.

The previous record holder, Bond’s last outing in Skyfall, could only manage a paltry £37.3 million in a full seven days. Brand Bond continues to launch in cinema with spectacular results.

In fact, any way you look at it, Spectre is huge, and well placed to make a shot at being the biggest film of all time in the UK.

If it gets there, however, it may not be number one for long though, as pre-sale tickets for Star Wars: the Force Awakens also went on sale, with Disney reporting that a record 200,000 plus tickets were sold in the first 24 hours, beating marks for Skyfall, Spectre, The Hunger Games and 50 Shades of Grey. A total of 1.5 million tickets have been sold already and it’s not in cinemas until 17 December.

In our office we have a poll going and there’s a clear split between Bond and Star Wars about which will be the bigger film.

At DCM, we have seen unprecedented demand from brands looking to book into the Bond pre-reel and the line-up now showing in cinemas is pretty spectacular.

A variety of advertisers including Facebook, Virgin Media, HTC, Seat, Amazon, Heineken, San Miguel and Sky, among many others, all took advantage of the opportunity to reach cinema’s engaged and undistracted audience. Google also booked into cinema’s most premium position, nabbing the Gold Spot directly before the film.

This was one of our busiest ever ad reels, with a record number of playlists – nearly 100,000 to be exact. Almost 180 campaigns were scheduled for last week alone, across almost 20,000 showings (Monday-Thursday).

It’s been a busy time for DCM’s production team as they’ve had to manage double the number of jobs due to the Spectre effect. And we expect no different for Star Wars, with 70 per cent of the first week of the ad-reel already sold out.

The latest AA/Warc UK Expenditure report, released earlier this month, also highlighted that UK cinema ad expenditure rose 2.7 per cent over the first six months of 2015.

While this paints a positive picture for the industry, this figure doesn’t reflect DCM’s Gold Spot figures or our sponsorship, creative solutions or out-of-home spend, with DCM revenues in fact up a stellar 20 per cent year-on- year.

We already know we have something special and unique in the big screen but this huge growth in cinema ad revenue shows that advertisers are also increasingly understanding cinema’s role in the media mix.

Brands are now thinking cross-device, platform and channel to create coherent communications plans that amplify the consumer experience, meet consumer needs and build brand value.

We know that TV, online video and cinema as AV channels all complement each other on a plan, for example, and have recently commissioned a meta-study with Millward Brown to better understand the role cinema plays to prove that the media mix is weakened without cinema. We will reveal the results at our Upfronts on 23 November.

Attention is also turning to 2016 and it looks to be just as strong a year for cinema, with the release of The Hateful Eight, Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, The BFG, Finding Dory, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them and Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One.

While the film slate looks spectacular, we are also confident that our medium will remain just as engaging and powerful for advertisers as it continues to reach and engage audiences with no distractions via the biggest screen, a dark room and the best sound. 

Karen Stacey is the chief executive of Digital Cinema Media