The Biz: Trailers lead the way to some films

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In this summer's blockbuster season, frequent moviegoers may decide to head to theaters after catching TV commercials or following a friend's recommendation. But one tool-in-theater movie trailers-is now viewed as just as effective with the regulars.

When it comes to "selling" a movie, frequent movie consumers say they are more dependent on movie trailers (82.3%) than "word of mouth" (82.1%) or TV (79.3%), according to an April 2002 Internet poll of 1,000 moviegoers conducted by E-Poll, a Los Angeles-based research company focusing on media and entertainment. E-Poll has three of the five major film studios plus a number of broadcast and cable networks as clients.

"I was surprised of the awareness from movie trailers," said Gerry Philpott, president-CEO of E-Poll, who thought they had a lower impact. "In all the trades, very little is written up about the campaign that goes into the trailers. You always hear about TV, but not movie trailers." Marketing executives were less surprised about trailers' effectiveness with regulars. "Frequent moviegoers are more likely to encounter the film because of trailers and have made up their mind during that first encounter," said Peter Graves, president of Cinemarket, a Los-Angeles based movie marketing company.

word of mouth

For all moviegoers-both frequent and infrequent-trailers are the third most important source (out of 11) that consumers count on for movie information, according to the survey. For all consumers, the most influential tool is "word of mouth" followed by TV commercials.

Those consumers say "word of mouth" marketing helps close the deal. Over 84% say referrals from people are the top reason they go see a movie. TV ads are right behind at 83%.

But TV commercials are also the first place most consumers get their initial exposure to a movie, according to the survey, which showed 86% of respondents felt they were influenced most by TV. Movie trailers influence over 51% of all consumers.

Typically, according to E-Poll, the awareness level for a film such as Universal Pictures' "About A Boy" or Touchstone Pictures' upcoming "Bad Company" is in the 20% to 30% range before a TV effort. With even a moderate TV campaign, however, the awareness jumps into the 80% range.

"TV is the [reinforcement]," Philpott says. "TV reminds us. A decision to see a movie is usually made within three hours before seeing a movie."

Of lesser value in selling a movie are TV news stories, newspaper stories, critic reviews, newspaper ads, Internet, and outdoor ads, according to the survey.

E-Poll also noted that young moviegoers, 18- to 34-year-olds, have a tendency to depend more on the Internet than other sources.

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