Super Bowl and Hollywood 2009: Big Bucks for Movie Ads

Jan 9, 2009–Super Bowl is charging huge bucks for ads during a depressed economy, but Hollywood seems to be playing by the new rules.

Every studio will push its films during the game, airing on NBC February 1, with the movie lineup made up of summer tentpoles whose studios hope will appeal to the 100 U.S. million viewers that tune in to the broadcast.

Confirmed for this year are high-profile titles like Paramount’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” “Star Trek” and “G.I. Joe”; Sony’s “Angels and Demons”; DreamWorks Animation’s “Monsters vs. Aliens”; and Universal’s “Land of the Lost” and its fourth installment in “The Fast and the Furious” franchise. Disney is also planning to use the game to raise the profile for Pixar’s animation “Up,” while a “Wolverine” spot is likely from Fox.

The movie blurbs will show off footage from the pictures for the first time. Paramount has yet to show a frame of the “Transformers” sequel and will use the Super Bowl to make the big reveal.

Bowing fresh footage generates heat for the movies, considering the broadcast attracted 97 million viewers last year and ranks as one of the few annual TV events in which viewers pay attention to commercials.

NBC raised the average price for a 30-second spot from a record $2.7 million last year (when the Super Bowl aired on Fox) to $3 million.  That figure forced many marketers, including General Motors and FedEx, to bow out. But studios are hardly ponying up that kind of money, media buyers say.

DreamWorks Animation pacted with SoBe Lifewater and Intel to run a 90-second trailer in 3-D for “Monsters vs. Aliens,” DWA’s first 3-D toon, which bows in March. Spot will have characters from “Monsters” share the screen with SoBe lizards and NFL athletes. About 125 million pairs of 3-D glasses are being distributed by retailers as part of the promo.

NBC sold 85% of its ads in September, but studios were nevertheless able to negotiate a reduced fee because the net needed to fill the 67 ad slots it will air during the game.  NBC has told some advertisers that it still has about 10 spots available during the game, and those could be sold at reduced rate.

Fox had yet to buy any time during the game. Should it do so at the last minute, “Wolverine,” “Night at the Museum 2” and “Ice Age” are the pics it’s most likely to promote.

Disney is tight-lipped about its Super Bowl strategy, but it could buy time for Dwayne Johnson starrer “Race to Witch Mountain” and Jerry Bruckheimer’s “G-Force.” The Mouse House typically airs two spots — one devoted to a toon and one to a live-action release.

Warner hasn’t bought a spot and may not at all, even with “Terminator Salvation,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and “Watchmen”–pictures that would all appeal to the Super Bowl crowd–on its upcoming release sked.

Lowered last-minute prices could result in more movie spots than in previous years. Some studios may opt to go elsewhere with their high-profile films.  While the Super Bowl certainly attracts a huge audience, some pictures will have a hard time standing out amid all the other films being promoted.

Sony will play the Super Bowl promo game with “Angels and Demons,” it’s turning to Google to launch a major effort around its Roland Emmerich-helmed disaster pic “2012.”

Viral marketing campaign will unleash content created by the studio that revolves around the apocalypse and will likely give the pic more exposure considering that year’s expected to be heavily researched online given that doomsdayers believe it will usher in the end of the world.

MGM won’t take ads during Super Bowl because the studio doesn’t have a film to promote.  Summit Entertainment won’t do either to push its upcoming slate, the Nicolas Cage thriller “Knowing” and actioner “Push.”