top photo: nito / Shutterstock.com
I have always been fascinated with box office numbers and records! You go through all the phases of producing a film—conceptualizing, scriptwriting, creating storyboards, raising funds, securing your cast and crew, scouting for locations, shooting the film—and after all that is done, you promote and market your film with a tiny hope to see all your hard work translate into profit!
Let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at some of the biggest blockbusters of all time—films that stood the test of time; films that went on to break all the past box office records; films that no one thought would make its mark on Hollywood with great social media strategy!!
Here are the films that dominated the whole of North America with its box office collections:
Note: The figures represent the amount of money a movie has collected in North American movie territory (United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Guam) over its lifetime.
I was surprised to see this chart when I first plotted it—almost half of the top 20 of this list was produced in the late ’90s, and one was from the ’80s! Can you believe it? Only eight of the thousands of films that have been made after 1982 could break the box office record of Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Yes, it was a path-breaking film, but it is still surprising to see it in top 10 movies with the highest box office collection in North America… now 32 years after its release!!
We can also notice a bunch of franchisees that made it to this chart – Christopher Nolan’s Batman saga, the unparalleled Star Wars series and a series carrying one of the very few Hollywood films with a female protagonist – The Hunger Games.
The best part of this chart is the animated films! Shrek, The Lion King, Toy Story, Finding Nemo – all the films made for the younger audience succeeded and made this list! As I wonder what percentage of total business made by Hollywood every year would come from kids ages 2 to 17, I would believe a quarter of the total number of moviegoers should hail from this age group to have all these animated films make the business that they made. Isn’t that interesting??
And here are the films that left a mark all over the world:
Note: The figures represent the amount of money a movie has collected globally over its lifetime.
Does it surprise you that the top three films that made the highest business in North America are at the same spot on the worldwide chart as well? That doesn’t surprise me! What I find surprising is the influence of Hollywood franchisees on the world—3 Pirates of the Caribbean films, 3 Harry Potter films and both the Dark Knight films made it onto this list.
After all of this analysis, I wonder what kind of numbers we will see in next couple of years with sequels of epics like The Avengers and Avatar lined up for release! Having said that, looking at the charts, I would not hesitate to say that, if there is anyone who can beat Mr. James Cameron at the box office right now, it is Mr. James Cameron himself!!
Digital Marketing in Hollywood
It is interesting the way movies engage with audiences in this era of digital media and social noise – each movie starts its journey with a teaser or a trailer and reaches out to millions of people through social media.
Today, a film’s fate is decided based on the energy spent behind its social media strategy. In the metrics we saw above, there were more than 30 films on the chart, but if we look at the production studios, there are just a handful of them that dominate the market. Here is a chart showing the number of people these production houses can potentially reach out to with just a single Facebook post about a film.
Imagine the release of Avatar 2 (20th Century Fox) in 2016, and the number of people the production house will be able to reach in that year. Or Disney production films like Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2016), and the number of people Disney will reach through its Facebook page!
It is indeed amazing how the entertainment industry can make people start conversations; conversations with definite sentiments associated with them—negative, positive or neutral!
Digital Marketing Strategy: Making a Difference
The best example of using proper social media strategy was witnessed with the first installment in the Paranormal series.
This low-budget film got picked up by Paramount Pictures and was released to selected theaters for two weeks before they launched a social media campaign with Eventful.com for the film’s nationwide release.
The entire digital marketing strategy revolved around ‘scariest-movie-ever’ tagline. Alongside of the Facebook campaign, Paramount launched a Twitter campaign—“Tweet To See It First”.
They continued launching similar campaigns on Twitter for all the films that followed in the Paranormal series. Check out the snapshot of an interactive campaign below:
And the result was – conversations, conversations and conversations!
After looking at the campaigns and energy Paramount Pictures spent on digital marketing, you should not be surprised to see the numbers below:
Paranormal Activity proved that with right digital marketing strategy, a movie with a comparatively low production budget can reach enormous heights in terms of box office collection.
Today, the film’s Facebook page has 20 million fans and the brand carries more than a million followers on Twitter. This truly is a case study for all the production houses that want to use social media for the promotion of their films; especially the ones that are producing low-budget films with exceptionally engaging content.