Summer’s Blockbuster Ads Have the Same Message: Come Back to Theaters

Hollywood studios aren’t just selling fast cars and superheroes. They’re selling the experience of going to the movies

For Hollywood, the pandemic was a reminder that studios still need movie theaters to turn a profit on big blockbusters. So the marketing campaigns for this summer’s biggest films are not only selling the movies. They’re selling the theatrical experience, as well.

Moviegoers got the first taste of what this pandemic recovery marketing will look like from Marvel Studios, which last month released a sizzle reel of its upcoming films, including the first footage of Chloé Zhao’s “Eternals.” But along with that footage came narration from the late Stan Lee extolling his love of “being with people” and connecting it to experiencing a movie in the theater together by showing footage from an opening night screening of “Avengers: Endgame.”

Other studios also have plans to rally around beleaguered cinemas. At Universal, which is getting set to release the next “Fast & Furious” film “F9,” franchise star Vin Diesel has been at the front of a marketing campaign encouraging fans to support their local theaters. In China, where “F9” will be released this weekend, Diesel’s co-star John Cena has been making similar promos on social media in Mandarin.

“It’s just common sense that studios need to be part of the campaign to bring people back to theaters,” one distribution executive told TheWrap. “All it can take is one good night back at the movies to make people feel safe in the theaters and bring them back to being regular customers. But studios need to offer something special to increase interest, regardless of what plans they have with the theatrical window or with PVOD and streaming.”

Studios on Wednesday pledged to unite with exhibitors in their effort to resurrect the box office during a press event titled “The Big Screen Is Back,” with studios showing off their upcoming films with guests like J.J. Abrams and Arnold Schwarzenegger urging everyone in Hollywood to get behind the movement to get theaters back in business after countless multiplexes were forced into bankruptcy.

Rolando Rodriguez, chairman of the National Association of Theater Owners and President/CEO of Marcus Theaters, says he’s been encouraged by NATO’s recent discussions with studios and says he thinks that the films being offered this summer will allow his industry to show its resiliency.

“It has been so gratifying to see agencies, talent, executives and studios rallying together to send a message to the world that the big screen is back,” he said. “I believe that our film partners recognize that right now we have to think differently about how they advertise these films. All of us have an inherent responsibility to communicate with our customers about the safety of our theaters and about the exciting product that we have.”

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Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • • Twitter: @jeremyfuster