ComicBookMovie is reporting that the US marketing spend for Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, on general release 26th April in the UK, is likely to be around $150 million, the spend boosted by licensed TV promotions from companies such as Coca-Cola, Quicken Loans, and Infiniti.
Imagine what a comic publisher, anywhere, could do with that kind of marketing spend.
“This is huge for the studio, but hardly surprising given the fact that the film represents a culmination of 10 years worth of Marvel Comics Universe adventures,” notes ComicBookMovie.
Avengers: Infinity War has a reported production budget of $500 million, and was shot back to back its sequel, due for release in May 2019. In it, the Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.
Deadline reports different partners will serve up TV spots (presumably, largely in the US) inspired by or featuring the film’s characters and themes. Deadline sources say the Coca-Cola partnership alone is worth an estimated $40 million.
Many of the partnership campaigns will be live within the next two weeks and will remain in rotation until well past Avengers: Infinity War‘s release at the end of this month.
With such a huge marketing spend, buoyed by fan anticipation, it’s no wonder initial box office estimates for Avengers: Infinity War indicate that the Marvel epic should have no trouble hitting $200 million over the course of its opening weekend in the US alone. (ProBoxOffice.com reckons it might be closer to the $230-$240 million mark).
Riding high on the recent box office success of Black Panther and other Marvel films, “this movie is a celebration that we’ve been building toward for the past 10 years,” Mindy Hamilton, Marvel’s SVP Global Partnerships & Marketing, told Deadline of the huge partner support for the new film.
“We feel fortunate to have partnered with brands who share that excitement, and it’s been an incredibly rewarding experience to see their creative visions come to life.”
Making Movies: the Marketing Cost
How does $150 million compare, though, with the marketing spend on other movies?
Well, the truth is, there’s a lot of speculation about marketing costs. We simply don’t know with any certainty exactly what US film studios spend on marketing big budget movies, that cost additional to the film’s production budget – but the reported US spend for Avengers: Infinity War isn’t that much higher than for most in percentage terms, given the huge cost to make it.
Overall, the two upcoming Avengers films – Infinity War and the as-yet-untitled fourth film – reportedly have an eye watering budget of $1 billion, the most expensive films ever made. (Previously, the highest budget film of all time was Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which cost a reported $397 million to make).
Back in 2014, in an item on the international cost of marketing Paramount’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, Hollywood Reporter noted that in 1980, the average cost of marketing a studio movie in the US was $4.3 million ($12.4 million in 2014 dollars). By 2007, it had shot up to nearly $36 million.
As a general rule of thumb, studios have been known to spend a figure on marketing that’s 50 per cent of a film’s production cost, including international spending. So if a film cost $100 million to make, the studio will spend $50 million promoting it.
The Motion Picture Association of America used to release, within their annual Theatrical Market Statistics report, average marketing costs for films. During the 2008 recession, they stopped this practice and no longer offer marketing cost breakdowns.
“In fact, there is no real current tracker of such costs due to the fact that studios wisely keep these numbers to themselves,” says screenwriter Ken Miyamoto in an article on Quora.
Back in 2007, when the MPAA last released marketing costs of movies in their annual reports, the average marketing cost of a studio movie was $36 million. While Hollywood has tried to rein in costs on both marketing and production, it’s estimated the average cost for blockbuster movies is at least $50 million for some, compared with the relatively modest $10 million or so spent to market an independent film.
Any marketing budget is inflated by the continued high cost of TV spots in the US, still considered the major form of promoting a film there, despite the rise of ad spend on social media and web advertising. It’s no wonder then, that Marvel, while releasing its own TV spots, has cannily partnered with companies happy to promote their film for them, like Rocket.
Outside of the US, it’s actually far cheaper to promote a film, and often the return in box office terms is much higher. Transformers: Age of Extinction cost no more than $3 million to $5 million to market to Chinese moviegoers, for example, but made some $300 million there. It’s no wonder US studios see international markets as a make or break factor in the success of a film, but the fight for box office dominance has become hard fought as a result.
If publishing companies employ a similar rule of thumb to their marketing that film studios do, then it’s no wonder comics as a medium fights for consumer attention. In comparison to the huge production budgets of film, TV, games and music, the “50 per cent” on top promotion spend of a comic’s production budget would actually be very small, applied to an individual title.
Let’s just hope that after all the marketing and word of mouth build up, Avengers: Infinity War is a good film…
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