SoaP sucks, and I need to admit it....
Monday, August 28, 2006
.....at least that's what my namesake thinks.
Mack Simpson today fired off this missive at bloggers who promoted the film:
I don’t want to discuss the movie or its performance as much as I’d like to write a few words about the bloggers who talked it up. Specifically, the bloggers who sang the movie’s praises simply because they saw the Studio’s blogger-outreach as one of the Seven Signs of the Collapse of Marketing As We Know It™ (and, lo, they rejoiced in it). And specifically-specifically, their reaction after things didn’t turn out so well.
A B-movie opening at 15.3 million and #1 at the Box-Office is a BAD thing?
Mack adds more:
Instead of saying, “o.k., our thesis didn’t pan out; what does this mean,” what we saw was the marketing bloggers begin to spin– spin how the opening day box office returns were actually a rousing success. Mack Collier (the other Mack, thank you very much) over at The Viral Garden actually tried to show– using statistics only an Enron accountant could love, and only after taking some time to blast the mainstream media for “turning” on the movie– how Snakes on a Plane performed better at the box office than Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest.
Never said that SoaP was a 'rousing success'. I was pointing out that when the MSM gets gaa-gaa about Pirates ticket sales, they forget that the film had equally massive costs.
Then Mack just gets silly by trying to say that bloggers will say this:
“But Mack (yeah, the ad guy again), the momentum will build and it will do even better next weekend.” Oh yeah?
Again, I've never seen one blogger even HINT at SoaP having a better SECOND weekend. I think you're just trying to justify a rant at this point, Mack.
Finally Mack closes with this:
Or, for god’s sake, if your only purpose it to perpetuate and participate in the blogger circle jerk of hype without offering up anything from the other side of the coin, put a freaking disclaimer up on your site somewhere so you don’t unduly influence a poor junior brand manager into doing something that will cost her her job when it goes south.
Heh. Speaking of disclaimers, anyone notice how the bloggers that are slamming SoaP are the ones that waited until AFTER the movie opened and AFTER MSM said it was a 'disappointment' to say so? I think what happened here is that some bloggers decided early on that 'this movie is going to suck, why are people talking about it?!?', and when the MSM told them they were right, they felt 'vindicated' enough to finally post an 'I told you so!' post. Sorry, but in order to 'tell us so', you gotta say something BEFORE the fact. If you're slamming this movie simply because it irked you to see a movie being hyped that you never wanted to see, then you need to put such a disclaimer up on your blog.
But again, Mack thinks this promotion 'went badly'.
A B-movie opened #1 at the box-office, mainly due to free publicity from bloggers, and is now at around 22 million.
And this is a sign of things that 'went badly'?
Give me strength. Was this promotion perfect? Nope, and I've mentioned instances where I thought New Line missed the boat. But they did at least try. And in trying, they got some things right, and made some mistakes. And they are also well ahead of the other studios in using social media and embracing their community of fans to help them promote their future releases.
Again, I can't see how any of that can be seen as anything other than a good thing. But maybe I am seeing what I want to see. Then again, I have to wonder if those that are saying that a B-movie having 22 million after 2 weeks is a 'bad' thing, aren't seeing what they want to see themselves.
posted by Mack Collier @ 8:57 AM,
- At 11:18 AM, Jordan said...
I, myself have no intention of seeing SoaP in theatres. Never did.
I have however enjoyed the build-up to it. I'm just not a big B-movie fan (plus I hate snakes and have no fear of flying, and I'm okay with both of those points, thank you).
The truth is, this movie wasn't made with the assumption that it would challenge Spiderman 2 for box office supremacy. It was made for the "long tail" (man am I over-using THAT term or what?)of movie fans that want schlocky sci-fi thrillers about snakes on planes. And they showed up, because they were marketed to (with?) effectively.
If theatres were empty, that would be one thing, but a movie called Snakes on a Plane doing $22M at the box office? Now that's just incredible.
- At 1:04 PM, J.D. said...
Haven't seen the movie. Didn't blog about it.
I think some bloggers and marketers are just upset that they didn't jump on this bandwagon earlier, and they're trying to do damage control to their credibility by attacking others.
In any case, they can't seriously think that a 22 million take based almost exclusively on bloggers and web buzz is a failure! It may not be Titanic's haul, but it ain't nothin' to shake a stick at either.
And the fact that other people seem to confuse him for you should tell you something about your rising star in this arena, Mack. I don't see anybody coming here mistaking you for him.
Anyway, the other Mack (we'll call him Evil Mack) is a douche, and I left a comment telling him so. Wonder if that will pass moderation...
- At 2:03 PM, Jordan said...
Thought you's appreciate this Mack...Seen at BarCamp Vancouver:
- At 12:02 AM, Clyde Smith said...
What's MaRk Simpson's problem, anyway?
- At 2:59 PM, said...
Could we discuss some facts on this?
Saying $26 million in box office (the most current number) came almost exclusively from bloggers and web buzz isn't true. Studio reps have been quoted as saying pre-opening research found blogging and buzz had not translated into a desire to buy tickets.
Because of this, the studio was forced to purchase $15-20 million (both figures have been quoted) in traditional promotions at last-minute (i.e., inflated) media rates.
Let's do the math: $26 million in sales minus a best-case $15 million in promotional equals a take of $11 million. Subtract production costs of $35 million (continued promotion expenses are still to be deducted) and SoaP is, at best, $24 million in the hole.
Quoting other industry pubs comparing SoaP to similar genre films, its numbers are not "incredible", but only "average for 'B' horror films" that rely on traditional promotion. In short, blogging showed no measurable impact on sales.
This is why the studio has publicly admitted their reliance on bloggers has been a "failed experiement" from which they're now attempting to extract lessons.
Those are facts, as stated in industry trade publications.
As for calling someone a "douche" because they don't agree with you, J.D., that barely rises to the leve of juvenile. Particularly when you don't have facts to back up your own statements.
- At 3:32 PM, Mack Collier said...
"Because of this, the studio was forced to purchase $15-20 million (both figures have been quoted)"
Then quote them please. Where did you hear this?
"This is why the studio has publicly admitted their reliance on bloggers has been a "failed experiement" from which they're now attempting to extract lessons."
You'll have to source that for me too Theo, never heard the 'failed experiment' line.(Actually, I just did a Google news search for "Snakes on a plane"+"failed experiment", and there were no results)
"Quoting other industry pubs comparing SoaP to similar genre films, its numbers are not "incredible", but only "average for 'B' horror films" that rely on traditional promotion."
But I thought you said that the 'traditional' promotion was only purchased at the 'last minute'? Which was it?
Chris may have to help me here, but I was assuming that B-Movies don't routinely open with 15 million+, and at the top of the box office?
"Those are facts, as stated in industry trade publications."
- At 12:02 AM, said...
My sources come from:
the Hollywood Reporter
The New York Times
Monday Morning Box Office.com
I would also quote the studio, but they've pulled their comments and website from view. Is that enough backup, or would you like more?
A question in return - where is your industry/studio backup that says bloggers provided any boost in ticket sales? Or any evidence that my math is wrong when it comes to the profitability (or lack thereof) when it comes to this film vs. other average horror flicks?
- At 8:03 AM, Mack Collier said...
No Theo, I want to see an actual link from an actual article on an actual site. Especially for your claim that New Line said SoaP's promotion was a 'failed experiment'. As I said, I did a Google News search for 'SOAP+failed experiment', and got no results.
"A question in return - where is your industry/studio backup that says bloggers provided any boost in ticket sales?"
All you have to do is do a technorati search, just like I did. Bloggers, especially on Friday morning after the premiere, were gaa-gaa over seeing the movie.
Again I have yet to see ONE blogger say they went to this film, and did NOT like it. The ones that did go, loved it, and they blogged about it. Sorry but I don't need an 'industry source' to tell me that bloggers increased sales of the movie. Common sense helps here.
"Or any evidence that my math is wrong when it comes to the profitability (or lack thereof) when it comes to this film vs. other average horror flicks?"
Again, you still haven't proven your claim that New Line spent 20 million or so on traditional media at the last second. I'd like to see a link to that.
- At 11:52 AM, J.D. said...
I didn't call Evil Mack a douche because I disagreed with him. I called him a douche because he's a douche.
- At 10:09 PM, said...
I believe we've been arguing about two very different ways to measure success. Mine comes from the "client" side - that of New Line and what they expected from embracing the blogging community.
Yours (from what I read) comes from the blogger mindset - that having the studio embrace them and invite their participation was success in itself.
In that view, SoaP was a success. The studio involved the online community in remarkable ways. They re-filmed scenes of based on blogger suggestions and added blogger "catch phrases" to the script. It was a robust effort that engendered much good feeling in the blogging community. Unfortunately, the studio wanted more than good will and friendship in return.
New Line expected noticeably improved ticket sales above what had been projected for this film. This didn't happen.
"'We're a little disappointed,'' said David Tuckerman, president for theatrical distribution for New Line. ''There were a lot of inflated expectations on this picture, with the Internet buzz. But it basically performed like a normal horror movie.'' At the end of this is a list of film opening numbers supporting Tuckerman's view. ('Snakes': A Letdown After Hype On the Web, New York Times Online, by Sharon Waxmon, Aug. 21 - you can't link w/out a subscription.)
With their embrace of bloggers, New Line anticipated public interest in the movie would rise - but pre-release research proved otherwise.
"Industry surveys in recent weeks indicated only modest interest among the moviegoing masses." (news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060820/en_nm/boxoffice_dc)
The studio turned to more traditional marketing techniques. "New Line conducted a more traditional marketing campaign, spending upward of $20 million." ('Snakes': A Letdown After Hype On the Web - New York Times)
In the end, opening weekend numbers were no different than those expected from traditionally marketed movies of this genre - those with none of SoaP's blog buzz.
"That buzz proved fairly hollow when it came to showtime, with the debut weekend a respectable but unremarkable return for a movie with a production budge of just over $30 million." (news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060820/en_nm/boxoffice_dc).
"'New Line Cinema had hoped the movie would open in the low-$20 million range', a spokeswoman said." (money.cnn.com/2006/08/20/news/funny/snakes_planes.reut/index)
The Times added, "But all this effort, it seemed, yielded no more results than the conventional methods used by Hollywood for decades."
Paul Dergarabedian, President of industry box office tracking company Exhibitor Relations, viewed the numbers this way: 'We see that Internet interest in a movie doesn't necessarily translate to good box office." ('Snakes': A Letdown After Hype On the Web - New York Times.)
From a blogging community POV, being invited to promote and even help shape a movie with a $15 million opening is a remarkable thing. But for New Line - the studio that laid out the welcome mat like never before - their efforts were far from a success.
That's a problem not just for the studio, but for bloggers.
Will New Line (or other studios) go to the expense of re-shooting scenes for their next movie, based on blogger input? Will they re-write scripts and promote blogger-produced catch phrases? Or invite the same kind of unheralded, online participation?
Or will the studio be far more hesitant to invest time or money in such efforts?
Dergarabedian's takeaway - "It doesn't create any sort of mandate for Internet promotion". (news.yahoo.com/s/eo/20060821/en_movies_eo/19807)
New Line's Tuckerman sums things up this way in the Times article: "We'll make money with this picture, it's just more disappointing because of all the inflated expectations...Now we have to sit back and figure out how to take the lessons from it."
This doesn't sound like a man eager to repeat his embrace of bloggers. It sounds like someone stepping just out of arms reach.
If the blogging community wants to see their unique involvement with SoaP as a win, they have that right. But for online marketers, it's a short-sighted view that refuses to take into consideration the unmet expectations of New Line - or the growing view that blog buzz doesn't hold nearly the value studios once thought it did.
How this is a "win-win" in any kind of business sense is beyond me.
Per Tuckerman's statement that SoaP performed like an average horror movie, these opening weekend numbers from ercboxoffice.com. This includes two non-horror titles that seemed applicable:
- Scary Movie 4: $40,222,875
- The Ring 2: $36,065,237
- Saw II: $33,900,720
- The Exorcism of Emily Rose: $30.054,300
- Constantine: $29,769,098
- Sin City: $29,120,273
- Underworld: Evolution: $26,857,181
- White Noise: $24,113,565
- The Amityville Horror: $23,507
- Poseidon: $22,155,410
- Hide and Seek: $21,959,233
- When A Stranger Calls: $21,607,203
- Silent Hill: $20,152,598
- Hostel: $19,556,099
- Final Destination 3: $19,171,094
- Boogeyman: $19,020,655
- Saw: $18,276,468
- Lady in the Water: $18,044,396
- Red Eye: $16,167,622
- The Omen: $16,026,494
- The Hills Have Eyes: $15,708,512
...........SNAKES ON A PLANE...........
- House of Wax: 12,077,236
- Land of the Dead: $10,221,705
- Dark Water: $9,939,251
- Cursed: $9,633, 085
- The Descent: $8,911,330
- Pulse: $8,203,822
- The Devil's Rejects: $7,067,335
- See No Evil: $4,581,233
- Alone in the Dark: $2,832,421
- The Jacket: $2,723,682
- Mindhunters: $1,911,358
- High Tension: $1,897,705
- At 10:22 PM, Mack Collier said...
"From a blogging community POV, being invited to promote and even help shape a movie with a $15 million opening is a remarkable thing. But for New Line - the studio that laid out the welcome mat like never before - their efforts were far from a success."
Guess we'll have to agree to disagree. They appealed to a community of fans, and that community responded and generated a ton of free promotion and buzz in their community for the film. And sold tickets.
Hmmmm....that might be a sign of 'failure' to some. To my way of thinking, if you embrace your community of fans, and they respond by organizing themselves into an army of customer evangelists that buy your product, and encourage others to do so, that's a good thing.
If you see that as a 'failure', then so be it. We'll just have to agree to disagree...
- At 4:49 PM, said...
Mack, in your insistance that this was a success, you continue to make statements that fly in the face of those made by New Line executives and supported by box office performance.
"They appealed to a community of fans, and that community responded and generated a ton of free promotion and buzz in their community for the film. And sold tickets."
Great to get the community involved. But the "ton of free promotion" didn't sell enough tickets to make a difference. SoaP performed like a middling horror film - one without any of New Line's blogger investment.
"To my way of thinking, if you embrace your community of fans, and they respond by organizing themselves into an army of customer evangelists that buy your product, and encourage others to do so, that's a good thing."
Yes, it's a good to be embraced by bloggers. But these evantelists produced meager mass market interest in Soap, based on pre-release surveys. This leads the studios to question how much sway bloggers actually have on the mass market - the market studios rely upon.
You keep saying this was a success, but shouldn't we all be listening to the "client"? New Line has said, unequivitably, the SoaP experiment has been a "disappointment".
If you disagree with me, fine. But you're also disagreeing with New Line's Tuckerman. It's he and other studio execs who will determine whether bloggers are ever again invited to participate like they were with SoaP.
Disregard the client at your own peril.
- At 2:34 AM, Mack Collier said...
"Mack, in your insistance that this was a success, you continue to make statements that fly in the face of those made by New Line executives and supported by box office performance.
"They appealed to a community of fans, and that community responded and generated a ton of free promotion and buzz in their community for the film. And sold tickets."
Great to get the community involved. But the "ton of free promotion" didn't sell enough tickets to make a difference."
You mean to say that appealing to bloggers didn't result in bloggers buying tickets to SoaP, and those bloggers ALSO each convincing 10-20 non-bloggers to ALSO buy tickets to SoaP.
"You keep saying this was a success, but shouldn't we all be listening to the "client"? New Line has said, unequivitably, the SoaP experiment has been a "disappointment"."
Let's put our thinking caps on for a second: How would New Line, or ANY studio know how to accurately measure the increase in sales that would be generated from appealing to bloggers? In order to accurately predict a result in a given circumstance, don't you need to observe that circumstance, and any results, happen AT LEAST ONCE?
Exactly. What happened here was that New Line had no idea what the increase in sales would be from appealing to bloggers, because they had never done so. All they had to go on was that the buzz that bloggers were generating was resulting in MAINSTREAM buzz for SoaP, so they ASSUMED that mainstream BUZZ would translate into mainstream SALES.
It didn't, at least not to level that they were hoping.
Maybe New Line was putting unrealistic expecations on a revolutionary type of promotion that they had never undertaken.
Maybe you are as well. Where I come from, when you aim your promotion at a particular market, and that market responds by buying your product, that's the sign of a SUCCESSFUL promotion.
Course you appear to see it as a failure. Maybe New Line does as well. And as we all know, companies are NEVER wrong.