The Super Bowl was once (and by once, we mean as recently as last year), the number one destination to unveil new movie trailers. For more than an occasional $ 5 million, Hollywood studios got 30 seconds or more of America’s undivided and unrivaled attention at the biggest televised event. The hope, of course, is to ultimately translate those huge marketing dollars into substantial box office ticket sales.
Universal Pictures put that time (and more) to good use during Super Bowl LIV in Miami, rolling out all the stops – including a concert! – to generate some hype around the footage for ‘F9’, the upcoming ‘Fast & Furious’ sequel that plays as a tribute to muscle men, fast cars and the kind of explosive stunts that defy the laws of physics. Yet over the following months the pandemic struck and forced many films – “F9” included – to push back their release dates. “F9,” although currently slated for Memorial Day weekend, could face at least some additional delay before it finally hits theaters.
So it’s not entirely unexpected that viewers won’t see the degree of fanfare that greeted “F9” for the trailers that play during this year’s big game. In fact, many traditional studios are entirely sitting on the Super Bowl. With the ever-changing theatrical landscape, Hollywood isn’t prepared to spend too much to create the buzz for a film that may not see the light of day any time soon.
Consider the potential blockbusters that were placed in prime time in last year’s game: Paramount’s “A Quiet Place Part II”, “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Top Gun: Maverick”; MGM’s James Bond entry “No Time to Die”; and Disney’s “Black Widow” and “Mulan”. Fast forward a year later, and only two of those movies have been released. The others have been reported several times by their respective studios.
It’s not just the Super Bowl that might be light on movie trailers. Studios have been cutting back on TV commercials for some time now. The number of 30-second TV commercials aired by studios on major networks between Dec. 28 and Jan. 3 was down 82% from the same time last year, according to Kantar, a tracking tool. advertising spending. This trend could continue until theaters reopen and people feel comfortable returning to theaters.
But fear not, Super Bowl advertising enthusiasts. CBS, the network hosting the big game, has already exhausted ad space. Mayonnaise from Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, Tide and Hellman will keep commercials stuffed.
And football’s biggest night won’t be entirely devoid of Hollywood’s most animated movie and TV titles – there are few ways to reliably attract so many eyeballs. Last year’s clash between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers resulted in one of the lowest-rated games in modern history and still drew 100 million viewers.
Amazon Prime Video should have a presence, possibly with a spot for Eddie Murphy’s “Coming 2 America”. And Paramount Plus will likely try to gain attention ahead of the launch of the ViacomCBS-owned streaming service next month. HBO Max is also expected to tout some of the films arriving on the platform in 2021.
Streaming services have stepped up Super Bowl publicity in recent years, most memorable with Netflix’s post-game surprise that “The Cloverfield Paradox” was falling on the streamer immediately after time ran out. But don’t expect that kind of shock from Netflix after the Chiefs face off against the Buccaneers. Peacock, NBCU’s ad-supported streaming service, has no plans either.
Among the traditional studios, Sony, Warner Bros. and Paramount do not drop any trailers. However, plans can always change before Sunday. Some studios have been known to buy commercials late in the sales process, which networks naturally try to exploit for more money. Universal and Disney, both active Super Bowl advertisers, have reserved 30-second commercials but have played coy to keep the promotional efforts as a surprise. Director M. Night Shyamalan may have hinted at Universal’s commercial on Tuesday, post five second clip on Twitter for his upcoming thriller “Old”. The video is captioned “5…”, the same number of days before the Super Bowl.
It is also possible that Hollywood could reduce its spending by partnering with partner companies. Last year, Warners worked with Proctor & Gamble to have Gal Gadot appear as Diana Prince in a Tide commercial that doubled as a promo for “Wonder Woman 1984”. And “Bill and Ted Face the Music” got its 30 seconds of fame in a Walmart commercial, though it didn’t contain any movie footage.
In another era, which didn’t involve a raging pandemic, the Super Bowl would be the perfect opportunity for Disney to spotlight Scarlett Johansson’s Marvel hero for “Black Widow” (slated for May 7) or for Universal to reintroduce viewers into Dom and the gang in “F9” (scheduled for May 28). But there’s a good chance these titles may alter release plans in the coming weeks. Already, “No Time to Die”, Daniel Craig’s fifth and final release as James Bond, was pushed back in October and “A Quiet Place Part II” was relegated to September. Unless the situation around the coronavirus improves significantly in the near future, delays could continue to occur.
So what does this mean for big game? More time in the limelight for proven legends like Doritos and M & Ms.
Brian Steinberg contributed to this report.