I like movies. Quite a bit, actually. In fact, movies are typically my go-to when a conversation starts to lull. Therefore, when tasked with coming up with an interesting topic for the recent Qual360 conference in Atlanta, I (along with the rest of my Invoke team and the Dialsmith team came up with the idea to conduct some research into the upcoming 2015 Summer Movie Season. Can I somehow combine this with my inner 8 year-old’s love of superheroes and dinosaurs? Yup, I sure can.
A little background
As mentioned, this research was conducted at the Qual360 Conference in Atlanta. This specific session was conducted on March 26th at 1PM. I, along with David Paull of Dialsmith, conducted a Live session in front of a “live studio audience” (always wanted to say that), pulling insights in real-time based on closed-end and open-data as well as data from Dialsmith’s Perception Analyzer tool.
In this session, we looked into respondents’ general preferences and expectations regarding the films they watch, their thoughts on the upcoming summer movie season and had them watch and provide feedback on 1 of 2 trailers for the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron movie. Each respondent was randomly selected to watch 1 of the 2 trailers complete with a slider scale to indicate their interest on a second-to-second basis. They were then asked a series of open and closed-ended questions to understand their reactions to their specific trailer.
Moviegoers are optimistic about this summer movie season
How will this summer movie season compare to others of the past?
As can be seen in the chart above, nearly 2/3 of moviegoers are optimistic about the upcoming summer movie season. Often, these moviegoers base this optimism on the slate of movies scheduled for release. Specifically, movies such as Jurassic World and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
“Starting with Avengers, I think movies are headed in a great direction this year.” (Male, Millennial)
“Because Jurassic World is out! Woohoo!” (Female, Boomer)
In fact, when shown different movie titles coming out this year and asked to rank them in order of interest, both Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic Park rise to the top – 27% rank Avengers first while 24% rank Jurassic World first. Often, these films rank high because of an existing affinity or familiarity with these franchises.
Interestingly, the report also uncovers some gender differences regarding interest in these films. Females, for example look to be slightly more interested in Pitch Perfect 2 than Avengers: Age of Ultron.
A balance of action and story drive trailer success
The Avengers: Age of Ultron trailers we showed each had a different feel to them. Trailer 2, which was released in January, was much more focused on the action in the movie without much focus on the story. Trailer 3, released in March, still showed a lot of action but also divulged a little more about the story. This was not only our assessment going in, but respondents also confirmed this by telling us that while they liked Trailer 2, they did wish it told them a little more about the story. Top-box scores on measures such as Likability, Likelihood to talk about and Likelihood to share online were also lower for Trailer 2.
Here, see for yourself:
And as you can see from the dial data below, the trailers definitely show a different trajectory of interest levels:
Trailer 2 – Interest Trajectory
At about midway, Trailer 2 pretty much hits the same level it ends on with an interest score of about 71 (out of 100). Trailer 3, meanwhile, keeps climbing until it hits a level of 80.
These trailers also show some pretty big gender differences, as outlined in the full report.
What does this mean?
Well, a few things…
For one, this summer movie season is met with pretty high levels of optimism (again, often due to the slate of releases.) The interesting thing though is that it’s pretty much sequels driving this sense of optimism. This shows a significant shift in thinking from what we have seen in the past. It used to be that sequels brought with them expectations of tired material and a glut of ideas in the industry (remember all those Police Academy movies?) Nowadays, these continuations raise expectations because of the high bar set by their predecessors. Studios such as Marvel have really set the bar high for sequels as they have not only used them to further individual storylines but actually expand universes.
One thing I think we can expect is that Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic World will probably be two of the summer’s biggest releases.
As for the trailers, it looks like moviegoers aren’t just looking for action and special effects from their summer blockbusters. They want to also understand storylines, character backgrounds and motivations. Now, I understand these trailers work in a sort of progression. Teaser first then with each trailer a little more is uncovered. And in that vein, Marvel has done a good job of building anticipation. In fact, after seeing Trailer 3, there are a few respondents saying they know enough now and to hold the rest of the story for the actual release.
But, I think the important thing for any studio to remember is that trailers relying on special effects and non-stop action might grab interest up front but that interest could wane if context isn’t provided at some point. So sprinkle a little story in there with your explosions.
Please feel free to check out the full report here.