Int'l film in focus as ShowEast opens

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ORLANDO -- It wasn’t so much a seminar on digital-age marketing as a clarion call to international exhibitors that rang out from the podium Monday during the opening sessions of ShowEast 2007.

“Traditional movie marketing is broken,” Fox International co-president Tomas Jegeus said. “It’s just getting too expensive, and it just doesn’t deliver or excite the way it used to.”

With studios spending upward of $50 million to market films internationally -- in addition to similar spending domestically -- it’s no longer acceptable to have a lion’s share of the money spent on reaching “people who will never, ever go to the cinema,” Jegeus said.

Internet advertising and marketing via social network sites and blogs can be more targeted, with some films’ trailers now reaching more moviegoers online than in theaters, he noted.

Most of the international attendees at ShowEast, which devotes the majority of its first-day programming to global topics, are exhibs from Latin America, a region with much lower Internet and broadband penetration than in the U.S. In Mexico, Internet penetration stands at about 21%, compared with a 70% reach in the U.S.

But the close correlation between demos for moviegoers and Internet users in the region makes online marketing a smart strategy, said Miguel Mier, operations director for the Cinepolis theater chain.

Cinepolis uses its Web site for “community-building” promos and to display playable movie trailers. One promo for summer’s “Los Fantasicos 4 y Silver Surfer” (“Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer”) allowed browsers of the site to compete for a trip to the Fox sequel’s premier in London.

Fox, whose parent News Corp. owns the massive MySpace social network site, has been particularly active in regional online marketing.

A promo for “Los Simpons” let site browsers build avatars for characters in the animated feature. And a press event on the virtual world site Second Life allowed journalists to create their own avatars to interview Bruce Willis’ avatar about his starring role in “Die Hard 4.”

Dovetailing with the Internet marketing panel were presentations on the regional rollout of digital-projection installations and upcoming distrib film slates.

Reel highlights included Warner Bros.’ premiere of a trailer for the upcoming Johnny Depp musical “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” from director Tim Burton. And in a regional overview accompanying the Paramount presentation, Latin America senior vp Jorge Peregrino noted most territories posted substantial revenue gains over the past year, but Argentina and Brazil notched puzzling boxoffice dips.

International distrib and exhib awards went to Rodrigo Saturnino of Brazil’s Columbia TriStar/ Buena Vista Filmes and Alejandro Ramirez Magana of Mexico’s Cinepolis, respectively.

Felipe de Jesus Munoz Vazquez, deputy attorney general of Mexico, accepted a special award for “anti-piracy Latin American government leadership.”

Noting a new anti-piracy law implemented by the Mexican government in June 2006, Vazquez said companies also must help in the fight against the theft of intellectual property in the region by ensuring that entertainment products are fairly priced and conveniently delivered to consumers. He also urged greater public education on what he characterized as the hidden consumer costs from piracy.

The MPA calculates that film piracy in Mexico cost member studios $483 million last year, representing a region-high loss of 89% of potential movie revenue.

ShowEast’s opening-day events for domestic exhibs included discussions of tech issues tied to digital cinema and ideas for alternative programming facilitated by digital systems, such as sports and concert events. At night, Disney was scheduled to screen its Nov. 21 release, the animated/live action hybrid “Enchanted,” via digital projection.

A centerpiece of today’s program will be an address on 3-D digital projection by DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg.
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