Super Bowl Aftermath: How the Movies Fared

The final score as marketing teams spent big ($3.5 million each) trying to turn their quick-hit TV spots into box-office wins.

This story first appeared in the Feb. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

With 111.3 million captive viewers, Hollywood studios made sure to use the Feb. 5 Super Bowl to target their newest movies like an Eli Manning pass. Fox, Universal, Relativity, Paramount and Disney all paid in the $3.5 million-per-30-seconds range to get their product in front of America’s largest audience. Some scored; others fumbled.

According to a postgame survey by, 80 percent of those surveyed remembered the ad for Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace 3D, and 79 percent recalled the Avengers spot, while only 65 percent remembered seeing the John Carter trailer. When asked if the ad would make them see the movie, those surveyed also rated Avengers the most persuasive, with 40 percent saying they would buy a ticket. In a separate study, TiVo measured which spots were the most watched and rewatched. None of the movie spots was among the top 10 — the Doritos “Man’s Best Friend” ad scored best — but Avengers was the top-ranked movie pitch at No. 43.

VIDEOS: The Best (and Worst) Super Bowl Commercials of 2012

The Hollywood Reporter breaks down the stats.

The Avengers
Release Date: May 4, Disney
Breakdown: It didn’t tell us much that’s new, and the scale of the threat to Earth still pales next to comparable tentpoles (see: Battleship). But its final image was its trump card: For the first time fans saw all of the Marvel heroes in the same frame, ready for battle. Touchdown! Bonus: Tease to the longer version online.
TiVo Rank: 43
Twitter Response: Rapturous. “The Avengers is officially the best movie I’ve never seen.” — ScottEWeinberg
Message: “It was huge,” says a marketing exec. “It was great that they had that really serious tone. The movie felt like Lord of the Rings. ‘We’re all coming together — even Scarlett Johansson’s invited! We’re gonna save the world.’ Where Iron Man 2 was a little too cheeky, it was good course correction.”

Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace 3D
Release Date: Feb. 10, Fox
Breakdown: Its first section was stuffed with iconic moments from the first two Star Wars movies, which may confuse viewers who won’t find Luke or Han in the 3D-converted Menace. But it was effective in tempting audiences who want to see the Star Wars universe in 3D for the first time.
TiVo Rank: 48
Twitter Response: Unexpectedly positive. “As much as i hated the star wars movie the phantom menace why dose the new trailer for the 3d big screen version make me want to see it ahhh” — headchefalan
Message: It’s as if the ad were saying, “If you show up for the first three movies, we promise you will be rewarded with the vastly superior original trilogy in 3D.”

G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Release Date: June 29, Paramount
Breakdown: It’s all about Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis, who have been drafted now that most of the cast from 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra has been given a dishonorable discharge. Beyond that, the teaser effectively makes clear that guns, explosions, ninjas and hot women in red are in store for anyone looking for a reliable, not terribly taxing summer movie.
TiVo Rank: 53
Twitter Response: Pretty good. “#GIJoeRetaliation trailer from the Super Bowl teases us with new characters & great action footage! Cannot wait!” — CubedLink
Message: “We know you didn’t like the first G.I. Joe very much. But this one has the Rock and that old guy you think may be Ashton Kutcher’s dad. Better, right?”

VIDEOS: Super Bowl 2012 Trailers for 'Avengers,' 'John Carter,' 'Battleship' Premiere
Release Date: May 18, Universal
Breakdown: The 60-second spot for the sea-based actioner played up Liam Neeson, who just successfully opened yet another gritty genre flick with The Grey, as much as it did Rihanna and Taylor Kitsch. And any pretense that this Hasbro-generated flick is different from the Transformers series was dropped in favor of showing major CGI-heavy, land-locked destruction taken straight from the Michael Bay playbook.
TiVo Rank: 61
Twitter Response: Mixed. “How did the trailer for Battleship make me want to see it even less?” — MattMira
Message: “My takeaway is Battleship is like Transformers watered down,” says the marketing exec.
Act of Valor
Release Date: Feb. 24, Relativity
Breakdown: Firefights, family, flashbombs and flags — enough red meat to capture every freedom-loving American watching the Big Game. Combining real-life Navy SEALs with Eminem’s chest-thumping “Not Afraid” resulted in what many could have mistaken for a recruitment video.
TiVo Rank: 66
Twitter Response: Good, with a side of confusion. “ACT OF VALOR stars active-duty Navy SEALs. That makes it 100 percent criticproof. Me, write a bad review? You first.” — jonnyabomb
Message: It may have R-rated violence, but it also has the values of a Hallmark film, so bring the whole family!
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
Release Date: March 2, Universal
Breakdown: Heavy on physical comedy, this spot pitched the movie’s sweet Despicable Me-style animation with a montage of childish slapstick, aiming to hook kids and Seuss-loving parents. According to the survey, women took notice of the Danny DeVito-voiced Lorax second only to Yoda and company.
TiVo Rank: 68
Twitter Response: Very mixed. “I’m so amped about the Lorax Movie! I really can’t contain myself. I’m on the website watching the trailer for the 3d time!” — Hot_FLASH_
Message: “We know you’ve heard this story involves some preachy environmentalist themes, but look at all the fun you’re going to have.”

John Carter
Release Date: March 9, Disney
Breakdown: Disney opted for a full 60 seconds for Carter, but it looked like two spots in one. The words  “John Carter” were splashed onscreen as often as possible, as if to hypnotize an audience into believing. But the Led Zeppelin riff couldn’t obscure that the trailer didn’t show what the movie’s about.
TiVo Rank: 75
Twitter: response Not good. “After seeing trailer, tried explaining John Carter plot to my brother in law but couldn’t. So they’ve failed at that.” — DisneysFolly
Message: “I saw that stupid reveal that they were spelling out John Carter in screens,” says the marketing exec. “Are you kidding me? To spend all that money during the Super Bowl to do a logo reveal for a movie that comes out in a month and a half I thought was embarrassing.”