More bad news

Just caught up with Nikki Finke’s column in LA Weekly warning that newspapers — already hit with huge ad declines in classified and retail — are about to be hit with a wollop to their entertainment ads:

Every major movie studio is rethinking its reliably humongous display ad buys in those papers because those newsosaur readers are, to quote one mogul, “older and elitist” compared to younger, low-brow filmgoers — so it makes no sense to waste the dough.

Wait, it gets worse: I’ve learned that at least two Hollywood movie studios have decided to drastically cut their newspaper display ads as soon as possible….

According to the Motion Picture Association’s 2004 U.S. movie attendance survey, overall, 12-to 39-year-olds accounted for 57 percent of total moviegoers, 40- to 59-year-olds only 31 percent, and 60-plus-year-olds only 12 percent.

Look at the demographics for newspaper readers and it’s almost exactly the reverse. The Scarborough Research Top 50 Market Report found that 35- to 54-year-olds are the biggest readers of daily newspapers, followed by those 55 and older. A much smaller portion of readers came from 25- to 34-year-olds, followed by the barely there 18- to 24-year-olds. And despite the newspaper industry’s efforts to reach a younger audience, the Readership Institute notes that the biggest decline in daily newspaper readers was in the 18-to-34 group….

But, studiowide, it’s on everyone’s to-do list. “We’re rethinking our newspaper ads and I mean, literally, on every movie. Everybody is,” one movie mogul tells me. “The only people who read newspapers are older and elitist. Movies like Sky High don’t need ads in The New York Times. But the studios did it because newspapers were seen as a necessary evil.

“But I don’t think it’s as important anymore.”

Now the box office bust, combined with bloated promotion and advertising budgets to market every film, are forcing Hollywood to change the way they look at these expenditures….

First came TV Guide and then…. [via Commonsense Journalism]

  • Mike G

    Movies have painted themselves into a corner with TV ads, letting the whole business be driven by what you can sum up in 30 seconds– Fantastic Four! Four brothers look for Mom’s killer! Girl on plane sits next to psycho! Because the ads cost so much and have to be so concentrated, you can’t make a movie that takes weeks or months to catch on, you have to make all your money in the first weekend or two– so nobody makes anything but high concept movies now. And because it’s teenagers and 20somethings who mainly respond to that hard sell, really, nobody makes anything but TEENAGE high concept movies now. Hence this appalling summer of godawful retreaded 70s shit– I mean, Dukes of Hazzard, what the F*CK? Is somebody working on the big screen B.J. and the Bear at this very moment, too?

    If TV ads stop being the way you sell movies, then movies no longer have to fit the above profile– which means you could actually make grownup movies, and give them time to find an audience, and let them make money from DVD sales as well as theatrical release. (Like… a documentary about penguins!) In other words, this is GREAT news for everybody except the TV networks. For whom I have the DEEPEST sympathy, believe me….

  • Mike G

    Whoops, I sort of left the subject of newspaper ads back in the dust there (the WSJ had basically the same article Friday on how movie marketers are rethinking all their TV ads, that’s what got me going there too). Yeah, that sucks for newspapers too. Maybe they should have fixed their product 25 years ago to be relevant to people under 50, huh. Me, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for newspapers today because there’s this number that’s been calling me for the last week, every time I pick up it’s dead, clearly an automatic calling system that’s woefully understaffed and so they never leave a message, I can’t call them back, etc. Well, I finally got a person on it after literally the sixth or seventh answer. It was the Tribune Co, calling me about an overdue $12.87 bill. Overdue? Don’t you have a credit card on file? No, they don’t. They sure as hell did, since they charged it the previous 8,000 times, but somehow they lost it, so they annoyed the crap out of me for a week with their pennypinching understaffed customer service line. Guess what I’m about to use customer service for and finally be rid of the Sunday paper I no longer read…..

  • penny

    Guess what I’m about to use customer service for and finally be rid of the Sunday paper I no longer read…..

    I’ve given up dead tree news for a few years now – and, no, I’m not worried about a renewable resource like trees – I just can’t stand the impoverished journalism and bias.

    Movies? The scripts stink. PC dumbs down anything worth viewing. The scripts are so agenda driven they are unwatchable. Oliver Stone, anyone? Today’s “stars” are morons without an ounce of glamour as was understood in Hollywood’s haydays decades ago. Any wonder why the world hates us when they watch Hollywood’s exported trash always portraying our culture in the most violent and excessive terms?

    The NYT’s should be a small town paper serving the leftist elite in Manhattan. It thrives on the Gucci, Pravda, Ralph Lauren, etc ad revenues which most of real America couldn’t afford or care about. A paper of record, it ain’t anymore. They are arrogant dimwits. Krugman and Dowd are about the speed of a college campus paper, but pathetically not forgiveable by virtue of youth.

    Hollywood and the MSM’s monoply can’t die fast enough.

  • chris

    Penny your so easy to predict. Krugman and Dowd both came out with excellent articles that exposed this terrible administration for what they are this week and you choose this opportunity to lambast them. The ads will probably continue to run in the NYtimes. Its those country newspapers where the studios are wasting thier money and the sooner those fold up the better off we will all be as the majority of them just tow the administration line. No questions asked they just post AP and Reuters. Mainly AP. This lib will be glad to see newspapers fold because liberals have the jump on the internet. The Bushbots are doing thier best to infiltrate (Dan Senoir was recently hired by Google) but this horse has already left the stable. Hopefully soon we’ll see this administration paying for thier crimes.

  • Newspapers have been shortsighted for decades. They’ve done nothing to interest younger readers, which is a shame when they have comics at their disposal (oops, transparency: the entertainment group I’m affiliated with sells a page of comics to newspapers).

    I don’t think all of the industry’s problems comes down to comics specifically, but the use of comics by the industry reveals the unimaginative mindset at work across the industry: our readership is aging, it gets harder and harder to attract younger readers, advertisers desire the youth demographic… I know! Let’s shrink the comics down to the size of a postage stamp, relegate them to one page, and then take polls on which ones we should keep that will be dominated by the aging readers we’re not trying to attract. Marmaduke! Heathcliff! Family Circus! Bitchin’!

    Don’t get me wrong, I have tremendous respect and admiration for Bill Keane and Family Circus, but, frankly, it’s grandma’s comic. The scattershot comics that *do* appeal to younger readers just aren’t enough.

    Apart from occasionally wrapping the Sunday paper in the Sunday comic, when is the last time you saw a newspaper use the comics to promote itself or try to increase circulation? When’s the last time you saw a newspaper do *anything* to attract young readers? It just doesn’t happen.

    The result: serious-minded editors and publishers who are so intent on keeping the news “pure” and as unsullied as possible by the inclusion of entertainments that might lure a reader to actually plop down the half dollar for their rag are going to find themselves unemployed while tabloid newspapers which are 100% entertainment will continue to prosper.

    If papers had followed a different tack, and spent as much time entertaining and intrigueing young readers as they do selling classified ads to older readers, you’d probably see a much healthier industry today, and one that is not in danger of losing such a huge and valuable group of ad purchasers.

  • penny

    Krugman and Dowd both came out with excellent articles that exposed this terrible administration for what they are this week…

    I assume you are referring to Krugman’s fact challenged assertion that Gore would have won the 2000 election this week. Krugman is either stupid or a liar. Or both. His own employer was part of the newspaper consortium finding Bush the fair winner:

    On Nov. 12, 2002, a group of major U.S. media organizations, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and CNN, released the results of a 10-month investigation into disputed votes cast in Florida during the 2000 presidential election.

    Included in that group were such ultra-liberal media outlets as the Tribune Co. (owner of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Orlando Sentinel), the St. Petersburg Times and the Palm Beach Post as well as the Associated Press. They based their conclusions on a review of 175,010 contested ballots conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), a nonprofit survey firm affiliated with the University of Chicago retained by the group.

    Their report insisted that George Bush would have won the election in Florida by 493 votes even if the U.S. Supreme Court had not intervened to stop the statewide recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court, and that Bush would have won by 225 votes if recounts had been completed in the four Florida counties where Gore sought them.

  • Mike G

    I agree, the comics are a good example of the larger problem. Guys like Hearst and Pulitzer knew that comics sell papers, just as they knew that anything that comes from a single personality– columns, advice to the lovelorn, bridge tips, whatever– sells papers. But big corporations don’t like personalities– they cost more than anonymous worker bees. So they’ve ignored the best selling card they had, and turned comics and editorial both into gray seas of predictable tedium. And they reap the predictable results.