Hunger Games Media Case Study

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New Technologies:

Social Media:

  • A significant amount of time was invested into ‘The Hunger Games’ Facebook page which had 
  • Social media was utilised well as they placed a significant emphasis on user generated content which allowed them to increasing the reach of their promotion.

Digital Media:

  • The record digital performance was driven by #1 openings on all major digital platforms, including iTunes, Xbox, Amazon, Vudu, Comcast Xfinity, Verizon FiOS, Google Play and Sony Entertainment Network, among others. The film had the biggest digital launch in the company’s history with opening weekend digital sales up nearly 40% over the first “The Hunger Games”.

Media Ownership:

  • Lionsgate is a leading global entertainment company with a strong and diversified presence in motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, home entertainment, family entertainment, digital distribution, new channel platforms and international distribution and sales. This horizontally integrated conglomerate could therefore utilise its cross-media ownership to form a synergy between the production and distribution.
  • Lionsgate’s home entertainment business is an industry leader in box office-to-DVD and box office-to-VOD revenue conversion rate. Lionsgate handles a prestigious and prolific library of approximately 15,000 motion picture and television titles that is an important source of recurring revenue and serves as the foundation for the growth of the Company’s core businesses. The Lionsgate and Summit brands remain synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the world.
  • Lionsgate Entertainment funded the film with a budget of $185 million, with which many popular cast members could be hired. This, in turn, would allow for them to draw in larger audiences to make a larger profit. Only very large conglomerates have enough money to be able to hire these cast members which is beneficial to these companies as, in many cases, it is the cast members that help to market the film to their fans.
  • The film was shown in 4,163 theatres, a very large number of theatres for a film of its standard. This widespread theatrical release, achieved through Lionsgate’s large influence and power within the industry, helped to get the film its large box office gross. Had Lionsgate been a smaller studio, it would not have been able to distribute the film to such a large number of cinemas. Therefore, the size and influence of the media conglomerate allowed for its own large box office gross.

Digital Distribution:

  • Lionsgate announced that the launch of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” on home video saw an estimated 3.9 million DVD and Blu-ray units sold in its first weekend of North American release.  Higher-margin Blu-Ray titles surged to 50% of all packaged media sales of Catching Fire in its opening weekend compared to 35% of packaged media sales of the first Hunger Games film. The film also scored 50% of all packaged media sales, up from the 35% of packaged media sales for the first film.
  • The Hunger Games franchise continued to gain momentum as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire sold an estimated 3.9 million DVD and Blu-ray units in its first weekend of North American release and had the biggest digital launch in the Company’s history with opening weekend digital sales increasing nearly 40% over the first Hunger Games film.
  • Lionsgate’s home entertainment business is an industry leader in box office-to-DVD and box office-to-VOD revenue conversion rate. Lionsgate handles a prestigious and prolific library of approximately 15,000 motion picture and television titles that is an important source of recurring revenue and serves as the foundation for the growth of the Company’s core businesses. The Lionsgate and Summit brands remain synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the world.
  • The record digital performance was driven by #1 openings on all major digital platforms, including iTunes, Xbox, Amazon, Vudu, Comcast Xfinity, Verizon FiOS, Google Play and Sony Entertainment Network, among others. The film had the biggest digital launch in the company’s history with opening weekend digital sales up nearly 40% over the first “The Hunger Games”.
  • The film was shown in 4,163 theatres, a very large number of theatres for a film of its standard. This widespread theatrical release helped to get the film its large box office gross.

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Walt Disney Studios, for instance, recently sent its global marketing and publicity teams to Google’s vaunted BrandLab for workshops intended to help companies “world-build,” a trendy catchphrase that means creating overlapping online experiences for various customer bases. Google held up Coca-Cola and Mercedes-Benz campaigns as best-in-class examples, along with a lone movie: “The Hunger Games.”

“It’s very easy to follow convention, and what Lionsgate has done with ‘The Hunger Games’ is an interesting case study about breaking convention,” said Ben Malbon, Google’s director of creative partnerships.

Warner Bros. is in the middle of laying off 1,000 employees, or roughly 12.5 percent of its work force, with marketing among the departments suffering losses. Sony Pictures Entertainment recently shook up its promotional unit, bringing in a young executive to replace its top marketer, who departed after 22 years, and elevating a well-regarded digital advertising executive to another top post.

But rewiring the Hollywood equivalent of an aircraft carrier is an almost impossible task. Lionsgate, founded in 1997, about the time Warner Bros. was celebrating its 75th anniversary, has been built differently from the ground up. For instance, Jon Feltheimer, chief executive of Lionsgate’s corporate parent, Lions Gate Entertainment, has long empowered Tim Palen, chief marketing officer, to make instinctive snap decisions — and Mr. Palen does, so much so that The New Yorker in 2009 nicknamed him the Cobra.

“Typically at a studio, you sit in marketing meetings and there are 17 proposed versions of a poster and sheets of data about how various proposed materials have tested,” said Francis Lawrence, who directed “Mockingjay” and whose other credits include “I Am Legend” for Warner and “Water for Elephants” for Fox. “Decisions are data-driven and made by committee.”

He added, “You just don’t get that at Lionsgate.”

Douglas Wick, a producer of Lionsgate’s new “Divergent” series who has worked with almost every studio in Hollywood over the years, was more blunt: “Tim knows that bureaucracy is death,” he said.

Mr. Palen, 52, is rare among studio marketing chiefs in that, along with running a department, he often personally photographs actors for promotional materials. That both reduces costs and gives him crucial artistic credibility with filmmakers. Mr. Palen largely taught himself photography over the years, gradually taking on a more direct creative role in every campaign because filmmakers started to demand it.

“To be that creative and original and still have the trains come and go on time is very unusual,” said Lucy Fisher, a “Divergent” producer who has held senior positions at Warner, Fox and Sony over the years.

Mr. Palen — even while managing the “Mockingjay” campaign, as well as several other smaller ones for films like “John Wick” — flew to Atlanta to photograph the cast of “The Divergent Series: Insurgent” for posters, billboards and a flurry of online efforts. He shot 15 actors in a single day, some with four different setups each.

“We didn’t shoot one thing that we didn’t end up using,” Mr. Palen said, sitting in his decidedly nonpalatial office at Lionsgate’s headquarters here. The cost of the shoot was his plane ticket and a hotel room; hiring an outside photographer, which is what most studios would have done, could have easily cost $225,000.

Mr. Palen, sitting with his publicity chief, Julie Fontaine, a former Disney executive, grew visibly uneasy when the conversation veered toward his singular contribution. He pointed to the lack of corporate layers at Lionsgate and an overall culture of risk-taking.

“We may be outlaws, but Jon Feltheimer is still the sheriff,” he said, referring to the chief executive. “He’s the reason I get to make moonshine.”

Take, for instance, the time Mr. Palen’s team advertised fake “Hunger Games” beauty products on billboards and bus shelters. Or more recently, when Mr. Palen used an amputee underwear model and the reigning Mr. L.A. Leather in a major “Mockingjay” outdoor and online promotion called “District Heroes.”

“At another studio, legal or standards or both would have stopped us 10 steps before we got any of those ideas,” Mr. Palen said. Lionsgate, one of the last remaining independent studios in Hollywood, released 21 movies last year, although many were small in scope.

A built-in fan base for “Mockingjay” certainly helped fuel its weekend ticket sales. More than 80 million copies of Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” trilogy have been sold worldwide. But industry observers also point out that keeping moviegoers interested in a “Hunger Games” movie every year is difficult; typically studios wait a year or two between installments, in part to maximize demand.

So Lionsgate relied heavily on YouTube, in particular creating a boundary-pushing initiative called “District Voices.”

Mr. Palen and his team — working with Google — essentially created their own “Hunger Games” television network, CapitolTV. Released through YouTube and the other websites, CapitolTV was presented as an official news source from the movie’s fictional government. To provide programming, Lionsgate recruited a group of YouTube stars including Justine Ezarik, better known as iJustine, and Rob Czar and Corinne Leigh, the pair behind ThreadBanger, a do-it-yourself fashion channel.

But Lionsgate went a step further, helping produce the scripted “District Voices” videos, which featured the YouTube personalities in “Hunger Games” costumes with props from the movie, blurring the line between reality and fiction.

“Lionsgate wanted to do something aggressive and pioneering, and it turned out that they actually were serious, which is not always the case,” said Mr. Malbon of Google, noting that its collaboration with the studio was “a Hollywood first.”

He added, “We are now in talks with other movie studios.”

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